Tag: Instagram

Instagram’s Testing a New Set of Animated Selfie Stickers for Stories

Instagram is testing out an interesting new selfie sticker option which overlays your image over a rounded, animated background.


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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.


Instagram’s Testing a New Option to Promote the Sale of Gift Cards via Your Business Profile

Instagram is testing a new option which would enable brands to provide a new ‘Gift Cards’ link option on their profile.


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Instagram Seems To Be Working On Disappearing Messages, Here’s An Early Preview

Image via Natee Meepian / Shutterstock.com

Instagram seems to be working on disappearing texts for direct messages.

The feature, reported by i-d, was first discovered by reverse engineering specialist Jane Manchun Wong, renowned for spotting significant, yet-to-be-released updates in apps.

Wong uncovered the feature in Instagram’s Android app, and demonstrated how it works on Twitter. Her screen capture, depicting an Instagram direct messaging screen in dark mode, shows her typing a string of messages before exiting the window.

When she returned to the messaging chat, her previous messages vanished.

The disappearing messaging function resembles the format of Snapchat.

Instagram even acknowledged the feature by responding to Wong, “We’re always exploring new features to improve your messaging experience.”

Instagram is working on “🙊 mode” where messages disappear

It seems to be in an early barebone version but I tried my best to demonstrate how it might work pic.twitter.com/ZrUZZj0TWo

— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) March 19, 2020

We’re always exploring new features to improve your messaging experience. This feature is still in early development and not testing externally just yet!

— Instagram Comms (@InstagramComms) March 19, 2020

[via i-d, cover image via Natee Meepian / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/409173/Instagram-Seems-To-Be-Working-On-Disappearing-Messages-Here-s-An-Early-Preview/

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Instagram’s Testing a New ‘Mirror’ Camera Mode for Stories

Instagram is testing a new ‘Mirror’ effect for the Stories camera, providing another way to enhance your visual presentation. 


Instagram Launches First Stage of IGTV Monetization, With In-Stream Ads Coming to Selected Channels

Instagram is reaching out to selected creators, inviting them to take part in the initial launch of ads in IGTV content. 


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

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

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Mike Armstrong Media

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Kristen Bell Posts Black Light Pics Proving Why Hands Need To Be Washed This Way

Image via Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com and Shutterstock

The Good Place star Kristen Bell has shared a collage showcasing the effectiveness of a proper hand-washing routine on Instagram.

The actress posted a viral photo set comparing the amount of germs purportedly present on a pair of hands under black light in various hand-washing stages.

The top row reveals three photos depicting hands “before washing,” after rinsing and shaking, and being washed for “six seconds, no soap.” The images suggest that these three methods would do barely anything in keeping hands clean.

The bottom row shows another trio of photos indicating hands having been washed with soap under six seconds versus 15 and 30 second-lengths. Needless to say, the latter timespan resulted in hands with the least visible germs.

The series of photos visually highlights the importance of using soap, and the duration of hand-washing, as both factors turned out to make all the difference.

Take a look at the side-by-sides below.

View this post on Instagram

My mom sent me the hand washing black light comparison. 30 SECONDS WITH SOAP YALL!!!

A post shared by kristen bell (@kristenanniebell) on Mar 3, 2020 at 11:28am PST

[via Business Insider, cover image via Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com and Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/408977/Kristen-Bell-Posts-Black-Light-Pics-Proving-Why-Hands-Need-To-Be-Washed-This-Way/

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

Image via ALEX_UGALEK / Shutterstock.com

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 not.pic.twitter.com/kXGJAd6C8D

— 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 pic.twitter.com/HUgmaxhD9V

— geekydiego@gmail.com (@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 / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/408980/Instagram-s-Coronavirus-Themed-Filters-Are-Making-Internet-Users-Sick/

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 marketing.wales/interesting-article-on-influencer-marketing-🖥💼📱/

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 Musical.ly, 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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How Custom Instagram AR Filters Can Boost Your Brand’s Personality

Augmented reality (AR) filters have been introduced to Instagram since 2017, but more recently the feature has found new momentum through parent company Facebook’s Spark AR Studio, a platform launched in August 2019 that allows users to create customized AR filters for Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories, Messenger and Portal.

According to Instagram, one-third of the most viewed Stories on the platform come from businesses and more than 200 million users visit at least one business account each day. While that isn’t to say this tool may be right for every brand, these stats are reason enough to at least test the waters.

Here, we break down the steps for how you can get started, the key benefits it can offer your brand, and a few examples in action to help kick-start your inspiration:

Why create your own original filters?

A primary way creating your own filter can help leverage your brand is by more accurately depicting your brand’s style, flair, and tone of voice — especially if this falls into the fun and playful category. In a sea of information, these elements are critical for forging sustainable relationships and rising above the noise.

Per a Nielsen Catalina study, 56 percent of a brand’s sales lift from digital advertising can be attributed to the quality of the creative. This is largely due to the ability this offers to inform buying decisions. Using our AR filter example, potential customers can “try on” a product before making a purchase. Self-promotion aside, filters can also be used to show the human side to your brand by demonstrating your support for social causes.

Finally, a big draw of creating AR filters for your brand is increased awareness. Anyone visiting your brand’s Instagram profile can click the new face icon to see the AR filters you’ve created. When they share a selfie using one of your filters, their followers, both current and potential, will be exposed to your brand. There’s also an “upload” button that users can use to pocket their favorites for future photos.

For more general context on the growth and power behind the Stories platform, more than 500 million accounts use Stories every day and one-third of the most viewed Stories are from businesses.

Examples in action

Here are just a few samples of brands putting AR filters to use to drive brand awareness and have some fun:

Coca Cola Poland uses the Studio’s World Object Template in a filter that superimposes the brand’s polar bear on top of the real world.

Inès Longevial, a French painter and illustrator who boasts nearly 300k followers on the platform uses the ‘Save the Planet Mask’ to show her support for climate change and a ‘Flower Mask’ to highlight her creative passion and talent.

Ray-Ban launched a Reindeerized filter as a way for consumers to playfully interact with the brand and virtually try on a pair of sunglasses prior to buying.

Getting started: 5 simple steps

If seeing some examples and exploring value-adds for your brand was enough to convince you to get AR filters a try, it’s time to get creative!

Fortunately, getting started with Spark AR Studio is very simple, here are the five steps you’ll need to follow:

1. Download Spark AR Studio.

2. Get familiar.

Take a spin through the tutorials in the Learning Center to familiarize yourself with the platform and interface.

As part of the exercise, you’ll download a sample folder of content to use to follow along, which includes a 3D object (like the polar bear).

3. Start your first project.

You can create a project from scratch or by building off one of eight existing templates. A few important terms to keep in mind include the ‘Stimulator,’ where you’ll preview your work. The default is an iPhone 8 screen, but this can be changed to another device. The other is the ‘Scene panel.’ This is are where all your options live to edit your filter.

4. Test and publish.

Send a test file to Instagram or Facebook to see how your work looks like if it were live within Instagram or Facebook Stories. Alternatively, you can download the Spark AR Player app and preview there.

Once you’re set, press the “upload” button in the bottom left-hand corner directly below the “test on device” button. Note that your new effect won’t be published immediately. First, it will be reviewed to ensure it meets Spark AR’s policies and guidelines.

5. Continue learning!

There’s an endless supply of tutorials in the Learning Center. As you get more confident in your creations, experiment with ways to take your designs to new heights including

  • Using face tracking effects to create a filter that responds to movement
  • Adding hand trackers that make your filter responsive to someone’s touch
  • Creating world effects
  • Incorporating audio

As we encounter opportunities to embrace new forms of technology, it is important to remember that we can move forward innovating without losing what is core to us as people. Whether AR-driven or otherwise, we can highlight the elements of our business that are unique and that demonstrate a deeper level of understanding of consumers.

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What Instagram’s Layout Mode Means for the Growth of UGC

Instagram’s newest update to Stories just made photo-sharing a whole lot easier. Appropriately dubbed, ‘Layouts,’ the update enables users to share multiple photos in a single post via a collage.

Specifically, six different photos can be uploaded at a time, versus the original one-image-per-Story process. Users can add a personal flair to their work with several different grid patterns spanning a four-box layout, a six-box layout, or two layouts each comprised of three and two boxes respectively.

Navigating ‘Layouts’

Step 1: After you open the Instagram app, tap the Camera icon to trigger a new Story post

Step 2: Swipe left across the bottom carousel of options until you see “Layout”

Step 3: Choose your grid layout

Step 4: Select the ‘Capture’ button to take a photo for each position in the collage (note you can choose up to 6). Alternatively, you can tap the gallery icon to import one or more images to include.

Step 5: Customize your collage to your liking by adding additional elements like text, tags, emojis, filters, drawings, and GIFs.

Step 6: Once you’re satisfied, share like you would any normal IG story by tapping the ‘Share to Story’ button

While the feature doesn’t yet include some of the additional, nice-to-have options third-party apps can offer, the convenience this update delivers will certainly win a lot of creators and brands over saving time from having to make extra steps to install, navigate between multiple apps, and have to copy and paste multiple elements into their post. Everything seamlessly takes place in the main app.

The Expansion of Stories

If you haven’t kept up to speed with the slew of add-ons Instagram has introduced to Stories, the string has included the ability to transfer Stories into Facebook Dating profiles, Reels, the platform’s spin on a music-video making tool, and Creator mode, which allows people to make a variety of content beyond images ranging from templates with conversation prompts, throwback posts, and more.

Indeed, Stories are an integral part of Instagram and are undoubtedly here to stay. Tese instrumental decisions will continue to inform how brands shape their strategies, expand their Insta presence, and maximize their growth opportunities as we transition into the new year.

Preparing for 2020: Influencers and the Growth of UGC

As you continue to weigh these decisions, there are a few Insta-tied industry stats and trends for you to have in mind as you look to scale your business.

According to a new report from data analytics company, Klear, more than 1 billion people use Instagram every month, 63 percent of which log in at least once per day. 500 million people use Stories daily. In 2020, users will spend a minimum of 28 minutes per day on the app.

This doesn’t come as a particular surprise as more influencers are incorporating Stories into their branded partnerships and looking for creative ways to cut through the noise. A whopping seventy-three percent of teens claim Instagram is the best way for brands to reach out and 200 million users claim visiting at least one business profile per day. Sixty-two percent find that they become more interested in a brand after becoming introduced to them through Stories.

Following the platform’s latest test to hide like counts on posts, Instagram is quickly seeing the role UGC plays in improving response rates. Forty-one percent of influencers in Canada reported seeing their rates drop once this vanity metric was removed. As influencers continue to seek new opportunities to connect in meaningful ways that sustain audience relationships, features like ‘Layout’ will only add to their ability to drive organic engagement and social ad results. A few recent findings supporting this trend include 92 percent of people trust UGC ads more than their traditional counterparts and brand accounts see a 690 percent increase when integrating UGC.

These authentic posts are also highly efficient drawing 50 percent lower cost-per-acquisition for ads and cost-per-click per a recent infographic from squarelovin’. They also help improve conversion and click-through-rates (CTRs). Specifically, UGC has been found to drive CTRs by 300 percent and 4.5x the conversion rates.

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Why Instagram is Pushing for Safe Use of Its App With Guides for Parents & Teens

In conjunction with the Jed Foundation (JED) — a nonprofit which works to promote measures protecting the emotional health of young adults and teens — Instagram published a new toolkit titled Pressure to be Perfect addressing the pressure to be perfect fueled by the digital age.

“We want to encourage you to be mindful of how time online impacts your emotional well-being, share some tips and tools that can improve your experience, and connect you with resources for further thought and discussion,” the toolkit states.

The Pressure to Be Perfect

Parsed out into separate guides, one dedicated towards teens and the other towards parents, the aim is to foster a better understanding of how to navigate the app. Specifically, how you can enhance your experience through awareness of the potential psychological impacts of having a profile.

The overarching theme with this initiative is to help users recognize that what they see on the platform is only one piece of someone’s life that they willingly chose to share. When we acknowledge this, we can move from a place where we feel obligated to present ourselves in ways that are often distorted and driven by the need to conform to one of more thoughtful sharing that is accurate to who we are.

“A big part of Pressure to be Perfect is making sure you have a strong sense of what you want to share and when, keeping a good perspective on the role the platform plays in your life, and knowing how to help others who seem to be struggling.”

The Teen Guide

Looking at the guide for teens, the interactive toolkit features quizzes, essays, how-to’s and tips to boost greater self-awareness when using the platform. Rather than serve as a rule book, the education comes from testing what you already know and encouraging conversations on this important topic based on the individual’s results.

Quizzes feature topics including sharing with sensitivity, maintaining perspective, and responding with kindness. Important insights gleaned upon taking each include the importance of thinking about where you’ll share your content and who will see it, being mindful of your emotions during online interactions, and finding opportunities to help someone who is experiencing distress.

General recommendations shared by the guide include performing routine maintenance on your account – are you following people who connect you to existing interests and make you feel good about yourself? IF not, it may be time for a trim so you can free up some space for more of these people. For inspiration when adding to your followers, a great way to start is by browsing hashtags with keywords aligning with your interests and hobbies.

Beyond unfollowing, other ways to separate yourself from accounts that breed negativity, according to the guide, include muting and restricting. Comments from people you restrict will only be visible to them unless you approve them. Restricted people also won’t be able to see when you’re online or when you’ve read their messages. If this feels too extreme, you can opt to mute

To mute someone, tap the “…” menu in the corner of one of their posts. You can mute feed posts, story posts, or both from an account. You can also mute someone by pressing and holding their story.

The Parent Guide

“One of the most important things we can do for the teens in our lives is to help them focus on their strengths and qualities beyond their physical selves.”

In the spirit of this statement, the parents’ guide emphasizes tips for indicating when a child may be suffering from depression as a result of their social media engagement, what they can do to help improve their kid’s online experiences, and highlights of the tools of the platform available to help.

Key themes of the guidance span enhancing media literacy, the ability to critically analyze and evaluate media messaging, managing the pitfalls of social media, taking control, and counteracting negativity by filling feeds with positivity.

The important takeaway here: the more young people are encouraged to take control of their engagement versus be passive consumers, the greater the likelihood the content will reflect the true sense of who they are. Platforms and adults should, therefore, encourage teens to challenge the ideals and evolve into conscious consumers.

This isn’t the first case of Instagram making a push to protect at-risk users. Most recently, the platform announced the removal of total Like counts, also targeted to reduce the pressure to compare.

Designing feed control in favor of consumers and encouraging them to learn more about the kinds of unhealthy triggers they are regularly served will help them define their own definition of a ‘healthy information diet,” an effort that can and will continue to be good for businesses but also will advance us as a society.

Learn more about Empathy Economics as part of our 2020 global theme: HUMAN.X and help us establish a human-first, experience-driven approach to digital marketing. Read the official announcement here and secure your early-bird discount today to save 30% on your full-conference pass to #SMWNYC (May 5-7, 2020).


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NSFW: Instagram Addresses Why It Refuses To Display Nipples Most Of The Time

Image via Nopparat Khokthong / Shutterstock.com

Instagram’s nudity censorship policy has been a recurring topic among creators. The social media platform’s disallowing of photographs that show female nipples has angered artists and anti-censorship activists, as many of their posts were taken down or even shut down.

On the platform’s community guidelines page, Instagram explains that while nudity is often used as an art form, “for a variety of reasons, we don’t allow nudity on Instagram,” though nude paintings and sculptures as well as images of post-mastectomy scarring and breastfeeding women are allowed.

In the last month, Free the Nipple campaigners had met up with Instagram’s representatives in New York to discuss its censorship policy. Though the company listened to the issues presented, many were unsure if it made a difference.

Hence, artist Micol Hebron decided to put it to the test by posting a topless selfie she took outside of the building before the private discussion. This led to her account being suspended.

On the other hand, Rain Dove, a gender-nonconforming model who does not consider their nipples to be female, received the green light from Instagram after the model threatened to take legal action last year. The bare-chested photo was left on the model’s Instagram page.

Instagram’s head of public policy Karina Newton justified in an email to the New York Times that the platform will not attempt to “impose its own value judgment on how nipples should be viewed in society.”

Newton added that the social network ultimately strives to “reflect the sensitivities” of various cultures and countries with their policies. It also regards nipple imagery to belong to living people, and cannot ascertain for itself if these figures have consented for their nipples to be displayed online.

View this post on Instagram

I am NOT “Female”. Therefore this nipple DOESNT violate IG guidelines and should not be removed. BUT it was after 10 days up, 51k likes and 2k comments. Oddly enough in that time period no one turned into a puddle of goo or had their eyes burned out by viewing this nipple. No one even complained that they were destroyed by seeing it. One person did say this image was “cancer” but hey they’ve said that about my fully clothed images too. Sure some people disagreed with me posting this but I know lots of people who are triggered by pro-MAGA posts, images of feet, posts about kittens being rescued from horrible situations on @thedodo. They have nightmares! It’s sad because even if I was “Female”- “Females” can have Pecs. “Males” can have Breasts. And if You argue only people with pecs are considered “Male” bodied- Pecs can be bigger than Breasts and vice versa. Both can also lactate. Both can also be fetishized. What’s so different? Also what is considered “nudity” or “naked” changes culturally globally. In some places eye contact direct to camera is considered sexual. Showing your shoulders is considered lewd. Hugs are considered worse than kisses. Etc. Aren’t you a globally reaching company? Who’s opinion is controlling what is considered sexual? Can we chat? I wouldn’t have had much of a chance at my career without my IG platform. I’m grateful for this app & what it has done to elevate my opportunities in life. I’m coming TO You. Not AT You. Please consider reviewing the language You use in your guidelines. Either make it so NO one can show their nipples or everyone can. You’re creating a division that’s reinforcing the vulnerable feelings people with breasts already feel. Fear, shame, objectification. Stop targeting & criminalizing “female bodies” specifically. A shirt off isn’t enough for a conviction of criminal intent. EVOLVE w/ ur audience! Have a neutral policy! You reach around the world IG. Therefore you can change it- simply by hanging your language. LOVE ALWAYS, RainDove (ALSO DRINK PLANT BASED MILKS WHEN POSSIBLE! These jugs are symbolic props) #IdenTITTY #genderqueer #lovewins #instagram #genderfluid #lgbtq #womensrights #VitaminDD undies @tomboyx

A post shared by Rain Dove (@raindovemodel) on Jun 27, 2018 at 11:22am PDT

[via The New York Times, images via Nopparat Khokthong / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/407562/NSFW-Instagram-Addresses-Why-It-Refuses-To-Display-Nipples-Most-Of-The-Time/

Why Instagram’s New Stories Feature ‘Reels’ Should Be on Your Brand’s Radar

Instagram is looking to harness the power and popularity of lip-syncing apps like TikTok by introducing its own tool to music videos to Stories.

Dubbed “Reels,” the video-music feature can be found in the Stories shutter modes tray alongside “Boomerang” and “Super-Zoom.” The feature is currently available both on iOS and Android in Brazil as part of an initial test phase.

At its core and much like TikTok, Reels allows users to record 15-second videos synced to music or other audio. These clips can be either recorded in silence or with snippets borrowed from an in-app catalog or another video found through the hashtag search or Explore or doing a search of popular and trending songs.

“Instagram Stories has always been a home for expression, and we believe this new format has huge potential to enable more creativity for people.” shared Director of Product, Robby Stein.

From an editing standpoint, the collection includes a variety of creative tools including speed, time, a countdown clock, and a ghost mode that makes it easier for users to line up transitions so they appear more fluid.
Specifically, they’ll have the ability to overlay the last frame of their previous video over the camera video. As far as filters and special effects, two elements TikTok has become notorious for, these will come as the rollout continues.

The growth of video and creative tools

It’s no secret is taking marketing by storm. In fact, according to recent figures, by 2022, online videos will make up more than 82 percent of all consumer internet traffic, 15 times higher than in 2017.

“Video and creation tools have really unlocked a surge of usage,” said Stein in a statement to Variety. While videos made with Reels will primarily live in personal stories, the Closed Friends option, or direct messages, it is the hope that gradually it will become integrated across other areas of the app including the Explore tab.

“Over 50% of accounts use Explore every month,” he added. Additionally, in a nod to its own ephemerality, Instagram is allowing users to add Reels to their Highlights section where they can pop up on Explore even after the 24-hour mark hits.

Bringing authenticity and experiences back to digital marketing

While the platform credits TikTok for spearheading the evolution of this format, Instagram is eager to make this a unique experience for itself and brands holding the concept of sharing video with music as universal. The trick, of course, will be getting the Instagram audience to undergo a shift away from the carefully filtered and edited content that dominates the app compared to the raw, authentic content of a competitor like TikTok.

If it’s successful, brands could have a window of opportunity for new partnerships fueled by experience-driven engagement, creativity, and self-expression that audiences, especially Gen Z, favor. In line with a separate update to remove like counts from posts, this added feature may support the app in its push to promote a more positive, less pressurized environment where people are more comfortable expressing who they are versus an image they feel they have to project.

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How Instagram’s @Creators Account Can Inspire Your Brand’s Next Collaboration

Instagram is doubling down on its creator community with a new branded account, delivering more tips, tricks, and inspiration for creators to improve their presence and create better content that leverages all the platform has to offer. Appropriately titled @creators, the company is hoping to address gaps that many are turning to alternative outlets like YouTube to fill in order to meet the needs of their audiences.

In a quote shared with sources at AdWeek, Instagram reps explained, “The hub will be a source of education and discovery for aspiring creators (and those who just like to keep learning best practices—it’s important to remain teachable, you know?)—and a space where content meets “how-to,” spoken in a language that our core audience understands, with the talent they connect with the most.”

An introductory FAQ story highlight shared to the account targets basic algorithmic and setting-focused questions including how to get verified, how to filter comments, how to gain access to the latest features and updates, why the chronological feed isn’t coming back, and how to seek general help and guidance from the Instagram team.

Navigating IGTV

One of the first algorithm insights the account revealed in their posts is that 60 percent of people listen to stories with the sound on. A skim of other uploads clearly depicts a focus on video content, specifically IGTV, which to date hasn’t garnered significant traction but a branded account dedicated to how to navigate it and find success in its use is certainly a viable starting point.

“We’ve always said that IGTV is going to be the first monetizable platform on Instagram. It’s just a matter of when, and I’m sure there’s more to come on that,” Justin Antony, Head of Content and Creator Partnerships told The Verge earlier this year. “The creators that are really leaning into it, being native to it, creating an audience there, will be the stars of tomorrow.”

While these bits of insights are undoubtedly helpful as instantaneous learnings on-the-go, it is important to not neglect your own research and statistics. Use these as a comparison and guide versus as a one-size-fits-all approach to your social strategy.

Get inspo from influencers

Beyond sharing it’s own best practices, Instagram wants users and businesses to learn “from the creators you admire the most,” another post claimed.

Creators, including dancer Susie Meoww and comedian Adam Waheed, have already been tapped to take part in this process, sharing their process and strategies for creating content ranging from the equipment they prefer, sound effects they utilize, how often they post, and more.

“By using all surfaces of the platform you’re able to get traffic from all different directions,” explained Waheed in his IGTV testimonial unveiling ways he’s turned his love of witty Instagram skits into a business. “I post two photos, four videos, and one IGTV per week, and five stories every day,” he said.

Rising above the noise

Additional posts promise future content revolving around topics such as standing out in a community of creatives, finding and establishing your brand, and seeking a strategy for sharing your story in the broader community.

“Find a lane that’s open, and try to fiil it,” says Shalom Blac and LaLa Milan regarding how to cut through the noise in a caption teasing their testimonial.

The @creators handle has already spurred a video series under the hashtag #howicreate, where over 1,000 users have documented their experiences and tips on what has worked in their journey to successful sharing.

Aside from creators, brands also stand to benefit from visits to this new account as they seek to improve their presence and enhance their knowledge of how to best create content. Primarily, by supporting an enhanced understanding of what influencers are looking for and why.

Keeping a finger on the pulse of what your prospective partners are talking about and where these dialogues are taking shape is invaluable in today’s digital space and can only help you prepare for the future and secure more successful collaborations.

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5 Hidden Ways to Get Your Brand Noticed on Instagram

It’s no secret Instagram has tremendous reach. More than one billion people use the app every month and 500 million engage with the platform daily. Of late, it’s evolved into a booming e-commerce hub for brands with 60 percent of Instagram users reporting they’ve learned of a product or service through the platform.

With over 25 million business profiles in existence, vying for attention is a perpetual obstacle. Fortunately, the Explore Tab, a section dedicated to curated content and branded accounts based on a user’s interest, offers some answers in terms of breaking through the noise.

According to recent research, 26 percent of Instagram users follow new brand accounts discovered via the Explore tab. When considering this stat with Instagram’s own numbers, specifically that more than half of its billion users visit this portion of the site every month, it becomes very transparent that the Explore page holds the potential to drive a significant amount of engagement for brands.

Here, we’ll look at five key tricks you can use to get your posts and Stories featured on the page to boost your exposure:

Use hashtags and tags

Both hashtags and tags are a great way to invite engagement and interaction, especially if you do your homework and research the right people and tags to incorporate into your captions.

From a partnership and collaboration standpoint, tagging companies or influencers or using the same hashtags can be mutually beneficial in that you each stand to gain exposure to audiences you otherwise would not cross paths with.

Audience-wise, hashtags are a staple in sifting through the body of posts that get uploaded to Instagram every day. You can include up to 30 hashtags on your post. Use these to your advantage to make the user experience simpler and more positive by categorizing your content. Operate on the assumption that if you don’t tag it, they can’t see it.

Avoid reposting

Algorithmically speaking, reposts are deprioritized when it comes to Instagram so the best rule of thumb to note is focusing on your own content.

Stick to other callouts if you want to shout another brand or individual out like hashtags, tags or custom captions that you craft yourself. Ensure its conveyed in a way that’s consistent with your brand’s tone and that will be received positively by your audience.

Get creative with visual stories

By 2022, online videos will make up more than 82 percent of all consumer internet traffic, which is 15 times higher than in 2017.

Indeed, more people share videos than ever before. Recognizing this, Instagram has prioritized visual content, ranking videos higher in the Explore algorithm. Why? Because they have a greater tendency to grab attention and hold it for a longer period of time than still photos. Visual content also fuels retention.

According to Forbes, 95 percent of viewers claim to retain the message of a video, versus just 10 percent of message retention with text only. Concerning calls-to-action, 95 percent are more likely to remember it after watching a video, versus just 10 percent when the CTA is delivered solely by text.

A quick tip: don’t overdo it with the length of your videos. Recent research from AdAge shows that after 30 seconds, 33 percent of viewers will stop watching a video, 45 percent before that one minute is up, and 60 percent of viewers will stop watching by two minutes.

If a video doesn’t quite fit for a particular post you’re envisioning, aim to incorporate some alternative form of motion. This can be achieved through a variety of features within the app including Boomerang, motion filters, animation, and more.

Use CTAs

Speaking of CTAs, you’ll want to be sure these are on every checklist before pushing a post live. They not only communicate what you want your audience to do as a response to your message but are a great incentive for engagement.

For example, ask a question that kicks off a conversation for followers. You can also use emojis and tags and language such as “Give this post a like if…” “tag a friend who needs this” or “comment below and tell us what you think” to naturally drive responses.

Don’t be above viral trends and memes

As much as it may feel counterproductive to getting your brand to stand out, an effective way to meet your followers where they are is by paying attention to topics that are already trending and gaining traction.

Strive to put your own twist on the conversation to illustrate what your brand has to offer them in a way that is meaningful and demonstrate your effort in capturing attention in a way that won’t come across as a time suck to them, rather a use of their time.

A highly popular and effective way of doing just this is using viral memes to illustrate a message.

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