Why Facebook Launched Shoppable Groups

Why Facebook Launched Shoppable Groups

Facebook

We all need a little help from our friends, and Facebook is leaning into this reality with its Shops in Groups. The social networking behemoth has announced that it will be making it easier to shop for products on the app, using connections with friends and trusted creators to gain inspiration — and find just the right gift. This development underscores how important social media is becoming as the holiday shopping season ramps up.

Facebook Announces Shoppable Groups

Facebook describes its mandate this way: Facebook wants to introduce new tools to “make shopping and buying better on our apps.” And Shops in Groups allows users to support the communities they are interested in by buying products from them. One example? Shops in Groups makes it possible for members of OctoNation, an octopus fan group on Facebook, to directly purchase stickers, mugs, and apparel related to their passion for the eight-limbed mollusks.

TechCrunch describes the new feature as follows: admins of Facebook groups can essentially set up an online store on their associated Facebook Page, and the admins can determine where the money goes. In the case of OctoNation, mentioned above, profits go straight to OctoNation’s nonprofit. And as Yulie Kwon Kim, Meta’s VP of Product Management, notes, the shops can offer a revenue stream to group admins, who tend to be volunteers. She says, “The money goes to the group admin, and they can decide how they want to use it. This is a great way for people to sustain and keep the group going.”

The feature appears to have legs: Ad Age reports that after testing on a smaller number of groups, Facebook is opening up shoppability to another 100,000 groups. And it’s worth noting how flexible the setup can be: groups can link to sites such as a Facebook Shop, Shopify store, or BigCommerce store. Making Groups shoppable is important because, as Facebook points out, more than 1.8 billion people are using Facebook Groups every month.

Facebook Shoppable Groups in the Context of Social Shopping

Facebook is tapping into the rise of social shopping — also known as social commerce. As we’ve blogged, social shopping accelerated in popularity during the pandemic — and it’s showing no sign of slowing down. Social media has evolved along with this trend, working to meet the needs of users who are inspired by what they see online.

The numbers are telling. According to ChannelAdvisor, 57 percent of people aged 26 to 35 had researched a product on Facebook. People on Facebook are not only receptive to social shopping, they are actually doing it. And according to Retail Dive, a whopping 87 percent of Gen Z will be looking to social media for shopping inspiration.

chart showing Instagram usage

Facebook is determined not to miss out on this trend. Moreover, the tech giant wants to give people more reasons to stay engaged with Facebook and use its advertising products.

What Brands Should Do

What does this mean for your brand? We suggest:

  • If you sell products online, consider Facebook as more than an advertising platform. Learn more about features such as Shops in Groups.
  • Master Facebook advertising products that appeal to people on Facebook (or find a partner who can do the heavy lifting for you – we manage Facebook advertising for our clients). The platform is clearly committed to making itself more engaging and useful to users: consider how that investment might benefit your brand.
  • As ever, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Balance your online presence between the major platforms that offer value in advertising — and shoppability.

Contact True Interactive

Eager to explore what Facebook — and other platforms — have to offer your brand? Contact us. We can help. Learn more our social media expertise here and our experience with shopping tools here.

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

Why Big Retailers Are Ramping up Holiday Shopping Promotions – and What Advertisers Should Do

Why Big Retailers Are Ramping up Holiday Shopping Promotions – and What Advertisers Should Do

Advertising

It still feels a bit like summer in early October, and retailers are already starting to ramp up their holiday shopping promotions:

  • On September 29, Walmart announced its Top-Rated by Kids Toy List, “featuring the must-have toys of the holiday season.”
  • On September 30, Target announced that its Holiday Price Match Guarantee would kick off October 10 (earlier than ever) and that Target Deal Days would be back October 10-12.
  • Amazon quickly responded on October 4 by releasing “Black Friday-worthy deals.”

Why are these retailers getting out in front of the holiday season, and what are the implications for other advertisers?

Digging Deeper in Major Announcements

The announcements require a bit of unpacking.

Target’s Holiday Price Match Guarantee allows shoppers to request a price adjustment on all qualifying items purchased if they go on sale before December 24. This news sends a signal that Target expects shoppers to begin looking for deals earlier in the season.  On the other hand, Target Deal Days and the Walmart Top-Rated Kids Toy list (the largest ever such list by Walmart) are clearly intended to stoke shopper demand for the holidays. As Target announced, “For three full days, shoppers can get a head start checking off their holiday lists with incredible deals on favorite products like Beats, fleece, kitchen gifts and more.”

Amazon made the most overt holiday land grab with its October 4 announcement. The company’s epic-length 3,000-word press release looked like a laundry list of holiday deals and related news, ranging from discounts for “need to have electronics” to a detailed list of gift guides. The announcement was peppered with references to Black Friday – an attempt to gain the upper hand on traditional offline Black Friday events.

What the Announcements Mean

Retailers want to stoke demand now for a few reasons:

  • They want to capitalize on the anticipated surge in holiday spending resulting from pent-up demand for discretionary goods. Buoyed by stimulus checks, consumers have been confounding economists with their robust spending, showing once again how unpredictable consumer behavior can be during the pandemic.
  • Retailers also want to encourage people to buy now before the effects of the global supply chain crisis kick in. The lingering supply chain bottleneck is expected to result in higher prices and product shortages later in the holiday season. Retailers want people to spend now when consumers are more likely to find what they want.
  • Retailers are also following a practice that has prevailed since before the pandemic: extending Black Friday. For the past few years, retailers have been tinkering with the Black Friday format as holiday shopping becomes more multi-channel. Black Friday as an in-store event still matters very much, and in 2021, with shopping returning to pre-pandemic behaviors, we should see the offline Black Friday becoming more popular again. But Black Friday has changed forever: it’s an online event, too, and retailers are no longer constricted to saving Black Friday deals until the day after Thanksgiving.

So, in a sense, bellwether retailers are following a pattern they started in recent years – creating holiday shopping demand earlier – but with a newfound sense of urgency to get out in front of the impact of the supply chain bottleneck.

What Advertisers Should Do

  • Realize that when big retailers launch holiday promotions, they create general consumer awareness of the holiday shopping season. As a result, retailers should expect an uptick in searches for holiday sales and promotions. Now might be a good time to capitalize on that increased search activity to activate your own campaigns.
  • Create a sense of urgency in your holiday campaigns – but don’t overplay your hand. If you expect the supply chain bottleneck to create limited inventory later this season, do get proactive about promoting deals now, and let shoppers know why they need to act sooner rather than later. But be careful with your tone. A “shop now and avoid headaches later” approach could backfire if your inventory levels are not affected as seriously as you thought they would.
  • If you’re an Amazon Advertising customer, optimize your holiday advertising now by maximizing the value of Amazon’s various advertising products, such as Sponsored Ads. Amazon also recommends experimenting with video with shoppable links, Amazon Live, and actionable ads (voice and remote). Amazon raising awareness for holiday shopping deals is like the rising tide that lifts all boats. With increased awareness for holiday deals comes more search traffic on Amazon, and you should capitalize on that.
  • Capitalize on Google advertising products. Inevitably, the increased chatter about the holidays from these big retailers will create an uptick in searches for holiday merchandise online. For example, Discovery ads are designed to show more relevant products in moments where customers are exploring their interests in Google’s feeds.
  • As shoppers respond to the holiday blitz, make sure you are using all tools at your disposal to accelerate the path to purchase. For instance, we’ve discussed on our blog the rise of social commerce options on apps such as Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and TikTok, which make it easier for shoppers to browse and shop with an easy click. Snapchat recently shared a holiday shopping guide with detailed campaign strategies. Snapchat notes that most Snapchatters start planning gift purchases and creating wishlists two-to-three months before Christmas. Snapchat urges retailers to launch holiday ads in October to stay top of mind with shoppers who are browsing for gifts and building wish lists.
  • Manage your expectations – and shoppers’, too. Yes, there will be an uptick in search and shopping behavior sooner than normal. But human nature is not going to change: many people will continue to wait until the last minute to do their shopping. Have a game plan in place to respond to shoppers who experience product shortages (if indeed predictions for the 2021 season play out as expected). Be ready for an uptick in negative reviews, and be ready to respond. Retailers should also be ready to offer top rated alternatives to products out of stock as this example shows.

Contact True Interactive

At True Interactive, we help businesses maximize their online spend all year-round, and we have deep experience managing holiday shopping campaigns online, ranging from campaigns on Google to Amazon Advertising. Contact us to learn how we can help you.

Why Discord Matters to Advertisers

Why Discord Matters to Advertisers

Social media Uncategorized

Discord is a free voice, video, and text chat app that’s used by people aged 13 and up to chat and essentially hang out. Initially launched in 2015 as a home for gamers, the app has since expanded its reach and now attracts users from gaming and non-gaming communities alike. To say it’s popular is something of an understatement: the app enjoys more than 150 million monthly active users as of July 2021. But it accepts no advertising.

Why should advertisers care about Discord? Read on to learn more.

What Is Discord?

Users have embraced Discord as a way to connect with friends on a daily basis. Available for Mac, PC, iPhone, and Android devices, the app facilitates talk around any number of topics, from homework to mental health to travel.

Discord is mostly used by small and active communities who like to connect regularly, and for these groups the app follows an invite-only protocol. But larger, more open communities also flourish on Discord; these larger communities can be public, and tend to focus on specific topics like gaming, the app’s original mandate. Minecraft, for example, draws a large following.

As Discord puts it, shared interests drive the conversation.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, an entire vocabulary exists to help users navigate the app: “servers” are the spaces created by communities or friend groups (as Business Insider describes it, servers are a less-formal version of the Slack app). Any user can initiate a new, free server, and invite their friends; individual servers promote their own topics and rules. Discord servers are subsequently organized into text and voice “channels,” which are typically devoted to specific topics. Users can post (type) messages on text channels; they can also upload files and share images. Voice channels allow users to communicate real-time through a voice or video call.

There are literally thousands of Discord servers, so whether your jam is cute cats or a game like Fortnite, a Discord server that reflects your interests probably already exists.

Why Discord Matters to Businesses

But there’s no advertising. So, why should businesses care?

In a word: presence. Even though Discord is an ad-free platform, brands can and do maintain a presence there. Think of Discord as a social-listening tool. As reported in Marketing Dive, Discord is a source for learning about emerging culture and trends. By following Discord, brands can figure out fresh was to become culturally relevant with their marketing.

What does that look like, exactly? Essentially, brands can create their own branded communities on Discord, places where they can interact head-on with their most loyal customers. These communities are a zone where brands and consumers connect over common interests — and there might be a perk or surprise in there for the customer, to boot.

Virtual events are popular on the app: consider the Q&A fashion retailer AllSaints hosted in May, in which the menswear designer gave users a peek into how its styles have changed over the years. Chipotle took a different tack, hosting a virtual job fair on Discord that allowed the fast-casual restaurant chain to announce a hike in wages (to $15 an hour), and gave current employees an opportunity to talk about benefits and career paths.

Of course, for some brands, the app’s gaming roots are a rich vein to mine. Consider teen retailer Hot Topic, which initiated a Discord server specifically targeting fans of Japanese anime. Hot Topic relies on its own presence to support anime fandom, which overlaps with Hot Topic’s own audience.

What Brands Should Do

What does all this mean for your brand? We recommend that you:

  • Keep in mind Discord’s audience. Are they your audience? In other words, does Discord promote a niche that represents common ground for your brand and a community of Discord users?
  • Do your homework and learn from how other brands are succeeding on Discord. Discord users seem to respond to authentic conversations and events on the app. How can you capitalize on this? Keep in mind the Hot Topic example: the retailer tapped into a theme already established as part of the Hot Topic brand — then ran with it. They didn’t pretend to be something they’re not or try to shoehorn themselves into a conversation that didn’t make sense.
  • Listen and watch closely for ideas to inform your advertising beyond Discord. What can you learn from the ways Discord connects with its audience?

Contact True Interactive

Interested in exploring Discord—or another chat app? Contact us. We can help you stake your claim.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facebook Reels: What Brands Need to Know

Facebook Reels: What Brands Need to Know

Facebook

One year after Instagram announced the debut of short-form video feature Instagram Reels, parent company Facebook is joining the party. Reels first debuted on Instagram in 2020 in a clear bid to compete with TikTok. Facebook, having recently announced its plans to test Facebook Reels in the United States, is now figuring out ways to make Reels a more popular feature on Facebook itself (the U.S. initiative is an expansion of testing already launched in Mexico, Canada, and India). As part of the test, Instagram users can cross-post their reels to Facebook.

What do these developments mean for your brand? Read on to learn more.

What Is the Reels Feature?

When Reels rolled out on Instagram in 2020, the video time cap was 15 seconds, but the feature has since grown, and grown again: videos can now be up to one minute long. Using Facebook Reels, people can watch others’ videos, as well as create/share their own reels from the Facebook app. The feature’s reason for being? To allow people to “express themselves, discover entertaining content, and to help creators broaden their reach.” According to Facebook, almost half of time spent on the app is devoted to watching videos. Pair this data with the statement that Reels is growing “especially quickly,” and the test run of Facebook Reels makes a tremendous amount of sense. As CEO Mark Zuckerberg told investors, “We’re very focused on making it easy for anyone to create video, and then for those videos to be viewed across all of our different services, starting with Facebook and Instagram first.”

As Zuckerberg implies, emphasis is on creativity and its possibilities. Facebook Reels users have access to creation tools much like those already available on Instagram: video capture, for example, as well as camera roll import, timed text, and music selection. Editing tools allow people to speed up or slow down their video, and to incorporate augmented reality effects from Facebook or third-party developers. And after creating a reel, users can decide how to share it: with select friends, or the default share, which is the general public. As is the case throughout Facebook, Reels will be recommended to people based on their interests, who they engage with, and what’s trending as popular.

Why This News Matters

Facebook’s efforts speak to deeper trends and resonances. For one thing, the news demonstrates the tremendous sway TikTok holds in the social world. TikTok enjoys approximately one billion monthly active users. Sixty percent of TikTok users hail from Gen Z, soon to become the largest generation. Furthermore, TikTok users of all ages have proven themselves to be ardent fans, spending an average of 52 minutes per day in the platform and opening the app roughly 8 times per day. Eighty-three percent of TikTok users have posted a video. Facebook understands and respects these stats, and is responding accordingly.

The news also underlines the growing importance of video. As noted above, video accounts for  a major chunk of time spent on Facebook. And on Facebook’s latest earnings call, Zuckerberg pointed to Reels as “the largest contributor to engagement growth on Instagram.” In short, videos are hot.

Reels represent a possible advertising opportunity. While Facebook told TechCrunch that Reels on Facebook don’t currently include ads, the plan is “to roll out ads in the future.” Instagram, which has already begun to monetize Reels through ads, is showing what that might look like for Facebook down the road.

Finally, Facebook’s actions underscore the growing influence of individual creators. Consider the fact that in July, the social networking behemoth announced a plan to invest more than $1 billion in creators across both Facebook and Instagram through 2022. The platform’s willingness to shell out that kind of cash speaks to a fundamental belief in influencers’ power.

What Brands Should Do

What do these developments mean for brands? We recommend that you:

  • Embrace video, especially short-form video. Facebook is certainly demonstrating its commitment to the form. And as we blogged earlier this year, apps such as YouTube are launching short-form video options such as YouTube Shorts.
  • Look for advertising opportunities. Reels may not include ads on Facebook yet, but as noted above, the landscape is constantly evolving. What opportunities for advertising on video features exist today?
  • Understand that influencers hold a lot of sway. Consider how you might partner with individual creators to do influencer outreach for your brand.

Contact True Interactive

Pondering the role video might play in your brand’s strategic plan? Contact us. We can advise.

Why Snapchat Is Attracting More Advertisers and Users

Why Snapchat Is Attracting More Advertisers and Users

Snapchat Social media

Snapchat’s turnaround in 2020 was no fluke. The company recently reported a monster quarter, reaching its highest year-over-year revenue and daily active user (DAU) growth rate in four years. It’s time for businesses to seriously consider Snapchat as part of their game plan for reaching Gen Z and Millennial audiences. Many are already, which is why Snapchat’s ad revenue keeps rising. Let’s take a closer look.

Snapchat Reports Stunning Quarterly Growth

Snapchat’s growth for the second quarter of 2021 was nothing less than stunning. Its revenues increased to $982 million, a 116 percent increase compared to the prior year. That growth was accompanied by an increase in DAUs, an important metric because more people using Snapchat means a growing audience for advertisers. DAUs were 293 million for Q2 2021, an increase of 55 million, or 23 percent year over year. DAUs increased sequentially and year over year on both iOS (Apple) and Android (Google) platforms.

Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snapchat’s owner, Snap, said in a statement, “Our second quarter results reflect the broad-based strength of our business, as we grew both revenue and daily active users at the highest rates we have achieved in the past four years. We are pleased by the progress our team is making with the development of our augmented reality platform, and we are energized by the many opportunities to grow our community and business around the world.”

Why Is Snapchat Is Growing

Spiegel noted that Snapchat is succeeding for three reasons: a growth in augmented reality (AR) features, new content, and new advertising features. Examples of all three:

New AR Features
  • Connected Lenses, enabling Snapchatters in different locations to interact with each other through AR.
  • Several try-on capabilities with Lens Studio 4.0, including multi-person 3D body mesh, advanced cloth simulation, and a new visual effects editor for more realistic Lenses.

These are significant because AR has always been an important competitive differentiator for Snapchat, as we noted on our blog recently. Medium recently commented, “One of the reasons that Snapchat is able to carve out its own niche in the increasingly combative social media arena is its singular focus on AR-powered visual communication, which differentiates Snapchat from its competitors.”

Source: Snap investor presentation

Indeed, businesses have capitalized on Snapchat’s embrace of AR and are doing so as they gear up for the 2021 holiday shopping season. In a recent webinar, Snapchat shared example of Ugg boots, which is part of Deckers Brands. A spokesperson from Deckers Brands said that Deckers used AR in Snapchat for their holiday campaigns in 2020 to allow customers to use Ugg filters to “try on” their boots. This year, Deckers will probably do something similar with apparel, since Ugg is expanding its products into all kinds of apparel. (Deckers is no stranger to Snapchat. In this 2020 investor call, Snapchat describes how Ugg has successfully applied Snapchat’s dynamic ads feature.)

New Content
  • Eight new and renewed Snap Originals, including Swae Meets World, a documentary featuring American musician Swae Lee as he prepares to launch a solo album.
  • A record 177 new international Discover Channels, including 36 in the UK and 24 in India, one of which is a partnership with Sony Pictures Network to launch five Shows.

These developments arrived on top of Spotlight, which is Snapchat’s feature for monetizing individual creator content, launched in November 2020. New content features geared toward businesses and individual creators alike are important because they provide advertising sponsorship opportunities for brands and the growing creator economy.

Source: Snap investor presentation

New Advertising Features
  • Public Profiles for businesses, which allows any business to create a profile on Snapchat showcasing their Lenses, Highlights, Stories, and shoppable products.
  • An integration with Salesforce, allowing brands to leverage their first-party data to reach Snapchatters with relevant ads.
  • The Creator Marketplace (within self-serve Ads Manager), connecting advertisers with certified Lens Creators and facilitating the AR development process.

The Salesforce integration is especially noteworthy. With Google phasing out support for third-party cookies on the world’s most popular browser, Chrome, businesses are under more pressure to figure out how to maximize the value of their first-party data. Snapchat is sensing and responding to this need.

The news media reacted positively to Snapchat’s strong quarter. The “Yes, but can they do it again?” tone that characterized coverage of Snapchat’s positive results in 2020 subsided. For example, Meghan Bobrowsky of The Wall Street Journal portrayed Snapchat as a feisty and innovative company successfully fighting back at is copycat rivals.

She wrote, “The company, best known for disappearing photos and messages on its Snapchat app that is popular with teens and young adults, has impressed investors with its growth during the pandemic, outpacing much larger rivals. It has introduced new features to appeal to businesses beyond traditional social-media advertising, including a push into augmented reality.”

What Advertisers Should Do

We believe advertisers should take a closer look at Snapchat. Start with the creation of a Snapchat Public Profile (similar to a Facebook page) to understand how to interact with Snapchat’s audience. And understand how the Snapchat audience interacts with content. According to Snapchat, its user base, which skews toward Gen Z and younger Millennial generations, has these characteristics in common:

  • 150 percent more likely than non-Snapchatters to prefer to communicate with pictures over words.
  • Snapchatters are three times more likely than non-Snapchatters to say they are using AR more than they did last year to try on products.
  • The Snapchat Generation is 1.4 times more likely than non-Snapchatters to gravitate to immersive video and mobile games, including AR experiences.

If your brand already rocks Instagram with visual content, chances are you are well positioned to succeed on Snapchat!

Contact True Interactive

Is Snapchat a good partner for your brand’s reach? Contact us. We can advise. Learn more about our expertise with social media platforms here.

For More Insight

How Snapchat Keeps Innovating with Augmented Reality,” Bella Schneider.

Snapchat Spotlight: Advertiser Q&A,” Max Petrungaro.

Why Snapchat Keeps Growing,” Bella Schneider.

Why Twitter Is Succeeding

Why Twitter Is Succeeding

Social media Twitter

Twitter never got the memo that predicted its failure.  As far back as 2016, pundits have been forecasting the demise of the microblogging service, citing, among other things, a lack of direction and a stagnant user base. Even when Twitter’s stock value rose in 2020, detractors dismissed the news and said the company was simply benefiting from the sudden rise of the digital economy. But this phoenix continues to rise from the ashes, and it’s time to give Twitter its due. The company has made an impressive turnaround, as evidenced by its latest earnings announcement. In fact, the company’s performance beat Wall Street expectations in many important categories.

In discussing its growth, Twitter has credited a jump in advertiser demand. Moreover, it appears as though Apple’s much-discussed privacy controls launched in 2021 are not hurting Twitter to the degree expected. Let’s take a closer look at why Twitter is succeeding.

Strong Advertising Growth

What exactly gave rise to the bump in advertising demand? The growth happened at least in part because Twitter is rolling out more features for advertisers. One example: a video tool. Per their shareholder letter, Twitter has launched a prediction model that projects the likelihood a viewer will watch a video to completion, a feature meant to meet the needs of advertisers who prioritize video completion rates. A “15-second (15s) view” bidding unit powered by the prediction model gives precedence to engaged views; according to Twitter, “Early testing has shown that [the bidding unit] drives Twitter’s highest video completion rates yet.” The data does look good: advertisers using the 15s view bid unit are seeing an 89 percent higher completion rate, at an average 25 percent lower cost per completed view.

Strong User Growth

Of course, advertisers don’t want to be on a platform unless they know a lot of people are going to congregate there; they want those eyeballs. Twitter, like any company, has to roll out new features to entice people to visit—and linger. Twitter understands this, and their actions reflect that understanding. Per CNBC, “In the [second] quarter Twitter introduced its first subscription service, which gives users access to an Undo Tweet button and other features.” Named Twitter Blue, the subscription service is meant for “power users” who are happy to pay a monthly fee in exchange for exclusive features.

Taking a cue from the success of Clubhouse, Twitter also released its Spaces live-audio chat feature on mobile devices for all users with at least 600 followers. On Spaces, users can join virtual rooms and engage in real-time audio conversations with others. In addition, a new Tip Jar feature will enable users to send money to creators on Twitter.

Notably, the new features have the potential to appeal to brands as well as individuals: consider the fact that Twitter recently signed a deal with the NFL to use Spaces commercially. The league has committed to producing content: more than 20 Spaces, or rooms, that will air around events like the draft and Super Bowl. Per Marketing Dive, the NFL “is the first sports league to offer sponsored Twitter Spaces to brands.”

News Source

It’s also worth noting the connection between Twitter and the news. In fact, brands interested in the news-oriented world are wise to consider Twitter as part of their paid social strategy. As reported by Black Bear Design, Twitter is one of the most popular platforms on the planet: 24 percent of online adults use this microblogging service. And a whopping 86 percent of Twitter users indicate that they visit the network to get their news fix, with almost three quarters of those individuals doing so every day.

Contact True Interactive

In short, Twitter keeps on finding ways to stay relevant. Is the platform a good partner for your brand’s reach? Contact us. We can advise. Learn more about our expertise with social media platforms here.

Why and How Instagram Is Leaning into Video

Why and How Instagram Is Leaning into Video

Instagram Social media

Instagram isn’t just about the photos anymore. As reported in The Verge, the social networking service is embracing entertainment and video in a bid to stay competitive with platforms like TikTok and YouTube. This isn’t the first time Instagram has gone head-to-head with TikTok: as we’ve blogged, Instagram launched Reels last August as a means of connecting with TikTok’s Gen Z audience. What do these new changes mean? Read on to learn more.

Not Just For Square . . . Photos

In a video posted on his Twitter and Instagram accounts, Instagram head Adam Mosseri explained that the platform no longer wants to be identified as a “square photo-sharing app,” rather as a hip general entertainment app driven by video — and algorithms. Mosseri says focus is on four key areas:

  • Creators, where Insta’s recognition of “the shift in power from institutions to individuals across industries” underlines Instagram’s desire to empower its creators.
  • Video, which is, as far as Mosseri is concerned, where it’s at. As he notes, “Video is driving an immense amount of growth online for all the major platforms right now.” His message: Instagram users have spoken. They want to be entertained. To stay relevant, Instagram is making video a tentpole of its offerings. Mosseri promises changes along the lines of users getting full-screen, recommended videos in their feeds, including videos from accounts a user may not already follow.
  • Shopping, to reflect the leap commerce has made from offline to online, a change accelerated by the pandemic.
  • Messaging, to honor the way close friends keep connected now — not by Feed and Stories, as has been the case in the past.

Reactions So Far

Reactions to Mosseri’s announcement have been mixed. Journalists are saying Instagram is responding to the rise of TikTok and YouTube, but as noted in Axios, warn that “[a]s social networks continue growing, they run the risk of overwhelming consumers and losing what made them special and distinct to begin with.”

And while Mosseri specifically names creators as a priority in his video, some creators, specifically photographers, are feeling marginalized and voting with their feet: Digital Photography Review reports that some photographers are defecting to Twitter in order to share their work in a space they feel is more dedicated to their art. Photographer Bryan Minear is a case in point. “In my eyes, Instagram stopped caring about artists and independent creators a long time ago,” he says. Minear, who switched to Twitter as his primary social media outlet in 2019, has found a vibrant photography community there.

Although Mosseri later tried to retract some of his wording — “We’re no longer a photo-sharing app or a square photo-sharing app” drew particular ire — his initial statement has aggravated photographers who feel an algorithm championing entertainment doesn’t put a premium on quality. “Instagram has done nothing but promote video-centric features at the expense of still photographers,” Minear says. “They’ve made it loud and clear that we aren’t welcome anymore.”

What Advertisers Should Do

What does all this mean for your brand? Is this “new” Instagram a good fit? We recommend that you:

  • Re-examine how you use video in your marketing and advertising. Clearly, video is getting bigger: 86 percent of businesses use video as a marketing tool, and 93 percent of marketers who use video say that it’s an important part of their marketing strategy. Instagram is showing where its allegiance lies. If video makes sense for you, Instagram might just be a viable advertising platform for you.
  • Consider the different ways influencers on Instagram are using both video and imagery as you find influencers to partner with. Who does a great job with video? Are they the right fit for your brand?

Contact True Interactive

In short, video is hot. Trying to figure out how to embracing video in your online advertising and marketing? Contact us. We can help.