Category: Instagram

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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5 Best Practices for Finding the Right Influencer for Your Brand

Think you can get away without dipping into the world of influencer marketing? Think ahain. According to The State of Influencer Marketing 2020: Benchmark Report, which surveyed 4,000 brands, marketing agencies, and industry professionals, earned media value, which is publicity that comes from promotions, not paid advertising, is $5.78 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing.

That means while ROI is notoriously difficult to track when it comes to influencer marketing, the publicity gained from influencer marketing is nearly six times as much as is spent. While direct sales may be difficult to track for some companies, it seems that exposure is exponentially increased thanks to influencer marketing.

Here are the best practices to keep in mind when you’re searching for the right influencer for your brand.

Select the Most Important Platform

Choosing the platforms where you want influencer marketing to have an impact isn’t as cut and dry as you may think. On the one hand, the platform where your business is already performing well is a great place to capitalize on that popularity and help it grow via an influencer campaign. On the other hand, a platform where you don’t have a strong presence but where an influencer who’s a great match for your brand and does have a strong presence is also beneficial because you can break into a platform you’ve been wanting to add to your strategy.

You may want to focus on one type of platform over another, or you could try to do both at the same time, assuming the influencer you choose has a solid following on both platforms. What’s most important is that you choose influencers who are doing their best work on the platforms you’ve decided are most important for your business. More on selecting the right platform next.

Approximately 90% of influencer campaigns include Instagram, so whether you only want to promote your business on Instagram or it’s part of a larger campaign, Instagram should absolutely be included. This is especially true if your customer base is under the age of 35 since the largest concentration of Instagram users are ages 25 to 34, followed by 18 to 24.

Make Sure the Influencer Is Relevant to Your Brand

There’s a lot more to think about than just the influencer’s Instagram following and the average age of their fans. Even if they’re in the exact same niche as you are, their content and messaging have to be consistent with or complementary to your brand, too. If the aesthetics or voice of the influencer’s content is way off compared to your own branding, you’re not going to reach the right audience, no matter how engaged their following is. And you could even harm, or at least muddle, your own reputation, too. 

A good way to find the influencers who are relevant to your brand is to discover which ones are already talking about you. Influencers are experts at knowing their audience and what will connect with them, and if they’re interested in what you sell, chances are they know it’ll be a great match for their audience.

Select Influencers According to Your Budget

When it comes to influencers, you should care more about the quality of their following than the number of followers they have. But, in general, a smaller influencer is going to charge less than a larger-scale influencer. If your budget is meager when starting out, aim for a micro-influencer with a dedicated fan base. What you don’t want to do is try to talk to well-known and well-established influencers into accepting a lower rate than they deserve. You could ruin your relationship with an influencer who you’d love to work with in the future when you have a bigger budget to dedicate to the campaign.

Search the Old Fashioned Way

While you can Google something like “top influencers in organic cooking,” you may be disappointed with the results. Lists of top influencers are often repetitive, only featuring the same ones, and you’ll miss out on a bunch of influencers you don’t even know exist. Instead, go about your search the old fashioned way. If you’re on Instagram, for example, search by hashtag. If you use #ad or #sponsored to search, you can skim the results to see if any post looks like it matches your brand’s industry and look. This process may take a while, but it’ll be worth it, and you’ll come across a lot of high-performing smaller influencers who you’d never know about otherwise.

Spot a Fake Influencer Before You Get Too Far

Many influencers are in it for the money they’re paid, and it’s clear why just about anyone would love that opportunity, even without working for it. Fake influencers quickly gather a massive following by buying followers and engagement, which can make their accounts look popular, even if it’s all smoke and mirrors. There are a few strategies you can use to determine if an influencer is the real deal or not, but the most telling one will be their engagement ratio. If they have a ton of followers and their posts have a bunch of likes, but nobody is actually commenting on their posts in a meaningful way, it could be that all of those “fans” are actually bots.

Narrowing down your list of influencers is just one step toward getting a compelling influencer campaign up and running. You also have to pitch the influencer to encourage them to work with you, and then you have to figure out how they work with clients, what type of campaign you want to run, how to track the effectiveness of it, etc. All in all, though, it will be worth it, and with more businesses planning to increase their budget for influencer marketing, you’ll not just only reach more members of your core customer base, but you’ll also compete with others in your industry.

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What You Need to Know About TikTok and Teespring’s Partnership

A few weeks ago TikTok launched a $200 million creator fund with a goal of helping more leading creators in its community sustain themselves financially solely through TikTok. Fast forward to today, creators will soon be able to sell merchandise they design and create directly to fans via the app itself thanks to a new integration in partnership with realtor commerce platform Teespring.

This isn’t TikTok’s first foray into e-commerce, however. Last year it tested social commerce links in videos and piloted an advertising format with a call-to-action button that links marketers to social influencers. More recently, it introduced its ‘Small Gestures’ digital gift-giving program as a gentle reminder to practice digital empathy and not overlook the power of a small act, especially in these uncertain times.

A move towards non-apparel

As TikTok accelerates its e-commerce plans it wants to make clear its community will be at the center of its decisions and efforts.

“We believe, based on the current trend, that non-apparel items will be outselling apparel by this time next year,” Teespring CEO Chris Lamontagne told The Verge. “Layering in really smart commerce opportunities is key, so it could be physical merchandise or it could be something more digital…we as a collective need to think about creators in this way where they’ve got super engaged fans who love them — there’s already this connection.”

According to the official press release, creators will have a choice from over 180 different products in addition to having the opportunity to create bespoke products uniquely catered to their personal brand. Think beyond your typical t-shirt and hoodie and more along the lines of Skateboard decks and smartphone covers for instance.

Roughly 7,000 TikTok creators in total are part of the initial program though details surrounding which creators will be eligible to participate is still being hashed out. Another outstanding question — how will the products appear in the videos themselves? While details are still worked out the platform knows one thing: it wants to ensure a full shop functionality to make things as streamlined and simple as possible.

Tapping into underrated features

Amidst all of the conversation and social chatter around what TikTok’s future has in store, including the possible $30 billion price tag being discussed, former CEO of Vine, Rus Yusupov, used the opportunity to give TikTok some of his own advice in a CNN op-ed reflecting on the learning lessons garnered from his experience in the short-form video space.

“TikTok hasn’t stopped innovating. They’ve made bold moves we should have made. Specifically, its algorithm-driven distribution model is extremely accurate and effectively surfaces new personalized content. And allowing creators to monetize their content through live streaming is an underreported, underrated feature, and is key to their success.” In short, where he feels Vine failed is in not fully embracing new challenges and opportunities to experiment. It is one thing to become popular very quickly, but another to sustain yourself by constantly pushing the boundaries.

The growing role of exclusive merchandise

During an age of social distancing, e-commerce and exclusive merchandise continue to surge in popularity. Artists and creators enjoy leaning into digital experiences like shopping as a way to connect with their fans, gather feedback, and get creative in ways they haven’t before and are using various platforms to achieve these ends.

Earlier this summer YouTube dropped a feature that lets users include a virtual “shelf” underneath their videos displaying their merch. In June, Instagram opened up its own commerce platform for creators. Finally, late last month, TikTok took this trend a level further by hosting its first shoppable livestream in collaboration with Ntwrk — a home shopping network targeting Generation Z — and artist Joshua Vides. These are just a few of many examples.

With current findings showing that e-commerce is now five years forward due to the global pandemic, there is no shortage of white spaces to consider. The brands that will ultimately stand out above the crowd, however, will be those that can hit a sweet spot of premium content and experiences driven by gaming, shopping, and other means of engagement that feel fresh and accessible.

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7 Instagram Marketing Strategies That Will Increase Your Sales

As more and more companies depend on social media to boost their reach and grow their audience, having a strategy in place is what matters most. You cannot simply hop on when you feel like it and post what you want. You need to understand who your audience is and how to sell to them in the right way.

Here are a fews reasons why social media can benefit your business:

  • It is a great way to build brand recognition.
  • You can connect with your audience and start conversations with them online.
  • Social media can help you learn more about your ideal customer through online engagement.
  • It is a cost-effective way to grow your brand reach.
  • You can also subtly market your product.

Once you realize the importance of social media, you can begin to explore various strategies that will make optimal use of your time and help your company make more money in the long run.

Be subtle with your marketing

According to Statista, the 18-24-year-old age group is the largest demographic in reference to the user base on Instagram.

Gen Z is going to be your target audience with Instagram and it is imperative that you realize that the age-old marketing techniques aren’t going to work with them. 69% of Gen Z said they find online ads disruptive so your aim should be to focus on non-invasive marketing techniques.

A good example is Apple’s ‘Shot on an iPhone’ campaign on Instagram where they post pictures that have been shot using an iPhone:


This simple strategy allows Apple to form relationships with their audience by using their pictures taken on their iPhone and is also a much less invasive marketing technique than others.

Invest in micro-influencer marketing

Do not be afraid to invest in micro-influencer marketing. This is an affordable and non-invasive way to grow your brand on Instagram.

A great example of a company that does this is GymShark.

Gymshark was founded by Ben Francis when he was only 19 years old and has grown to be a popular eCommerce fitness brand. The success of the brand is largely thanks to the emphasis it puts on micro-influencer marketing.

Essentially what Gymshark does is reach out to fitness influencers on Instagram with large followings asking if they would be interested in partnering with the brand. These influencers will then create sponsored posts for Gymshark that will help them reach a whole new audience- the influencer’s audience to be specific.

In some cases, influencers will even add a link to Gymshark’s online store within their bio.

This marketing strategy works so well is because it is reaching your ideal audience without a heavy lift on your end.

For a Facebook ad, you have to trust that an algorithm will put your ad in front of the right people. However, influencer marketing makes sure you are reaching the right people. In the case of Gymshark, that means people who are interested in fitness.

Another great part about this strategy is that it is not as annoying to the viewer. You are not pushing an ad in front of their face that they will probably scroll by. Instead, it is much more subtle. The influencer’s followers who want to know what they are doing and wearing anyway will see your product authentically showcased within their posts.

Use Instagram tools

A good way to grow your Instagram platform is to use tools that can give you a more ‘behind the scenes’ look at what is going on.

Tools can help you focus on your analytics and past posts. This way you will be able to figure out what is working for your brand and what posts do well for you. You can also use tools for scheduling, following the right people, creating a strategy, editing images, etc.

A few tools that you should consider:

  • Grum: Having a schedule for posting is important if you want to appear professional to your audience. You cannot simply post at random with no strategy in mind. Grum helps you schedule out posts in advance so that you can get all of your social media work done in one day.
  • Owlmetrics: Looking at the data is always a good way to understand what is working for you and what you could be doing better. Owlmetrics shows you real-time analytics such as follower gender, like history, follower geo-distribution, and more.
  • Brand Mentions: BrandMentions is a social media tracker that allows you to monitor your brand and your competitors on multiple social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • Zyro: This free logo maker from Zyro is a great way to create an awesome logo for your brand that you can use below every image you post on Instagram and maybe even for your profile picture if you like. Zyro is 100% free, has tons of templates, and is extremely customizable.
  • Ampfluence: Ampfluence is the best Instagram marketing agency to use if you want to see solid growth for your account. They do this by creating a customized strategy that will help you reach your target audience and grow your followers.

Let Instagram amplify your content

The end goal of your Instagram strategy should be to focus on an omnichannel approach.

For example, if you have already created written content for your blog or recorded an episode for your podcast, you can use that to create micro pieces which you can then use on other channels (posts, IG slides, IGTV videos, etc.) to get more out of your already existing content. Use IG as an amplifier.

This can even be done with the courses that you create for your audience. You can give your audience a sneak peek of a premium course by creating well thought out Instagram posts or even IGTV videos.

I always say: You have two companies – a media company and your ‘real business’ (in that exact order). The sooner you understand and accept that the sooner you will succeed with your Instagram marketing and business.

Utilize IGTV

IGTV is a relatively new feature on Instagram that lets you post longer videos with no ads (as of now at least). Also, since it is a new feature Instagram is pushing IGTV content in the feed.

Creating an IGTV channel on your Instagram is like having a mini YouTube account connected to your Instagram. You can use it to showcase DIY videos, tutorials, create a series, etc.

IGTV lets you create more episodic content that can be centered around one theme in particular. This can be really engaging for your viewers and they will come back for more.

The Budget Mom (personal finance) is a good example of a brand that takes advantage of IGTV:

Promote engagement by hosting giveaways and contests

A great way to get your audience to engage with your brand is to host giveaways and contests. It is one of the more affordable Instagram marketing strategies and is pretty easy to implement.

You can do this by following a few steps:

  • Figure out your end goal: What do you want out of this? More brand awareness, more followers, or more likes?
  • Decide on a giveaway prize
  • Create an awesome post description and hashtag to go along with your giveaway announcement
  • Decide on eligibility criteria for participants
  • Read Instagram’s rules regarding giveaways
  • Figure out how you are going to promote your giveaway: This could be by paying for ads, investing in influencer marketing, or relying on your own audience to spread the word.
  • Decide on the length of your giveaway: You need to set a time limit. Do you want your giveaway to last for a few days or a few months? When will you announce the winners? Ideally the bigger the prize, the longer you can convince people to wait.
  • Launch and promote your giveaway

A giveaway can be a great way to not only grow your brand but also learn more about your audience. New brands, in particular, see great success with this strategy.

Share user-generated content

A lot of brands make the mistake of only focusing on creating their own content instead of trying to get users to participate in the creation process. The focus should be on getting users to love your brand as much as you do.

Aerie, an activewear brand, does an awesome job of this. They constantly post user-generated content of women who wear their apparel.

This works wonders for a couple of reasons:

  • It helps your audience relate to your brand more because they are seeing people just like them using your brand and loving it.
  • If you share a picture that was posted by someone who loves your brand, it is likely that they will become even more passionate about your products and there is nothing better than referral traffic.
  • People who would love to be featured on your page are even more likely to post images wearing your clothes/ using your product/etc.

Creating a social media strategy for your small business is one of the core components of your digital marketing efforts. It is important to keep in mind that your strategy should align with your goals and should be tailored to your business.

It will take time to figure out exactly who your audience is and the best way to reach them but hopefully, these 7 ideas gave you a place to start.

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How Huel Uses Social Media to Reach an Audience of 400,000+

How Huel Uses Social Media to Reach an Audience of 400,000+

It all started with a mission. Julian Hearn wanted to create a business he was proud of — a business that was about more than profit; that did the right thing for the planet, for its staff, and its customers.

That mission led to the launch of Huel.

Huel offers nutritionally complete food, delivered to your door. It’s flagship powder product is made from plant-based sustainable ingredients like oats, flaxseed, and coconut, and offers consumers a convenient and affordable alternative to traditional meals and snacks.

Since its launch in 2015, Huel has sold over 100 million meals and built up a passionate audience of over 400,000 followers across social media channels.

How Buffer helps Huel to connect with customers across platforms

Finding the right software is a challenge for marketers. It’s especially difficult in the social media space. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook are constantly evolving, and as a result, the needs of marketers are always changing.

“It’s difficult to find something that does it all,” explains Tim Urch, Social Media Manager at Huel.

How Huel Uses Social Media to Reach an Audience of 400,000+
Tim Urch, Social Media Manager at Huel

But working with Buffer has enabled Huel to connect with its audience — and grow its presence — across platforms. “I’ve used Buffer since I started at Huel in 2016,” Urch explained, and Buffer has helped Huel to navigate the waves of organic reach and maximize every opportunity to reach its most passionate advocates in their social feeds.

“Because the reach of organic content on social media is limited, getting those messages in front of as many people as you can is essential,” according to Urch. To achieve this he uses a multi-platform approach. This ensures Huel is connecting with and building lasting relationships with its key target customer groups where they naturally choose to engage with content.

I’ve found that the type of follower across social media platforms is different. People have their go-to social media, so if we have a key message we want to get out, it’s important to share it cross platform

Huel uses Buffer to manage its global social media presence made up of 10 profiles across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

How Huel Uses Social Media to Reach an Audience of 400,000+
Huel uses Buffer to plan and share social content across their channels

It’s great for managing our social publishing schedule. We can easily tailor our messages to each social platform and review everything in one place.” says Urch

Keeping feeds filled with valuable content

When it comes to keeping Huel’s social media feed filled, Urch focuses on creating content that has a purpose beyond simply generating ‘Likes’. “[We] create content that first and foremost is useful or adds value for our audience,” he explains.

Whenever we think about content we’ve got to consider how it can be useful to our Hueligans [an affectionate term for Huel customers], why would someone want to subscribe to our content and have it appear in their newsfeed?”

For Huel, that content might be tips for product success, nutrition advice from its world class nutrition team, business advice from its founder, or simply fun, relatable content which makes the audience feel part of its unique tribe.

But there’s a balance that Urch aims for. “As a brand we also need to talk about our products, a bit,” he explains.

Creating a sweet spot between what we want to say and what our audience wants to hear is tough – when those two things are the same, we’ve struck gold

Tying entertaining content with the product is Huel’s sweet spot

Generating original content ideas

Anyone who has worked in social media will understand the challenge of keeping your content calendar brimming with ideas. It’s no small task, especially when you’re managing multiple profiles across platforms.

But over time, the Huel team has built up strong instincts about what will work on its social channels, and when planning content, Huel aims to challenge the norms.

A lot of our most successful content has been instinctive, stuff that just came to me or someone in the team,” says Urch. “It might feel a bit left of field, a bit wacky, like a meme or a bold statement that might ruffle some feathers.

Huel’s take on the #dollypartonchallenge

It takes time to build this type of understanding with your audience where you know something will just click — remember Urch has been with the brand for over four years — and as a brand learns more about its audience, its team can begin to lean on intuition a little more. “Something I’ve learned is to trust those gut feelings,” he says. “Part of Huel’s DNA is about thinking a little different.

Managing social media as part of a team

Content ideas are just one side of the coin for brands. The other is collaboration.

Content ideas can come from anywhere. Everyone uses social media and therefore, unlike in other more technical disciplines, everyone knows what could work

So as a Social Media Manager, Urch believes an important skill is to let go of the reins and utilise the team around you. “We have a team of marketing rock stars,” he says. “We brainstorm ideas together all the time, but what about the rest of the business?

To aid collaboration across the team, Urch recently was set up a Slack channel called #social-hit-squad. In this channel a group of about 15 teammates from all areas of the business come together to share ideas and inspiration. But Urch also uses it as a testing ground for his own strategies and content. “We share ideas and I temperature check my own ideas with them too. This has meant our content is more reactive, varied and successful.

From ‘check out’ to checkout

While striking the balance between keeping fans entertained and selling products is a challenge, Huel use Shop Grid to help their Instagram audience navigate their way from their Instagram page to their online store.

How Huel Uses Social Media to Reach an Audience of 400,000+
Shop Grid helps Huel connect their Instagram account to their website

If our Instagram content triggers something in our audience that makes them want to learn more, or buy one of our products, then we want to help facilitate that. Shop Grid is a really simple way for our customers to tap through from a post to our website. It’s qualified traffic with purchase intent,” explains Tim.

Managing a multi-channel strategy in the fast-moving world of social media is a huge challenge for any team. Buffer is proud to play a part in supporting Huel as it builds its brand and audience across social media channels. We hope you can find some inspiration from their approach!

Will Triller Dethrone TikTok?

Since 2018, TikTok has been the talk of the neighborhood. It’s the new kid on the block that brands and influencers alike are attracted to in order to stay ahead and connect more innovatively with one another. In just a few short years, the app’s evolved into the hub of internet sensations including Lil Nas X, Charli D’Amelio, Addison Rae, and dance trends like “The Renegade,” “Say So,” and the #DistanceDance.

This past April the app surpassed 2 billion downloads on both the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store. Recently, however, TikTok has dominated the news including threats to have it banned in the US — its fate now uncertain unless an American company, like Microsoft, acquires it.

Amidst the uncertainty, competitors are looking for windows of opportunity including video-sharing app Triller. Read on to learn more about the basics of this app, why it’s experiencing a moment in the digital space, and what’s next.

Triller at a glance

Triller, first introduced in 2015, was dubbed as “an entertainment platform built for creators.” Similarly to TikTok, Triller is built for short-form, flawless video content that can be shared in seconds and created for trending challenges, music videos, and other viral clips. A key perk that differentiates it from TikTok? Triller auto-edits your takes into a single flawless clip. As stated in the official app store description “You do you, Triller does the rest.”

Outside of its auto-editing algorithm, you can customize content with over 100 filters, text, drawings and emojis, access the top music tracks from your personal music library, and directly share your content across your other platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, a simple text message or email, or store it in your camera roll and decide how you want to use it later. Another useful element especially in an age of social distancing — you can collaborate with friends in a group video.

So just how popular is Triller? As of early July, it garnered 50 million monthly active users, but more recently, the app soared to the top spot in every category in the app store across 50 countries, including the United States, Australia, and Italy. According to an official announcement, Triller now boasts more than 250 million downloads worldwide — a 20x increase.

Who’s on Triller?

Millions have made Triller videos to date including Chance the Rapper, Justin Bieber, Rae Sremmurd, Rita Ora, and Kevin Hart. Marshmello, Skip Marley, Juicy J, Martin Garrix, Millie Bobby Brown, Brad Paisley, Blac Chyna and Mike Tyson are also known for their presence on the platform while others, including rappers Snoop Dogg and Lil Wayne, are leading investors in the company.

This summer, a few of Triller’s most notable creators with a combined following of nearly 50 million, Josh Richards, Noah Beck, Griffin Johson and Anothy Reeves, revealed they’d be leaving TikTok and onboarding with Triller. As part of the deal, they will be advisers and equity shareholders in the company.

What’s next?

TikTok isn’t counting itself out just yet. On August 7th at 8:30pm ET, The Weeknd will take to the platform, in the form of a digital avatar, to perform his fourth studio album “After Hours” during a virtual concert. In what TikTok is referring to its “first-ever in-app cross reality experience,” the event will be livestreamed on the company’s official account (@tiktok).

With the future of TikTok unknown, other platforms are wasting no time trying to get a competitive edge. Triller itself unveiled new filters, camera tools, and the acquisition of Hallogen, a go-live app slated to introduce a monetization feature in the near-time. Snapchat shared it would be rolling out a TikTok-like music feature this fall. Finally, last month Instagram officially confirmed that its competitor app, Reels, will launch this summer.

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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.

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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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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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How to Prepare Your Brand for the Not So Distant Future: 2.22.22

Where will the world be on February 2, 2022? What can we expect the business landscape to look like? What brands will see success and which ones won’t? What will be important to consumers?

All of these are important questions that are top of mind for marketers and will continue to be in the months and years ahead. During #SMWONE Suzy CEO Matt Britton tapped into up to the minute research from his team to play the role of futurist and paint a broad picture of the world we will be living in on the other side of COVID-19.

Here are the primary insights and takeaways:

  • Consumers want variety; not quantity when it comes to their purchases
  • Secondary and tertiary cities are on the path to become the new “hot spots”
  • People are ultimately more fascinating than brands and influencers will be behind the brands that take off

Living: the “accordion effect”

According to Britton, the global pandemic will result in an “accordion effect” in which people will gravitate away from the big cities like New York or San Francisco. Meanwhile, secondary and tertiary cities like Columbus, Ohio, Denver, Colorado, and Denton, Texas are on the path to become the new “hot spots.” “Suburban sprawl simply is not that appealing to the millennial generation,” he added.

What are the tangential effects of this transition? Appreciation is these lower-tiered markets and home prices in areas like New York or San Francisco leveling off. With this, we may see a trickle-down effect whereby there is a resurgence in automobile purchases. This potential increase in demand for consumers buying cars, however, could result in reduced demand in the long-term, for ride-sharing companies like Lyft and Uber preferred for their ubiquity.

Buying: consumers want variety

Consumers want variety; not quantity when it comes to apparel. One may assume this would open the window of opportunity for retailers but in a down market, this isn’t the case. Britton elaborated with several examples including J.Crew recently filing for bankruptcy and Gap claiming some of its stories will never reopen.

“These companies surely lean too heavily into a brick and mortar layout and did not pivot nearly fast enough to an e-commerce model,” Britton explained.

He pointed to Rent the Runway (RTR) and Ipsy, recently announcing it surpassed $5M in revenue, as prime examples of business models that will continue to be sustainable because the trends of consumers wearing garments less and less or wanting the convenience of beauty products sent to their home is not going to reverse.

Another important retail trend: companies will increasingly look to take over control of their own consumer experience. Nike, for instance, pulled its products off of Amazon this past November. This also holds for the CPG space. In a world of Amazon Prime, companies including Million Dollar Shave Clubface increased pressure to establish a more scalable e-commerce strategy.

“If I’m the CPGs, I’m trying to form a coalition where there are prime benefits where Costco, with traditional CPGs, can compete against Amazon, and maybe P&G one day will make the same decision that Nike made,” explained Britton.

The growing role of influencers

Surfacing headlines are posing the common question: could the coronavirus kill the influencer culture? Per Britton, “influencer culture is just begging and it is here to stay.”

Something Navy fashion blogger cracked a deal with Nordstrom and started to sell her own clothing. In this wavelength, he also mentioned Danielle Berstein who with her “We Wore What” blog is building a bigger audience through socially responsible posts across content and supporting small businesses with her efforts. IN turn, she’s seeing tremendous success via launching new products with numerous retailers.

“People are ultimately more fascinating than brands and influencers will be behind the brands that take off.”

Look no further than the TV space for prime examples of this idea, specifically the story of Oprah Winfrey’s rise to fame as she became a brand in her own right. The same trend will likely take form within the fashion space, per Britton. Influential people who have the right audiences and are built from the ground up will be able to create sustainable, digitally-native businesses that evolve into the new Gaps and the new Nordstroms of the future.

Brands as “ingredient” or “helping” brands

Years ago Home Depot coined the tagline “You can do it. We can help.” As consumers realize they can no longer rely on the services that they once did in a pre-crisis environment, they are now resorting to their own devices. 43 percent of dog owners, for instance, claim they will switch to DIY grooming.

Mattel Playroom, as another example, is using this time to encourage families and children to come up with their own toys in its “Play is Never Cancelled” — this concept of taking what you bought from us and make it bigger and better. Finally, Eva Longoria shocked the Internet when she took to dying her own hair in a L’Oreal ad she filmed herself from her house.

Whether these new habits actually take hold post-COVID, there is a powerful meaning behind brands taking an uncertain time and empowering consumers by giving them the raw ingredients to push forward — a role Britton referred to as “helping brands.”

This is also the case for the food and beverage industry as food preparation has come back into the home. Seventy-five percent of consumers believe they’re more skilled in the kitchen now and over 50 percent believe they will continue to cook more after the crisis. “This will create a substantial shift where these companies who have relied on their packaging and merchandise for years now have to reinvent themselves in a world where their products will be bought digitally, and more consumers are cooking at home on a regular basis,” said Britton.

Entertainment: redefining fun

In the absence of live events, platforms like TikTok and Houseparty are allowing the ability for brands and influencers to collaborate in meaningful and compelling ways. Houseparty specifically saw 17.2M total downloads in March with users carrying out virtual dinner parties, celebrating birthdays, and playing trivia and Pictionary to pass the time at home.

Gaming is also taking off with users engaging with one another on Animal Crossing esports and newcomer apps like Squad. In terms of music, platforms Fortnite and Instagram have become central and taken over the role of “concert venue.” Travis Scott did an entire performance in the form of an avatar on the Fortnite platform that drew in over 12M concurrent viewers. DJs too are using this moment of time to redefine their personal brands, DJ DNice rising to the top for his daily quarantine sets performed on Instagram that draw celebrities like Jennifer Lopez to the crowd.

Work and travel: a slow return

Britton believes travel will come back in full force much like the hospitality space, but it won’t be immediate. As companies struggle with budget cuts and want to avoid the liability of returning to work at the office too quickly, many are taking it upon themselves to postpone major events and issue work from home mandates into 2021.

Similarly to dining out, however, there is an inherent desire to travel and it will return. What is likely to be more apparent in the near future is people opting to travel by car when they’re not as ready to jump on a plane right away. Enter the C2C models of businesses like Airbnb who, despite recently laying off thousands of employees, have a likelihood of finding success for cash strapped homeowners looking for more income and individuals who want quick getaways that are safer than returning to air travel.

Regarding the future of the workplace, businesses are taking serious consideration that not every person across every department needs to be working from the office in order to collaborate and giving employees flexibility as to where they live can boost morale. In short, Britton believes companies will reevaluate their spaces.


While many workers thrive from home, students are struggling to prosper in a remote learning environment, according to Britton.

For younger generations, school is a place for building friendships, escaping from the house, learning responsibility, and seeing their friends and building core communication and interpersonal skills. 54 percent of parents with students engaged in a remote learning situation due to COVID-19 say it’s a daily struggle to support career and parenting during the day per recent findings from Suzy.

When assessing the 20 skills most in demand today, they are very trade and skill-based including items such as cloud computing, SEO, UX design, and video production, all of which aren’t traditionally taught in a liberal arts environment. The major takeaway: the technology companies are where the jobs are, where GDP is expanding and this is not likely to change. For this reason, it’s unlikely students not want to incur debt for a system that doesn’t prepare them to succeed in this capacity. “There are so many skills in demand that aren’t skills where you’re a jack of all trade or a master of none. I expect us to see a reverberation of demand for skills-based learning and skills-based schools versus generalist schools,” said Britton.

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IGTV Ads: What Brands and Creators Need to Know

For years Instagram creators have leveraged the platform to turn their passions into livelihoods, inspiring their communities, sharing their lives, and building their personal brands from the ground up. Until recently, they’ve had to rely on indirect sources of revenue to fund their goals including branded content and merchandise sales. Now however, the platform is revealing the next stages of monetization including ways for creators to make money from their content on Live and IGTV.

Here’s what’s new and noteworthy:


In recent months, creators have embraced Live in fundamentally new ways, leading to a 70 percent increase in views from February to March. Capitalizing on the trend, the platform is introducing IGTV ads, with at least 55 percent of the advertising revenue shared with creators. Per the announcement, ads will initially display when people click to watch an IGTV via preview from the feed. They’ll be mobile-droven and last for up to 15 seconds. Initial brands to run IGTV ads include Sephora, Puma and Ikea.

“Being able to earn money from the content I’m already creating gives me even more motivation to share more of myself with my followers on IGTV,” shared one creator, @avani, supporting the test of badges.


Especially in this time of crisis, Instagram has seen a surge in users supporting their favorite creators via Live comments, donations, and likes. Whether a fitness instructor, live DJ or chef, Live videos have been core to staying connected during an age of social distancing and continue engaging in the things they love.

Badges will be offered in three different price tiers ranging from 99 cents up to $4.99. Users that purchase them will not only have the badge displayed by their username enabling them to stand out in the crowd of comments, but they’ll also be able to unlock features including placement on a special list of badge holders held by the creator and access to a special heart emoji,

“Providing a variety of monetization tools is crucial in order to support all creators on Instagram, from emerging digital stars to established entertainers and everything in between,” said Instagram COO Justin Osofsky in a statement to Variety. “We’re excited to add these two new revenue streams to the mix of tools for creators to help them generate additional income to fuel their work.”

Enhancing promotion

The platform is also making pushes to improve promotion. In April, for instance, the platform revamped its standalone IGTV and unveiled the ability for users to tease their IGTV content in their Stories with 15 second clips, instead of sharing those videos to Stories via static stickers.

More recently, Instagram introduced Live Shopping allowing for tagged products during a live video. Looking ahead, shopping will expand with broader access to Brand Collabs Manager and creators seeking to sell their own merchandise on the app. On the surface these may seem like small updates but they underlie Instagram’s grand mission to help creators support themselves with its tools and community in authentic and meaningful ways.

While monetization tools for Instagram have been a long time coming, the news is likely to be worth the wait for its top creators and incentive them to post more often, enabling IGTV to showcase more IGTV content to a broader audience and build the offering even further allowing to better compete with the likes of YouTube and other players.

“For it to work, the Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing network will have to establish itself as a ‘must-watch channel’ to disrupt what is already on the market, including Facebook Watch, said Mary Keane-Dawson, CEO of influencer marketing agency Takumi Group.

For more insights from Mary on the state of influencer marketing and why authenticity should remain core to your strategies to secure long-term audience relationships, check out our recap of her recent session at #SMWONE here.

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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.

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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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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:


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 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.


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 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.


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 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.

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The latest Social Media News From Social Media Today…

Social Media Today

Editor’s Choice

Best of Social Media Today

From Our Library

View all resources

Upcoming Events

What We’re Reading

Discover More

Mike Armstrong Media

Mike Armstrong Media

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See

The latest Social Media News From Social Media Today…

Social Media Today

Editor’s Choice

Best of Social Media Today

From Our Library

View all resources

Upcoming Events

What We’re Reading

Discover More

Mike Armstrong Media

Mike Armstrong Media

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See

Instagram’s Coronavirus-Themed Filters Are Making Internet Users Sick

Image via ALEX_UGALEK /

These coronavirus-themed filters popping around Instagram are sparking controversy online.

The filters have upset many Instagram users, who are calling them “inappropriate” and “stupid.”

The games can be found by typing “coronavirus” in the Instagram Effect Gallery. Some of the filters depict putting masks on users or launching green molecules around users’ faces.

One tasteless filter features a “roulette-style game” that determines the chances of users contracting the virus.

“Completely inappropriate,” one Twitter user commented. “Someone made a coronavirus filter for Instagram, y’all are so stupid,” a Twitter user announced in anger.

I missed that !

On Instagram, a filter to see if you are “infected” with coronavirus or

— Maximilien Moreau (Max) (@MaximilieMoreau) February 1, 2020

I saw a new "what are you.." Instagram filter that alternated between "clean" and "infected" for Wuhan Coronavirus and i cannot begin to express the rage I have at that terminology.

— Support Down Ballot, Too!! (@Rndmns_Abndnt) February 1, 2020

@CNNEE @C5N I’m using the technology of Augmented Reality to create a #Instagram filter that would make people aware of the origins of #coronavirus and how to prevent how it spreads out!

More de delopement today! Would you help me share it guys?#sparkar #augmentedReality

— (@geekydiego) January 30, 2020

@instagram has just released a new filter: ‘Coronavirus Analysis’ whether or not you’re infected… we’re talking about something that is currently killing people!! Completely inappropriate #coronavirus #Instagram

— Karen Megan (@KarenMAmouyal) January 31, 2020

someone made a coronavirus filter for instagram y'all are so stupid

— d ✰ (@harianashe) January 30, 2020

Oof there’s a bunch of instagram filters that “detect” wether you have Coronavirus. With animated masks and things. There’s ppl in the filter making community arguing freedom of expression and “just trying to get followers”

— Hacklock – The Console Cowboy of Cyberspace (@hacklocked) January 31, 2020

[via New York Post, opening image via ALEX_UGALEK /]

How Marketers Can Utilize Instagram’s Branded Content Tool to Boost Their Influencer Marketing Results

Instagram's Branded Content Tags provide a range of new promotional opportunities.

Facebook’s Testing a New Option to Cross-Post Facebook Stories to Instagram

Facebook is testing an option which would enable you to share your Facebook Stories to Instagram.

How Marketers Can Utilize Instagram’s Branded Content Ads to Boost Their Influencer Marketing Results

Instagram's Branded Content ads provide a range of new promotional opportunities.

Why LinkedIn is Bringing Ephemeral Marketing into the Business World

Our industry faces an entire generation growing up with Stories as a preferred way of forging digital relationships. They’re more private, comfortable, foster a greater sense of trust and loyalty, and above all ephemeral stories live for a moment in time versus in the feed forever.

They first appeared on Snapchat with Facebook and Instagram following suit shortly after, and they caught fire for their ability to deliver in a lighter, more fun way to share without it having to be carefully filtered and attached to your profile for the long haul.

LinkedIn’s Journey into Ephemeral Marketing

What might this content look like in a professional context? Can this exist in the business world? LinkedIn is determined to find the answers as it continues to see the volume of conversations on the platform increase. From features to Newsletters, Live Video, Trending News, and Reactions, the platform is now turning to the Stories bandwagon.

The company currently sees a 25 percent year-over-year increase in engagement spanning sharing job updates, business reports, collaborating to share creative strategies, and bringing a community together to remember the loss of a basketball player whose life and career inspired generations of fans.

“Last year, we started asking ourselves what Stories might look like in a professional context…I’m excited to see how Stories will bring creativity and authenticity to the ways that members share more of their work life, so that they can build and nurture the relationships necessary to become more productive and successful,” said Pete Davies, LinkedIn’s Head of Content Products in the official announcement. Specifically, he pointed to the full-screen format as ideal for sharing “key moments from work events” and sharing the digestible “tips and tricks that help us work smarter.”

Preparing for a Stories-Driven Future

According to Business Insider, 66 percent of U.S. creative and digital decision-makers plan to invest in Stories this year, and only 62 percent expect to channel their dollars into News Feed advertising. What does this really mean? The Stories are no longer a novelty and their effectiveness will be an important consideration in 2020 and many years ahead.

Let’s take a look at some overarching creative best practices you can use whether you’re new to the scene or looking to take your existing strategy to new heights.

Stay true to your brand

One of the biggest draws to Stories is the authentic peek behind the curtain it gives to your audience. With this in mind, a general rule of thumb to pocket should be to design your creative around your ad’s objective. For example, if it’s tied to a brand objective, emphasize the human element. If it’s more focused on conversion, spell out the important benefits of your product or service.

If there’s uncertainty around the specific objective, look to your brand’s mission as a guidepost. Start with important brand elements and see where connections can be made to how the specific ad can be tied back to the overall purpose.

Aim for a blend of visuals, text and sound

Case studies have found 83 percent of videos using stickers helped express key messages about the brand or product whereby another study using static creatives showed there is an 87 percent chance ads without stickers deliver better conversion results than with stickers. The bottom line? The best strategy when considering visuals in your Story is to ask yourself if it feels like it belongs in the environment or if it simply makes the message feel more like an ad and takes away from it being relatable.

Similarly, sound and text overlays can feel inconsistent and take attention away from your core messages. Use these only when they feel aligned with the ad’s objective and not if it feels disingenuous or distracting from the call to action you’re looking to convey to your audience.

Keep attention with vertical designs and speed

Stories are consumed much faster compared to other existing mediums. To cater to this, a top tip is to craft your ad to grab attention from the first frame and use speed to keep their attention through the end of the ad. A couple of ways to achieve this include using multiple scenes that are short and digestible. If a scene consists of static imagery, consider adding motion to add some liveliness.

When experimenting with videos and asset design, studies have shown that organically shot videos on mobile are effective when it comes to ad recall and intent while professionally crafted content often drives more brand awareness. If you’re designing yourself, feel free to repurpose content as desired but above all, the full- screen vertical design will be the most natural fit for the Stories medium.

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The post Why LinkedIn is Bringing Ephemeral Marketing into the Business World appeared first on Social Media Week.

Interesting Article on Influencer Marketing

Interesting Article on Influencer Marketing 🖥 💼📱

— Read on🖥💼📱/

From Vine to Byte: Has Short-Form Video Gone Full Circle?

Short-form video content is taking the digital space by storm with platforms and brands catering to shorter attention spans and a heightened expectation of relevancy and memorability. This is no longer optional in our mobile-driven world. In fact, recent projections estimate that total revenue from short-form videos are expected to hit $13 billion this year.

In the spirit of understanding where this trend began and where we are today, let’s take a look at the platforms that have played an important role in its development.


Vine, the six-second looping video app was founded by Dom Hofmann, Rus Yusupov, and Colin Kroll in 2012. It was acquired by Twitter in 2012 for $30 million before it officially launched on January 24th, 2013 as an iOS application. The Android version closely followed that summer. Within a two-month span, Vine rapidly gained popularity becoming the most popular and most utilized video-sharing app in the market.

In April of 2013, Vine earned the title of most-downloadable free app from the App Store triggering the release of the desktop version in May of the following year. At its peak, Vine boasted 200 million monthly active users.

Vine’s claim to fame was the introduction of new memes and slang still referenced widely today such as “on fleek” and “What are thoooose?” Music labels including Island Records and Republic records quickly took notice, reaching out to Vine personalities like Shawn Mendes expressing interest in recording contracts.

To users’ disappointment, Vine shut down in 2016 facing increasing competition from other platforms who were looking for a piece of the short-form video action. Hofmann proceeded to tease a possible Vine 2.0 in December of 2017 — a project that was postponed partially due to prohibited legal fees.


Launched in 2011, Snapchat or Snap for short, was a hub dedicated only for ephemeral photo and text sharing. The concept was born by three founders Evan Spiegel, Reggie Brown and Bobby Murphy under the name Picaboo and only amassed 127 users. Following a disagreement over equity share, Spiegel and Murphy rebranded the app to Snapchat after removing Brown from the endeavor.

The app was swift in its rise to fame, particularly among younger users. According to 2019 research, 90 percent of all 13-24-year-olds and 75 percent of all 13-34-year-olds use Snapchat in the U.S. Overall, the app has amassed more than 210 million daily active users to date.

Snapchat’s competitive edge remains in its ability to tap into augmented reality and deliver one-of-a-kind immersive experiences through filters and interactive lenses. Many would claim today Snapchat was the OG “Stories” before Instagram and Facebook hopped on the bandwagon. Building off of this, in 2015 Snapchat unveiled “Discover,” a fun and interactive source of content from media partners.

The app continues to strive for as close to in-person interactions as possible. Users are able to share photos and videos that only last several seconds before they disappear, leaving no history of their quirky and embarrassing moments. The key terms here are private and permission-based, including notifications for when someone has saved or screenshotted one of your Snapchats.


While Instagram is known for its polished posts (static photos and video), and later, its Stories format—first pioneered by Snap—the platform has made moves to avail the short-form content trend. In 2015, Instagram launched the Boomerang app, which has since been folded within its Stories feature. By capturing a video via the Boomerang filter, users can create GIF-like, looping content.

On the whole, Instagram has made Stories its home for short-form video. Similar to Snap and unlike Vine and TikTok, these bits of content are ephemeral by nature—that is, unless the user or brand chooses to pin the Story to their profile page. This is a tactic used by many influencers and brands in order to make short-form videos a more permanent part of their profiles.

In addition to their short-form features via Stories, Instagram has pushed forward with IGTV, a deliberately longer-form format. Instagram even created a dedicated app to IGTV, but recently sunsetted it. TechCrunch reported that only 1 percent of users downloaded the additional app, testing the hypothesis that users had an appetite for a longer-form experience outside of Instagram proper.


Since its launch in 2017, TikTok, originally known as, has gained notable traction among tweens and teens around the globe.

The platform continues to grow in size and scale, surpassing 1.5 billion downloads as of November 2019 on the App Store and Google Play. The same year, TikTok also reached the 1 billion download threshold and was named the seventh most downloaded mobile app of the decade.

Beyond lip-syncing Gen Z-ers, major brands and A-list celebs including Coca-Cola, Nike, Google and Khloé Kardashian are using TikTok to push sponsored posts or run ad campaigns that appeal to younger, influential audiences. From a general user standpoint, the app also serves as a popular hub for extracting meme-able content to share with friends and family.

Dance clips are highly popular as well as tumbling and stunt-centered sports including gymnastics and cheerleading. Comedy too is a prominent theme across uploads given this is a space where users are encouraged to step away from the filtered and flawless and focus on the authentic ways to depict their true personalities.


Eight years after teasing a Vine predecessor, Don Hoffman is looking to make good on his promise to give users what they asked for with Byte. “We’re bringing back six-second looping videos and the community that loved them,” the app’s description states in the iOS App Store. “Nostalgia is our starting point, but where we go next is up to you.”

Similarly to Vine, Byte gives people the choice to upload videos recorded outside of the app or use the built-in camera to shoot their six-second clips. Content is also easily downloadable from the app for easy cross-platform use in cases where you may want to share with your Twitter or Instagram followers. In a nod to TikTok’s “For You” page, Byte is set up such that once you open the app, your timeline of content is fed on an endless scroll.

As far as the audience the app seems to be attracting in its early stages, a variety of users have downloaded the app. This includes people new to the short-form game and current TikTokers and former Viners.

Brands may soon be able to test the waters with Byte as well, the app recently teasing in a tweet that, “Very soon, we’ll introduce a pilot version of our partner program, which we will use to pay creators. Byte celebrates creativity and community, and compensating creators is one important way we can support both. Stay tuned for more info.”

From Vine as the pioneer and one step in the evolution paving the way for Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok, it appears Byte is the bookend to the story. While long-form still has its place in storytelling, there’s no denying we’re in a mobile-first age where quick, digestible, and dynamic are the criteria dominating the strategies to communicate value and drive traffic to businesses.


The post From Vine to Byte: Has Short-Form Video Gone Full Circle? appeared first on Social Media Week.

How Instagram’s Newest Update Can Help Your Brand Drive UGC

Tracking the conversations happening around your brand just got easier thanks to a recent Instagram update.

Living in ‘Creator’ mode, the @mention option collects any Stories that tag your account and provides a full tally which is especially helpful to businesses that attract large quantities of user-generated content. You can also use the feature to customize and share these pieces of content for your own Story stream.

For context, before this option, the only way for social media managers to keep tabs on these details was through direct messages. Given each DM triggers a notification and these can pile up, it isn’t hard to imagine how this, for most, would be a recipe for disorganized chaos.

What you can expect and how to use it

Initially discovered by social expert and commentator Matt Navarra, here’s a quick look at what this all translates into visually:

Essentially, once you’re in ‘Create’ mode, you’ll see a short statement such as, “See all 5,” the number differing and dependent on how many Stories @mentions your profile has garnered at any given time.

By tapping on this, you’ll be able to scroll through the thumbnails of Stories frames for each of the posts that mention your profile. Select which one you want to reshare and add your elements of choice – text being a simple way to chime in on the conversation or simply give it a re-share. The catch? These are only visible and repurposable while as long as the Story is live — meaning the 24-hour limit applies.

What does this mean for building long-term audience relationships?

Though specifics around just how wide the roll-out is remains unclear, leaning into Stories is becoming more of a need-to-have strategy as opposed to a nice-to-have. In a digital age where people crave experiences over peddled advertisements, consumers prefer to have friend-like relationships with brands that meet them where they are, that feel natural and demonstrate a deep understanding of their values and interests.

On the brand side, this translates into having a strong focused mission, backing it up in their product or service, and then identifying unique opportunities to talk about what they’re doing and who they are authentically. When all hit in stride, these components create a genuine halo effect that ultimately drives business objectives.

Aside from helping showcase relevant mentions including consumer reviews, endorsements, and influencer partnerships, this update is one that caters to a more permission-based, personalized future where users want to feel heard and have the ability to form relationships with the brands they love in safe and trustworthy spaces.

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The post How Instagram’s Newest Update Can Help Your Brand Drive UGC appeared first on Social Media Week.