Are you on top of the latest social media tools and features?! You should be! Here are the September 2021 highlights…
Instagram: Reels, Creator Bonuses, and more…
Let’s begin with Reels. It was announced last month, on the same week as TikTok hit 1 billion active monthly users, that Instagram’s short-form video offering will be making its way onto Facebook. Reels will get their own dedicated section in the Facebook News Feed, and come fully equipped with full-screen, immersive ad capabilities. The feature will only be available in the US initially, with plans to expand further into other countries.
The news comes alongside a new creator incentive, the ‘Reels Play’ bonus, which will allow creators to earn money for their high-performing Reels. Initially limited to the US on an invite-only basis, the bonus is the second wave of Instagram’s ongoing plan to invest $1 billion into creator rewards, and follows the success of the Reels Summer bonus. Reels Play will be offered to creators on Facebook too, which will certainly incentivise Reels activity.
In other news, whispers of an exciting Instagram update were shared last month by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi. Internal tests show Instagram’s most popular functionalities merge into one mighty ‘Montage’ feature, which will enable users to splice and convert their Stories into Reels clips.
Paluzzi also spotted tests of a new ‘Favorites’ feature, which will allow users to tell Instagram which accounts they most want to see content from. Posts from pre-selected profiles will be given higher priority on the feed, theoretically by-passing the algorithm to give users more explicit control over the profiles whose content they most want to see. Although there have been no confirmations as of yet on whether the internal tests will amount to a fully-fledged update, the feature would be highly beneficial for brands and creators alike, incentivising them to remain active and sharing high quality content that could place them on users’ ‘Favorites’ lists.
Facebook: Messaging and Management Tools
In September, Facebook announced a number of new tools intended to personalise brand-consumer communications, and simplify business management.
One such tool will be a click-to-message option for ads, which will automatically scope out which messaging app a consumer is most likely to use for a conversation. Businesses can select all the messaging platforms on which they have an active account, then Facebook will automatically detect which of those platforms is used most often by an individual. The platform will then be defaulted in the ad with a prompt to get in touch, thus tailoring the ad experience to each user’s messaging preferences.
Similar plans are in the pipeline for Instagram. Now, businesses can connect a Whatsapp business account to their Instagram account and incorporate a Whatsapp chat button to their profiles. This will allow users to start a conversation on the Facebook-owned messaging app, direct from Instagram. In addition, businesses with linked Whatsapp accounts can boost their existing posts, turning them into ads that prompt users with a ‘click-to-Whatsapp’ button. The button will send users directly to Whatsapp from the ad, enabling them to seamlessly start a conversation with a brand.
Messaging platforms are an appealingly informal way of communicating, giving brand-consumer conversations a personal tone and simplified touch. According to a 2020 Harris Poll, shared by Facebook:
Business Management Tools
Lastly, Facebook announced new capabilities coming to the Business Suite management platform– such as customised re-marketing emails, content management tools and a Post Testing feature. ‘File Manager’ will make it easier for businesses to create, manage and post content from within the Business Suite, while Post Testing will let businesses draft and experiment with multiple versions of a post, to gauge which one will achieve the highest engagement.
LinkedIn Updates Business Tools
LinkedIn is continuously sharing new insights and tools for businesses to grow their communities and enhance audience engagement, and the latest updates are no exception. For a while now, companies have had the ability to post long-form articles onto LinkedIn, but have been constrained to the feed-post character count. The new ‘Articles for Pages’ feature will give companies a dedicated and organic means for sharing long-form articles and blog content directly with their LinkedIn audience, without them having to leave the platform. This could be off-putting for brands that want to drive traffic to their sites, but there are call-to-action options available which will direct users to company websites, owned resources, and more. Plus, brands will have access to detailed audience insights, giving Articles for Pages a unique and professional edge that is an attractive prospect for businesses. Additional presentation options will allow companies to include links and pull-quotes in their posts, further enhancing the feature’s appeal and establishing LinkedIn as a one-stop-shop for content.
TikTok Updates the Creator Marketplace
The first ever TikTok World business event was held at the end of September, showcasing a host of new tools for brands on the platform, alongside monetisation options for creators.
Updates to the TikTok Creator Marketplace were announced, with improved discovery tools to help brands source creators they want to work with, as well as campaign performance tracking that will enable brands to monitor insights throughout the creative process. Outlining the updates, TikTok said:
Moreover, ‘Open Application Campaigns’ will allow creators to see available campaigns listed by brands and apply to their pitches, making the partnership process even easier.
The event also saw the announcement of a new self-serve portal which will match brands with vetted creative service providers, known as the ‘TikTok Creative Exchange’. The initiative will allow matched providers to assist brands throughout the entire ad process, ensuring that briefs are impactful and objectives are met. This update adds a human element to the Marketplace which it currently lacks. Influencer Marketing specialists like TAKUMI offer a streamlined, end-to-end service which ensures that brands deliver the very best campaigns with the best creator talent, overseeing the entire process through manual management, data and proprietary tech, which the Marketplace only offers in dribs and drabs. Nevertheless, these updates and initiatives are an incredible opportunity for both creators and brands, and point to the proven success of influencer marketing.
Trends are set on TikTok. It’s easy enough to find inspiration for your next video, but often it’s hard to determine which trends align with your brand and are worth jumping on. TikTok’s new ‘Creative Center’ will assist brands in doing just that, allowing then to explore top-performing ads, view insights and identify trends. The Center will be complimented by a new video editor, to guide brands through their video creation process
A Push on In-Stream Shopping
Upcoming partnerships with the likes of Wix and OpenCart will further expand product listing and connection options for brands. The new Product Links tool will make it easier for brands to link to products displayed in their videos, while upcoming Collection Ads will also enable product cards in promotions displayed in-feed.
If there weren’t already enough shiny and new updates, TikTok is also developing ‘Dynamic Showcase Ads’, to assist brands that don’t have as much ad creation expertise. Brands will be able to promote their products through the automated service, which ensures ads are targeted to relevant users and potential consumers, according to their viewing behaviours and preferences.
This list of TikTok updates is by no means exhaustive, but an overview of just some of the new tools that brands can expect over time. They represent a growing focus on eCommerce and on nurturing brands and creators, facilitating creative partnerships and maximising monetisation opportunities.
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Since its humble beginnings, Influencer Marketing has grown exponentially from an industry worth $1.7 billion in 2016 to nearly $14 billion in 2021. Thriving in the face of a global pandemic, it was the only marketing channel not to decrease in effectiveness for conversion since the start of COVID-19. With the help of ever-improving eCommerce functionalities and dedicated tools for creators on social media platforms, Influencer Marketing is poised for another year of transformation and growth.