This week in social media news, Instagram tests the capability to add up to four hashtags and a location to your Instagram Stories highlights and more.

Instagram Is Testing Hashtags For Instagram Stories Highlights

According to a report from Social Media Today, Instagram is testing out the ability to add up to four hashtags and a location to Instagram Stories highlights.

Why it matters
: Until this point, Highlights content has not appeared in searches on Instagram or in Explore listings. Jane Manchun Wong’s discovery could indicate a change in the discoverability of Stories Highlights.

The details: Select users are able to add up to four hashtags, as well as a location, to Instagram Stories highlights.

Facebook And Instagram AR Effects Approvals On Hold

Social Media Today reports that staffing changes, as a result of COVID-19, have caused Facebook to announce a hold on AR effects approvals.

Why it matters: Analyzing the impact of COVID-19 on Facebook can help us take the temperature of how media players are reacting. It also serves as a reminder of the major impact of the current crisis.

The details: “Facebook says that all of its Spark AR reviewers will soon not be operating. As a result, no user-submitted AR effects, for either Facebook Stories or Instagram, will be approved until further notice.”

Facebook Expands Ban On Ads Capitalizing On Coronavirus Crisis

According to Social Media Today, Facebook’s ‘Trust/Integrity’ team director for ads & business products at Facebook, Rob Leathern, shares further bans on the platform that seek to capitalize on the coronavirus crisis.

Why it matters: “It’s another step in Facebook’s ongoing effort to protect its users and ensure they’re getting accurate, timely information about the pandemic.”

The details: Facebook will extend their ban on ads that are deemed as attempting to profiteer from COVID-19, including all listings of hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and test kits.

Spotify Releases Podcast API For Developers

According to a new press release, Spotify will allow developers to “explore and build unique experiences to help […] shows reach new listeners in new ways.”

Why it matters: It all leads to enhanced discoverability and more control over the listening environment.

The details: “Our API, just like any other API, simply provides access, but does not prescribe how it’s used; the only limit to how an API is used is a developer’s creativity. In this case, it means third-party developers will be able to build really powerful new experiences for listeners leveraging Spotify’s podcast ecosystem.”

TikTok Penetrates APAC Markets With The Trade Desk Ad Partnership

The partnership will allow marketers to directly access TikTok content across APAC via The Trade Desk platform.

Why it matters: This makes TikTok the first short-form video platform to integrate its ad offerings with The Trade Desk, a lucrative opportunity for APAC brands looking to reach audiences and incorporate short-form videos into their omnichannel campaign.

The details: Pepsi is the first brand to leverage TikTok inventory via The Trade Desk for Lays in Thailand. The partnership between TikTok and The Trade Desk covers 11 APAC markets including Australia, Southeast Asia, India, Russia and Japan.

Facebook Adds “Mood” Mode To Stories Tools

First spotted by social media expert Matt Navarra, the feature lets you incorporate GIFs into Facebook stories. 

Why it matters: 500 million users engage with Facebook stories every day but the format has yet to be as popular as Instagram stories. Introducing GIFs could indicate Facebook’s efforts to appeal to the platform’s older user base.

The details: Upon selecting “mood” from stories tools, users are shown a library of GIFs, any of which can be reposted in square or vertical format on their stories.

Short-Form Video App Likee Is Fourth-Most Downloaded App In The World 

Singaporean app and TikTok competitor Likee said in a press release that it’s making its move into the US.

Why it matters: With 4D effects and a deep-fake style tool called “FaceMagic,” which lets users swap faces with any celebrity in a film, Likee could prove to be TikTok’s biggest competitor. 

The details: Likee saw a 200 percent jump in its audience in 2019 and now boasts 115 million monthly active users (MAU), earning a top spot on App Annie’s ‘Breakout Apps and Games’ report for 2019.

Social Media Consumption To Increase During Confinement 

IZEA conducted a survey between March 12-13 and found that 66 percent of social media consumers expect their social media use to increase during coronavirus confinement and 99 percent of social media users say there’s a chance they’ll buy something online if they’re in household quarantine.

Why it matters: Due to the virus, many employers have implemented work-from-home policies and 20 states have banned in-person dining. Confinement will inevitably lead to a surge in social media content creation and consumption as well as ecommerce activity, making it important for brands to tailor messaging and strategy accordingly. 

The details: Sixty-four percent of respondents expect to use YouTube more and 63 percent expect to use Facebook more. Ninety-two percent who make household purchasing decisions believe they’ll use grocery delivery services. Seventy-nine percent of children ages 3-17 at home think they’ll make a home improvement or DIY purchase while confined. 

Twitter Adds New Options To Invite Guests To Live-Streams Ahead Of Time

A tweet from Twitter Support announced that users could now invite live-steam audio guests before broadcasting.

Why it matters: Though a helpful addition, Twitter’s broadcast approach lags behind that of Instagram’s, which allows for split-screen participants. Twitter says it’s looking into video guests in the future. 

The details: When users start their Twitter stream, they can invite up to three people to join as audio guests. Guests will receive a notification DM instead of a tweet in order to maintain privacy between the broadcaster and guest. Users must start their stream solo before invitees can join.

Facebook Bug Marks Some Links As Spam Including Coronavirus

A bug that hit Facebook’s News Feed spam filter marked some posts from Medium, Buzzfeed and USA Today as spam, TechCrunch reported.

Why it matters: Despite not trusting Facebook, many Americans consume news via the platform, and given the coronavirus pandemic, ensuring information circulates properly is more important than ever.

The details: Upon sharing certain links, users were shown a warning notification from Facebook. Facebook’s VP of integrity/product management Guy Rosen tweeted, “. . . this is a bug in an anti-spam system, unrelated to any changes in our content moderator workforce. We’re in the process of fixing and bringing all these posts back.” Later Rosen said Facebook restored all the posts that were incorrectly removed.

TikTok Announces Content Advisory Council

In a company post, TikTok US general manager Vanessa Pappas said the platform has brought together thought leaders to “provide unvarnished views on and advice around TikTok’s policies and practices.”

Why it matters: The announcement comes a week after TikTok said it plans to open a transparency center in its Los Angeles office where outside experts could give feedback on TikTok practices. 

The details: TikTok council members include experts from the technology, policy and health and wellness industries who have spent most of their lives researching and analyzing issues relevant to TikTok such as child safety, hate speech, bullying and misinformation. The first meeting is set for the end of March and will focus on topics around platform integrity and policies against election interference and misinformation.

Facebook Offers $100 Million In Cash Grants To Help Small Businesses

Facebook says it will offer $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries where Facebook operates.

Why it matters: The program is in response to the Facebook business community’s cry for help amid coronavirus induced restaurant and bar closures. Cash grants can help small businesses stay afloat to help cover rent and operational costs.

The details: Facebook says it will begin taking applications in the coming weeks. In addition to the grant program, Facebook is creating “new virtual training to support businesses operating in this new and unsettling environment.”

LinkedIn Rolls Out Conversation Ads To Increase Conversions

LinkedIn’s conversation ads will allow businesses to serve more personalized content based on where their consumers are in the journey, LinkedIn announced on its business blog. 

Why it matters: By giving recipients more ways to respond, brands can increase engagement and generate more conversions. In testing, one brand saw a five times higher click-through rate with the feature.

The details: Conversation ads build on LinkedIn’s current message ads offering to allow brands to create full-funnel campaigns with multiple customized calls-to-action like product education, webinar sign-ups and ebook downloads. The feature will be available globally as a public beta to all advertisers over the next few weeks.

Instagram Is Testing IGTV Monetization With In-Stream Ads

Instagram has confirmed it is testing IGTV monetization by launching in-stream ads for a number of selected channels and creators.

Why it matters: “The capacity to generate real, direct income from IGTV could be a critical lure for top creators – especially given that they’re already able to generate revenue from their content on both YouTube and Facebook.”

The details: The ability to monetize IGTV ads on Instagram will give creators another platform to expand their reach beyond Facebook and YouTube. There has yet to be any word on the threshold for participation as in-stream ads become available to creators, however, those in the program will receive a 55 percent share of all advertising in IGTV according to an initial Bloomberg report.

Instagram Tests “Mirror” Camera Mode For Stories

Instagram is testing a new ‘’Mirror’ camera mode, which comes with five different layout options and allows you to alter the view through your camera.

Why it matters: Instagram has been unveiling new additions to its platform to offer users more dynamic and unique options when creating standout content.

The details: Mirror mode, which splits your screens into different reflected views, is the latest feature to be tested by Instagram that will allow creators on the platform more creative options for Instagram Stories. 

Social Platforms Unify Over Combatting Coronavirus Misinformation

Social media companies and their parent corporations, including Facebook, Reddit, Google, LinkedIn and others issued a joint statement on their efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus misinformation.

Why it matters: This is an unprecedented move by major media platforms.

The details: TechCrunch shared details pulled from each social platform’s latest communications about coronavirus as well as a joint statement issued from those platforms. These communications cover how to deal with fraud related to the pandemic as well as evaluating misinformation.

Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, March 20. Have a news tip? We’re looking for changes to and news surrounding social media platforms as they relate to marketing. Let us know at