Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion and is now merging its chats to Messenger. 

Image credit: Instagram

Instagram users will see a new pop-up when they open their apps as Facebook is integrating its chat systems. The editors at The Verge discovered the update pop-up on both Android and iOs devices bearing the message of the new way to message on Instagram. Features include a more colorful theme for the chat, more emojis, the swipe-to-reply, and the ability to chat with friends who are on Facebook. When updated, the DM icon of Instagram is changed into a Facebook Messenger logo. 

Facebook has been planning to unite its messaging platforms and allow its users to cross-message from WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram. The social media giant reported then that it’s redoing all of its underlying infrastructure to allows its users to connect other apps to Facebook freely. Zuckerberg is also planning to make it more secure via end-to-end encryption. Facebook is now more equipped to go against Apple’s iMessage. 

The same cross-platform isn’t expected on WhatsApp mobile just yet. 

TikTok style video format debuted in India

Facebook is also debuting a TikTok style short-video format on its main app in India. The company confirmed the news with TechCrunch and said that they created the Short Videos section in the newsfeed. The launch came at a time when India banned TikTok in the country and since then, Facebook’s services have hiked to over 25%. YouTube, another platform, also rolled out the same feature for its users in India the recent weeks. 

Facebook has been pulling some of the most famous TikTok users and inviting them over to their services. Instagram also did the same thing and encouraging creators to jump ship from TikTok to Reels. With monetization in place, content creators now have more platforms to get their revenue from. 

What does this mean for you?

On merging Instagram and Messenger chats

Users will have an easier time connecting with others from both platforms – Messenger and Instagram. This is especially helpful for small businesses and brands that have built their digital footprints via Instagram and Facebook. Messaging is key to efficient sales service and being able to just swipe from one chat system to another makes the conversation seamless. 

On TikTok-esque features rolled in India

Facebook continues to test out new features and being the country with the most number of users, India serves as the perfect experiment. Facebook hasn’t released any statement whether they’re going to roll it out for its global users. 

Shoploop is Google’s latest R&D project, it’s a mobile-based video shopping platform. 

Image credit: TechCrunch

Shoploop is Google’s latest experiment and is now available on the mobile web. It is a shopping platform designed to show new products to customers in 90 seconds or less. The app’s founder, Lax Poojary was previously working with Area 120 for an app called Touring Bird, an online trip planner.

Poojary said that this idea for interactive shopping came about due to how consumers use social media and e-commerce sites today for their shopping needs. He explained that before consumers make a purchase, they first check it out on social media and then check out how it works via YouTube video tutorials. While video shopping isn’t a widely popular trend, there is a considerable number of businesses that use video and commerce to sell more products. 

Interactive short video format

Shoploop is interactive, it’s more than just scrolling product photos and descriptions in your devices. It’s displays how the products can be used, it makes improves product discovery entertaining. This advertising-only platform is now only available for skincare, makeup, and nails and the company hasn’t announced further plans on expanding the platform to products. 

Consumers can check out new products in the app and see how they look. All the information comes from relatable people – consumers don’t need to check out the products in physical stores as they can see the results of the products from the 90-second video. Google said that the goal is to give consumers a platform to get real reviews, recommend products, and shop the products from the videos. Shoploop also allows consumers to save the products they like or be directed to the main websites to complete the purchase process. Buyers can also follow the Shoploop creators and share the videos with their family and friends. 

Poojary’s Shoploop isn’t a new trend. Other mobile shopping startups have introduced this concept such as Dote and Popshop Live. Both platforms raised their funds to improve their apps. Google continues to direct the company towards its mission of improving its e-commerce platform. The tech giant is looking for ways to compete against Amazon’s growing ad platform. This new interactive method for consumers is one of Google’s methods of directing consumers to advertisers on the platform.

Instagram continues to fight it out with TikTok as the go-to short-video app for Gen Z users. 

Image credits: Instagram 

Reels is Instagram’s biggest effort in challenging its rival TikTok in the short-form video space. The new feature is now available in 50 countries including international markets such as India, Brazil, Spain, Mexico, Japan, Australia, Argentina, Germany, the UK, and more. Instagram Reels, like TikTok, enables users to record and edit their short-form videos. They can also ass audios and music soundtracks to make it more appealing and viral. 

The feature is built within the Instagram camera app with editing tools such as a timer, countdown clock, and timer. Users can freely use the licensed music and user-recorded audio tracks in the app’s library. You can check out the Reels in a dedicated section from the Explore tab. In its blog, Instagram said that Reels is a new way for people to express themselves, discover the things they love, and help other creators take the center stage. 

It’s a new way for creators in the platform to find new and more audiences even when they still don’t have a strong user base. 

TikTok and Instagram Reels 

TikTok is the first app in the short-form video space. It quickly rose to popularity as it allows users to go viral and gain traction in the platform. Unlike Reels’ 15-seconds, TikTok users can make up to 60-seconds videos. Vishal Shah, Instagram’s VP of Product said that TikTok did not create the short-form video, but Shah admitted that it was TikTok that innovated it. 

Despite the claims that Reels is practically a TikTok knock-off, Shah says that Reels is different in a way that it gives users a more built-out AR platform. It’s also coming from a social media app that people already know how to use so well. Further, Shah added that businesses are normally inspired by other companies and this is just a case of example. With Reels, people now have more options to choose from. 

What does this mean for you?

Brands and creators follow there their audiences are. TikTok has been very active in ensuring that their creators are getting what they deserve. The company recently announced a $200 million fund to help creators and advertisers, they have also updated the features of their ad platforms to allow more revenues. However, the company is still in a bind due to threats of the ban. 

Although Reels still doesn’t have any monetization options in place, it’s another option for creators to expand their reach. 

TikTok challenges other tech giants to open their algorithms and promote transparency. 

TikTok continues to prove it’s committed to the welfare of its users and pushes transparency. CEO Kevin Mayer wrote in a blog post that the company aims for fair competition and invites others to do the same. The company now allows outsiders to access its algorithms and observe the company’s moderation policies as it happens in real-time. Mayer said that his company believes that they should put their platforms in exceptionally high standard and a way of doing so is by disclosing their algorithms, letting regulators access their moderation policies and data flows. 

TikTok invites the regulators to peek at the things that are normally out of their reach instead of just waiting for them to come by and check their data practices. 

TikTok hits the right spot 

This announcement couldn’t come in any better time as four of the biggest tech companies (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Google) are facing scrutiny from the House Judiciary’s antitrust panel. All these companies have pointed out that they are facing competition from global markets, Zuckerberg even pointed out TikTok as competition in the same space. He further added that competition, along with democracy, inclusion, and free speech are the values whereby the American economy was built on. 

However, he made mention of how China is creating its own version of an internet world that’s far different from the ideals of the US. Mayer isn’t so happy about that statement and commented on how Zuckerberg’s criticism is a disguised patriotism. Zuckerberg’s statement may be used against TikTok and may further put the company in a trying situation. 

TikTok fights back by opening its platform and encouraging transparency. Something that Facebook hasn’t done and the reason for the heavy criticism that the company is constantly facing. This also acquits TikTok from the accusation of censoring its content to get the favor of the Chinese government. 

What does this mean for you?

The US government is still considering banning the use of TikTok in the country. The company isn’t deterred and instead, it’s putting the pressure as TikTok offers opportunities for creators and small businesses. Mayer said that American advertisers will be affected once TikTok is banned. They’d be left with fewer choices and platforms to put their ad campaigns. TikTok has been amassing millions of daily users and it’s been adding features to improve its advertising platform. 

Mayer is adamant in his plans of making all necessary measures to ensure the long-term success of TikTok not only in the US but in the global market.  

Congress said that months of grueling investigations led to more than a million documents to support their case. 

Lawmakers will be facing the chief executives of the most powerful tech companies – Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Google in a long marathon of hearings. Over the years, the tech industry has been skirting many scrutinies for many reasons, mainly on antitrust. Since June, Congress has been investigating the aforementioned companies and this investigation ends with a showdown with the CEOs this Wednesday. The immense power that these tech giants hold and its implications in the economy will be the main topic in the hearing before the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee. 

Companies fight back

The companies are taking in varying measures to fight back. In their opening statement, all CEOs went into different approaches as well. Amazon Apple argued that they have opened jobs and opportunities for millions of people. Their platforms have also allowed others to set-up their businesses. Despite the power that these companies hold, both said that they are still facing intense competition from the global market. 

Tech giants speak of competition 

Amazon is the biggest online retailer in the US but Bezos points out that his company is facing competition fro other companies including Walmart, and newer ones such as Instacart and Shopify. Bezos also points out that his company is opening opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses. Amazon has been able to create more than 2.2 million jobs globally. 

Google as well claims that even when it’s the most used search engine, there is still competition from other platforms such as Amazon’s Alexa,  WhatsApp, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Twitter. All these platforms also provide information that users are searching for. Google Ads will also be included in the upcoming hearings. 

What does this mean for you?

Critics are pushing both Google and Facebook to promote competition and to reduce the concentration of power. In the 90s, Microsoft was found guilty of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. The court asked Microsoft to divide the company, however, the company appealed and overturned the decisions. Later on, the case was settled. 

This may be a precedent to the present case. The companies may face fines and other punishments but it’d be a long shot to say that these companies be forced to be broken down into smaller companies. Whatever the decision may be, businesses that are in any of the platforms may be affected by the changes. 

Many advertisers have stopped spending their budget on ads due to the country’s civil unrest, says Twitter. 

Twitter’s Q2 earnings showed a drop in ad revenue. The company is in an on-going battle for its ad-based social platform as Twitter is trying to handle high loads of traffic due in this time of the pandemic. Advertising accounts for $526 million of the company’s revenue, that 23% drop from last year’s revenue. This is due to the advertisers’ decision to pause their campaign as the coronavirus plagued the world. Twitter saw a 25% decline in ads spend for its advertisers in the US. 

Twitter’s CFO, Ned Segal said that they intend to rebuild their ad server with expectations that this will help the company recover some of their loss from the Q2 earnings. He further added that brands have been using innovative ways to contribute to the Twitter conversation on how they can connect with their target audience and existing customers. Segal announced that Twitter is making much progress in improving its performance in terms of ads roadmaps. This progress will hopefully put Twitter in a better position to become the go-to platform for advertisers and brands for their product launches and live events. 

Subscription tests

While the new ad servers aren’t yet gaining much traction and revenue, Twitter is taking other measures to take back what they’ve lost in the previous quarter. CEO Jack Dorsey said that they are planning to run a subscription test within the year. 

Dorsey told the analysts on an investor call that he plans on setting a high bar when Twitter will finally ask its users to pay for some aspects of Twitter’s services. He emphasized that these plans are still in its very early stages and nothing is concrete at the time. He told CNN that the subscription service as the company’s new line of revenue will be complementary to its advertising business. Similar to paid subscription platforms, Twitter may be offering a free from trackers, free from ads, and a cleaner chronology of time as inclusions. This idea may sound promising for users and brands whose been using Twitter for many of their promotions, product launch, and in connecting with their audience. 

Recently, the company’s executives’ accounts were hacked, and Twitter has faced a huge security breach as some of the company’s executives’ accounts were hacked. Security and privacy may also be a core in Twitter’s upcoming subscription-based platform. 

TikTok has made a creator-friendly platform, this new launch is the company’s biggest monetization effort to date. 

Image credit: The Verge

Despite the threats of the US and India banning the app, TikTok continues to grow in popularity. The platform has become one of the major channels for brands and celebrities. To keep their interest and to encourage others to the platform, the company launce a $200 million creators fund. 

In its statement, TikTok said that the fund aims to support creators who are looking for opportunities to earn a living using their innovative content. The fund will be distributed in cash by the end of 2020. Their content is another way for creators and brands to make money in the app. In the past, creators can only earn income and monetize their accounts via live streamings or when they partner with other brands. 

Vanessa Pappas, TikTok’s general manager said that the platform wants to pay its creators regularly. The Creator Fund will help creators “realize additional earnings that reflect the tie, care, and dedication they put into creatively connecting with an audience that’s inspired by their ideas.” This new monetization method will help TikTok keep its creators in the platform instead of focusing on other social media platforms where they could monetize their content. 

The fund

Users who are 18 years old and above can be eligible for the cash fund. It’s also only available for users living in the US and those who post their videos that comply with the company’s guidelines. Creators can start applying for the program beginning next month, however, TikTok has not announced the exact number of creators that can avail the program. 

TikTok’s battle 

The US government continues to be vocal in its plan of banning the app due to Chinese ownership over security risk claims. Despite that, TikTok is unfazed and recently announced its plans of opening 10,000 jobs over the next three years. The company has also separated itself from China and made its app unavailable for the country. ByteDance also said that it’s planning to make a corporate restructuring and establish its HQ outside China. The Creator Fund is also another strategy for the company to keep its app working in the US soil. As the fund is made available to only US creators, it’s strongly positioning itself as a company that committed to the US. 

YouTube rolls out its new metrics called RPM to allow several revenue streams for its creators. 

Creators have various ways to monetize their YouTube platform. Some examples of these revenue streams include advertising, donations, live streaming, subscriptions, or YouTube Premium revenue. With several options available, YouTube finally created a new monetization metric. Created so creators can understand how they earn on the platform, the new metric is called RPM or revenue per mille. While RPM is similar to YouTube’s CPM or cost per mille. RPM and CPM are different in terms of the creator since RPM is specifically for creators aiming to grow their channels, those who want to know the exact income they get from YouTube, and creators who want to see what videos work and what don’t on their channel. 

What’s RPM (Revenue per mille)?

The new metric system shows how much creators are earnings per 1,000 views, that’s comparing their total revenue against their views. The RPM is more detailed as it includes revenue reports from YouTube Analytics, the 55% cut from the ad revenue, YouTube Premium, Channel Memberships, Super Stickers, and Super Chat. The total revenue is then multiplied to 1,000 and divided by total video in the same time period. 

The RPM metric counts the monetized, non-monetized views, and the alternative monetization methods to give creators the big picture of how much their YouTube presence is generating and how much traffic they bring in the platform. The RPMs are shown in the Revenue tab of a creators’ Channel Analytics. 

CPM vs RPM

While CPM has been the metric at work for a much longer time, this metric has its limitations. Creators thought that cost per mille is the money that creators make per 1,000 views. But in actuality, CPM is the amount that advertisers pay the creators for every 1,000 ads. Former creator turned into YouTube’s head creator liaison Matt Koval said that CPM hasn’t been the best metric as it doesn’t help creators understand how they’re earning their paycheck. 

What does this mean for you?

Based on YouTube’s post, the RPM takes all your revenue streams into account. It’s a more holistic measurement and when creators check and evaluate it regularly, they’ll be able to identify how they can improve their channels and their content. They can also optimize their monetization strategies better. 

RPM is now available for all monetizing creators. Creators can also visit YouTube’s Help Center to further understand how the new metric works. 

Snapchat is positioning itself as a direct competition to ByteDance’s TikTok.

Snapchat confirmed the news that it’s testing a new experience that is similar to TikTok. Users can now move through Snapchat’s public posts and content using a vertical wiping motion. This gesture has been widely popularized by TikTok. Snapchat isn’t the only one out to compete with TikTok and trying to copy its feature into their own. Instagram recently released Instagram’s Reels, a short-video platform for its users. YouTube also followed suit with a short-form-set-to-music format. Snapchat is the newest social media platform that’s out to replicate TikTok’s success. 

Snapchat’s test for vertical scrolling

Snapchat said that the test us only for contents that are published publicly and readily available in Snapchat Discover. This doesn’t include the users’ friends’ private Stories. Social media consultant Matt Navarra first spotted the new test. The company didn’t comment further and chose to not offer specific details about it. Snapchat, however, said the test is still in its early stages and only a very small percentage of Snapchat’s global users have this option. In a statement to TechCrunch, a Snapchat spokesperson said that their team has always been looking for ways to improve user experience in the platform. They continually look for ways to make their content more engaging to the community. 

Investing in the Indian market 

India recently announced that its banning TikTok and 53 other Chinese apps. The action came after a border dispute the two countries had in the previous week. Facebook took advantage of this and introduced Instagram Reels to its Indian users. Snapchat is seemingly following Facebook’s steps as well. 

Snapchat rolled out Here for You feature in the country in partnership with Mariwala Health Initiative. It’s a feature that promotes mental health and offers help for Snap users who are dealing with an emotional crisis. It’s also a way to address the issue and educate others about it.

The feature was a result of research conducted by Snap last year. The research revealed that an alarming rate of Snapchat users are suffering from anxiety and stress. Most of them turn to their friends for help and support, their friends have become a positive influence in their lives and they’ve become the people who have helped them face their depression. 

The feature educates its users on what depression is and what it means to have a mental health crisis. 

“All these advertisers will be back,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. 

Image credit: BBC

Several brands and industry giants have announced that they are boycotting Facebook advertising and unless the platform makes changes in its policies regarding social issues, these brands aren’t coming back. Despite the loss, Zuckerberg isn’t worried and has not hinted at any changes in the company policies. 

As reported by The Information, he said that all these advertising will be back on the platform soon. For him, the boycott is more of a reputational and partner issue rather than an economic issue. Zuckerberg also noted that the revenue coming from all these brands who decided to temporarily stop their ads take up very little space in Facebook’s overall revenue. The threat is small, he added. 

#StopHateForProfit campaign

The campaign started a civil rights movement for the previous weeks and many bug companies and personalities have shown their support. The Boycott has shed light on the company’s lack of policies in fighting against hate speech and protecting the innocent lives of people of color and those from the minorities. The misinformation and threats of violence in the platform is too rampant that many are calling for changes. 

Previous UK deputy prime minister and now Facebook’s VP Global Affairs and Communications, however, reassured companies that Facebook doesn’t benefit from hate speech and the company is looking for ways to remove hate speech in its platform. 

Facebook is making efforts in hearing out what the critics have to say but no solid decisions have been made as that will ultimately come from its CEO. 

What does this mean for you?

Brands have good intentions for supporting the cause but it doesn’t mean that it’s good for their business as well. Research from the University of Oxford has shown that brands will suffer in the long run due to Facebook’s influence over other medial channels. Temporarily pausing their ads on Facebook and letting it on will affect their brand and will impact their overall effectiveness in all the other advertising channels. Facebook ads indirectly help make other channels more effective and taking out Facebook ads from their strategy will affect their ads on other channels in the long term. 

While it wasn’t wrong for advertisers to take down and temporarily withdraw their ads to emphasize the spread of unsafe and unacceptable content. However, for the advertisers, this decision may prove to be detrimental for them especially in this economy.