This week in social media news, TikTok’s CEO urges major competitors to disclose their algorithms, Twitter says watch parties on the platform have surged during the pandemic, Snapchat releases its second annual study on Gen Z and millennial mobile behavior, Bumble sees a fivefold increase in app installs after running direct response ads on TikTok, Instagram tries luring away major TikTok creators, a Sprout Social report reveals retailers saw a 40 percent increase in social media engagement in Q2 and more.

TikTok Urges Competitors To Reveal Their Algorithms And Moderation Policies

In a company blog post, TikTok chief executive officer Kevin Mayer called on all companies to “disclose their algorithms, moderation policies, and data flow to regulators,” a step Mayer says TikTok has already taken when it launched its first Transparency Center in Los Angeles in March, with plans to open a second one in Washington D.C.

Why it matters: Mayer’s post comes as the US government considers banning TikTok over concerns the app is sharing consumer data with the Chinese, a move that would benefit TikTok competitors like Facebook and Triller.

The details: In an attempt to assuage the fears of Washington, Mayer touted TikTok as “responsible and committed members of the American community that follows US laws.”

Mayer wants major competitors like Facebook to publicly share their data practices on the basis that TikTok allows experts to observe TikTok’s algorithms in real time via its Transparency and Accountability Center.  

Mayer also directly calls out Facebook for mimicking TikTok’s short-form format via Instagram Reels:

“Facebook is even launching another copycat product, Reels (tied to Instagram), after their other copycat Lasso failed quickly. But let’s focus our energies on fair and open competition in service of our consumers, rather than maligning attacks by our competitor – namely Facebook – disguised as patriotism and designed to put an end to our very presence in the US.”

Twitter Watch Parties Balloon During COVID-19

According to new stats Twitter released this week, the terms ‘Watch party’ and ‘Netflix party’ surged over 500 percent on Twitter in Canada during the pandemic.

Why it matters: Major brands have added interactive watch parties to their mix to boost engagement around new releases. For example, Disney hosted a Twitter watch party around the launch of Hamilton on Disney+, as did Netflix for its documentary about Michael Jordan.

The details: Other noteworthy Canadian user habits include an increase in device usage in all categories–a 133 percent increase in creating videos, 91 percent growth in listening to podcasts and 66 percent rise in streaming

Gen Z And Millennials Are Watching More Mobile Content Than Before, Snapchat Study Finds

Snapchat and the National Research Group’s (NRG) second annual online study examining the mobile behavior of US Gen Z and millennials found that 73 percent are watching more video on their smartphone than they did a year ago.

Why it matters: Snapchat says its users value vertical video formats because they provide a more intimate, immersive experience. As a nationwide resurgence of COVID looms, younger generations are increasingly turning to their phones for entertainment and shopping, reflecting the importance for brands to create mobile-first content.  

The details: The results show that daily engagement with premium mobile content has grown 40 percent in 2020, with younger users’ time spent engaging with mobile media reaching 4 hours and 26 minutes a day, compared with 3 hours and 24 minutes watching television.

Eighty percent of Gen Z and millennials turn to short-form premium content for news, while 86 percent of millennials and 85 percent of Gen Z say technology allows them to express themselves and contribute to cultural conversations.

Mobile video could also serve as a valuable tool for brands looking to meaningfully connect with younger generations during COVID-19, as 86 percent of both groups say mobile video has helped them cope with new anxieties and stay in touch with loved ones during lockdowns.

Bumble Increased App Downloads By Five Times Via TikTok Direct Response Ads 

After running direct response ads and influencer campaigns on TikTok during the pandemic, Bumble saw a fivefold increase in app installs, and decreased cost-per-registration by 64 percent, as reported by Mobile Marketer.

Why it matters: Bumble’s success is a testament to TikTok’s ability to help brands reach new, and young, users during a time when Gen Z and millennials are increasingly engaging with mobile content.

The details: To diversify its marketing mix, from March to May, Bumble collaborated with mega TikTok creators David Dobrik and Brittany Broski to create native content in TikTok’s “For You” feeds. The dating app also used native in-feed videos for direct response, optimization for in-app activations and automated bidding.

Instagram Tries Luring Away Major TikTok Creators

Instagram has offered financial incentives to mega-influencers on TikTok in hopes of persuading them to use its newly launched TikTok-style feature, Reels, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Why it matters: Instagram’s attempt to poach famous TikTok creators comes as ByteDance-owned TikTok is under fire from Washington over its ties to China. Given many TikTok influencers have already started deleting the app, there’s a chance Instagram’s offers could sway them.

The details: According to people familiar with the matter, Instagram is offering some TikTok creators “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” WSJ reports.  Company spokeswoman Sarissa Thrower said Instagram has “approached a diverse range of creators about Reels in several of the countries where it’s currently being tested.”

Sprout Social: Retailers Saw 40 Percent Increase In Social Media Engagement In Q2

According to a new report from Sprout Social, retailers saw a 40 percent surge in engagement in the first day they posted content on social media in Q2 from a year prior, as well as a 72 percent jump in the average number of daily inbound messages in Q2 from a year earlier.

Why it matters: Sprout Social’s findings are a reminder of the increasing importance of social media for retailers as consumers shift to online shopping amid lockdowns and a resurgence in coronavirus cases.

The details: Among the overall increase in engagement retailers experienced in Q2, mid-market retailers saw an 88 percent increase in inbound messages. Like consumers, retailers have also been more active, reposting 84 percent more pins on Pinterest and sharing 104 percent more pins.

Q2 social media posts reflected consumers’ concerns around COVID-19, as the number of posts from January 1 to June 30 that included the words “safe” or “safety” exceeded 40,000 and received over 596,000 engagements.

56 Percent Of Advertisers Paused Facebook Spend In July, Digiday Survey Finds

Fifty-six percent of agency buyers said their clients paused Facebook ad spend in July in response to the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, a Digiday survey reveals.

Why it matters: Though it’s yet to be seen if the boycott makes any difference, Coca-Cola, Verizon and REI are among the hundreds of brands that stand with civil rights groups who demand Facebook revamps its hate speech policy.

The details: According to Digiday, 40 percent of agency buyers said their clients had not paused Facebook ad spend, while four percent didn’t know.

Over half, 55 percent, of respondents said they didn’t believe the boycott would lead to Facebook implementing meaningful changes.

Forty-six percent said that their clients would spend more if Facebook had stronger values, and 59 percent said the most important action Facebook could take is removing hate speech.

App Annie: Worldwide Mobile App Downloads Reach 120 Billion In 2019

Mobile app engagement worldwide significantly increased in 2019, with a high degree of overlap among top apps, according to App Annie’s “Mobile App Evolution” report.

Why it matters: The global app economy’s competitive landscape has driven innovation, providing users with more choices. As a result, users are engaging with multiple apps within and across categories to address similar needs.

The details: App Annie’s research found that in 2019, the average global user had 93 apps downloaded on their phone and used 41 apps a month, up from 85 and 35 respectively in 2015. In addition, daily time spent per user has grown from 2.1 hours in 2015 to 3.1 hours in 2019. From 2015 to 2019, worldwide total sessions saw a 15 percent compound annual growth rate.

Fueling app downloads in 2019 were emerging economies such as India, Brazil, Indonesia and Russia.

Developed regions held the most influence over mobile penetration, with users in the US reaching 12.3 billion, in Japan reaching 2.5 billion and in the UK reaching 2.1 billion.

It’s also worth noting that in 2019, 35 of the top 100 apps were new entrants, mostly games, up from 27 in 2016.