Category: Facebook

How Instagram’s New Redesign is Driving Short-Form Video and In-App Shopping

Instagram launched Reels in August after a year of testing, and now the platform is getting serious about its leadership in the e-commerce space, and more specifially competing with the likes of TikTok, through some bold real estate changes that give it direct exposure on the main screen.

Here’s a look at some of the updates brands and marketers can expect on their feeds and how to lean into them as a way to connect with their audiences.

Prioritizing the short-form video feed

In the new redesign, the Compose button and Activity tab are relocated and now accessible at the top-right of the home screen, while the center middle button now belongs to, you guessed it, the Reels icon. Previously, Reel videos were mixed in with other photo and video uploads found on the Explore page or in your feed if someone happened to share onee. This led to the platform testing new layouts over the past couple of months as early users dubbed the content hard to find. Now, the Reels button takes you to a dedicated page of curated content organized by people you follow and your previous engagement patterns and interests.

As far as if we can expect ads to pop up in Reels soon, the quick answer is yes. Instagram Head Adam Mosseri shared in a statement to CNBC, “I think that we can leverage the story ad format [for Reels] because it’s the same immersive experience, so that’ll be helpful because you don’t need to get advertisers to create a bunch of new creative.” This may pave the way to more welcomed advertising opportunities for brands especially amongst younger demographics who crave experiences from the content delivered to them.

If 2020 has underscored any actionable learnings, a top one to pocket is that consumers want to be engaged with in the spaces they’re already interacting. This is what translates into successful, genuine action and loyalty needed to rise about the clutter.

Fueling inspiration, commerce and support of small businesses

By some estimates including those from analysts at IBM, COVID-19 has accelerated the shift to e-commerce by at least five years. Instagram has been virtually shoppable since 2018, but to stay abreast of the current evolution of e-commerce and consumer behavior patterns, the platform wasted no time taking drastic measures to pivot accordingly.

Earlier this summer, Instagram began testing the Shop tab in place of the Activity tab in July, directing users to an updated version of the Instagram Shop. Here, they had the capability to filter by brands they followed on Instagram or by product category. Most recently, the platform is displaying this tab more prominently upon seeing an uptick in younger demographics looking to influencers for buying inspiration.

“…We’ve seen an explosion in short, entertaining videos on Instagram. We’ve also seen an incredible amount of shopping move online, with more and more people buying online and young people looking to their favorite creators for recommendations on what to buy,” Instagram head Mosseri shared in the official announcement.

Specifically, with the push users can more easily access personalized recommendations, shoppable videos, and new product collections as well as browse editors’ picks curated by the @shop channel.

Finding a balance between speed and simplicity

The overarching goal with the design revamp as explained by Director of Product Management, Robby Stein, is an expanded suite of products underpinned by simplicity and seamlessness. Put differently, there’s a clear and a designated spot for posting your own content, a specific spot to go when you want to be entertained, and a distinct hub for making purchases.

In the announcement, Mosseri also reiterated the platform’s biggest risk is not the pace at which it evolves, but that it remains stagnant and inevitably becomes irrelevant. This is a particularly relevant point when taking into consideration how people create and enjoy culture has fundamentally changed and what this means for marketers. Adaptability is inevitable and a necessity in order to foster long-term relationships. The key, however, is doing so purposefully and with a bias toward simple, easy actions driven by authentic digital experiences.

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Feature image credit: marketingland.com

The post How Instagram’s New Redesign is Driving Short-Form Video and In-App Shopping appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/11/how-instagrams-new-redesign-is-driving-short-form-video-and-in-app-shopping/

How Facebook is Helping Brands Adapt for the Mindful Consumer

2020 has been a challenge — particularly when it comes to mental health. From online fitness classes to recipe inspiration and DIY projects — consumers have a renewed sense of appreciation for the simpler things in life as they carve out new mindful habits. While this has become apparent, what this will ultimately spell out for the industry is still up for discussion.

Facebook recently embarked on a report to uncover some of the trends that will have a lasting impact on health and well-being and what they mean for brands as they prepare their strategies ahead of 2021.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the key topics and findings.

Self-care as an essential ritual

During a time where widespread working-from-home arrangements have blurred the boundaries between work and leisure, wellness routines and creative pursuits have become instrumental in carving out “me” time. For consumers, this is regarded as essential for relaxation and as a means of entertainment in lieu of regular social events.

Per the report findings, over half (58%) U.S. consumers who have worked on a craft or DIY project for the first time as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic say this is an activity they could see themselves continuing to do for years to come. Further, 80 percent of Americans intend to regularly practice self-care post-pandemic.

What is the moral here for brands? Self-care is no longer a luxury but a necessity. Consumers are more likely to engage in mindful purchases with a treat yourself mentality as opposed to impulsive ones and crave opportunities to create small moments of serenity day-to-day. In turn, there is a tremendous opportunity for brands to step in and reshape their narratives in ways that empower the consumer to establish their own health-building habits.

Altruism and purpose

Seventy percent of survey respondents reported they are now more aware that human activity threatens the climate than they were before the outbreak of COVID-19. Roughly the same percentage (71%) of consumers say they’d lose trust in a brand forever should it be seen placing profit over people.

Beyond helping people care for themselves, it is table stakes for today’s brands to take a stand on social and environmental issues and consumers will be quick to flag when they don’t or an attempt is disingenuous. In this vein, customers want to be thought of as humans, not consumers, and have their values and interests reflected in the companies they support. More than ever, they want the affirmation their purchasing power is being used to create positive change.

The prioritization of brands to display human qualities including empathy, compassion, and kindness is not only one consumers look to in a brand’s external communications, but also across their organization. As an example, 55 percent of U.S. consumers find it important that a brand offers medical and paid sick leave benefits to all employees. In other major markets like the U.K., this figure is even higher at 75 percent.

Social listening and empathetic experiences

As the report refers to it, “future-proofing” is on the rise with consumers tackling tough, longer-term decisions amidst the uncertainty of COVID-19. This ranges from career choices to saving or relocating, and even lifestyle specifics such as diets. More specifically, 75 percent of global consumers plan to eat and drink healthier as a result of the pandemic.

In addition to self-care, this year peace of mind has largely been derived from planning and brands can continue to play an instrumental role in this regard as consumers seek safety and stability. Experiences are varied so this can present obstacles by way of not being able to lean back on a one-size-fits-all strategy. To overcome this, brands must lead with adaptability, practice regular social listening to ensure alignment with values and needs of consumers, and reflect this effort through empathetic messaging.

COVID-19 has not only sharpened the individual level of mindfulness but what it means to be collectively well as a society. Consumers expect brands to step up, be active listeners, and assume responsibility for their communities as definitions of care and wellness evolve. As the brand-consumer relationship faces growing complexity, marketers should focus on several basic questions as their guidepost including who are you marketing to, how can you appropriately target them, and how has their mindset shifted?

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http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/11/how-facebook-is-helping-brands-adapt-for-the-mindful-consumer/

3 Ways Facebook is Supporting Mental Health

2020 has been ripe with change, uncertainty, and endless efforts to manage the uncertain outcomes of our decisions as best we can. Beyond the fear of contracting the virus are the new realities of working from home, virtual schooling, and lack of physical interaction with colleagues, family, and friends. While mask-wearing, frequent handwashing and social distancing have become the norm as a way of avoiding physical illness, ongoing worry and stress continue to exacerbate mental health challenges.

For the one in five who already have mental health conditions – or the one in two who are at risk of developing them – this issue is an important one, arguably as crucial as physical safety. Organizations and platforms continue to show their dedication to this growing issue in a variety of updates. Most recently, as part of this year’s WWorld Suicide Prevention Day, Facebook announced the rollout of several new mental health support updates. Specifically, the platform is introducing new parameters on self-harm related content, utilizing mobile messaging to offer expert support in real-time, and promoting digital literacy on the topic of suicide prevention.

New parameters around self-harm related content

In a recent survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than half (53%) of adults in the U.S. reported their mental health has been negatively impacted due to the coronavirus, up from 32 percent in March. Specifically, respondents reported difficulty sleeping (36%) or eating (32%), increases in alcohol consumption or substance abuse (12%) and worsening chronic conditions (12%) due to increased stress and anxiety.

A separate report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, conducted this past June, found that one in four young adults between 18 and 24 said they considered suicide in the 30 days prior to the study citing the pandemic as the leading factor. This topic involves a delicate balance by the part of platforms and poses new questions and obstacles that must be carefully considered, specifically what constitutes “harmful” and where to draw the line between what is in violation of platform guidelines or not.

Last year Instagram expanded its ban on images of self-harm and now Facebook is looking to expand upon its already-existing rules regarding self-harm related content. While some content may not technically be in violation of the rules, the platform is working closely with experts to implement restrictions on content including “depressing quotes or memes” to protect those particularly vulnerable during these times. This is a difficult line to walk however, as for some who may not feel comfortable sharing their struggles, quotes or memes may be a useful coping mechanism.

Chat as a vehicle for crisis support

The proliferation of mobile messaging offers brands and platforms a number of opportunities to connect with communities in unprecedented ways.

Recent data from eMarketer shows that in 2020 there are around 2.7 billion mobile phone messaging app users worldwide, and this number is projected to grow to 3.1 billion by 2023. For context, this equates to roughly 40 percent of the global population. During an age of social distancing, the time is now to turn to this trend as an integral way to share resources, insights, and foster connection. In this vein, as part of its recent push to support mental health Facebook is introducing a new, real-time assistance option via Messenger chat.

“Getting people help in real-time is especially important when they are in distress. In the coming months, we’ll make it easier for people to talk in real-time with trained crisis and mental health support volunteers over Messenger,” the company shared in its News blog.

With 1.3 billion people using Messenger to date and with plans officially underway to merge WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger into a single app, this could be a seamless and non-intrusive way for those seeking help to get access to the resources they need.

Wellness guides and digital literacy resources

In May Instagram announced its ‘Guides’ options for profiles, enabling users to more easily discover content including tips on how to look after your well-being, maintaining connection with others or managing anxiety or grief from their favorite creators and brands.

Building on this, Facebook is launching localized guides offering targeted ways to support those who are struggling. The company pointed to The Suicide Prevention of India’s guide, which emphasizes fostering social connectedness, Mentally Aware Nigeria’s guide catered to having safe conversations about suicide, and Samaritans HK of Hong Kong guide to simple but effective ways to check on your friends and loved ones as examples it seeks to emulate.

Beyond wellness guides, Facebook is doubling down on digital literacy by incorporating Orygen’s #chatsafe guidelines to its Safety Center — the primary aim of the move being to help educators better navigate mental health conversations with their students. In addition, Facebook unveiled its ‘Get Digital’ digital citizenship and wellbeing program featuring a microsite of courses spanning key themes of connection, empowerment, and engagement.

In tandem with the new program, Facebook will host a series of live events throughout this month September tackling a variety of key concerns in the midst of an abnormal academic year — the first of which will leverage insights from the JED Foundation to address mental health.

Mental health has been a prominent and recurring topic in recent months but one worth keeping at the front of our messaging and stories. As marketers, we play an instrumental role in helping remove the stigma and making the practice of digital empathy more mainstream. Creating shared understanding and experiences in an age of social distancing has its challenges, but there are also tremendous opportunities for how can we use the power of technology to address these issues.

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How Facebook is Normalizing Virtual Social Interaction

This year the virtual reality market is estimated at $6.1 billion and is expected to reach a whopping $20.9 billion by 2025.

While many social platforms have taken note of the trend, Facebook has cemented itself as one of the leaders for building technology in the space including VR headsets and spearheading the trend that is virtual social reality. The company made a big splash when it launched Oculus in 2014 and have since expanded on this growth through releasing a variety of headshots including the Oculus Rift and the standalone set Oculus Quest.

During OC6 in September 2019, Facebook introduced Facebook Horizon — a “social experience where you can explore, play and create in extraordinary ways.” Users were invited to join a beta group until recently when the platform decided to expedite the process of having people on the waitlist actually test the experience.

Promoting gameplay and world building

During a time where “Zoom fatigue” is a common saying and Zoom calls and drive-by birthday parties are the norm, people crave a new type of social interaction — one that isn’t passive but active in the ability to feel immersed and collaborate with others through representation, play, and worldbuilding.

One of the many features of Horizon is being able to engage in games like mini golf, escape rooms, and paintball. Another notable emphasis is on world-building. What does this mean for brands and marketers? A new way to interact with and engage audiences. For example, they’d have the option to build a world for consumers to participate in a scavenger hunt that leads them to discount codes for free items. More generally, they could have the option to shoot ads directly within Horizon and use the avatars of fans as extras — giving them a first-hand look and direct involvement in the product they’d buy.

Capitalizing on the growing role of social VR

As the pandemic has shaped society primarily in how we socialize, the importance of social VR apps like Horizon have never been more timely or important for people looking for a single place to gather with friends and get creative. For some context — a new Statista survey found that almost 30 percent (29.7) of U.S. social media users engaged with social media apps 1 to 2 additional hours per day during quarantine. Separately, eMarketer recently found that 51 percent of U.S. adults are using social media at higher rates due to the pandemic.

“Imagine a place where a brand can invite their brand ambassadors to try out a product without hopping on an airplane? A place a brand can launch a press release without writing a press release but actually being there and sharing the news with a community of journalists in social VR. There are so many opportunities for brands and content creators. I can’t wait to see what happens next,” shared early beta Horizon content creator and social media consultant, Navah Berg in a statement to Forbes.

Prioritizing safety and privacy

Converging the virtual and physical worlds comes with its fair share of opportunities in how we connect and collaborate, but it also comes with risks Facebook has a responsibility to manage, specifically around privacy and safety.

Facebook is taking measures to get ahead of these issues by incorporating a personal “Safe Zone,” in which Horizon users can mute, block or report people and content around you. “We know it’s difficult to record a painful incident while it’s happening, which is why your Oculus headset will capture the last few minutes of your experience in Horizon on a rolling basis. When you submit a report, you can include this captured information as evidence of what happened,” Facebook explained.

No matter your stance on VR and its use cases, developments like these are worth keeping tabs on from the perspective that the future of communication are undoubtedly headed in this direction. We are approaching an inflection point in which technologies will only continue to push the boundaries of social media marketing and redefine the words “communication” and “presence.”

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Facebook’s Newest Consumer Trends: What Your Brand Needs to Know

As small and mid-size businesses continue to face challenges amidst COVID-19, platforms including Facebook, recognize their key role in helping people find new ways to support these companies, stay informed, and stay connected. Finding that nearly half (45%) of small businesses may not return in the next three months, Facebook recently created the Support Small Business Hub, debuted a Support Small Business sticker that users can seamlessly integrate into their Stories, and introduced the #SupportSmallBusiness hashtag to encourage people to shout out their favorites.

Fast forward to today, Facebook kicked off a new national television and digital campaign that aims to share small business stories of navigating the pandemic and how the platform’s various tools can help them find the balance between addressing the uncertainties of today while identifying the opportunities of tomorrow. In this vein it’s also breaking down give global macro-trends marketers should keep top of mind as they shape their strategies.

Global shifts shaping the future

The shift to doing business online is more urgent than ever. People are coming together to support causes they believe in — but what are the specific values and shifts businesses should keep top of mind? The ways we live, work, shop and connect continue to evolve, unleashing behaviors with staying power and Facebook set out to unearth those with signs of staying power in a batch of new research.

“We’ve analyzed Facebook data, commissioned surveys and third-party research. We looked at the acceleration of existing trends alongside the emergence of new ones. And we’ve identified five global macro-shifts shaping the future, now,” the platform explained. From shopping to connectivity to perceptions of community and mindfulness, here are the leading changes and what they may mean for marketers as we look ahead.

A safer shopping experience

Price and convenience may have dominated the buyer’s decision-making process, but according to Facebook safety may take the top spot when it comes to purchases.

Seventy-one percent of people now say safety is key when deciding where to shop. This sentiment is transcending borders whereby globally only half (50%) of shoppers reporting they’re eager to return to physical stores. In addition, 40 percent surveyed globally plan to upkeep their online shopping habits post-pandemic.

These notions are permeating online conversations as Facebook saw a 6x increase in dialogues relating to contactless shopping and living in the past few months since the COVID-19 outbreak.

Stats aside, what the research really depicts is the fact that as more and more people experiment with new tactics like buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS), or go fully online with their shopping, brands need to consistently communicate how they’re keeping their consumers safe and have an easy-to-follow, friendly mobile shopping experience start to end.

Embracing the practice of mindfulness

Beyond shopping, people have adjusted to new ways of living, working, learning and parenting.
While this can come with some headaches and challenges, it also is a welcomed opportunity to spend more time with family and friends. What is filling the added time back in our schedules? Practicing mindfulness and wellness through meditation apps, the livestreaming of yoga and other workout classes, classes and #quarantinebaking.

These activities are not only allowing people to balance their work and home life but are a welcomed distractions that are opening the doors to creativity, Even in times of stillness or isolation we can find ways to be creative, and starting can be as simple as physically putting down our phones so we have the ability to dedicate the time to what truly makes us inspired and happy and that we’re genuinely feeling.

‘Glocal’ communities

The pandemic continues to drive an uptick in people expressing a sense of local connection online. With people still uncertain when their favorite local businesses would be able to open their doors again, if ever, Facebook saw, in the period of February to May 2020, clicks on searches for local businesses increase by 23 percent and local groups on Facebook grow by 3.3x.

Outside of their own neighborhoods, however, people are simultaneously reawakened to the idea that they’re a global citizen who is bound together with the rest of the world by a common event. Since January 2020, people have donated over $100 million to COVID-19 related fundraisers across Facebook and Instagram and feel 1.26x more concerned about the pandemic on a global scale than in their own country.

Permanent changes

Half (50%) of people globally say being able to message with a business instills a greater sense of connection. Further, 40 percent of holiday shoppers say they are more likely to consider purchasing from a business they can message. These are just some of the permanent changes we can expect to see as we look ahead. Driven largely by Gen Z, now encompassing 41 percent of the population, we can also expect younger audiences to prefer using online learning platforms, watching more online videos, using messaging services frequently, and devoting more time towards hobbies.

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How Facebook is Helping SMBs Engage New Audiences

A few months ago, Facebook announced a $100M grant program in support of SMBs. Shortly after it introduced Facebook Shops to help them sell online. Today, the social media giant is building on these efforts by introducing a new product to monetize classes and online events dubbed plain and simply, ‘Paid Online Events.’ At launch, the option will be available in 20 countries for Pages that meet its partner monetization policies.

The growing role of broadcasts

In June, Facebook saw live broadcasts from Pages double compared to the same time last year, largely driven by a spike in broadcasts since March and the outbreak of COVID-19.

In response to this trend, the platform is putting additional resources towards allowing businesses and creators to monetize the events they’ve had to pivot to digital. More specifically, through a new update business owners now have the ability to create the event, set the price, promote the event, collect the payment, and host the event itself all from one place.

“With social distancing mandates still in place, many businesses and creators are bringing their events and services online to connect with existing customers and reach new ones,” explained Head of Facebook App Fidji Simo. “People are also relying on live video and interactive experiences more when they can’t come together physically.” With much of the country still grappling with closures of music venues, event spaces, and other venues for public gatherings, the app seeks to fill a significant void for SMBs and other marketers in need of alternative revenue options.

A frictionless, in-stream process

What’s important to note that the offering meets the end-to-end needs of a local business spanning marketing, payment, and live video. They create drive engagement via organic or paid advertisements and can subsequently create custom audiences from event or class attendees. For paid online events, event hosts will receive payouts once per month after they cross a minimum threshold balance of $100.

So how does payment actually work? The new option will enable businesses and creators to charge directly on Facebook for access to their online events. Depicted by the snapshot below, users will tap on the ‘Purchase Access’ button and immediately be taken through the in-stream payment process, which is facilitated by their in-app settings.

In testing, events with early users included talks, trivia, podcast recordings, boxing matches, cooking classes, meet-and-greets, and fitness classes. Meanwhile, Facebook also revealed tests of the ability to host smaller, more interactive gatherings in Messenger Rooms. The company also hinted that it would soon offer brands and creators the option to tag products from their Facebook Shop or catalog before going live. Those products will be shown at the bottom of the video so people can easily tap to learn more and purchase.

No fees for a year

Facebook has promised to not collect any fees for paid online events for at least the next year. Further, transactions completed on the web, and on Android in countries where the platform has rolled out Facebook Pay, SMBs and creators will keep 100% of the revenues they generate from paid online events. While Google agreed to waive the fees for Android devices, Apple decided to stick with its normal 30 percent commission for the App Store creating a point of tension as Facebook looks to unite the technology space in supporting businesses during this uncertain time.

According to Simo, Apple was also presented the option of using Facebook Pay so the platform could absorb the added costs but this was also declined. “Unfortunately, they dismissed both our requests and SMBs will only be paid 70 percent of their hard-earned revenue.”

Whether the rollout of paid events will transform into a long-term, viable business solution remains to be seen but in the present, it offers relief during a time many businesses continue to take a hit as a result of the pandemic. It’s also a win for Facebook — primarily by allowing it to showcase its live-streaming and video capabilities.

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How Facebook is Empowering Black Creators and Businesses

Over the span of the last few months, COVID-19 has flipped the world on its head, but most heavily hit were small businesses — particularly those owned by minority entrepreneurs. Even prior to the COVID19 outbreak, this group, which comprises 37 percent of all US businesses, faced greater challenges in starting, running, and growing their companies according to new data. Despite progress being made in terms of vaccine development and parts of the country continuing to re-open, these hurdles still remain.

Here’s a few ways Facebook is lending its support in offering the resources and tools needed for these businesses to thrive.

Black Business August 

Facebook is looking to celebrate and promote the work of Black business owners and their adversity with “Black Business August,” a month-long series of education and business growth content featuring training, programming, and business spotlights.

“We invite you to join us throughout August as we host virtual events, dive into topics like finance, health and fashion, and share inspiring stories of Black-owned businesses from all over the country,” the company said in an official blog announcement.

Experts to be featured in upcoming sessions include Simileoluwa Adebajo, Head Chef and Owner of San Francisco’s Eko Kitchen, and Omar Kinnebrew, Founder and CEO of Atlanta’s Bespokuture. Key topics include ‘building a thriving community,’ ‘adapting in uncertain times,’ and ‘bridging the opportunity gap.’ Access to capital, networks, and the loyal support of a community are simple but critical elements for business success today as we continue to navigate uncertainty.

Facebook Elevate  

Outside of these webinars, additional programming will be hosted on Facebook Elevate, ‘a community and learning platform for Black businesses and creators,’ centered on themes of ‘health and wellness,’ ‘finance and wealth,’ ‘food and beverage,’ and ‘beauty and fashion.’ Each week various Black business owners and creators will come together to share their journeys and lead activities that put the practices to action. A workout by Ariel Harris Belgrave of Gym Hooky and a cooking session from The Spice Suite are just two examples.

The first two themes are especially top of mind for many. Now more than ever it’s easy to lose sight of work-life balance and the important truth that financial well-being directly impacts our mental and physical health. Mindfulness can deliver the necessary productivity and clarity in responding to financial obstacles and avoid paralyses when it comes to business decisions amidst the unknown.

Empowering the next generation of Black storytellers 

Beyond businesses themselves, Facebook is also looking inward at its own community and the voices being represented. Specifically, the platform is introducing a new $25 million funding program to support black creators. The main objective of the initiative is to improve diversity and conclusion from within by elevating a significant community of storytellers who want to celebrate their communities, amplify their unique narratives, and have a positive impact.

With the heightened consumption of content during quarantine, speed is critical for earning and maintaining attention. Brands are quickly learning that in order to stay ahead and pivot their strategies, they must be open to learning from creators versus simply mimicking the advertising space. In this vein, Facebook is looking to help these storytellers build a diverse and innovative business across its entire family of apps.

“We’re asking up-and-coming Black creators to put their creative talents to the test with our program for Black creators. Our program is intended to amplify Black voices, and is geared towards Black creators aged 18+ with a minimum of 10,000 followers on Facebook or 10,000 followers on Instagram. Creators must reside in the U.S.,” the platform shared.

Through these collective efforts Facebook hopes to make strides in addressing concerns raised by the recent results of a civil rights audit conducted over the last few years with the goal of helping the company improve its overall policies and “strength and advance civil rights” within its community. We can’t only rely on the platforms, however. As marketers it is our responsibility to help ensure these stories cut through the noise and to invest time in order to develop a deeper understanding of the issues and opportunities at play.

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Instagram is Making it Easier to Kickstart your Small Business

With eCommerce sales rising amid the COVID-19 lockdown, platforms are working every angle to make their interface friendly to brands and businesses looking to build a digital presence in the absence of a traditional brick-and-mortar experience. Leading in the space is Instagram and its parent company Facebook.

Specifically, Instagram has recently introduced a number of ways it’s committing to achieve this underlined by themes of discovery, monetization, and driving conversations around specific products and services.

Making Content Discoverable via the “Shops Tab”

Originally introduced in May as part of a larger announcement of Facebook and Instagram Shops, more users can now expect to see the new “Shop” tab within their bottom navigation bar. At a high-level, users who use the tab will be driven to the current shopping experience in the app which consists of a list of postings with Shopping Tags attached. They can filter by specific categories, including Beauty, Clothing & Accessories, Home, and Travel, much the same way they’re able to via Instagram Explore. Ultimately, additional purchase options will be added as parent company Facebook onboards more companies and introduces more selling options.

Per TechCrunch, the new tab will be indicated with a “Shop” icon that will replace the heart icon (Activity) in the app’s main navigation though the Activity feed will still be available either by toggling to an icon in the top right corner, beside the icon of a ‘Direct’ paper plane, or by going to their profile and tapping the heart icon. For more general insights into set up a Facebook shop, check out this new Blueprint education course the platform recently unveiled.

Maximizing Your IGTV Efforts

Earlier this Spring Instagram shared several key changes to its IGTV app including an important cross-promotional update whereby the first 15 seconds of the video will play with the rest of the content available via a ‘swipe up’ link, as opposed to a freeze-frame from the clip. In addition to this, the platform introduced a broader overhaul of the IGTV display options within the Discover tab. The intent was primarily to highlight top creators but, more importantly, allow users to have more specific control over what they see as opposed to limiting search options solely based on content they’ve already engaged with.

In this vein of ‘control,’ more recently Instagram introduced additional options allowing creators and brands to edit the preview images and thumbnails of their IGTV videos that are displayed in the feed. The app is also unveiling capability for IGTV creators to cross-post to Facebook Watch, serving to increase the exposure of their uploads. With the roll-out of IGTV monetization including ads and Bages through which users can donate to their favorite broadcasters, this is a significant incentivizing factor for companies looking to double down on e-commerce efforts amidst the global pandemic and boost their digital presence.

Put differently, marketers want a reason to put resources against yet another digital app. With further options to generate income from IGTV, they’ll naturally find more reasons to make it a consistent focus. For context into just how much live-stream viewership has increased in recent months, Instagram reported a 70 percent uptick between February and March alone.

Pinning Post Comments

Following a test in May, Instagram is announcing that users can now pin up to three comments within a comment thread. To do this, swipe to the left and tap on the icon resembling a thumbtack. Each of the three posts you designate to pin will appear underneath your photo with a “Pinned” label beneath.

Per Instagram’s VP of Product Vishal Shah, the option is designed to enable brands and users to control the tone of conversations. “By highlighting positive comments, you can better manage the tone of the conversation,” he shared on Twitter. From an e-commerce standpoint, this stands to be a useful way for those building their e-commerce presence to promote great reviews of their product and learn more about new purchasing behaviors by boosting relevant questions and feedback.

Though still up for debate, many experts in space anticipate that such trends will hold beyond the pandemic. Why? As more consumers experiment with online buying options and recognize the convenience and efficiencies of shopping from the comfort of their home, they won’t go back. This will ultimately exacerbate the current growth in e-commerce. Pivoting, in this case, is not necessarily only about a change in direction, but much more directly correlated with moving the needle of a business.

The post Instagram is Making it Easier to Kickstart your Small Business appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/07/instagram-is-making-it-easier-to-kickstart-your-small-business/

How Facebook is Looking to Support Democracy in 2020 and Beyond

Amid years of controversy and scrutiny surrounding political content, Facebook is approaching the upcoming 2020 election with a new, multi-faceted approach, what it’s labeling, “another line of defense” against interference and a mechanism to avoid amplifying disinformation. Core to the solution is shifting responsibility to the public at large by equipping them with the details they need to vote and have their voices heard and enabling them to “turn off” political ads they don’t wish to see.

A new voter information hub

“Voting is voice. It’s the single most powerful expression of democracy, the best way to hold our leaders accountable and how we address many of the issues our country is grappling with….but accountability only works if we can see what those seeking our votes are saying, even if we viscerally dislike what they say,” Zuckerberg said in a recent op-ed for USA Today. Put simply, rather than remove misinformation, the emphasis will be on lifting voter participation.

To achieve this the platform is unveiling a Voter Information Hub modeled off of the COVID-19 information center launched earlier this spring. At a high-level, it will provide essential guidance to U.S. voters including how to register to vote, request a mail-in or absentee ballot, and, most importantly, when to vote, where to vote, and whether there are ID requirements. The info center will also supply local alerts from election officials outlining any adjustments to voting methods in light of the pandemic.

With this push, Facebook’s goal is to register 4 million voters using Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger — double what it estimates it helped people register in 2016 and 2018. Further, the platform expects more than 160 million to see this authoritative information between July and November according to Naomi Gleit, Facebook’s Vice President of Product Management and Social Impact.

Opting out of political ads on Facebook and Instagram

Back in January Facebook introduced more options to limit how a user could be targeted by political advertisers by opting-out of Custom Audience targeting. Alternatively, if an advertiser had used a list to exclude them, they could make themselves eligible to see the ads. Looking ahead, Facebook is taking an even bigger step in this direction by enabling people to opt-out of political ads entirely.

Specifically, “all social issues, electoral or political ads from candidates, Super PACs or other organizations that have the “Paid for by” political disclaimer on them.” The same options will also be available on Instagram. There are two ways to turn off political ads — either through each platform’s ad settings or directly for any political or social issue ad that pops on your feed.

In the Facebook app,

  1. Tap the “Menu” button then navigate to your settings (three horizontal lines in the bottom right corner)
  2. Next, tap “Ad Preferences” then “Ad Topics”
  3. In the pop-up menu, select “see fewer ads about this topic

In the Instagram app, the process is similar and beings by:

  1. Pressing the “Menu” button within your main profile (three horizontal lines in the upper right corner)
  2. Under “Settings,” select “Ads” then “Topic Preferences
  3. Finally, tap “Social Issues, Elections or Politics,” and then “Save

To opt-out directly through a political ad, find any post marked as “Paid by” a political campaign, candidate, or group, then “Confirmed Organization.” For Instagram, this will show in a button labeled “Paid for by.” A pop-up message will then appear allowing you to select to see fewer ads that are similar.

Enhancing transparency around ad spend

Another key part of Facebook’s latest initiative is bringing greater transparency around advertising spend. In this vein, the company is introducing a new update to its Ad Library whereby the amount of ad spending can be traced for US House and Senate races as well as Presidential candidates. In addition, a custom tracker will compare the spending of advertisers running political or issue ads allowing voters to gather a breakdown as to the finances behind the different messages they’re being served.

Collectively, this is a significant step for the platform — one that will continue to evolve as the weeks and months go on and that will be interesting to observe as people take political content into their own hands through these manual options.

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The post How Facebook is Looking to Support Democracy in 2020 and Beyond appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/06/how-facebook-is-looking-to-support-democracy-in-2020-and-beyond/

How Major Platforms are Standing in Solidarity with the Black Community

For roughly 10 days Americans have gathered to protest the issues of systemic racism, violence, and brutality that our POC communities have suffered at the hands of the authorities. Protests have erupted in virtually every American state, in small towns and major cities alike, and even overseas in Europe and New Zealand.

Social media platforms have also taken action spanning financial support to organizations fighting against racial inequality and promoting education so we can create a pathway towards better education and understanding of how we can support the cause with empathy.

Here’s what we’ve seen from each of the major companies:

Twitter #Allyship Overview

Beyond updating its main profile to reflect its support for the protests, Twitter is also leveraging its #StartSmall initiative to allocate several grants to support organizations designed to address racial inequality. This includes Colin Kaepernick‘s “Know Your Rights Camp” aimed to advance the liberation and well-being of Black and Brown communities through education, self-empowerment, and mass-mobilization.

Most importantly, the platform shared its top insights around how people can improve how they respond to racial inequality in a new guide for allyship. In order to respond, people first need to “understand the historical and structural contexts that have led to racism and discrimination…At Twitter, our principles of allyship are simple: Learn, Ask, Show up, and Speak up,” Marium R. Qureshi and Jade Williams explained in a recent blog post. By this definition, allyship is not about who you are but a commitment to be authentic and consistent in your education around these critical topics.

When you ask questions of friends and colleagues, do so empathetically and avoid coming from a place of disbelief. A couple of example questions following these best practices include “If you have the time/energy, do you feel comfortable sharing your experience with me?” and This week is heavy. How are you feeling/coping?” As far as speaking up and showing up, consider donating to organizations fighting for racial justice and police reform to help further the cause and exercise your voice and right to vote. Conduct a self-audit of whose in your circle and who you interact with online.

LinkedIn Learning: A Pathway to Inclusivity

We must invest our time to become better informed and develop a deeper understanding and awareness that will allow us to properly empathize with black communities who are suffering. This is key in gaining true perspective on the current movement, and the more people are educated, the better equipped we’ll be to enact effective, long-term change.

In this vein, LinkedIn has released several free courses within a “Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging for All” track, covering key topics spanning unconscious bias, addressing culturally sensitive issues, how to hire and retain diverse talent, and more. “Investing in our own learning to understand and confront bias, communicate about topics of difference, and create change can help us individually contribute to building a better workplace and society,” said Hari Srinivasan, Vice President of Product for LinkedIn Learning.

Beyond this, the platform also acknowledges that being a strong ally begins with listening, so it is utilizing its social channels to share stories that amplify perspectives from the Black community. Pathways to better understand are integral to success and LinkedIn is positioned well to bring the awareness needed at the moment via its widespread access to professional and educational insights that can help underscore gaps needing to be addressed.

Pinterest: Elevating Content on Racial Justice

Pinterest is taking a broad approach to its efforts starting with its platform and internal team and extending to external audiences directly supporting the movement.

More specifically, within the app content on racial justice is being elevated as a means to help people stay informed. This includes tips for assessing and adjusting your own mentality and how to approach younger children on the subject. There will also be content guiding users to organizations to support and various resources to learn more about the history of systemic racism in the country. Generally, the platform is committed to growing the diversity of content on the platform and avoiding distraction from serving as a hub to support and learn. In this regard, the platform is not serving ads on Black Lives Matter results.

The company is also donating 25,000 shares of stock to “organizations committed to racial justice and promoting tolerance” and investing $250,000 to help rebuild local businesses damaged in the protests. It is also providing $750,000 in paid media to organizations that support racial justice.

TikTok’s Creator Diversity Council

June is Black Music Month and to celebrate TikTok announced it will offer dedicated programming to celebrate Black artists on the platform who “bring new music, shape culture, and help build the community.”

The platform is also doubling down on technology and strategies around addressing potentially harmful content and creating a more user-friendly appeals process. Along these lines, TikTok plans to develop a creator diversity council to lead impact-driven programs led by the voices driving culture, creativity, and conversations necessary in making an even bigger impact on the problem.

Outside of its team and community, TikTok is donating $3 million from its “Community Relief Fund” to non-profits that help the Black community and an additional $1 million toward fighting racial injustice and inequality that we are witnessing in this country. Also in the music space, YouTube is financially stepping up by offering $1 million to organizations seeking to address injustice.

Leading with Empathy

Finally, the leaders behind Snapchat, Reddit, Facebook, and Instagram have all taken a personal approach to their response leading with emotion-driven memos.

Facebook is committing $10 million to racial injustice and lifting Black voices in addition to partnering with civil rights advisors in its efforts. Along with Instagram, it has also switched all profiles to black and white colors in support of recent events. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri uploaded a personal IGTV response on his own profile underscoring his eagerness and drive to channel frustration, hurt, and anger into positive change.

Similarly, Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel in his own statement called for the creation of an American commission to address racial injustice, and comprehensive tax reform as the way forward. Taking even more drastic measures, Reddit Co-Founder Alexis Ohanian has resigned from his position urging the board to replace him with a Black candidate and will use future gains on his Reddit stock to serve the black community, beginning with a $1 million donation to Kaepernick’s ‘Know Your Rights’ initiative.

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The post How Major Platforms are Standing in Solidarity with the Black Community appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/06/how-major-platforms-are-standing-in-solidarity-with-the-black-community/

Here’s How Facebook and Pinterest are Making Shoppable Content Easier to Navigate

The number of Pinners who engaged with shoppable product pins has increased nearly half (44%) year-over-year. During a time when browsing the aisles of a favorite store just isn’t possible, the platform has doubled down on its exploration of ways to improve product discovery and customize listings with a focus on facilitating purchase behavior and mimic that IRL storefront look and feel.

Last month, the platform unveiled features allowing users to shop in-stock products inspired by their own Pins. It also introduced a new Shop tab that functions as a personal shopping list. Fast forward to today, Pinterest is making an even bigger push for shoppable content with a new feature, “Shopping Spotlights,” that centers on purchases driven by curations from guest editors, including influencers and publishers.

Shopping Spotlights

In a statement to WWD, Amy Vener, Head of Retail Strategy and Marketing at Pinterest explained the impetus follows an 18-month theme in product development around bridging the gap between people finding inspiration and enabling them to take action. “Putting [Pinterest] users in the hands of these experts based on trends that are timely, and connecting them to the products they can buy, was a key reason why we launched the Shopping Spotlights feature.”

Shopping Spotlights is accessible via a feed of highlighted panels along the top of the “Search” tab. Content is hand-picked by guest experts and fashion leaders including author Elaine Welteroth, fashion blogger Blair Eadie, and interior designer Sarah Sherman Samuel. Per the official announcement, they will soon be joined by top fashion and lifestyle publishing partners Refinery29, Domino, Who What Wear, InStyle, Nylon, and Harper’s Bazaar. Beyond editors’ picks of influential fashion, publisher, and home tastemaker content, users are able to more seamlessly shop curated ideas based on the most relevant Pinterest trends of the moment.

How does it work? Simply tap through on any Spotlight to see themed collections including products linking directly to in-stock pages where you can make your purchase. In some cases you’ll encounter items from brands who are directly contributing to notable causes such as COVID-19 relief. The platform reports that over the past few weeks, searches for “help small businesses” and “support small businesses” have increased by more than 350 percent.

Facebook “Shops”

Similarly to Pinterest, Facebook is making its own moves to enhance its platform for the purpose of bringing people the joy of shopping as well as help businesses in their pivot to e-commerce.

The platform currently has its Marketplace while Instagram offers the capability to buy products featured in posts and ads. Its latest efforts, however, go even further. Called “Shops” the latest update makes it possible for businesses to turn their Facebook and Instagram pages into digital storefronts. Announced via a live stream, CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained that expanded e-commerce is vital to rebuilding the nation’s economy. “We’re seeing a lot of small businesses that never had online businesses get online for the first time,” he said.

Each business can select the products they want to feature and then design the shop to their liking including picking a coverage image and accent colors that showcase their brand. Beyond the brand’s Facebook page and Instagram profile, products will appear in stories or in promoted content.

In-app and Live integrations

As the update develops, Facebook is working towards purchases made directly from a chat within WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct. It also plans to integrate loyalty programs with shops and give users the chance to shop while they engage in a live stream. In this scenario, brands can tag items from their catalogs so they appear at the bottom of their Live.

Finally, Instagram Shop is slated to launch this summer where users can browse items in Instagram Explore. There they can find inspiration from collections from their favorite brands on the @shop account. Later in the year, it plans to add a dedicated shopping tab to its navigation bar.

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The post Here’s How Facebook and Pinterest are Making Shoppable Content Easier to Navigate appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/05/heres-how-facebook-and-pinterest-are-making-shoppable-content-easier-to-navigate/

#TheVoiceofSocialMedia – Facebook takes another large step in to the E-commerce space…

Facebook opens its own Shop window

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/facebook-opens-its-own-shop-window-h2qwqlwwt

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Why Houseparty and Facebook are Leading the Co-Watching Trend

While in-person events remain paused for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19, connecting via streaming video is the closest replacement we have and is quickly gaining traction. Co-watching adds another element to that engagement and platforms are jumping quickly to be the first to mark their territory in this time.

Here are two recent examples that have recently evolved and are particularly noteworthy:

Houseparty’s Celebrity-Fronted Event Series

In the last week of March alone, Houseparty — the video chat app sensation owned by Fortnite developer Epic Games — raked in 2 million downloads worldwide, compared with around 130,000 the same week a month ago, according to data from App Annie. It currently ranks at number one in the Apple app store in 17 countries including the United Kingdom, Spain, and Italy.

Seeking to expand its service in a new direction, Houseparty recently unveiled a new feature enabling the co-watching live video with friends. “In the House,” an experiential event series launched last week and featured over 40 celebrities including Alicia Keys, Derek Hough, Dua Lipa, John Legend, Katy Perry, Snoop Dogg, Cam Newton, Gabi Butler, and more.

“This is not just another virtual music festival — this weekend’s lineup is a curation of shared experiences: cooking demos, comedy shows, fitness secrets, dance parties, sing-a-longs and more,” Houseparty spokesperson Kimberly Baumgarten shared in a statement to TechCrunch. “This content will be additive to the Houseparty video chat experience for our users.”

Houseparty owner Epic Games recently hosted some 12.3 million people in a major live-stream concert event, with Travis Scott performing a concert within Fortnite so the move made a lot of sense and, to no surprise, is being viewed as the first of many live co-watching experiences still to come.

While co-watching isn’t a new concept in and of itself, in terms of use cases it’s a nascent category that may open the window for brands seeking to connect with younger audiences in a space that isn’t already saturated with consumers and competition. What differentiates Houseparty’s effort is that it’s delivering planned and scheduled experiences — allowing users to coordinate in the moments that matter instead of leaving it up to chance. Other players, however, are willing to take this risk.

Facebook: Messenger Rooms

Last month Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined a new option allowing people to set up virtual catch-ups with one another. Fast forward a week ago, and the platform globally rolled out Messenger Rooms, its newest group video chat service, supporting video calls with up to 50 participants with no time limits on call length.

Messenger Rooms is a drop-in video chat, so when a person using the feature creates a room, Facebook will alert other members via a new section in the news feed or push a notification to certain friends. Unlike its competitors like Zoom, it seeks to differentiate itself by not requiring users to pre-schedule these sessions upfront. For now, users can kick off a call from Messenger or the Facebook app and send out invites to users, even ones that don’t have a Facebook account.

The Future of Co-Watching: A Multi-Platform Offering

As Facebook alluded to initially, the offering will also be available from inside direct messages within Instagram, WhatsApp, and on Portal to officially make Rooms a company-wide endeavor. Separately, last month Instagram announced its own co-watching of feed photo and videos. With these pushes, more marketers may be open to streaming across multiple platforms at once on more than one device in an effort to better determine where they’re receiving the highest engagement.

From extensions to Netflix Party or Twitch “Watch Parties,” co-watching is an activity that continues to fill a critical role in fostering meaningful community relationships during this uncertain time. Looking ahead, and from a brand standpoint, it could open the door to establishing long-term relationships at scale that otherwise wouldn’t have presented themselves. As the saying goes, “every cloud has a silver lining.”

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The post Why Houseparty and Facebook are Leading the Co-Watching Trend appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/05/why-houseparty-and-facebook-are-leading-the-co-watching-trend/

How Facebook is Controlling the Spread of Misinformation Ahead of the 2020 Election

Approaching 3 billion monthly active users across its platforms, Facebook has swiftly earned the title of lead provider of news and information for the majority of the global population. Now more than ever managing this impact is critical as we navigate the uncertainty of COVID-19 and prepare for a future for life after the pandemic.

For some additional context, last year Facebook alluded to an Oversight Board project this past January, in direct response to calls for increased action from the company on potentially dangerous or harmful content following the November election Several months later, the first members of the Board have been announced, which will help the platform make decisions on what content should be allowed, what content should be taken down, and most importantly, why.

“These decisions often are not easy to make – most judgments do not have obvious, or uncontroversial, outcomes and yet many of them have significant implications for free expression,” wrote Nick Clegg, VP of Global Affairs and Communications in the official announcement.

The process

Selecting this group began with a global consultation process of workshops and roundtables that brought together more than 650 people in 88 different countries. Ultimately, the conversations resulted in:

  • The unveiling of a final charter, outlining the structure, scope, and authority of the board
  • Setting up the Oversight Board Trust to safeguard members’ ability to make independent decisions and recommendations
  • Publication of the Board’s bylaws
  • The hiring of the Board’s director
  • The launch of a recommendations portal where the Board can accept nominations and applications from those interesting in becoming a member

With these formalities discussed and established, the actual selection process was initiated and a shortlist of 20 members was released.

Meet the board

Facebook helped kick off the member selection process by choosing four co-chairs, who worked alongside the platform to select the additional 16 members recently announced. Membership selection will continue in this way until the board has selected up to 40 members, at which point it alone will take responsibility for the selection of members in the future. An important criterion for the long-term success of the board is onboarding members who bring different perspectives and expertise to the table. This is essential in making holistic and informed decisions looking ahead.

This list of 20 individuals include lawyers, journalists, human rights advocates, and academics with insights into religious freedom, content moderation, digital rights, internet censorship, civil rights, and more. The announcement also shared that the members have lived in over 27 countries and speak at least 29 languages. “We expect them to make some decisions that we, at Facebook, will not always agree with – but that’s the point: they are truly autonomous in their exercise of independent judgment,” Clegg added.

Making decisions

The Board will govern appeals through a content management system tied to Facebook’s own platforms. Due to the volume, they’ll handpick which content moderation cases are in need of the most attention and then gather as a group to make the final decision around whether the content will be allowed to stay up or if it will be removed. As more members are onboarded, the platform hopes to expand its scope so more cases can be handled. Regarding reporting, the board will publish transparency reports annually and monitor what Facebook has done with its recommendations to adapt its approach by applying the feedback.

The future of content moderation

“It’s one thing to complain about content moderation and challenges involved, it’s another thing to actually do something about it,” said Jamal Greene, co-chair of the board in a recent statement. While content moderation issues have existed since the dawn of social media, Facebook is taking the reins to lead the solution in an innovative way through a first-of-its-kind initiative.

Unarguably the biggest area the Board will face in the coming months is that of political advertising.

“It is our ambition and goal that Facebook not decide elections, not be a force for one point of view over another, but the same rules will apply to people of left, right and center,” said Michael McConnell, another co-chair of the board.

Whether this effort will serve as a springboard for similar approaches to content governance in the online sphere remains to be unseen but it is a step in a positive direction in a world where With consumer behavior dramatically changing due to COVID-19 it is likely this will not only be “nice to have” but necessary as digital content evolves and communities engage in new conversations.

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The post How Facebook is Controlling the Spread of Misinformation Ahead of the 2020 Election appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/05/how-facebook-is-controlling-the-spread-of-misinformation-ahead-of-the-2020-election/

4 Ways COVID-19 is Fueling Subcommunities

Small groups are the fastest-growing areas of online communication and COVID-19 continues to shine light on the notion that users, while still enjoying big global experiences like DNice DJ sets on Instagram, want to connect privately in the digital equivalent of the living room.

Here, let’s take a deeper dive into some of the latest efforts in this regard and how platforms and brands are using social media to develop subcommunities for consumers eager for community during this time of crisis.

Peloton Profile Tags

In a nod to the ever-popular hashtag, Peloton rolled out ‘Profile Tags’ to bring its community closer together in niche groups.

With the update, users have the option to create their own tags or browse trending tangs and connect with others who share the mutual interests and have them listed on their user profiles. More specifically, in the Peloton app, tap the “+” button. You can follow up to 10 tags at a time and select one as your primary “leaderboard tag” to appear alongside your name on the leaderboard during each ride.

A key benefit of this effort is that riders can filter these in-class leader boards by tag. For some, entering a class of thousands of other people can be overwhelming. WIth tags, engaging with others makes the experience less daunting, more intimate, and most importantly, more authentic. With these shared interests, the brand hopes those with similar fitness goals can help motivate one another to reach their fitness goals and live out their passions during these difficult times.

Without their usual gym access, many people are eager to not only maintain their physical health but the social aspects that come with group fitness. Tag-based communities are a nice substitute when we’re unable to replace face-to-face interactions.

Reddit’s Rollout of ‘Start Chatting’

After seeing an increase in chat activity in its app during the COVID-19 lockdowns, Reddit unveiled its ‘Start Chatting’ option within subreddits allowing users to initiate small group video chats of up to five at a time.

“Whether it’s about topics related to COVID-19, local news, or just their favorite games and hobbies, people all around the world are looking for others to talk to.” The platform reiterated that even in testing conversation-oriented communities have a wide variety of use cases in these extraordinary times ranging from simply connecting with new people, discussing the latest cliffhangers of our favorite TV shows and finding another person to stream with while we play Animal Crossing on Twitch.

As depicted above the above image, when you browse a subreddit, you’ll have the option to tap on the ‘Start Chatting’ button to initiate a group chat. You’ll then be connected by Reddit’s system to a group of “like-minded users looking for deeper engagements on subjects relevant to a community.”

Facebook Video Tools & Messenger Rooms

In an announcement made via Facebook Live stream, CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid out several a range of new video tools across Facebook’s family of apps in response to the heightened demand and evolving use cases of video and group conversations during the global pandemic.

Perhaps the biggest announcement shared during the livestream, however, is Messenger rooms. Made available across all of Facebook apps, these Rooms will allow a new option for people to set up virtual catch ups with one another. A big priority is not needing to schedule these sessions upfront. Rather, start a Room at any time, and an active listing of all Rooms that you can join will be displayed at the top of your Facebook News Feed.

Catering to a notion of, ‘neat, serendipitous, spontaneous interaction’ is the goal. There are no time limits and up to 50 people can join a Room at a time. Currently in beta mode, a broader rollout can be expected in the coming weeks. While you can’t create a Room for your Facebook Pages at this time, Room invites can be shared via URL across all of Facebook’s apps and accessible even to those without a Facebook account.

Clubhouse

Created by Paul Davison and Rohan Seth, Clubhouse is a new social app dominating the quarantine buzz.

At a glance, engagement occurs by spontaneously jumping into voice chat rooms. The Clubhouse platform hosts multiple audio-only chat rooms at a time, and allows users to freely jump in and out of the conversations as a speaker or a listener. High-energy rooms draw bigger groups while slower ones tend to have the highest cases of “hoppers,” but lend to more intimate conversation. Put simply, the premise is to connect with those you follow in low pressure, casual conversations and gain exposure to a wide variety of smaller chat circles.

Although the app is still invite-only and in the development stages, early users tout it as the next Twitter or Snapchat.audio-based network.

Groups are a means of encountering new ideas and people within platforms that form around the causes they are passionate about. They are a source for community-building now more than ever and will continue to allow for a deeper connection with our audiences through understanding and shared experience.

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The post 4 Ways COVID-19 is Fueling Subcommunities appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/05/4-ways-covid-19-is-fueling-subcommunities/

4 Ways COVID-19 is Fueling Subcommunities

Small groups are the fastest-growing areas of online communication and COVID-19 continues to shine light on the notion that users, while still enjoying big global experiences like DNice DJ sets on Instagram, want to connect privately in the digital equivalent of the living room.

Here, let’s take a deeper dive into some of the latest efforts in this regard and how platforms and brands are using social media to develop subcommunities for consumers eager for community during this time of crisis.

Peloton Profile Tags

In a nod to the ever-popular hashtag, Peloton rolled out ‘Profile Tags’ to bring its community closer together in niche groups.

With the update, users have the option to create their own tags or browse trending tangs and connect with others who share the mutual interests and have them listed on their user profiles. More specifically, in the Peloton app, tap the “+” button. You can follow up to 10 tags at a time and select one as your primary “leaderboard tag” to appear alongside your name on the leaderboard during each ride.

A key benefit of this effort is that riders can filter these in-class leader boards by tag. For some, entering a class of thousands of other people can be overwhelming. WIth tags, engaging with others makes the experience less daunting, more intimate, and most importantly, more authentic. With these shared interests, the brand hopes those with similar fitness goals can help motivate one another to reach their fitness goals and live out their passions during these difficult times.

Without their usual gym access, many people are eager to not only maintain their physical health but the social aspects that come with group fitness. Tag-based communities are a nice substitute when we’re unable to replace face-to-face interactions.

Reddit’s Rollout of ‘Start Chatting’

After seeing an increase in chat activity in its app during the COVID-19 lockdowns, Reddit unveiled its ‘Start Chatting’ option within subreddits allowing users to initiate small group video chats of up to five at a time.

“Whether it’s about topics related to COVID-19, local news, or just their favorite games and hobbies, people all around the world are looking for others to talk to.” The platform reiterated that even in testing conversation-oriented communities have a wide variety of use cases in these extraordinary times ranging from simply connecting with new people, discussing the latest cliffhangers of our favorite TV shows and finding another person to stream with while we play Animal Crossing on Twitch.

As depicted above the above image, when you browse a subreddit, you’ll have the option to tap on the ‘Start Chatting’ button to initiate a group chat. You’ll then be connected by Reddit’s system to a group of “like-minded users looking for deeper engagements on subjects relevant to a community.”

Facebook Video Tools & Messenger Rooms

In an announcement made via Facebook Live stream, CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid out several a range of new video tools across Facebook’s family of apps in response to the heightened demand and evolving use cases of video and group conversations during the global pandemic.

Perhaps the biggest announcement shared during the livestream, however, is Messenger rooms. Made available across all of Facebook apps, these Rooms will allow a new option for people to set up virtual catch ups with one another. A big priority is not needing to schedule these sessions upfront. Rather, start a Room at any time, and an active listing of all Rooms that you can join will be displayed at the top of your Facebook News Feed.

Catering to a notion of, ‘neat, serendipitous, spontaneous interaction’ is the goal. There are no time limits and up to 50 people can join a Room at a time. Currently in beta mode, a broader rollout can be expected in the coming weeks. While you can’t create a Room for your Facebook Pages at this time, Room invites can be shared via URL across all of Facebook’s apps and accessible even to those without a Facebook account.

Clubhouse

Created by Paul Davison and Rohan Seth, Clubhouse is a new social app dominating the quarantine buzz.

At a glance, engagement occurs by spontaneously jumping into voice chat rooms. The Clubhouse platform hosts multiple audio-only chat rooms at a time, and allows users to freely jump in and out of the conversations as a speaker or a listener. High-energy rooms draw bigger groups while slower ones tend to have the highest cases of “hoppers,” but lend to more intimate conversation. Put simply, the premise is to connect with those you follow in low pressure, casual conversations and gain exposure to a wide variety of smaller chat circles.

Although the app is still invite-only and in the development stages, early users tout it as the next Twitter or Snapchat.audio-based network.

Groups are a means of encountering new ideas and people within platforms that form around the causes they are passionate about. They are a source for community-building now more than ever and will continue to allow for a deeper connection with our audiences through understanding and shared experience.

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The post 4 Ways COVID-19 is Fueling Subcommunities appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/05/4-ways-covid-19-is-fueling-subcommunities/

How Facebook is Enhancing Online Community Engagement During COVID-19

More than ever being part of a community is integral to navigating uncertainty. We continue to face unprecedented challenges and look to communities to uplift us and bring us closer together as we weather the storm. That’s why late last month Facebook announced its Community Connect: Navigating COVID-19 to help equip its community leaders with the tools and practices for success.

Roughly 200 million people are now members of “very meaningful groups” on Facebook. For many, these communities are the most important part of their social network experience with the number of users participating in Groups now exceeding 1.4 billion. Admit the current global pandemic, the relevance and importance of groups continues to grow with millions flocking to support groups to lend a hand, keep informed of the latest updates, and stay connected with family and friends.

On the heels of this shift and following its April event, Facebook is further supporting marketers as they seek to effectively manage their communities and establish relationships between community leaders. More specifically, the platform is unveiling a slew of educational courses aimed to provide guidance and pointers for those looking to make the most of their Facebook groups. Each will also include special guests (CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself made an appearance at the first Community Connect event) and product announcements relevant to facilitating group engagement including how to avoid the spread of misinformation and use the latest resources and tools to communicate more effectively.

Enhancing Online Community Management During COVID-19 Era

Each month will feature a different theme with workshops and guest speakers to lead the discussion. Here are a few highlights of the next five months:

May: “Community Foundations” will help managers return to the basics for setting up and maintaining a thriving community.

June: “Growth in Your Community” will outline ways to promote your community, manage growth and get the right people involved in your group.

July: “Engaging Your Community” will offer tips for getting your members to interact regularly and best practices for sharing productively including what to post and when.

August: “Managing Conflict” will take a deeper look at how to productively manage points of tension in your group and productively problem-solve solutions.

September: “Hosting Events” wetting your community together online and off.

“It’s times like this when strong communities are needed most….Even if not organizing directly around coronavirus yourself, your groups have provided an escape for people or a sounding board for people who need support and comfort during this time,” said Zuckerberg in a statement to TechCrunch as he reflected on the inaugural virtual event. In other words, in these trying times sometimes providing the space for people to be heard is an impactful solution in itself.

Regardless of our physical separation, we have never been more connected to each other than we are right now. We’re abandoning division, embracing empathetic instincts, and using social media to instill new value exchanges between brands and consumers. Leadership is taking a collaborative twist where learning from one another and being agile is integral to long-lasting relationships.

Check out the sessions from Facebook’s first Community Connect event here and stay up to date on coming education sessions here.

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http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/05/how-facebook-is-enhancing-online-community-engagement-during-covid-19/

How Facebook is Driving Digital Empathy During COVID-19

As we continue to stay indoors and practice social distancing, social platforms including Facebook have seen a significant increase in usage across the globe. According to The Verge, total messaging on the platform has increased by 50 percent and video calling has doubled in some markets.

“Much of the increased traffic is happening on our messaging services, but we’ve also seen more people using our feed and stories products to get updates from their family and friends,” the company shared in a recent blog post.

Building off of these behaviors, the company is expanding its reactions package with a “Care” reaction featuring an emoji face hugging a heart for the native Facebook app, and a purple pulsing heart for Messenger. The latter will appear alongside the familiar “thumbs up,” the standard heart, and the laughing, shock, sadness, and anger emojis. You can see the new heart by pressing on an existing reaction to change it, or by creating a new reaction to a chat.

EXPANDED “CARE” REACTIONS

What began in testing late last month, the impetus behind these new reactions was simple: facilitating more ways to empathize and sympathize with one another. Helping people show their support is an important way to help normalize this challenging and uncertain situation, a critical element in dealing with the numerous emotions stemming from COVID-19.

“This idea of a hug reaction came back consistently as one of the emotions and feelings that were missing from Reactions, so that’s something that was always on our minds. And with the crisis that we’re going through right now, there’s no doubt that people need more compassion, more support.”

Here’s a visual of what the updates look like in action:

Aside from helping its users stay positive and productive in their relationships during this time, the platform is hopeful these new reactions will shed light into how people are using them, the value they attribute to them, and whether these types of reactions are most useful in the moment or more evergreen. Based on this information, the platform will make decisions around whether they remain live after COVID-19 and if subsequent reactions will take the same approach in response to future crises.

WHATSAPP & WHO STICKER PACKS

Designed to help people accurately reflect how they’re feeling and stay connected while complying with quarantine mandates, Facebook-owned WhatsApp is deepening its partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) introduced a sticker pack, called “Together At Home,” aimed to convey the moments and emotions that people are going through each day.

The stickers are currently offered to the platform’s 2 billion+ users in 10 languages including Arabic, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Turkish.

Shown above, the stickers are aimed to not only help you check in on friends and family but remind them to wash their hands, maintain proper distance, stay active, and celebrate the medical heroes on the front lines.

Beyond this update, the platform is currently testing group video and audio call with up to eight users, a 2x increase from the four the platform supports currently which would position it to compete with the likes of Houseparty and Zoom as people are eager to stay connected despite being apart.

Facebook has introduced a wide body of work throughout the pandemic such as providing grants to small businesses, supporting public health initiatives to get important messages out and combating misinformation through dedicated hubs and search capabilities allowing users to verify the accuracy of what they’re seeing. While these updates around reactions and stickers may seem minor in comparison, there’s no denying the significance of platforms being tuned into the kind of empathy the world needs at this moment.

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The post How Facebook is Driving Digital Empathy During COVID-19 appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/04/how-facebook-is-driving-digital-empathy-during-covid-19/

Netflix and Instagram Join Forces to Promote Mental Health with New Weekly Live Series

How do we stay connected during social distancing? How do we manage anxiety and overwhelming thoughts introduced by these uncertain times? What does self care actually mean in the context of a global pandemic?

These are just a few of the questions that Netflix and Instagram are looking to tackle in a new partnership aimed to help their viewers address some of the concerns they may have amid the current health crisis. In a conversational, social-friendly setting, users can voice their struggles with sleeping, anxiety, and self-care, feel heard, and get answers during a time when feeling stuck is commonplace.

Wanna Talk About It?

COVID-19 has upended the lives of younger generations and adults in numerous ways from disrupting major life milestones including graduations, to presenting newfound concerns around financial stability and mental health, relationships, and job security. Navigating our new normal of social distancing and self-quarantining is an obstacle in itself, but added with a reorientation of how we routinely connect and relieve stress, many are in search of alternative sources for sharing what’s on their mind.

Starting today at 4pm PT/7 pm ET, the two are launching a weekly live series titled Wanna Talk About It? Featuring interviews with Netflix talent and mental health experts from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Mental Health America, The Trevor Project, Crisis Text Line and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the episodes will aim to raise awareness and create a safe space for people seeking to address the challenges and questions streaming from these confusing and extraordinary times.

Participating in the effort are stars including Noah Centineo (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before), Joey King (The Kissing Booth), Ross Butler and Aisha Boe (13 Reasons Why), Caleb McLaughlin (Stranger Things), Lana Condor (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before), and Jerry Harris (Cheer). The first episode will include Centineo and Dr. Ken Duckworth, Chief Medical Officer, NAMI, and discuss ways we can practice self-care to stay mentally as well as physically healthy amid the pandemic.

Fueling Empathy & Community

Sixty-five percent of Instagram‘s audience is under 34 years of age, while Netflix is ranked the most popular video channel among teen users, even etching out YouTube in a recent study conducted by Piper Sandler.

With these stats in mind, the collaboration between the streaming and social giants makes a lot of sense, especially when considering Instagram’s latest focus on taking care of its users through experiments to hide total like counts, adding prompts on potentially offensive comments, and its ‘Restrict’ feature allowing usings to control who interacts with them and how.

From Facebook’s ‘Community Help’ update to Snapchat’s early release of ‘Here For You’ to Instagram’s release of a ‘Co-Watching’ feature and tease of allowing multiple participants to join an Instagram Live, platforms are showing a growing interest in helping contribute to positive mental health. In a pivotal moment for the industry, emphasis on creating shared understanding and experiences will continue to rise in importance and wield tremendous power in how younger generations on-ramp to social media.

Wanna Talk About It? will run every Thursday until May 14 on the @Netflix Instagram account.

The post Netflix and Instagram Join Forces to Promote Mental Health with New Weekly Live Series appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/04/netflix-and-instagram-join-forces-to-promote-mental-health-with-new-weekly-live-series/

How Facebook is Using Community Help to Fuel COVID-19 Relief

In 2017 Facebook introduced its Community Help feature providing users with a central source for searching and receiving help during times of crisis including natural and man-made disasters. To further lend its support to COVID-19 relief efforts, the company is expanding the feature marking the first time Community Help will go global and its first use case for a health pandemic.

Prior to an official rollout, Facebook tested Community Help for a select group of U.S. cities. Those included in the test group shared requests for extra medical supplies for local hospitals while others offered free assistance including donating their time to provide meals or leading virtual workouts as people try to reshape their fitness routines while gyms remain closed.

NAVIGATING THE PLATFORM

The Community Help section can be accessed directly, existing as its own destination with the broader release. It is also accessible through the pre-existing COVID-19 Information Center sitting on top of the news feed. Since its release, more than 1 billion users have relied on the Information Center for updates shared by government and health authorities as well as curated content from politicians, journalists, and other public figures.

Posts can be filtered by either those requesting or offering help. A nice perk? You can get as granular as you need. Facebook incorporated specific categories including baby supplies, food, toiletries, business support, or transport. You can also post, comment, or reply to threads either as an individual or a Facebook Group and have the option of replying privately. More specifically, you can set a preferred contact method — either Messenger or WhatsApp — or share the update more broadly with a regular Facebook post to your timeline.

FUELING FUNDRAISERS

As part of the Community Help hub, Facebook is looking to amplify fundraising efforts by matching donations up to $10 million for fundraisers. The company is working with two particular groups — the UNF/WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Fund Facebook Fundraiser and the Combat Coronavirus with the CDC Foundation Facebook Fundraiser. Down the line, Facebook hopes to open this allowing people to seek out and donate to nonprofit fundraisers central to their communities.

HELP MAP VS. COMMUNITY HELP

On the heels of this news, an evolving question becomes how does Facebook’s update stack up with its competition including neighborhood social network Nextdoor?

Two weeks ago Nextdoor unveiled its ‘Help Map.’ Similarly to Facebook’s Community Help, the core functionality allows people to list themselves as being able to provide assistance to someone in need. However, Facebook’s hub takes this notion to the next level by giving people the chance to input requests as well as post when they’re looking to help. It also takes into account deeper technology integration as it builds on Facebook’s earlier efforts with Crisis Response, which connected multiple tools in one place.

‘HOW CAN I HELP?’

Following the lead of its parent company, Instagram is also acting on opportunities to make it easier for people to request or offer Help in their communities.

The platform introduced a new sticker question for Stories called ‘How can I help?’ stemming from a Twitter request shared by Musa Tariq, Global Head of Marketing, Airbnb Experiences. Originally, the question sticker on Instagram Stories defaulted to “Ask me a question”, but is now being replaced with the new text in the hopes that it will enable more people to stay connected and support one another in these difficult times.

If you’re looking to use the new sticker yourself you can access it in the app’s Stories section. A second way to access the sticker is by tapping ‘Create’ located at the bottom of the screen once you start a new Stories post. One caveat, however, you’ll have to manually change the text to ‘How can I help’ by tapping on the sticker itself. Once you push your post live, anyone can respond to the question by tapping on the text box and you can choose to post the responses to your Stories feed.

In these uncertain times, we have an opportunity to use social media to engage people in profound and meaningful ways when face-to-face interaction is no longer an option. Platforms have a fundamental role in helping us navigate these situations and find opportunities to help when we can in the moments that matter.

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The post How Facebook is Using Community Help to Fuel COVID-19 Relief appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/04/how-facebook-is-using-community-help-to-fuel-covid-19-relief/

Facebook’s New ‘Community Help’ Lets Neighbors Assist Each Other Amid COVID-19

Image via Facebook

Facebook has unveiled a new feature called ‘Community Help’, which allows US residents to volunteer to get groceries on their neighbors’ behalves, or have someone else within their vicinity to run errands when they are not able to. It also lets users donate to fundraisers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The feature displays posts within a 50-mile radius of the users’ location. The concept is alike social network Nextdoor, which unifies neighbors to help each other out by picking up medical supplies for others, get quick updates on the virus and exchange items including toilet paper and disinfecting agents.

Facebook noticed that people were communicating with each other and asking for help on its platform. Therefore, the new tool was created to bridge those who need assistance and those who wish to offer help.

[via CNN, cover image via Facebook] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/409328/Facebook-s-New-Community-Help-Lets-Neighbors-Assist-Each-Other-Amid-COVID-19/

How Platforms are Helping Brands and Users Navigate COVID-19

COVID-19 has undoubtedly become the dominant focus of our day-to-day lives. Keeping pace with the data, insights, and behavioral shifts can feel dizzying and cumbersome. Several major platforms have stepped up to play fundamental roles in helping marketers and people at various levels navigate through the uncertainty and changes we currently face and will continue to face after the pandemic is behind us.

Let’s break down what these efforts look like in action:

FACEBOOK

It’s no secret that as the COVID-19 pandemic expands, we face a circulation of various misinformation campaigns including rumored government decisions and ‘cures.’ Messaging apps are playing a key tool in spreading these amongst users.

In response to this trend, Facebook is spearheading new ways to stem the flow of messaging misinformation. One way it’s addressing this is through its instant messaging platform WhatsApp, which is testing a feature that would allow users to search for additional context on a message they encounter via a Google search prompt in-stream. WhatsApp also introduced a WHO chatbot, offering yet another stream to access critical information paired with a COVID-19 research hub.

Separately, Facebook, on its own platform, has taken numerous steps throughout the past few weeks that include:

  • Embedding informational prompts to relevant search queries to guide users to trustworthy information about COVID-19
  • Expanding access to local alerts so specific communities can stay in touch about what is going on around them
  • Providing free ad credits for organizations looking to deliver critical virus-related information and data tracking tools so users can keep tabs on evolving stories
  • Introducing a new set of learning resources for kids and parents to help them safely navigate the internet in addition to a set of tips for remote workers
  • Allocating over $100 million in funding to small businesses, fact-checkers, and local newsrooms

INSTAGRAM

Instagram is banking on the positive coming out of COVID-19 and an era of social distancing by offering ways to take an otherwise isolating and passive experience and transforming it into one that is more social and active.

Specifically, the platform launched “Co-Watching,” which allows users to on a video chat or group video browse through feed posts either Liked or Saved by an individual, or one that Instagram suggests. The goal is to give users the opportunity to have more meaningful conversations about what they’re encountering, incentivize them to use video calls more regularly, and spend more time in the app.

This release is one of several responses by the part of Instagram, including a dedicated Story spotlighting posts from your network that are using the “Stay Home” sticker and all of their quarantine activities. Additional stickers that have surfaced on the app include ones reminding of proper handwashing and keeping a six-foot distance from others if you have to be outside, and donation stickers so users across the world can give back.

SNAPCHAT

To support its audience in a time of need, Snapchat is stepping up through a diverse set of efforts. The platform rolled out several creative tools so people can creatively share information from the WHO with friends and family including Bitmoji stickers with common-sense health tips and a worldwide AR filter with tips for staying safe. Users can also visit the WHO and CDC’s official accounts for updates and browse custom content from the organizations.

Taking the information-sharing a step further, the platform announced an addition to its “Discover” tab: “Coronavirus: The Latest,” where access to high-quality news and information can be easily accessed. More generally, Snapchat is working with over three dozen content partners to provide reliable information.

COVID-19 also prompted Snapchat to speed up the debut of its “Here for You” feature, which went live in February and appears when a user conducts searches for topics related to anxiety, depression, stress, grief, suicidal thoughts, and bullying. A new section was added to incorporate content from the Ad Council, CDC, Crisis Text Line and WHO on anxiety related to the coronavirus.

TIKTOK

TikTok is using COVID-19 to identify meaningful opportunities to emphasize its growth and demonstrate its ability to serve as a connective tool for its community. In this vein, it announced a content partnership with the WHO. As part of the collaboration, the platform unveiled a comprehensive COVID-19 resource hub that can be accessed through the “Discover” tab in the app. It also appears amongst the top results when someone enters search criteria pertaining to the virus.

Additionally, on the dedicated page with videos related to the subject, the platform is adding links to serve as a reminder to only rely on credible sources for trustworthy information. The WHO is also using its own verified TikTok account to engage with younger audiences.

Beyond content, TikTok is supporting the WHO financially by donating $10 million to its Solidarity Response Fund used to help get supplies to those on the frontline. “In this time of global distress and concern about the impact of Covid-19, we’ve been inspired by people in towns and cities everywhere whose fundamental humanity is shining through when we need it most,” shared TikTok President Alex Zhu.

TWITTER

During the first month COVID-19 emerged, more than 15 million tweets were sent across Twitter mentioning the virus. The platform has since acted swiftly in ensuring fact-checked and authoritative content was discoverable above the noise and false claims by reawakening its profile verification.

Twitter is also increasing its use of machine learning and automation to take a wide range of actions on “potentially abusive and manipulative content.” This includes detecting spread of false stats and other information, accounts being used to deny or advise against following official advice and promoting treatments or cures that have not been proven. At the same time, the company is being careful to strike an appropriate balance between applying AI as a tool and the role of the human review in these special cases.

BuzzFeed News recently reported that the news media could see an impact “worse than the 2008 financial crisis, which saw newspapers experience a 19 percent decline in revenue.” To support the sector in the absence of some of the smaller, local companies that fuel these publications, Twitter announced a $1 million funding program to be split between The Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Women’s Media Foundation.

PINTEREST

Pinterest is doubling down on its effort to combat misinformation by removing inaccurate information and guiding its users to authentic insights through custom search results.

When searching for information about COVID-19, users are directed to a curated Pinterest page from the World Health Organization (WHO) detailing timely and useful details around how to protect yourself, friends, and family from getting sick. This includes hand-washing best practices, when to use a nose or face mask, and more.

In a statement to The Verge, Pinterest said the custom search results is a way to “connect Pinners with facts and myth-bust what’s not true with authoritative information from the [World Health Organization].” The platform also urges users and brands to follow the WHO’s account as a frictionless way to stay updated while they post and engage with others.

This approach has resulted in a significantly lower volume of pandemic-tied posts compared to other major platforms and spurred creative ideas from Pinners. Pins are showcasing products like COVID-19 notebooks for journaling about your experience, while a “coronavirus vibes” board is dedicated to ways to relax and use this time to practice self-care.

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The post How Platforms are Helping Brands and Users Navigate COVID-19 appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/03/how-platforms-are-helping-brands-and-users-navigate-covid-19/

Here’s How Facebook is Supporting Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it uncertainty and unprecedented changes to the very fabric of our lives and our businesses. It has particularly hit small companies hard, some being forced to close for public safety, while others are suffering blows to their revenue figures. The longer the crisis goes on, the harder it is to support the livelihoods of their owners and employees.

Many platforms including Snapchat, Twitter, and TikTok, are identifying opportunities to step up to provide financial support as well as curb misinformation, ensure the public has accurate information on how to stay healthy and safe, and offer tips for embracing and leveraging new remote workforce. Facebook, too, is pitching in recently announcing a $100 million grants program to assist 30,000 SMBs, in 30 nations, supporting the communities in which Facebook and its teams operate.

FACEBOOK’S $100 MILLION AID PROGRAM

“We’ve listened to small businesses to understand how we can best help them. We’ve heard loud and clear that financial support could enable them to keep the lights on and pay people who can’t come to work. People across the globe are stepping up, rising to the enormous challenge in front of us. We want to do our part too,” shared Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.

As far as who is eligible, that is still being determined, however, the platform has curated a page where SMB owners can sign up for more details as to when applications will be live. Beyond advertising efforts, there are several examples of how companies can use these grants spanning operational costs, rent fees, and employee wages.

Aside from the financial burdens, many are facing, Facebook’s exploring a range of other options to help businesses navigate the COVID-19 outbreak including a dedicated Business Resource Hub. Here SMBs can find tips for managing their business from home, downloadable content packages with best practices and insights, and a self-assessment to track progress. The Hub also includes links to official information about COVID-19 to help their customers stay informed.

VIRTUAL training AND EMBRACING A REMOTE WORKFORCE

Sandberg teased additional efforts in the works to help give organizations in need a boost including a virtual training program that can engage businesses all over the world. The company has also started work on a set of Blueprint materials, an e-learning program focusing on remote work and management of remote teams.

“Teams across our company are working every day to help businesses. We’re looking at additional ways to host virtual training – and will have more to share in the coming weeks – and we’re finding more ways to help people connect and learn to use technology through Blueprint, our free e-learning training program,” said Sandberg.

In addition to this, Facebook also shared its new partnership with the Lenfest Institute for Journalism and the Local Media Association. Together, they will provide $1 million in grants to local news organizations which are covering COVID-19 in the US and Canada in need of resources to cover the pandemic and deliver relevant updates.

In this unfamiliar and unsettling environment, the capacity for technology to unite has never been stronger. We face a different type of normal than what we’re used to and the platforms and brands that are putting humans at the center of their strategies today will be making an investment that pays dividends long after the challenges are behind us.

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The post Here’s How Facebook is Supporting Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19 appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/03/heres-how-facebook-is-supporting-small-businesses-impacted-by-covid-19/

Facebook Launches New Business Resource Hub for Organizations Impacted by Coronavirus

Facebook has launched a new business hub to help organizations impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/facebook-launches-new-business-resource-hub-for-organizations-impacted-by-c/573862/