This week in social media news, Snapchat’s new research reveals consumers’ post-COVID retail expectations, Pinterest updates its global ad policies to prohibit weight loss language and imagery, TikTok brings its violative content moderation technology to the US and Canada, YouTube releases its ‘Culture & Trends’ report and more.

Snapchat Shares New Insight About Consumers’ Post-COVID Shopping Expectations

According to a new retail study for which Snapchat commissioned Foresight Factory, virtual reality will play a large role in brick-and-mortar retail’s recovery, with 33 percent of consumers noting that their mobile phone is the preferred channel when shopping for products and 35 percent saying they’d go out of their way to visit a store if it had interactive virtual services, such as a smart mirror that let them try on clothes or makeup.

Why it matters: Forty percent of US consumers state that not being able to see and try out products are the top reasons they disregard online shopping, an issue brands could alleviate, they say, with more persuasive augmented reality (AR) and virtual try-on experiences.

The details: Snap’s ‘Future of Shopping’ 2021 market report breaks down global and US shopper expectations in life after the pandemic. The first key takeaway is that consumers will be looking for social and tactile experiences they couldn’t engage in during the pandemic, combined with the convenience and safety of online shopping.

According to the report, 50 percent of US consumers found it frustrating not being able to try on items in-store, reflecting the power that retail technologies can play in enticing customer footfall.

In addition, Snap predicts that in less than five years, there will be a 37 percent increase in the proportion of US Gen Z shoppers who use AR before buying a product. A whopping 62 percent of respondents who have used AR when shopping say that it encouraged them to make a purchase.

Lastly, just under half of US consumers told Snap that they’d consider buying a virtual product, signaling an opportunity for brands to leverage digital assets such as NFTs.

See the report’s full US findings here.

Pinterest Prohibits Ads With Weight Loss Language And Imagery

As of July 1, Pinterest has updated its global ad policies to prohibit ads with weight loss language and imagery, making it the only major social platform to ban all weight-loss ads. 

Why it matters: The new update marks an expansion of Pinterest’s current policy, which bars the following ad content: weight loss or appetite suppressant pills, supplements or other products; before and after weight loss imagery, weight loss procedures like liposuction or fat burning; body shaming, such as imagery or language that mocks or discredits certain body types or appearances; and claims regarding unrealistic cosmetic results.

The details: As per Pinterest:

“Many are now feeling added pressure as they look to rejoin their social circles in person for the first time in 15 months. Pinterest is the place people come for inspiration to create the life they love. It’s where everyone belongs—regardless of body shape or size. We’re empowering Pinners to plan for a summer and beyond without weight loss ads, so they can focus on what matters most.”

Pinterest’s updated global ad policy will now prohibit: any weight loss language or imagery; any testimonials regarding weight loss or weight loss products; any language or imagery that idealizes or denigrates certain body types; any references of body mass index (BMI) or similar indexes; any products that claim weight loss through something worn or applied to the skin.

YouTube Releases Its ‘Culture & Trends’ Report

YouTube has released the findings of its latest ‘Culture & Trends’ report in a 19-minute video overview hosted by YouTube head of culture and trends, Kevin Allocca. The key takeaway for brands is that video is increasingly being adopted by viewers as a tool to facilitate a sense of connection.

Why it matters: Based on its analysis of hundreds of global video trends and surveys conducted in 20 countries with Ipsos, YouTube found that 72 percent of people have posted video content online in the last year and that 79 percent say they’ve achieved deeper connections when they watch YouTube on TV with others.

The details: First up, YouTube found that 85 percent of people have watched a livestream in the last year and over half a million channels were livestreamed for the first time in 2020.

As Allocca notes, videos with #WithMe in the title were viewed over 2 billion times globally last year. YouTube is becoming a major destination for podcasts too, with 51 percent saying they watched a podcast recording on the platform over the past 12 months.

In addition, Allocca notes that gaming is emerging as the most influential space in youth culture, perhaps even bigger than music. One of the most popular entertainment viewing experiences was an improvised political drama played out by individual characters in Minecraft. As a result, YouTube found that videos with ‘Dream SMP’ in the title accumulated over 2 billion views since May 2020.

Lastly, 53 percent of viewers agree that a video they watched helped them feel like they were in a different place, suggesting the power video plays in fueling escapism. 

TikTok Brings Its Content Moderation Technology To US, Canada

After trialing and adjusting new systems that identify and remove violative videos and notify users of their violations, TikTok said it’s now expanding these systems to the US and Canada.

Why it matters: According to TikTok’s Transparency Reports, this technology initially launched in regions where additional safety support was needed due to the pandemic. Since then, TikTok found that the false positive rate for automated removals is 5 percent and requests to appeal a video’s removal have remained consistent.

Still, TikTok admits that “neither technology nor humans will get moderation decisions correct 100% of the time.” That’s why creators can appeal their content’s removal directly in our app.

The details: Over the next few weeks, TikTok’s new technology will start to automatically remove some types of violative content identified at upload, in addition to removals confirmed by its safety team.

TikTok will reserve automation for content categories where its technology has the highest degree of accuracy, beginning with violations of TikTok’s policies on minor safety, adult nudity and sexual activities, violent and graphic content and illegal activities and regulated goods.

TikTok has also updated the way it notifies people of their community guidelines violations. This new system—which it created with input from its US Content Advisory Council—counts the violations accrued by a creator and is based on the severity and frequency of the violation. 

TikTok will notify users of violations via the Account Updates section of their inbox. After the first violation, TikTok will suspend an account’s ability to upload a video, comment or edit their profile for 24 or 48 hours; or restrict an account to a view-only experience for 72 hours or up to one week; or notify a user that their account is on the verge of being banned and potentially permanently removed. Over 60 percent of people who received a first warning, however, didn’t need a second violation, claims TikTok.

YouTube Launches ‘New To You’ Discovery Feature

YouTube is adding a new discovery prompt called ‘New to You’ that highlights content from channels users have never seen before that are aligned with their interest or past viewing behavior on the platform.

Why it matters: The update will serve users with more personalized content, according to YouTube, though it said it will “take a balance between things we think you might be interested in plus things that are a bit further afield of what you’d typically watch.” This could translate to higher engagement for creator videos and longer time spent in the YouTube app overall.

The details: The ‘New to You’ feature will appear at the top of mobile users’ ‘Explore’ recommendations feed. The difference between this new feature and the ‘Explore’ feed is that the latter helps viewers find content in specific verticals or content that’s trending worldwide but not necessarily personalized to them.