Meltwater BV

07/27/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 07/27/2021 08:54

Social Media News: The 5 Biggest Stories of the Week

We get it! You're busy scheduling content and engaging with your followers, so it can be difficult to make time to sit down and read about the latest Facebook algorithm update or how brands are leveraging TikTok. But, hey, it's also important to carve out time to learn about new ways to improve your social media strategy. So, put down your phone (we know: it's a big ask!) and indulge in reading about recent social media updates.

Top Social Media and PR News Stories This Week

If you work in social media marketing, these are the stories you need to read this week!

1. Collaborate with Insta-nt Success

Instagram's new 'Collab' option offers 'a new way for people to co-author Feed Posts and Reels.' If you invite another user to be a collaborator and they accept, the post would appear with two profile bubbles. The followers of both accounts will be able to view the content. Brands could use this feature to encourage the influencers that they work with to collaborate on posts or influencers to tag the brand's account as a collaborator.

2. TikTok Launches' Spark' Ads

The new ad type from TikTok allows brands to sponsor already trending organic content that aligns with their offerings. A few weeks ago, we shared how the app wants brands to 'make TikToks not ads'; this is how brands can quickly turn organically trending TikToks into paid ads. The new ad format, which combines influencer marketing, UGC, and paid advertising, is an easy way for a brand to begin experimenting with influencer marketing. The challenge for brands will be to make sure they can identify the UGC that mentions their brand through social listening.

3. Twitter Testing Up and Downvote on Comments

The company has added a thumbs up and thumbs down icon to comments for a small set of users. These votes are a way for Twitter to learn which types of replies people find most relevant. The downvotes will not be visible to the public, and the upvotes will be shown as likes.

4. The Importance of Employer Branding

According to LinkedIn, 41% of people are considering leaving their current employer this year. More people are switching companies, and they are weighting factors other than salary and the number of vacation days in their decision-making process. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said they were looking for 'a sense of purpose' in their next role. This year, brands may want to reexamine their incentive structures or benefits packages to align with what job seekers are looking for in today's market.

5. Instagram Adds Sensitive Content Control Feature

Instagram is putting content censoring in the hands of its users with three new parameters that restrict the type of content that you are shown in the app. According to the company's blog, the three controls are:

  • Allow - You may see more photos or videos that could be upsetting or offensive
  • Limit (Default) - You may see some photos or videos that could be upsetting or offensive
  • Limit Even More - You may see fewer photos or videos that could be upsetting or offensive

Catch Up on Social News from Weeks Past

Update from July 20

1. Facebook is Investing $1 Billion in Creators

The company is rolling out several new ways for creators to earn money for the content they create on Facebook and Instagram. Facebook has introduced several tools over the past few weeks that creators can use to engage their audiences, such as Bulletin and Live Audio Rooms. Still, they need creators - and their audiences - to begin using these tools. The company's new 'bonus program ' rewards creators for hitting certain milestones or trying out different features within the company's bevy of content creation tools. For example, a Live bonus 'rewards creators when they meet certain milestones with badges, such as going Live with another account.'

After a year of testing the Instagram Story-like feature, Twitter is pulling the plug on the format. The company mentioned in its blog that user adoption failed to take off after the initial release. The social media platform will use its learnings from Fleets to improve other existing features and devote the top of the timeline to promote Spaces instead. Guess this is one less content format you and your designer have to worry about...

3. Group Experts on Facebook Receive a Special Badge

Group admins can now elevate the voices of the community members driving the conversation within their Facebook group. Admins can designate certain members of their communities as 'Group Experts,' giving them a badge that appears alongside their name within the group. Admins are also getting a new feature that allows them to invite non-group members to join the group. This new feature is great for brands that run community-based groups and want to evangelize members who actively contribute to the group.

4. TikTok is Hosting an Educational Block Party for SMBs

On August 5, 2021, TikTok is kicking off a workshop series to educate small business owners or employees on how to succeed on the platform. Becca Sawyer, TikTok's Global Head of SMB, commented on the program, saying, 'Our goal is to give every business owner in America the same opportunities as the biggest brands and to help them turn their dreams into a reality.' If you want to learn more about how to use Tiktok for your business, you can learn more about the event and RSVP here.

5. Save Your Instagram Stories as Drafts

Sometimes you don't want to post your Instagram story the second after you capture the moment, which means having to save the post to your camera roll later. Instagram is removing that friction by giving all users the option to keep their Instagram Stories as drafts within the app. This update should make it easier for social media managers interested in posting their content in-app.

Update from July 14

1. How does the Facebook algorithm work?

Social media managers have been asking this question for years now, and Facebook is providing some context. The company's video explainer doesn't give you the recipe for how to ensure your posts go viral, but it's a good reminder of how your posts are displayed in the news feed.

Plus, this video could be a good reference for a client or manager that is wondering why more people don't see their posts.

2. Two-factor authentication is coming to Instagram

You're probably familiar with two-factor authentication when logging into your work email or intranet, but it's not something social media users have encountered often. However, Instagram is launching Security Checkup, 'a new feature to help people keep their Instagram accounts secure.' The company's blog post outlines several steps you can take to secure your account, including enabling login requests.

3. Get Personalized Video Messages from TikTok Celebs

TikTok users can request and pay their favorite content creators for video messages, like Cameo. The new feature is called 'Shoutouts,' and users can use TikTok coins, the virtual currency you can purchase to spend in-app.

4. New Ways to Reshare Content on IG Stories

Nothing to share on your Instagram? Why not reshare something you recently liked? Instagram is hoping that more users will reshare content that they have recently engaged with using a 'Reshare' sticker the company is testing out. You can already reshare content to your IG Stories, but the beta users can add an image to the background rather than just the auto-populated gradient background.

5. Are Fleets a thing yet?

Twitter is testing a new feature that displays Fleets from accounts you do not follow once you have viewed all of the Fleets from the people you follow. This test to popularize the story format on Twitter could be beneficial for brands looking to increase their organic reach on the platform.

Update from July 7

1. Why TikTok Doesn't Want You to 'Make Ads'

TikTok has some advice for marketers: 'Don't Make Ads!' The platform is encouraging brands to make ads and promotional content that mimics the type of content their broader user base creates. To do this, TikTok suggests brands either give it a go on their own or partner with influencers using the app and reshare UGC from customers. The blog cites several examples of small businesses transitioning from polished product shots to more realistic vertical videos. This advice is applicable across social media platforms and references the 'native advertising' trend popularized by the publishing industry.

2. Pinterest Bans Weight Loss Ads

Pinterest has just updated its advertising policy to 'prohibit all ads with weight loss language and imagery' beginning July 1. The new policy bans any weight loss language or imagery, imagery that idealizes or denigrates certain body types, any testimonials regarding weight loss or weight loss products, and more. It isn't the first time the platform has taken a stance against weight-loss advertising, but it is the first time a social media network bans weight loss ads entirely. Pinterest cited data from the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) that eating disorders had risen during the pandemic and its own users' search behavior around body positivity.

3. Shopping Black-owned Businesses on Instagram

Instagram is making it easier for users to find and shop for Black-owned businesses on its platform with the introduction of a 'Black-owned' label. The company said that over the last year, the number of companies that added 'Black-owned' to their bio increased 50%+.

4. Facebook Debuts Bulletin

Is your favorite journalist on Substack? Well, if they are, Facebook is hoping they will join Bulletin instead. The company has just announced the first few writers on Bulletin, 'a set of publishing and subscription tools to support creators in the US.' Creators can offer written and audio content to their subscribers, and importantly, the creators 'will keep all of their subscription revenue for the length of these partnerships, and will have the ability to take their subscriber lists and content with them.'

5. TikTok Plans to Extend Video Length to 180 Seconds

The time you spend scrolling through TikTok may be going up, and that's because the length of a TikTok is being extended. Instead of a max. length of 60 seconds, TikToks can soon be posted that are 180 seconds long after this update. This gives users (and brands) more time to tell their stories without having to break up those stories into multiple segments.

Update from June 29

1. Instagram Explore Is Coming to Your Instagram Feed

Instagram is bringing in content from Instagram Explore (aka people and brands you do not follow) into your feed in a more visible way. If you've ever scrolled through all of the posts from people you follow, you might have noticed that the app would then show you content from people you don't follow. However, how many people scroll that far? So, for a lot of users, this will be the first time they are seeing content from people they do not follow in their main feed. This update blurs the line between TikTok and Instagram further, as Instagram is clearly taking a cue from the way that content is populated in the most downloaded social media app of 2021.

2. Facebook Is Making Social Shopping a Thing on WhatsApp

According to Mark Zuckerberg, over 300 million people visit Facebook's Shops every month and there are over 1.2 million monthly active Shops on the platform. And now Facebook is making it easier for users of WhatsApp to access Shops. The company is also providing businesses with additional targeting options that allow business owners to provide more personalized shopping experiences, with personalized ads promoting special offers to select shoppers in the pipeline. In the company's post, they mentioned that 'one in three shoppers globally say they plan to spend less time in-store even after the pandemic is over,' and Facebook is hoping more of shoppers' time will be spent in its family of apps.

Since when is 15 seconds considered 'long-form content'? Well, in spite of our dropping attention spans, Twitter is launching a new 'longform' 15-second ad unit. Data from the app's test suggests that 'advertisers who used the 15s view bid unit saw an average of +89% higher completion rate, at a 25% cheaper cost per completed view.'

4. Pinterest Identifies the 5 Types of Shoppers Coming Out of COVID

There's no doubt about it: Coivd changed consumer behavior. From the way we shop to the way we commute (hello, from my kitchen table), our routines have changed. Pinterest examined how consumer behaviors have shifted and the new audience segments that have arisen out of the pandemic. The five personas are The Routine Ritualist, The Prioritized Parent, The New Nomad, The Eco Evangelist, and The Emerging Entrepreneur. Have you considered how your target audience's routines may have changed? If not, this research can put you in the right mindset for evaluating and reimagining your customer segments.

The rivalry between Facebook and Twitter is as old as, well, social media. However, a new update to Twitter allows users to share their tweets directly on Instagram Stories. Clicking on the tweet does not take a user from Instagram to Twitter, but maybe that's something to come in the future as well as a way to share content from Instagram directly to Twitter. It's an interesting update that can help brands and influencers reach their followers more easily across platforms.

Update from June 23

1. Facebook's Version of Clubhouse Is Live

The company has released Live Audio Rooms, which allow you to 'listen in on and join live conversations with public figures, experts and others about topics you're interested in.' Not just anyone can host a Live Audio Room. Additionally, you can now listen to podcasts on Facebook. The company is going all-in on the pivot to audio, as evidenced by the 'diverse catalog of podcasts' they are building for Facebook users.

2. Ads Within IG Reels Roll Out to More Regions

Instagram has launched ads in Reels globally. Maybe you've already seen a few (Did you click?). Like the content found within Reels, 'these ads will loop and can be up to 30 seconds. People can comment, like, view, save and share Reels ads.'

3. New Tools for Facebook Group Admins

At least 70 million active group admins are on Facebook, and the social media network knows it can be a difficult job. So the company has released a new set of tools like 'Conflict Alerts' to help group admins spot potential arguments and Admin Home to help them manage all of their notifications. For the brands using groups to share and disperse their content, under these new rules, admins can restrict comments that include a link to a third-party site.

4. Snapchat's Marketing Strategies for Small Business

Even if you're not a small business, I'd recommend you check out these tips from Snap on how to put together a marketing plan. The tips apply to businesses of all sizes, even companies that are not using Snapchat. From why you need to understand your audience to why tracking online behavior is important, this 9-step plan provides an outline you can use to validate your marketing strategy.

5. TikTok Jump Offers Embed Mini Apps

We all know that adding a 'link in bio' isn't ideal, so TikTok is trying to make it easier for Creators to share links to content such as recipes, quizzes, or other tools right in their videos. The company has been testing the TikTok Jump feature for several weeks but is just now beginning to roll it out more widely. The company's statement said, 'New providers including BuzzFeed, Jumprope, IRL, and WATCHA will also be launching their own Jumps in the coming weeks.'

Update from June 16

1. Explaining How the Instagram Algorithm Works

One of the top executives at Instagram will be publishing a series of blog posts outlining how the Instagram algorithm works. Apparently, Instagram has more than one algorithm, and those algorithms use 'thousands' of signals to decide what appears in your feed.

The four main signals include: Information about the post (how popular it is, what type of post it is, tagged location, etc.), Information about the person who posted (how frequently others engaged with that person in the past several weeks), Your activity (what you've liked in the past and how often), Your history of interacting with someone (how frequently do you engage with that person).

Adam Mosseri said, 'The more likely you are to take an action, and the more heavily we weigh that action, the higher up you'll see the post.'

2. New Ways to Monetize Instagram and Facebook for Creators

Instagram wants to become the internet's virtual shopping mall, and now it is letting influencers share their Shops filled with their merchandise on their business and personal profiles. Additionally, the platform is testing out a new 'Eligible for Commission' tag that allows creators to 'earn commissions for the purchases they drive' after sharing a shoppable post where the product is tagged.

The Facebook, Inc. platforms also made updates to their Badges and Stars programs to unlock more earning potential for creators by 'adding the ability for supporters to purchase multiple badges during an Instagram livestream, testing the ability for fans to send Stars during recorded content and expanding Stars to nine new markets.'

This announcement is for the writers, journalists, or creators that have a newsletter (or have thought about starting one). Twitter has announced plans for creators to add a new, prominent 'Subscribe' button on their profiles. The button will 'enable users to easily sign-up for a newsletter direct from the app.' Now, users with engaged audiences will be able to monetize their following further. The app recently rolled out Tip Jar, which allows people to send money to their favorite users.

4. Turning Up the Volume on TikTok

You probably already know that videos auto-play silently within most social media platforms' feeds - but that's not how TikTok users want to experience video! Sound is 'it's fundamental to the platform,' and apparently, it can prevent people from scrolling past your content so quickly. And for brands looking to advertise on the platform, it's time to listen up because their research study revealed: '73% of respondents said they would 'stop and look' at ads on TikTok with audio.' The study's findings also showed that users who experienced ads with sound were more likely to purchase from the brand and view the brand more favorably.

5. LinkedIn Shares Tips on How To Increase Your Following

As with all social media platforms, maximizing your reach requires growing your social media following. And now, LinkedIn has shared a few best practices for brands looking to do just that. Some of the tips are what you'd expect, like 'complete your Page by filling out the overview, logo, organization info, and call-to-action button,' but others are a bit more insightful. The company provided a four-step process for how to activate your employees on the platform best:

  1. Re-share your employees' best LinkedIn content.
  2. Notify employees of a recent Page post (you can notify employees 1x per day)
  3. Tag employees in posts from your Page.
  4. Use the My Company tab to create an employee-only community

Update from June 8

Twitter has announced a paid subscription service, Twitter Blue, that has already begun rolling out in Canada and Australia. The service allows subscribers to 'undo' tweets before they go to your timeline 30 seconds after publishing the tweet. This isn't the edit button people have been asking for since the social network launched, but it's progress. Subscribers can also view threads in an easier to digest 'Reader Mode' and group your saved tweets using the new 'Bookmark Folders.' This is a big test for Twitter-and other social media networks will be watching the adoption of a paid subscription service closely.

2. New Ways to Shop-and Sell-on Pinterest

Pinterest is introducing A LOT of new shopping features that will make it easier for Pinners to buy products directly from the platform. A new 'Shopping List' feature displays all the product Pins that you've saved on Pinterest in one place (like a giant shopping cart) and a new 'Shop' tab will be available when you search for ideas displaying only shoppable results. Merchants can also get that coveted blue checkmark through a new Verified Merchant Program and create a virtual storefront on their profile by adding a 'Shop Tab.'

According to Pinterest, people who visit Pinterest weekly outspent non-Pinners by 2x every month, meaning B2C brands should be monitoring all of these innovations.

3. New Feature Announcements Out of Facebook's F8 Refresh

According to the giant blue social media network, 90% of Instagram users today follow at least one business. And now, those users are going to have more ways to interact with the brands they follow. Facebook announced at the virtual event that all businesses will now have access to the API for messaging on Instagram, making it easier for businesses to communicate with followers directly. The company also announced new tools for WhatsApp, like 'list messages' that provide users with a menu of predetermined responses to select from. Again, this feature is about improving the interaction between brands and consumers on the platform.

While the jury is still out on Fleets, Twitter has launched a new full-screen, vertical ad format, like you're used to seeing on Instagram Stories and TikTok, to try to monetize the content format. The 30-second spots (max. length) feature a 'Swipe-up' CTA for brands wanting to drive click-through traffic. While Twitter hasn't shared much around Fleets' performance or user adoption, they hinted that this new ad format could begin appearing in other places in the app. As marketers, it's always good to keep an eye out for these new types of ad placements. Test everything, right?

5. Watch All of Social Media Week's Sessions Online

Okay, this last story is about leveling up your social media skillset. And one way to do that is by looking at examples of other brands' content. Econsultancy has put together a list of the best social stories and campaigns from May 2021 to help you do just that. And, if you weren't able to join any of the Social Media Week events, you can now watch all sessions online. So, now's the perfect time to block off some time in your calendar for self-development.

Update from June 1

1. Instagram Gives You the Option to Hide 'Likes'

Is the 'like' dead? Not at all. While Instagram now gives users the option to hide like counts on their profiles, the process requires several steps - and we know friction can inhibit adoption.

The social network didn't remove them because they said their research revealed that 'People want more flexibility, so we thought it would be important to give people the option.' So, now you have three options: leave things as they are, hide like counts on the posts that appear in your feed, or hide like counts on your own posts.

Although a like's value is debatable, many brands and influencers still use the metric in their reporting. If users begin to adopt this practice more widely, brands and influencers may have to look to other engagement metrics.

2. TikTok Launches a Radio Channel

You know that TikTok dance you learned during quarantine, well, know you can practice your moves while sitting in traffic on your way back to the office listening to the radio. TikTok has partnered with SiriusXM and Pandora to launch two 'audio experiences.'

On SiriusXM, listeners will be able to tune in to TikTok Radio to hear 'the trending sounds that are redefining pop culture from TikTok.' TikTok creators, tastemakers, and DJs will showcase 'trending music and stories behind the songs throughout each day, as well as a weekly music countdown dedicated to TikTok's top trending tracks.'

Listeners tuning in via Pandora will hear from TikTok creators who will 'listeners through their favorite songs with special commentary about their selections.'

Marketer's are you listening to this? Surely, these new channels will open up new ad formats and placement opportunities.

It soon may be time to update your Twitter bio. It may need a refresh anyway, but Twitter is also testing a new 'About' tab. The feature, which is still in testing, will likely provide 'a range of additional profile info fields, including preferred pronouns, translator status, interests, etc.' The fields displayed in the example below could be expanded in the future to feature relevant links and additional text.

Twitter is also testing 'Reactions,' like the ones you see on Facebook and LinkedIn. According to Jane Manchun Wong, the reactions that could soon be enabled are: 'Likes,' 'Cheer,' 'Hmm,' 'Sad' and 'Haha.'

Both new features would give users and brands more ways to express themselves on Twitter.

4. LGBTQ+ Creators on Twitter Share Advice for Brands

It's Pride Month, and that means it's time to update your corporate logo on all your social media profiles! But, that better not be the only thing your organization is doing to celebrate and support the LGBTQ+ community. Twitter spoke with some of the platform's most recognizable creators from the LGBTQ+ community to get their take on how brands can show their support during Pride Month (and, hopefully, year-round) in a meaningful way. If you're looking for ideas, give it a read.

5. Facebook to Flag Accounts Spreading Misinformation

The spread of misinformation and disinformation on social media platforms has become a highly debated issue since the 2016 U.S. presidential election. And today, Facebook has launched a new way to help inform individuals that they may be interacting with a Page or post that may contain false information or was reviewed by a fact-checker. A pop-up will appear before a person follows a page, letting them know that the page has been flagged for sharing false information in the past. This pop-up may deter people from following a Page.

Facebook says it will also continue to 'reduce a single post's reach in News Feed if it has been debunked.' This could mean lower engagement rates and follower counts for Pages and profiles spreading misinformation.

Update from May 25

Twitter's verification process which allows high-profile individuals and organisations to receive the coveted blue tick on their profiles has long been a source of mystery. But this week the platform relaunched verification and provided some transparency into how the process will work, along with criteria for who is eligible to be verified.

Users will now be able to apply for verification directly and, Twitter says, can usually expect a response within a few days.

2. Snapchat Adds Business Profiles

The ephemeral chat app introduced public profiles for businesses this week, giving brands an opportunity to build a presence on the platform for the first time. Snapchat says these free profiles are for businesses to build an organic following, engage with followers and sell products via a Shopify integration that turns the app into a new point of sale.

3. New Insights for Instagram Reels and Live

This week Instagram unveiled new analytics features for its Reels and Live formats, to help brands and creators get a clearer picture of how their content performs. A range of new metrics will give users insights into how their audience engages with them through Reels and Live videos, and the platform is also expanding the information provided about Reach to provide a better view of what type of accounts your content reaches.

4. A New Facebook Transparency Update

Facebook has released its most recent community standards report, in which it outlines the steps taken to enforce standards on the platform. The report includes data on the volume of hate speech, harassment, and other illegal or inappropriate content that has been identified on the service, and the steps Facebook has taken to combat such material.

The company also announced a new Transparency Centre - a microsite featuring information on how Facebook creates its policies and how they're enforced.

5. More Brands Are Working With Influencers

Recent research from eMarketer shows that the number of US marketers who plan to run influencer marketing campaigns continues to grow. A survey of American businesses with over 100 employees found that 68% plan to use influencer marketing in 2021, compared to 63% last year. Next year the figure is expected to rise even further to 72.5%.

If you'd like to learn more about how to implement a social influencer marketing campaign, get in touch with us today!

Update from May 18

1. Reddit Offers Brands Creative Services

Good news for brands keen to tap into Reddit's huge online community. The platform has launched an in-house creative agency, called KarmaLab, to help advertisers build campaigns that will play well to the site's unique audience.

Reddit can be a great place to reach your audience, thanks to its many hyper-focused subreddit niche interest communities. But, like any online community, it's too easy for brands to blunder in without understanding how best to engage with the members, and KarmaLab aims to help them get it right.

2. Facebook Experiments with Live Shopping

Starting this week, Facebook is running an initiative called Live Shopping Fridays, in which three leading brands will broadcast 'shoppable' streaming videos around the same topic such as 'Glow Up' or 'Self Care Spotlight'. The experiment will run until July and is currently focused on beauty and fashion brands.

It appears that this is an early experiment with the format, and if it proves successful perhaps we'll see it being rolled out to a wider range of businesses so others can try this style of social selling.

3. New Pinterest Video Content Format

Pinterest this week rolled out 'Idea Pins' to all of its users, a new video content format. The feature is an evolution of an earlier one called Story Pins which, as the name suggests, was Pinterest's take on Instagram Stories - short video clips. The concept has been updated based on user feedback, and given a new name to reflect that. Read more about it here.

After a busy month from Twitter, there were no major announcements this week except the promise of an improved search capability for DMs. This is one feature upgrade that's likely to be of more use to social media managers than average users, since they often need to interact with fans or customers through DMs, and the ability to find a particular conversation thread more easily will be welcome.

5. Instagram Adds Pronouns

In an effort to improve inclusivity, Instagram has added the ability for users to specify their preferred pronouns on their profiles. Up to four different pronouns can be specified, chosen from a preset list of commonly used ones, and these can be changed at any time. There's also an option to limit the visibility of these pronouns so that only your followers can see them.

The feature is currently available in a few as yet unspecified countries, and will roll out to more in due course.

Update from May 11

Twitter has stopped cropping tall images in users' timelines, a move which will be welcomed by social media managers who no longer need to guess how such pictures will appear to their audiences.

Also this week, Twitter introduced the Tip-Jar feature that has been rumoured for a while, enabling users to make cash payments to their favorite accounts. Finally, if you're interested in how brands can make use of the new Spaces audio chat feature, Twitter has published this handy guide.

2. Facebook Wants Users to Read Before Sharing

Facebook is testing a new feature that will ask users to read articles before sharing them, echoing a similar move by Twitter last year. The feature is designed to encourage people to get the full facts in a story, beyond the headlines.

Facebook Messenger and Instagram also introduced several new creative tools for users, including the ability to send 'visual replies' to messages, such as videos or images, instead of just text.

3. Clubhouse Now on Android

The fast-growing audio-chat platform, Clubhouse, is finally available for Android (at least in beta form) but the bad news is that it's still invite-only. The app has been available on iOS for just over a year and has been successful enough to convince Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to introduce competing features, even before it's fully open to the general public.

4. Pinterest Ad Platform Guide

Pinterest has released a new guide for marketers who want to better understand how advertising works on the platform. With over 450 million monthly active users, and consistent growth, Pinterest is one of the unsung heroes of social media and has a lot to offer brand marketers.

5. Snapchat Gen Z TV Research

Snapchat has released new research from Nielsen which shows how the ephemeral video-sharing platform's reach compares, and sometimes contributes to that of TV. There are a few interesting data points in the research, but the key takeaway is that Gen Z is less likely to be as tethered to the TV as previous generations were, and platforms like Snapchat provide a supplemental channel for reaching them.

Update from May 5

Twitter has bought Scroll, a still in closed-beta, service that gives subscribers ad-free access to online media content while sharing the subscription revenues amongst publishers in proportion to where readers spend the most of their time. The service's aim is to give subscribers a better experience and enable publishers to make more money than they would through ads.

Recently Twitter acquired Revue, a service that helps writers to build and monetize newsletters. These moves give us a big clue that Twitter is focusing on how it can support content creators, and specifically writers.

Also this week, Twitter has rolled out its Spaces audio-chat feature to all users with 600 or more followers. Spaces allows Twitter users to host an audio chat on their profile, inviting up to 10 other users to participate in the discussion, while an unlimited number of followers can listen in.

The company says that it's looking into additional features, including monetization options, scheduling, and shared hosting. It's also likely that the service will eventually be made available to all users.

3. Pinterest Search Trends Point to Post-Lockdown Plans

Pinterest has shared some data on its users' recent search behavior, which gives us an insight into what kind of things are on consumers' minds as the world begins to move out of lockdown. Searches among Gen Z users alone have increased by almost 100% compare to this time last year.

The data shows that people are especially interested in travel and socializing topics, and are also hunting for inspiration on what to wear now that they're able to restart their lives. The surge in home improvement projects during lockdown shows no sign of easing, however, as users continue searching for décor ideas on the platform.

This week saw three of the big social platforms posting their Q1 2021 growth data. Twitter's daily user numbers have grown to 199 million, compared to 166 million for the same period last year. The company posted revenues of $1.04billion for Q1, a 28% YoY jump.

Meanwhile, Facebook saw an 8% YoY increase in its daily active users, rising to 1.88 billion. Q1 revenue for Facebook was up 48% to $26.17 billion. Pinterest's monthly active users for Q1 rose 30% to 478 million, with a 78% YoY growth for Q1 delivering $485 million.

If you thought social media growth had plateaued, you were wrong!

5. Study Finds No Evidence Social Damages Teens' Mental Health

A major study from the University of Oxford's Internet Institute has found no evidence of any link between teenager's use of social media and mental health problems. The research used data sets covering over 400,000 adolescents in the UK and US, to determine whether there was any relationship between the amount of time they spent using the internet and the risk of mental illness.

Update from April 27

Businesses and other organizations that want to use Twitter have always had to use the same kind of accounts as private individuals on the platform, with no specific features available to 'professional' users.

That looks set to change, now that Twitter is openly testing new 'Professional Profiles' that offer features designed for organizational users rather than consumers. The new profiles are currently being tested by a few US businesses, but the trial should soon widen, according to Twitter.

Details are scarce about the new functionality, but this has the potential to be a game-changer for social media marketers. While Twitter is overshadowed by Facebook and Instagram in terms of user numbers, it is still one of the most important social channels for marketing and communications professionals. Any change in the way brands are able to use the platform will have a significant impact.

2. Instagram Adds Anti-Abuse Tools

In an effort to help protect users from abuse in their DMs, Instagram has introduced a new feature that will automatically filter out messages that contain abusive language. Specifically, the feature blocks abusive message requests from strangers, since that's one of the most common paths used to harass people on Instagram.

As well as blocking requests that contain pre-defined abusive language, users can also add their own choice of words and phrases to the filter, as well as emojis. The platform is also rolling out a feature that will enable users to stop receiving message requests from new accounts set up by people they have already blocked.

Social media managers all too often bear the brunt of online abuse directed at their brands, which can take a toll when they have to deal with it every day. Features like this are vital for brands as well as consumers, to make social a better place for everybody.

3. Facebook Wants Your Timeline Feedback

In Facebook's ongoing mission to fill your News Feed with the most relevant content based on your personal preferences, the platform is expanding its use of user surveys as a ranking factor. That means users can expect to be asked more often whether a piece of content was worth their time, and their feedback will help determine how prominently similar content is displayed to them in the future.

In a recent announcement, Facebook also said it would be trialing a range of new ranking factors to help improve the quality of users' News Feeds. These include whether people find content 'inspirational', how interested you are in a specific topic (regardless of who posted it), and what content users expressly do not want to see more of.

Anybody who manages a brand's profile on social will be familiar with the struggle of getting their organic content to cut through the noise. While it's inevitable that you'll need to pay to boost content a lot of the time, it's still possible for good content to do well organically sometimes. Keeping a close eye on the factors Facebook uses to determine how content is displayed to users will help you optimize your posts for the best organic performance.

4. Nerf's New TikTok Officer

Popular toy brand, Nerf, this week announced the appointment of its new TikTok Officer, responsible for representing the company on the booming video sharing platform. Sophie Jamison, better known on TikTok as Nerfers101, is a well-known Nerf-superfan who accumulated an audience of 1.8million followers on the platform.

The position is temporary, with Jamison's tenure billed as a three-month stint, so this is clearly more of a PR tactic than a long-term role, but it certainly highlights the growing influence of TikTok among younger audiences. While many brands may struggle to understand how best to capitalise on the platform's short-format video offering, the company has recently put a lot of effort into making itself more accessible to businesses, not least by providing education resources for marketers who are curious about how to get involved.

5. Clubhouse Partners with NFL

Most of us can't use Clubhouse yet (especially those of us who use Android) but that isn't stopping the nascent audio-chat app from making waves. This week the company announced a content deal with the NFL that will see the sports league hosting rooms on its app that will provide a range of exclusive content for fans.

Update from April 19

1. Facebook Launches Audio Experiences

In a week that saw Clubhouse secure funding which values the business at $4 billion, Facebook announced its response to the growing audio-chat trend.

The new features include tools for creating audio content, short-form audio clips for Facebook posts, live audio rooms for Groups and Messenger, plus integrated podcast tools.

Facebook says that all of these new features are designed to work together to give users a seamless experience, and will become part of a 'central listening destination'. There will also be options for creators to monetize the audio content they publish on the platform.

2. Reddit Confirms New Audio Features

Last week we mentioned that Reddit was rumoured to be launching its own audio-chat feature, and this week the company has confirmed its plan for Reddit Talk. In a post on the site, the company announced a waitlist for access to the new feature, which will allow the moderators of Reddit communities to host live audio chats.

One of Reddit's most successful trends has been AMA (Ask Me Anything) threads, where high profile individuals (or simply people with interesting stories) offer to answer questions from users. This has worked well as a text-based feature, but it's easy to see how audio AMA sessions could become very popular.

3. New Creative Tools for Brands on TikTok

TikTok this week unveiled its new Business Creative Hub, designed to help brands on the platform come up with creative ideas for their own content.

The hub provides access to trending content, to give you an idea of what's already working well on the platform, as well as tips and guidance on best practices for creating posts that will perform well.

The Hub is available to all TikTok users who have business accounts on the platform.

4. Instagram Lets Users Turn Off Like Counts

Instagram is testing a new feature that allows users to switch off the Like-counts shown on posts. This is an issue that has been explored by Instagram and other social platforms for a while, whether the relentless pursuit of more likes is harmful to users' mental wellbeing, as well as damaging the overall experience of the service.

Instagram has previously tried switching off Like counts entirely for some users and, following feedback on those earlier experiments, it's now giving users in the test group the option to choose for themselves whether they want to see the counts on their posts.

5. Pinterest Helps Creators Control Their Content

Pinterest has introduced a new Content Claiming Portal, which enables content creators to protect their IP on the platform, by claiming ownership of their images and deciding how they want to permit those images to be used across the site.

To begin with, the tool is only available to a handful of creators, but Pinterest says it will roll the feature out to a wider range of users in the future.

Update from April 12

1. Facebook & YouTube Dominate US Social

The latest research into US social media usage from Pew shows that 81% of Americans use Facebook, and 69% use YouTube, making them by far the most popular social platforms. Instagram trailed in third place at 40%. Just 23% use Twitter, and 21% use TikTok.

The study also found that most social platforms have not grown much since 2019, with only Reddit and YouTube showing a significant increase in users since then. Unsurprisingly, adults under 30 are more likely to use Instagram, Snapchat at TikTok than older people.

The report, Social Media Use in 2021, is based on a survey of 1,500 Americans carried out earlier this year.

2. Facebook Tests New Live Audio Feature

As Clubhouse continues to generate buzz across the industry, other social media companies are making their own forays into live-audio-focused platforms in a bid to protect their market share. The latest experiment comes from Facebook in the form of Hotline, a new feature that is designed to facilitate Q&A sessions between creators and fans.

Hotline combines audio, text, and video, and was released into public beta last week in the US. The full story is at TechCrunch.

In other news from Facebook, the company announced that it will now label content in users' newsfeeds to help people differentiate between independent news sources, statements from public officials, satire, and other information channels.

3. Reddit Also Dabbles with Audio

Facebook isn't the only social media platform hoping to muscle in on the Clubhouse party. Mashable reports that the massive online community service is trialing a new audio-chat feature of its own, although the story is unconfirmed by Reddit.

According to the report, these voice chats would be run by subreddit moderators (the power-users who admin the site's many niche-interest communities) and might form part of a package of incentives available to users who pay for a premium experience of the site.

This year will see Twitter offering its advertisers a wider range of products and an improved ad-buying experience, according to a report in Campaign. A major new focus for the platform will be performance ads, which drive users to perform specific actions such as viewing a video or downloading an app onto their device.

This is all in contrast to the kind of advertising users currently experience on Twitter, which is largely designed to increase brand awareness rather than creating action. But in this space, as well, the platform is planning to offer new formats and products for advertisers.

As Twitter strives to grow its revenues, the opportunity for brands on the platform looks set to expand significantly.

That's it! Come back next week for another recap of the biggest social media news and PR stories of the week.