Tag: Snapchat

How Snapchat is Preparing for the Next Creator Movement

2020 has seen many brands and platforms step outside of their comfort zones and experiment with ways they can deliver content at scale and create personal experiences. A player of late that has stood out in departure from the original focus on intimate communications is Snapchat.

Here’s a breakdown of what the company has released these past few weeks and what they could mean for marketers and creators.

Making video creations and communication more expressive with ‘Sounds’

Earlier this fall Snapchat released ‘Sounds,’ a TikTok-rival feature that allows users to enhance their Snaps with music from a curated catalog of both emerging and established artists. Tracks can be added pre or post-capture and then shared either publicly, via your Story, or directly to specific connections.

To add music before recording video, select the Sounds tool designated by the music notes icon on the right-hand side of the Camera screen and select a track from the Featured Sounds list. Alternatively, use the Sounds tool after taking a Snap to drop in a song after you record.

The current Sounds catalog offers “millions” of licensed songs from Snap’s music industry partners including Warner Music Group, NMPA. and Universal Music Publishing Group. Per Variety, beyond music, Snapchat is also working on introducing the ability for users to create their own sounds and add them to Snaps — an update expected to roll out globally on the platform in the coming months.

Acquiring mobile music app Voisey

Delving even further into the music industry space, Snapchat parent company Snap Inc. recently acquired startup Voisey, a mobile music app founded in 2018 that allows users to record short videos using professional vocal effects and backing tracks provided by producers. Clips are one-minute in length following the ever popular short-form format dominating the social media sphere.

Think of it as a musical equivalent of stickers and filters, where users can pick from a selection of user-created backing beats, hit record, and then customize the content by overlaying to the track with their own vocals. More specifically, they can add auto-tune, choral, spacey amongst other voice effects.

“We are on the verge of a revolution in music creation with the boundaries between creator and audience blurring like never before. Apps like Voisey focus on giving consumers tools that enable them to go from zero to 100 faster than ever before,” said Mark Mulligan founder of MIDiA Research in a statement to Business Insider.

The move seemingly follows a trend in which apps are more eager than ever to deliver unique creative at scale. Instagram, for instance, allows users to create high quality photos, TikTok the ability to create share-worthy short-form videos, and now, the window of opportunity centers on the next generation of music creators and giving them the tools to collaborate and work efficiently and effectively.

Unveiling ‘Spotlight,’ a short-form video feed

Taking a page out of TikTok’s playbook and Instagram’s ‘Reels,’ Snapchat introduced a short-form video feed option, ‘Spotlight,’ showcasing the top Snaps submitted on the platform by more than 249 million users and offering financial incentive for the most entertaining content. Snaps in this designated feed will play on a continuous loop until the user swipes to the next one. Previously, Snapchat users were limited to seeing snaps posted by their friends or posted by publishers in the app’s Discover feature.

As part of the push, Snapchat is offering a million dollars per day in funding, which it will distribute to the best Spotlight clips. The app will utilize a similar algorithm to TikTok in ranking each clip based on engagement. In particular, factors like total views, view time, and number of Favorites and Shares will be weighed. Clips are displayed in full screen, so the intent is for the platform to utilize specific indicators to better tailor the feed over time. In terms of how brands can get involved, a spokesman said Snap expects it will introduce ads to the product in coming months.

Instagram’s Explore page, TikTok’s ‘For You,’ YouTube’s recommended videos, and now Spotlight — it’s clear that a discovery engine is no longer a nice-to-have but a must-have as creators become the crux of social media engagement. With an emphasis on exclusive content, these feeds are evolving as the key differentiator that will continue to etch platforms out above their competitors in the fight for online talent.

Photo credit via The Verge

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The post How Snapchat is Preparing for the Next Creator Movement appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/12/how-snapchat-is-preparing-for-the-next-creator-movement/

Why TikTok and Snapchat are Priortizing In-App Voter Awareness

During the 2018 midterm elections, Snapchat registered more than 450,000 voters through its app. Of that group, 50 percent of those went on to cast ballots. Fast forward to today, the platform is announcing a slew of new tools and features to help prepare young people to vote in November.

For context, of its 100 million U.S. users, 80 percent are 18 or older and between 300,000 and 500,000 Snapchat users turn 18 every month. In addition, the company recently obtained data from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (“CIRCLE”), which showed that two-thirds of voters age 18 to 21 with some college experience received important resources and information about voter registration from their universities.

Driving in-app voter awareness

Despite being interested in participating in elections and exercising the right to do so, college-aged voters are unsure where to find the facts around the process. This is especially an issue in the context of the global pandemic as campuses are forced to operate remotely or limit the number of students on campus.

Here a peek into some of the updates and how they work:

  • Voter Registration: As part of its new series of mini apps announced this Summer during its Partner Summit, Snapchat is introducing a new ‘Voter Registration Mini’ which will enable users to register to vote directly in the app.
  • Voter Guide: Snapchat’s also launching a ‘Voter Guide’ which will provide users with key voting information and resources from official partner organizations covering topics including ballot education, voting by mail, and more.
  • Before You Vote: In partnership with BallotReady, this mini app will provide users with more insight into their voting options ahead of the poll as they finalize their plans
  • Voter Checklist: Also utilized in the 2018 midterms, Snapchat is bringing back the voter checklist, an interactive platform aimed to ensure users are registered and ready for the vote.

Detecting and removing misinformation

Yet another platform with a firm hold on younger demographics, TikTok, is also manifesting its plans ahead of this Fall. It’s focus? Combating misinformation.

“Misinformation, disinformation, and threats to civic engagement are challenges no platform can ignore. By working together as an industry with experts and civil society organizations, we can better protect the civic processes that are so essential to our users,” the platform explained.

At a high level, TikTok is introducing stricter, more specific guidelines around deepfakes and coordinated use of the platform to influence opinion. It’s also expanding its relationships with PolitiFact and Lead Stories to double down on fact-checking and adding an option for users to easily report content or accounts for review that they feel may be sources of misinformation. In the vein of detection processes, TikTok is gathering insights and key information from the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Foreign Influence Task Force.

As far as political ads are concerned, TikTok is using this opportunity to make it clear they don’t see them as a fit for the general experience they aim to create for its users. “The nature of paid political ads isn’t something we think fits with the experience our users expect on TikTok.”

Looking ahead

According to a new survey from GlobalWebIndex, over half (52%) of 18-24-year-old Snapchatters will be voting for the first time this November. With their specific reach into Gen Z and Millenials, it’s apparent why these resources by the part of TikTok and Snapchat are needed.

In the midst of an abnormal election year, on-the-ground voter engagement can no longer be counted on. These first-time voters would typically be preparing to register on-campus at college after equipping themselves with key information but these options are either limited or off the table. It’s on platforms like TikTok and Snapchat to step in and fill this education void.

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The post Why TikTok and Snapchat are Priortizing In-App Voter Awareness appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/08/why-tiktok-and-snapchat-are-priortizing-in-app-voter-awareness/

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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http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/08/will-triller-dethrone-tiktok/

How Snapchat is Helping Brands Build Deeper Relationships

With more people spending time online in an era of social distancing, the competition amongst platforms is fiercer than ever. Each is eager to capitalize on opportunities to be more accessible, more open, and more appealing to a broader range of users and brands.

Snapchat is no exception and of late is making a big push to onboard more brands. Dubbed “Brand Profiles,” 30 companies, including Ben & Jerrys, Universal Pictures, and Headspace, are supporting a test of a new update that brings all of Snapchat’s core technology and features into one consolidated space. In turn, marketers can expect a more seamless experience for interacting and dishing promotional tie-ins.

Main components of a Brand Profile

Through new AR lenses, brands have the ability to save and showcase Lenses on their profile allowing them to get the most out of their AR experiences. These will be discoverable through Snapchat Search and Lens Explorer. While Snapchat has prioritized ephemeral content since its inception, over the years it’s come to recognize why some permanence can be helpful especially for marketers. In this vein, Highlights will enable businesses to reuse posts uploaded to their Public Snaps including Stories, photos, and videos. As the platform explained, “this is the best way for Snapchatters who aren’t familiar with a brand to get to know who they are.”


Image courtesy of Snapchat

On brand profiles themselves, a Public Story can drive the relationship-building to a new level but offering a new vantage point from which to understand the day-to-day of a brand. In short, a behind-the-scenes look that more and more users find relatable, unique, and exciting. Lastly, profiles will include an optional Native Store experience allowing companies to showcase products directly in the app powered by Shopify.

“With 229 million Snapchatters using the app daily, this real estate for our partners is especially important in a world where our millennial and Gen Z audiences can be hard to reach and build deep, authentic relationships with on many platforms,” the company stated in the official announcement.

Supporting brand growth and audience development

In the backend, Brand Profiles will also come equipped with a helpful suite of tools to foster internal collaboration and analytics reports including audience demographics and interest to better inform their strategies and content development.

“Brand Profiles bring brands a permanent home on Snapchat, unlocking new avenues for customer discovery and engagement,” said Carolina Arguelles, Snapchat’s global product marketing manager, in a statement to AdWeek. “We’re also offering brands insights into their subscribers through our online Business Manager, which will help partners learn about their customers and forge evermore meaningful connections with the Snapchat community.”

For their typical organic social efforts, the majority of today’s brands leverage the same type of account as the average user. With the option to create a designated Brand Profile, there is a new opportunity to learn more about consumer behaviors and trends — this is especially crucial when navigating a predominantly younger audience of millennials and Gen Z. As many experts reflecting on the update commented, this slight shift away from ephemerality could be the key helping brands kickstart a powerful learning journey whereby they allow users to opt-in to the ads and content they want to see and engage in a way that respects their time and attention.

Snap Focus

Brand Profiles isn’t the only push Snapchat has made lately in terms of opening its platform to be more business-friendly. Earlier this Summer the company introduced “Snap Focus” geared towards Snapless brands who before committing to something like a Brand Profile, for instance, will want a more general understanding of ad management best practices.

Akin to Twitter’s “Flight School” and Facebook’s “Blueprint” courses, Snap Focus is set up to provide a tactical understanding of how to navigate the app. This includes broader overviews into The Snapchat Generation and the platform’s Ad Manager in addition to specifics around how to measure and optimize campaigns and elements to successful creative. For more on Snap Focus and other ad tools to incorporate into your approach, you can check out the Snap Focus platform here.

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http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/07/how-snapchat-is-helping-brands-build-deeper-relationships/

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

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

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

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

Wanna Talk About It?

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

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

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

Fueling Empathy & Community

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Platforms are Helping Brands and Users Navigate COVID-19

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

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

FACEBOOK

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

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

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

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

INSTAGRAM

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

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

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

SNAPCHAT

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

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

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

TIKTOK

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

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

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

TWITTER

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

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

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

PINTEREST

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snapchat Adds Dedicated COVID-19 Update Section to Discover Tab

Snapchat has added a new COVID-19 update panel into its Discover section.

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/snapchat-adds-dedicated-covid-19-update-section-to-discover-tab/574900/

For more Social Media News or Coronavirus News please click the links.

Please also see our The Voice of Social Media Blog

Snapchat Outlines Its Efforts to Ensure Users Are Accurately Informed About COVID-19

Snapchat has provided an overview of the steps its taking to ensure users are getting accurate information about the COVID-19 outbreak.

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/snapchat-outlines-its-efforts-to-ensure-users-are-accurately-informed-about/574230/

Here’s How Reddit’s Technology and New Partnership are Supporting Mental Health

Today’s teens spend nearly seven and a half hours on their phones each day per a recent report by Common Sense Media, a non-profit dedicated to promoting safe technology and media use for children. Those in the tween category (ages 8 to 12) don’t fall far behind in comparison spending roughly four hours and 45 minutes daily.

As these stats have evolved, there has been a lot of research and discussion around the correlation between this screen time and the mental health and wellbeing of younger demographics. While some argue the linkage is clear and direct, others push back and advocate the connection is more nuanced — that it is about the quality of use that determines whether the relationship to the platforms is healthy and productive or if it’s simply a distraction from larger issues and there isn’t enough adequate mental health services at their disposal.

Younger users are becoming increasingly aware of the negative implications of their social media use and are turning to the platforms to help them take the steps to mitigate these appropriately.

PROVIDING AN OFF-RAMP TO KEY RESOURCES

A growing number of platforms including Snapchat and Pinterest are innovating around opportunities to meet their users where they are and connect them with the communities and tools they can take offline. Reddit is yet another example recently unveiling a slew of suicide prevention tools created in partnership with the Crisis Text Line. Specifically, the update includes a feature that allows Redditors to report those who are encountered and felt to be at risk.

Users can flag someone through reporting a comment or piece of content or by using a button on the individual’s user profile. To report directly from a post, simply select the option that reads, “Someone is considering suicide or serious self-harm.” Alternatively, if you’re on the person’s profile, tap the prompt that says “get them help and support.” A note: if you’re accessing Reddit from your computer on a web browser this will fall under the “more options” section.

When a user is flagged, the platform will send a private message including details to access mental health resources and a suggestion to text the phrase ‘CHAT’ to the number for the Crisis Text Line, 741741. They will then be connected to a trained counselor with whom they can text for as long as they need to have someone to actively empathize with them and help them get to the root of their thoughts and feelings.

EMPLOYING GOOD AI: FUELING NEW APPROACHES TO PUBLIC HEALTH

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is leveraging artificial intelligence from Reddit and Twitter to improve the forecasting of suicide rates. Its current figures, according to a spokesperson, are currently delayed up to two years, negatively influencing policy updates the allocation of resources. This is a significant problem given suicide rates have surged 40 percent in less than two decades.

Without the most up-to-date numbers, the agency can’t properly respond and improve how it’s directing its efforts so it’s relying on platforms to help whittle down publicly available data and address the question: how can signals from various real-time sources be leveraged in order to offset this one to two-year lag?

A helpful source has been reports that break down keyword use across platforms related to suicide. When combined with other CDC data including crisis text and call lines and previous suicide rates from the National Vital Statistics program, newer algorithms can be trained to forecast the actual rate.

“We can now estimate these rates of suicide up to a year in advance of when death records become available,” said Munmun de Choudhury, a professor at Georgia Tech’s School of Interactive Computing who is working with the CDC on this project, in a statement to Recode. What does this say for future projections? Data collected until December 2019 can be employed to predict the suicide rate for every week of 2021. She added that the initial phase of the research had an error rate of less than 1 percent.

Social media can be a force for deeper and more empathetic human connection. But, as brands and platforms, we need to put our creative energy behind the programs, partnerships, and technology at our disposal if we are to make a dent in the problem. We have a moral obligation to ensure we’re creating safe and meaningful spaces in which today’s youth can interact and grow and understand the importance of empathy as a foundational skill.

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The post Here’s How Reddit’s Technology and New Partnership are Supporting Mental Health appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/03/heres-how-reddits-technology-and-new-partnership-are-supporting-mental-health/

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.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/03/why-linkedin-is-bringing-ephemeral-marketing-into-the-business-world/

How Platforms are Promoting Safety and Mental Health

A growing number of platforms are publicizing their dedication to make good on a fundamental responsibility to prioritize and invest in the health and wellness of its users.

Pinterest recently introduced a series of emotional wellness activities including deep breathing exercises for users searching for solutions to better manage their stress and anxiety. Instagram has also made strides in this regard, releasing a tool, Restrict and expanding its suicide and self-harm content ban.

Additional apps are taking cues from these efforts including Snapchat, TikTok, and Facebook. Here’s a look at the latest and why they matter in the grand scheme of our industry.

Snapchat: ‘Here For You’

Ninety-percent of all 13- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat to engage with their friends. This particular demographic is especially vulnerable and internal company research has proven this by showing feelings of stress, depression and anxiety to be the top mental health issues reported by users and their close friends.

Similarly to Pinterest’s mission, ‘Here For You’ is geared more toward offering resources and starting important conversations that resolve these feelings and issues and less about uprooting the product. Specifically, the process works by linking users to a “special section within Snapchat’s search results” when they search criteria indicating they’re in need of support around issues such as anxiety, depression, stress, grief, suicidal thoughts, and bullying.

Illustrated below, if a user were to type in the word “anxiety” they’d be given a selection of short shows to pick from including the series “Chill Pill.” A mixture of original programming made with support from local experts will also be available targeted to topics of suicide, depression, and eating disorders.

According to the announcement, proactive in-app support is just one step towards “what will be a bigger health and wellness push from Snapchat” to be rolled out over the next few months.

“We feel a real responsibility to try to make a positive impact with some of our youngest, sometimes most vulnerable users on our platform,” said Vice President of Global Policy, Jen Stout in a statement to Fast Company. “We know this is the first step of a lot of work we want to do to provide the right resources to our users.”

‘TikTok Tips’: An Influencer-Led Safety and Well-Being Advice Account

Last month, TikTok updated its Community Guidelines to address potential issues with misinformation and expanded its rule around acceptable in-app behavior. Today, the company is taken yet another stand towards helping users make better decisions that are safer and better for their mental health and wellbeing through a new influencer led account dubbed TikTok Tips.

The premise is to use familiar TikTokers to run the feed and dish out fun and friendly reminders to fellow users around how to manage their privacy settings and to take a break from the app. Messages encompass simply getting some added rest while others reinforce the benefit of participating in IRL activities with family and friends to as crucial for building memories.

“We’re on a mission to promote privacy, safety, and positive vibes!” states the account’s description — one that aligns with the platform’s broader mission to serve as an environment of a positive, safe space free of judgment.

While it’s too early to make any declarations on how effective it will be in getting people to re-check their usage and take mental breaks from their constant scrolling, initial video uploads show promising engagement. Two, in particular, have garnered 16.9 million views and 17.2 million views respectively.

‘Facebook’s ‘Hobbi’: An App Dedicated to Tracking Your Personal Progress

In a nod to Pinterest, Facebook is looking to help users focus on their personal growth and development in a new app, Hobbi, via its New Product Experimentation (NPE) team.

As you may guess from its name, Hobbi is dedicated towards giving users an outlet to collect images of their hobbies and interests and sort them into boards so they can easily map their progress. Themed collections can include gardening, cooking, DIY arts and crafts, and more. Outside of the ability to create video highlight reels of your work to share externally on other platforms, Hobbi is not a social networking app, rather an editor and organizer. The editing options and controls are limited, a stark contrast compared to the likes of Instagram. It’s unique in that rather than serving as an outlet to broadcast, its intended use is as a personal log for your achievements, a resource for personal reflection and a compass for growth.

“You might just surprise yourself with how much you have done,” the app description states, encouraging people to push the boundaries and meaningfully engage in the activities that bring them joy, relief, and happiness.

If you’re a company that caters to younger demographics, especially Gen Z, you’ll want to keep tabs on these initiatives and fundamental shifts. Why? Because they are at the heart of what these audiences care about, are interested in, and expect when establishing their loyalty to the brands they purchase from, and the apps they spend their time on.

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 10% on your full-conference pass to #SMWNYC (May 5-7, 2020).

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The post How Platforms are Promoting Safety and Mental Health appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/02/how-platforms-are-promoting-safety-and-mental-health/

Here’s How Your Brand Should Innovate for Gen Z

By now most marketers can recognize that Gen Z wields tremendous power. As of this year, these individuals account for 40 percent of global consumers and hold more than 44 billion in spending power. Looking ahead to 2030, it’s estimated they’ll comprise 30 percent of the labor force.

They’re young, digitally savvy, and entrepreneurial reflected in an early but profound understanding of how technology can transform the way we work and live. All of this translates into unique online behavior that brands must continue to try to wrap their strategies around.

Navigating Gen-Z: New Research from Snap Inc. and CASSANDRA

A growing number of businesses are weaving in influencer partnerships, adapting to the rise of ‘dark social’ or a more private, permission-based online environment, tapping into new markets for streaming and social media entertainment, and incorporating videos into their tactics as a means of securing attention in a crowded space.

In the midst of all of these changes, consumer experience has emerged as a leading differentiator indicated by recent findings that show that more than half (64%) of Gen Z shoppers feel brands should provide a personalized experience when interacting with them. As ad budgets become increasingly devoted to social channels (total ad spend across social platforms is projected to reach $517 billion globally by 2023), how can brands prepare today and ensure they innovate in a way that drives brand awareness today and keeps them relevant in the years ahead?

According to a new study commissioned by Snap Inc and CASSANDRA , the answer isn’t as complicated as one may think. Here are a few highlights distilling the key insights and themes from the results.

Don’t negate the influence of emotional and practical utility

Though trends point to Gen Zers being responsive to edgy and visual marketing campaigns, this doesn’t mean you need to spend months or years and a hefty budget on your products. Amongst the four criteria for brand innovation identified by the survey group included an emphasis on customer happiness, expanding access to goods and services, and brands that deliver on opportunities that make us happier.

As a best practice, when making choices on adopting the latest emerging technologies, simplicity should be a priority in terms of how plan to improve your offering. Accessibility and affordability are critical to this demographic both in the brands they use and when they are those they haven’t yet.

Take social listening seriously

Gen Zers have a go-getter mentality and feel genuine joy when they’re able to contribute to positive social change. They want to support brands who are active in delivering on its goals and mission and feel as though they play an instrumental role in ensuring the journey is successful.

In this vein, proactively seeking and reacting to consumer feedback is another important mark of innovation not only to the benefit of consumers but in enabling the business to identify unique ways to stay ahead of the curve of its competitors. Eighty-percent of respondents shared that they are more likely to support a company if they feel their feedback makes a difference. A slightly larger percentage, (82%) report they are more inclined to advocate for a brand if the company actually enacts changes based on shared feedback.

Risk-taking doesn’t mean changing your brand’s identity

It’s hard to not put the words innovation and risky into the same sentence. More often than not, it involves getting creative and stepping out of your comfort zone which can present both challenges and rewards.

Gen Z shares the common belief that today’s brands have an obligation to innovate (64%) and that this is table-stakes for staying relevant in an ever-evolving landscape (62%). At the same time, they’re pretty specific about what this looks like in action. For example, they don’t want companies overhauling their identities for the sake of innovating. Instead, they’d much rather prefer them expand their offerings, redesign their products, and act on opportunities to grow beyond their standard, run-of-the-mill products and services (78%).

Indeed, we live in a fast-paced world that only continues to increase in speed and present us with greater opportunities to connect with our audiences through new platforms and technologies. The best mentality we can have as a response? Don’t try to be something you’re not and don’t overthink.

As this survey has shown, the path to success is truly much simpler than we think and boils down to making genuine efforts to connect with our audiences on a deeper, emotional level by listening to them and helping make their lives easier.

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The post Here’s How Your Brand Should Innovate for Gen Z appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/02/heres-how-your-brand-should-innovate-for-gen-z/

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

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.

Snapchat

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.

Instagram

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.

TikTok

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.

Byte

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.

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

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/01/from-vine-to-byte-has-short-form-video-gone-full-circle/

How Snapchat Can Elevate Your Gen Z Holiday Marketing Strategy

Snapchat is looking to give brands more room to share their stories ahead of the holiday season with a new advertising option for extended play commercials featuring video ads that last up to three minutes.

Establishing a deeper respect for consumer’s time and attention is a win-win strategy

Per AdWeek, this idea strives for a win-win scenario where users have the choice of opting out and skipping the mid-roll video ads after six seconds and brands the potential for longer video messaging to keep those genuinely interested engaged.

In a statement from the company’s Vice President of Global Agency partnerships, David Roter, he alluded to the benefits the flexibility of extended play commercials as the platforms looks to earn more of the video advertising market. Primarily, the offering opens the window for advertisers to tap into their existing video assets as opposed to manually cutting their length down to six seconds allowing for more seamless cross-promotion and engagement.

“We’re committed to building high-impact, long-form video ad formats, and extended play commercials are a great option for online video and TV buyers. Heading into the holidays, this format is a powerful new way to reach our Generation Z and millennial audience in Snapchat’s premium, brand-safe Discover content,” Roter said.

This notion was reinforced in a recent Snap Inc. report that explored buyer behavior trends amongst these exact demographics – namely, how they research and purchase, and how brands can connect with them via the app.

Connecting with Millenials and Gen Z Through Authentic Omnichannel Experiences

Together, Millennials and Gen Z have over $1 trillion in direct spending power and mobile commerce is projected to drive nearly half of all U.S. e-commerce sales during the 2019 season.

Sixty-four percent of Snapchat users are likely to start their shopping on Black Friday and 20 percent are choosing to make these purchases with their mobile devices. Looking at Gen Z specifically, over half plan to spend at least $250 during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

With these figures aside, what’s critical to note as marketers is that this shift in shopping behavior is paramount and will continue to define buying behavior. These younger audiences are unarguably valuable, but earning their attention and maintaining it is a separate story.

Here are a few highlights from the findings and research conducted last year to help you shape your strategy:

  • Snapchat users crave omnichannel experiences that they can navigate seamlessly. Compared to those who don’t use Snapchat, 1.5x research online before committing to an in-store person, 2.5x will research in-store and buy online, and 1.5x shop online and prefer to pick-up in the store
  • Snapchatters use the platform to consult friends and family throughout the buying journey. Thirty-nine percent send Snaps to their friends to gauge their opinions, and 35% Snap while they browse. A separate 35% send Snaps about the products they’re considering purchasing.
  • Snapchat is the leading platform for conversations during and after the shopping experience. While they shop, Snapchat users engage in the app 35% more compared to Twitter, 46% more than Instagram, 58% more than Facebook and 137% more than YouTube. After making their purchase, 65% of users share a post, 46% send a Snap to the brands they’ve purchased from, and 45% tag or mention a brand post-purchase.

Smartphones continue to be an integral source for gathering and sharing information as consumers shop. This isn’t to negate however the opportunity we have to impact the role these technologies ultimately play. Attention is every individual’s most valuable resource and our obligation as an industry is to respect this scarce investment by sharing the stories that meet people where they are and that deliver incredible experiences they willingly want to engage with.

Check out the full infographic below via Snapchat

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The post How Snapchat Can Elevate Your Gen Z Holiday Marketing Strategy appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2019/11/how-snapchat-can-elevate-your-gen-z-holiday-marketing-strategy/

How Snapchat’s New Dynamic Ads Can Boost Your DTC Brand’s Relevance

As we look ahead to the holidays, retail, e-commerce, and other direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands are fine-tuning their plans and pursuing every possible opportunity to reach consumers. While the vast majority of social media ad budgets are allocated towards Facebook and Instagram, Snapchat is looking to carve out elbow room for itself with a new update: Dynamic Ads, a feature that automatically creates and updates product ads to run for you within the app.

Here’s a breakdown of its key benefits and how you can begin to implement them into your strategy:

Enhanced creative quality

Utilizing the product images and information you upload, Snap’s Dynamic Ads will create customized, built-in templates for you. As a result, you can easily create variations of different Snap ads in vertical view format.

“Snapchat Dynamic Ads now allow brands to create real-time optimized mobile ads quickly and at scale, with products showcased in visually-appealing templates that feel native to the app,” said Snap Group Product Marketing Manager of Direct Response Kathleen Gambarelli.

Increased return on effort

To avoid having your ads feel generic, you can use the same product image across five different template styles as depicted below.

In this way, you can spice up your offering and showcase the product in a different way with minimal added effort and no manual work needed. What this ultimately boils down to is more time and resources freed up to put behind the growth of your business and less on designing.

Greater ad relevance

An important and ever-present question plaguing marketers today is how can I remain relevant in an age of information abundance and younger audiences?

With Snap’s newest update, you can sync a product catalog, identify which audience you want to prospect or re-engage, and then pass the baton off to the platform to deliver the ad in real-time. In addition, as changes to the product occur such as pricing or stock availability, ads will automatically adjust accordingly. The big draw here is that you can run ‘always-on’ campaigns giving you the ability to continuously tailor the user shopping experience based on their interests.

If your ads are continuing to drive great results, you have the option to maintain your data flow and Snap will run the ad with the latest information so you don’t have to continue to update your listings. As the saying goes, sometimes the approach of not fixing what isn’t broken is the simplest and most effective. Bare in mind however, as a best practice you should aim to always have your finger on the pulse of the conversation versus setting and forgetting.

Success stories

Brands that have already tested the product include online fashion retailer Princess Polly Clothing and accessories brand, Vitality. The former reported that dynamic ads drove a 66 percent increase in CPP and a 171 percent boost to ROI.

Vitality described its ability to reuse existing product feeds to create high-quality full-screen ads with the new update. Through these efforts, the company saw a 21 percent increase in cost per purchase and a 29 percent increase in return on ad spend.

“Although it’s early, we’re seeing very promising results — our Dynamic Ads campaigns are driving a 66 percent decrease in Cost Per Purchase and a 286 percent increase in ROAS compared to our 2019 re-engagement Initiative running simultaneously,” reported Chris Ratterman, Founder & CEO at Shady Rays and another beta test partner.

Finally, The Ridge Wallet, the minimalist wallet company, saw that dynamic ads drove a 66 percent increase in CPP and a 171 percent boost to ROI.

A move to add depth to its offering to better serve advertisers in the retailer and DTC space is invaluable and comes during a time where other channels are quickly becoming saturated. Not to mention, many brands are growing reliant on platforms like Snapchat in order to improve how they cater to a younger audience base of Millenials and Gen Z and harness their buying power through creativity, convenience and authenticity.

More than 75 percent of the 13-34-year-old U.S. population is active on Snapchat, and daily Snapchat users open the app over 20 times each day, offering brands major opportunities to reach the right person with the right message at the right time,” said Gambarelli.

For additional insights to help prepare your brand, download the replay of our holiday e-commerce webinar hosted in partnership with MikMak earlier this fall.

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6 Platforms to Add to Your 2019 Paid Social Toolkit

Paid social is becoming a crowded space, with 97% of marketers reportedly dedicating money to advertising through social media. Between the growing audiences of these platforms, and the rising cost of similar ads in search, ad spends across social make far more sense to the budget-conscious and the efficiency-obsessed. To that end, Hanapin Marketing takes time every year to assess the state of the paid social marketing landscape, and this week they shared their latest learnings with the world.

Where is most of the crowd congregating? To the surprise of no one: Facebook, who has garnered the attention of 91% of the surveyed population. Brand managers and agency reps aside have grown to depend on it for reliable reach and sophisticated analytics. But in a number of ways, new platforms are rising to rival its dominance…especially as 26% of marketers reported they plan to spend less on the platform throughout 2019.

Who stands to benefit from this shift in spending? Depending on your area of comfort with content creation, the age and engagement of your audience, or your “why” for advertising on social, the following spaces could be yours in which to shine.

The Video Villages: YouTube and Instagram

“We are becoming conditioned to favor video as a means of communication,” Hanapin reported in their study, “and it is unsurprising that social media consumption would reflect that behavior.” Moreover, it is unsurprising that platforms who are friendly to video – both algorithmically and in terms of features – will rise quickly as this conditioning takes root. As such, Instagram and YouTube were the two platforms Hanapin found that have the biggest chance of rivaling Facebook.

On each platform, highly dynamic ad formats were found to be both incredibly popular and highly effective. For YouTube, pre-roll (skippable) ads are far and away the most frequently used format; even when skipped, they do play a role in consumer decisions. And for Instagram, compelling Story Ads have fast become the most effective form. Not only has each become more hospitable to how we regularly consume content, but the interfaces that allow us to craft and place ads have grown in sophistication—making our time and energy in these spaces ever more worthwhile.

The Comeback Kids: LinkedIn and Snapchat

LinkedIn and Snapchat are working hard to reclaim their onetime glory not just by improving the offerings on their sites for users, but also growing and improving the ad experience for marketers. And while these ads don’t necessarily do the blockbuster numbers that the top three platforms get, you can get results in a highly specific market if you use these spaces wisely.

Hanapin cites LinkedIn as the platform that currently “pays [most] attention to the needs and priorities of their advertisers.” For the site, a recent overhaul of their Campaign Manager has allowed for highly specific ad targeting. And as more users flock to the platform to take advantage of their live video, document sharing, and educational offerings, those seeking to reach a business-minded client will do well in the space. Meanwhile, Snapchat’s burst of new features and partnerships make it a highly attractive option for those seeking to reach a younger audience. 71% of users are under 24, and 45% are 18-24. This means that spending your time in this once-again booming ecosystem means crafting ads that appeal to that age group: compelling, captivating, and befitting of the space Snap has cultivated there. As with LinkedIn, the clientele is considerably more specific; your approach there should adapt accordingly.

The Dark Horses: Quora and Reddit

“Quora was predicted in last year’s report to be an up and coming platform for advertising,” Hanapin shared in this year’s report, “and it sure has proven itself.” While numbers are still small for paid social, investment in ads on the question-and-answer based platform has quadrupled in 2019. Much of this can be attributed to the attention Quora itself has given to advertising; they’ve released 5 beta programs to target and place ads, and stand to release several more before year’s end. You’d be wise to explore the platform before it too gets crowded; 27% of marketers want to up their spend there (compared to 9% the year before).

For the fringe treatment that Reddit often gets, Hanapin rightfully points out the highly engaged and authentic nature of its users, additionally sharing that its average use and engagement outpaces other outlets we look to more readily for advertisement—including Twitter, Pinterest, and the aforementioned Snapchat and Pinterest. As with Quora, their ad targeting, reporting, and campaign management tools are continuing to evolve, likely to anticipate more advertisers wanting to be there. For brand managers and agencies hoping to help clients stand apart, this pair of rising platforms could be worth your time, energy…and ad dollars.

The full report is worth a read for all marketers, whether you’re actively looking to reconsider your paid social approach, or if something in this rundown caught your eye. How will you let Hanapin’s insight frame the future of paid social for your organization?

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3 Steps to “Instant” Ad Placement on Snapchat

In the last couple of years, Snapchat has gone to great lengths to recapture its onetime dominance…and its efforts are finally paying off. Their next step? Bringing advertisers back in full force, and their latest tactic wants to make their return as easy as possible.

Instant Create ads (available at this time only for Snap Ads) are designed to “make Snapchat advertisers accessible to smaller advertisers who may not have the time or resources to try to understand new ad formats.” Those wanting to do more elaborate work can use “Advanced Create,” but this streamlined format aims to capture those looking for a low barrier to entry.

What will you need to take advantage of this new format?

A Defined Objective

What do you want users to do as a result of seeing your ad? For an Instant Create ad, you have three choices: web visits (traffic directed to your website), app installs, or app visits. Users can select which one is the most appropriate goal for the ad they’re building, and the tool will adjust accordingly.

This initial definition not only guides Snap on how to position later parts of the ad building process, but it forces the ideal user of this Instant Create tool—smaller, overtaxed, or inexperienced social media managers—to think through the objective of their campaigns. Once you know what the ad is supposed to do, the rest of the process (copy crafting, calls to action, targeting, and even design) becomes considerably easier.

Your Desired URL

For web visits, you’ll only need to submit the URL you want to drive users to. App installs and app visits are only slightly more complicated, requiring you to include an app icon and links to where the app can be found in the App Store or on Google Play. Along with this, you can include a headline, call to action, caption, or logo.

A benefit of designating these URLs upfront is that images can be pulled from your site. In the event that an advertiser didn’t have the time or capacity to create graphics, Instant Create would pull from where these assets already exist on the Web. Want to add your own assets? This is easy to do at this stage, and will populate an ad with more sophistication than the plug-and-play version.

Targeting Goals

Instant Create requires you to define, at a minimum, your target demographic, location, budget, and duration of visibility. If you’d like to break your prospective audience down further, Advanced Targeting lets you define a smaller goal winnowed by interests, custom audiences, or type of device.

Given Snapchat’s resurgence in the market, the audience you’d be targeting is now considerably larger than many doomsayers would have you believe. After three consecutive quarters of negative growth, they grew their user base by 4 million people earlier this year, and are even raising a new $1 billion to address debt and eye additional acquisitions. So if you moved away from the platform when its base started to atrophy, or have never explored it as a space for promotion before, there’s no better time to explore the platform.

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4 Revenue-Generating Platforms to Find Your Next Impactful Influencer

More and more companies are relying on the relatability and star power of influencers to lift their brand. In seeking out “social proof” of their ability to create impact, we may have a few go-to metrics: followers across social media, perhaps quality of interactions. But we can also look to their influencer status all across the internet.

Today, that proving ground extends far beyond YouTube ad revenue. Here, we’re providing an overview of all the places your current or prospective influencers may have a presence—along with the benefits and drawbacks of each platform.

The Original Proving Ground: YouTube

“YouTube creators are living proof that an open and responsible internet can change the world for the better […] we’re going to continue to give them the tools they need to do that,” said Chief Product Office for YouTube Neal Moran in a recent blog post. In many ways, YouTube was the original proving ground for influencers and rising internet stars. Famous beneficiaries of their model include impending late night host Lilly Singh, Epic Rap Battle stars Lloyd Ahlquist and Peter Shukoff, and countless others across the entertainment, beauty, and comedy landscape.

However, in recent years the platform has waned in its stability, and creators are looking to other opportunities to maintain steady income—including influencer posts with brands and organizations. “The algorithm can change, your channel could get hacked, a million things could happen,” said YouTube star Samery Moras to CNN. “Never rely on YouTube ad revenue if you want to make a living.” The company has responded to the hesitance of creators with a host of additional revenue streams, including SuperChat (where fans can pay for their question or comment to be moved to the front of an online queue), merchandise partnerships, and multiple tiers of fan support (likely mimicking virtual support rival Patreon).

Benefits: stable infrastructure, and ever-increasing revenue streams
Drawbacks: a changed algorithm or update to Terms of Service could threaten livelihood without warning

The Rising Star: Facebook

At this year’s VidCon, Facebook unveiled a host of utilities for creators that are clearly designed to take on YouTube’s dominance in the influencer space. Facebook Creators can join the program if they have 10,000 followers and 30,000 minutes of video watched from videos that are at least three minutes long, according to USA Today. Once they reach that threshhold, they’ll have access to strong analytics, a new digital “tip jap” called Fan Subscriptions, and the opportunity to earn Stars during Live Streams, each amounting to $0.01 of revenue.

Facebook has a number of spaces in which creators can earn revenue, including Facebook, Instagram, and IGTV. The Monetization Overview tool that’s newly been made available to creators allows them to see their earnings aggregated in one place. The accompanying Brand Collabs Manager “lets creators better manage audience engagement and improve ad targeting.” In total, Facebook sees an opportunity to expand its already massive influence into creator support, and has a built-in rapt audience that may make it worth the while of a number of makers.

Benefits: a massive existing user base already using the associated platforms
Drawbacks: the user agreement includes a lifetime license to use content developed as a creator, even if the user leaves the program

The Newcomer: Snapchat

Earlier this week, Snapchat unveiled its Creator Shows initiative, an opportunity for celebrities and high-level influencers to develop and produce shows that would be “aired” alongside Snap’s 80+ original shows. It’s an opportunity to take content that these creators are already sharing on their Stories, and put it under a marquee of sorts. After a dip in usership and popularity, the company is on its way back to prominence—in large part because of its focus on original programming—with 4 million new users in 2019, and an estimated reach to 90% of all 13-24-year-olds.

The lineup, when it debuts later this summer, will feature outings from celebrities like Serena Williams, Kevin Hart, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, but will also highlight the work of social influencers like Emma Chamberlain, Maddie Ziegler, Loren Gray, and Rickey Thompson. Given the growing popularity of Snapchat’s programming, the ability to participate in this program could do wonders for an influencer’s visibility.

Benefits: Snapchat’s considerable investment in programming means that influencers in this program will be well supported, and their talent properly fostered.
Drawbacks: the threshold to participate in the program is quite high, so only influencers in an upper echelon can take part.

Moving Toward Mainstream: Twitch

Frequently thought of as a platform primarily for gamers, Twitch is rapidly outgrowing its niche reputation. “Nowadays,” says Powerspike, “you can watch ‘streamers’ (the influencers who stream on Twitch) do anything—painting, cooking, podcasting, camping, and more—and if you like their content, you can follow them to receive updates any time they go live.” And viewers are taking advantage of that opportunity; where the platform saw 590,000 daily concurrent views in 2016, 2019 saw 1.2 million at the press time of this article…23 days into the year.

The average Twitch user spends 1.5 hours watching their favorite Twitch streamers, eager to communicate with them via online chat and listen for shout-outs, giveaways, and other engagement strategies. More to the point, users are open and ready for the monetization of the site. 80% are reportedly open to sponsorship of their favorite streamers and esports teams, and companies like KFC, Mobil1, and Gillette are taking advantage of this audience readiness.

Benefits: rapid growth of the platform and diversification of its users means more opportunities to get in on a ground floor of sorts.
Drawbacks: it is still generally perceived as a niche avenue, and may take some time to more fully emerge as a safe bet.

Influencer marketing will only continue to grow, as brands and companies seek new ways to make their wares feel familiar and relatable. And the opportunity to find new faces that match your brand will only grow…if you know where to look. These platforms are only the start, and yet they could yield a great new connection when explored thoughtfully.

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Snapchat Builds Up Its Original Programming with Revenue-Sharing Creator Shows and Talent Initiatives

Late in 2018, Snapchat vowed to embrace its potential as an entertainment company. A number of announcements in recent days confirm it: they’re angling to be a competitive home for streaming content.

In addition to over eighty shows produced in collaboration with the social platform, the company recently announced Creator Shows, a means by which to “take what celebrities and personalities are already doing in their Stories and give them a new platform.” Filmed and shared in the same short-form, vertical-video orientation that Snapchat remains committed to, these shows will help these platform personalities extend their reach—and, according to Variety, “keep them invested in building their businesses on Snap through monetization.” While the precise amount is as-yet unreported, sources in the know have heard that a 50% revenue share is available to creators participating in the initiative.

Celebrities like Serena Williams, Kevin Hart, and Arnold Schwarzenegger have all signed on to develop and produce shows with the program; while details are light on the former two’s endeavors, we know that Schwarzenegger’s show will be called Rules of Success with Arnold Schwarzenegger and will feature the action star and onetime politician “doling out motivational advice each episode.” Internet stars Maddie Ziegler, Loren Gray, and Rickey Thompson will also be working through the program; Gray’s show will allow the beauty influencer to “weave advice into her beauty tutorials.” Elsewhere, comedian and viral video star Thompson will conduct reviews on everything from camo pants to Flamin’ Hot Cheetos on his show, Trend or End.

Several shows in this new initiative will premiere this summer, alongside four new Snap originals that originated from the company’s inaugural Scripted Comedy Creator Initiative. Through this contest, four new shows were selected for production by the platform from hundreds of submissions: “Apocalypse Goals” from Olivia DeLaurentis and Sydney Heller; Gerald Grissette’s “All Dog$ Get Money”; Ben Waller’s “Relationship Goals”; and a mockumentary inspired by the clickbait-iest corners of the internet, Skyler Fulton’s “The Daily Realness.” After the success of this program, a similar one for animated comedy is currently underway.

Snap has achieved an outstanding return in its pivot toward programming; the platform, which at one point was hemorrhaging users, is up 4 million people in 2019, reaching 90% of all 13-24-year-olds and 75% of all 13-34-year-olds. More to the point, since the introduction of Snap Originals, video watching time on the platform has tripled. And as the creator revenue wars heat up, the introduction of Creator Shows could make them a viable additional option for influencers and celebrities looking to monetize their content.

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Snap Fights to Renew Its Dominance with Shopping and Rumored Event Capabilities

In the past several years, Snap has sunken in the rankings for popular social media apps as its competitors profit off facsimiles of its key features. But now, it’s fighting back by adding new features inspired by some of those rivals.

On the Way: Shops for Official Users

Like Instagram, Snapchat has had “swipe up” capabilities within Stories, to allow “official” (Snap vernacular for verified) users to link to stores or items for purchase, for some time. Now, also like Instagram, they’re partnering with Shopify to create in-app stores for some of these users. Early confirmed merchants include Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Spencer Pratt, and Bhad Babie, with more users set to debut in the coming months.

Although this might seem – and in some ways, likely is – a move to keep users engaged, there are additional benefits to this strategy for Snap as a company. By allowing some of its creators to sell on the platform with relative ease, they protect their exclusive rights to the ad revenue generated from these accounts. The only exception to the “shares of ad revenue” rules are store owners who also have shows on Snapchat’s Discover channel, like Jenner (of “Ask Kylie”) or Bhabie (of “Bringing Up Bhabie”).

Further, introducing this e-commerce model means users will stay in the app longer. Wallaroo Media’s Brandon Doyle praised this side effect of the new feature: “Any time you cut down on a click you increase conversion rates, and [you can] add that to the fact that these shops will fit the aesthetic of Snap.”

In Development: Snapchat Events

One of Facebook’s most popular features is its Events capability, allowing people to easily share event details and estimate attendance. Events is so popular, in fact, that it’s being used to prop up the less utilized Stories feature. If the investigations of Jane Manchun Wong are to be believed, Snapchat is looking to do something similar.

The beta version of Snapchat Events would allow users to create “invites” that would share details for a given event, and integrate with Snap Maps to easily share the location. Given the newness of the feature, it is unknown whether these events would only be visible to close friends, could be made public to all Snapchat users, or some combination of the two. But on a platform that still dominates largely for its ability to keep friends connected without the scrutinizing eye of more public apps, it makes sense to create a way to easily assemble your people.

Will Swiping Back Work?

In some circles, the introduction (or rumored introduction) of these features might seem a bit like stealing. But it’s important to remember here that Snapchat has been the victim of a few feature “thefts” in the past. Stories now dominate Facebook and Instagram because Snapchat popularized them first, and filters crept up on Instagram because of their high use on Snapchat first. These moves, as well as the introduction of original programming and gaming, are all being deployed with hopes of restoring the app to its onetime glory.

What’s clear is that the company is listening and observing better than ever before. After a gradual exodus from the platform, made worse by an ill-executed platform redesign, they’re taking note of what’s working in the marketplace…and seeking to make it their own. As the platform wars continue, it’ll be fascinating to see where Snap lands in the ranking of public opinion.

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After TikTok and Instagram, Music is Making Its Way to Snapchat

The ability to add music to online creations, without the threat of post removal, has rocketed both Instagram and TikTok to success. Now, Snapchat reportedly wants in.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, talks have “intensified in recent weeks” between Snap and the three major record labels: Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group. If completed, Snap could add the ability to embed clips of songs on the platform’s posts. Such a deal would not only enhance the user experience for Snapchat users accustomed to these capabilities on rival apps, but would be “a step toward keeping the app competitive against Facebook and TikTok”—and intensify the arms race of sorts happening among the three.

TikTok gets its music licensing capability from low-cost deals that were completed by its parent company ByteDance and their acquired property, Musical.ly. Facebook secured these rights in 2018, deploying them shortly thereafter via Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and Oculus. Instagram’s power in this arena rose further with its Spotify integration, a major contributor to Instagram Stories’ meteoric rise. But TikTok is nipping at both Instagram and Snapchat’s heels, maintaining its status as the #1 downloaded iOS app for over a year. And Instagram has already responded to this rising dominance by reformatting their fledgling IGTV product to look more like TikTok’s algorithmic feed.

At present, Snapchat’s music integration capabilities are locked into a single lens, deployed as a “Lip Sync Challenge” last December. Should this deal get done, those capabilities could expand into all private and public Snaps. And again, while the deal is not yet signed, it shows promise—and more than a little fight—on the part of Snap, who continues to remake its image to regain the popularity of its early days.

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Is Snapchat Gaming and New Revenue Opportunities for Snap Arriving Next Month?

When Snap holds its inaugural content and developer summit next month, the event itself won’t be only new addition to the company’s slate. The marquee announcement for the April 4th event is expected to be a gaming platform, hosting a number of externally developed games on the continually innovating app.

Rumors of Snap’s venture into gaming have been swirling since last year, when Chinese company Tencent (WeChat’s parent company, and owners of the wildly popular League of Legends) acquired a 12% stake in Snap. Tencent is reportedly looking to make up a slight loss in revenue, resulting in tighter regulations in its home country. As Engadget points out, “working with Snap in other regions might make sense” for that reason. Speculation intensified when they acquired Prettygreat, the Australian company responsible for runaway gaming successes Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride. In partnering with these proven entities, Snap is undoubtedly looking to make a big splash in this space next month.

The splash is an understandable one for them to wish to make; while Snap has struggled to hold on to users in recent years, a proper move into gaming (following its 2018 Snappables venture) could provide additional opportunities to both increase users and monetization opportunities. To the former, the cache of brands like Prettygreat and Tencent could mean that truly engaging gaming is coming to the platform. Not to mention, as The Verge put it, “users who play games in the Snapchat app aren’t browsing [major rival] Instagram.” And to the latter, a combination of in-app purchases and more ad placement slots could send more money Snap’s way.

The impending summit also promises a new slate of original programming, following the initially announced slate back in October 2018. And indeed, this foray into gaming – while not unique to Snapchat, given Facebook Messenger’s gaming tab and a rumored announcement from Google on its own gaming aspirations – does expand Snap Head of Original Programming Nick Bell’s assertion that Snap is less a social media platform, and more of an entertainment company. If this gambit pays off, it’ll admirably cement its status as the latter.

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Snap’s New Camera Desktop App Aims to Add Magic in New Places

Snap is attempting to rebound from its recent troubles by once again reinventing its image. In the past several months, it’s aimed to be known as a social media platform, to plant the seeds for an entertainment company, and–as of this week–now testing the waters of being a digital camera company.

This week’s introduction of Snap Camera is yet another move to lure non-Snapchat users toward their products, by allowing them to use the app’s popular lenses (or filters) on third-party live streaming or video chat apps. Easily integrated with platforms and products like YouTube, Skype, Zoom, and Twitch, Snap Camera moves the familiar “bunny ears,” “flower crowns,” and other popular AR-enabled looks to new spaces. Users will be able to mark favorite lenses for repeated use. And although it may feel unlikely for the non-Snapping population to take advantage of this new app, the company’s latest foray into use by the general population shows promise for those who miss the AR-powered accessories from the now-defunct Google Hangouts On Air.

Snap Camera’s unveiling at TwitchCon feels apropos, given the utility it’ll have for those streaming their gaming experiences and the custom integration it’ll have to the platform. Some of the featured lenses are related to frequently streamed games, like Overwatch, World of Warcraft, and League of Legends.

Because Snap Camera doesn’t require a Snapchat account for use, the Mac and Windows-enabled app is a means for Snap to expand its reach beyond its current user base. It has an added benefit beyond sharing its most attractive feature with non-users: it elevates the work of creators developing lenses. “Bringing Snapchat AP experiences to the desktop,” head of Snap’s camera platform Eitan Pilipski says, is a way to “find new distribution channels for [lens] creators to surface their work.”

The Lens Studio will prominently feature lenses created by Snap’s community and will be available as options for users seeking the perfect augmentation for their next conference call or newly created video.

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Snap Is Betting You’ll Want to “Discover” Their Original Programming

“What I love about Snap is that it has the beating heart of an entertainment company inside it.”

It was with this bold statement that Snap’s Head of Original Content Sean Mills unveiled the company’s ambitious plans for a slate of original programming to live under its Discover tab. Snap Originals will be a collection of scripted and reality micro-programs, created in partnership with television powerhouses like Bunim-Murray Productions (creators of The Real World) and the Duplass brothers’ creative agency.

Twelve “serialized” shows are planned for the rollout, differing in that they will follow a narrative over a “season.” Programming currently created by partners such as ESPN, Viacom, the NBA and the NFL doesn’t follow that model, thus making this a true departure for the platform. Among new offerings: Class of Lies, a show about college students who start a true crime podcast after a friend goes missing; Endless Summer, a show in the vein of MTV’s Laguna Beach; and Co-Ed, another college-set project by the aforementioned Duplass brothers.

“Fast-Paced and Hyper Visual”

Snap Originals are shot vertically, average five minutes in length, and will premiere daily; Mills is counting on this pacing and style to engage users in a way different from other streaming content providers. The goal? To distinguish the platform as a home for programming that mimics the habits of existing Snapchat users. Snap’s VP of Content Nick Bell buys strongly into this methodology, pointing out, “Really good mobile content is cut vertically; it’s very fast-paced, it’s hyper-visual—and that’s really how Snapchatters are communicating.”

A Chance to Reassert Authority

Taking cues from existing users and how they create content is seen as key to bringing in new viewers—and hopefully, new Snapchat users. “If the programming really resonates with the demographic, people will go into school or the workplace and they’ll tell their friends about it,” Bell speculated. “We hope that’ll bring new people into the app,” likely in the way House of Cards and Orange is the New Black did for Netflix, or The Handmaid’s Tale for Hulu. Mills is optimistic about the foothold this will allow Snap to reclaim after a controversial redesign and a loss of users: “I feel like I’m watching the beginning of a fundamentally new medium, where people are just waking up to how you have to take a very different creative approach.”

Originals allow Snapchat to expand in areas where it already excels. In addition to capitalizing upon the success of programming already hosted on Discover (18 current shows exceed 10 million viewers monthly), its programming will feature augmented reality elements other streaming shows haven’t yet debuted. Swiping up during a show will let users interact with filters from the world of the show, engaging viewers in a wholly new way.

Debra Aho Williams lauded Snap for the “creative and unique” elements of its medium, and says what Mills and Bell are likely thinking: “If it keeps executing and making smart moves, then things will turn around for the company.”

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