Here’s the latest rundown of social media changes, shared in a one-hour webinar by marketing consultant and editor of The Lighthouse, Luan Wise, and Andy Lambert, Senior Product Manager at Adobe (formerly Director of Growth at ContentCal).

You can watch the replay of the live social media round-up session here. It’s about 45 minutes long but you can change your playback speed settings to 1.5 to save some time (just listen closely because there is a lot to cover!)

The key topics covered this month were:

  1. BeReal- The next big social media platform?
  2. User-generated content
  3. TikTok
  4. Social media usage
  5. New features and platform changes

Here’s what Luan and Andy had to say…

BeReal- The next big social media platform?

New social media platforms are popping up all the time, but most of the time they fail to compete with the bigger named, heavily established platforms. However, could we have discovered the next big thing?

Founded in France, BeReal is a new social media app that allows users 2 minutes each day to share their updates. They must post in the moment and if they miss their opportunity, they must wait until the next day. What stands out about this platform is its authenticity. There isn’t time to play around with effects or editing, you just provide a real-life snapshot of what you are doing and then carry on with your day.

Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you will have heard about the new phenomenon- Wordle. The game gives you a 24-hour window to guess a word in 6 tries. It is addictive and has become a part of many people’s daily routines. The authenticity and sense of urgency with the game are like that of BeReal. So, could BeReal become just as popular?

It will certainly be interesting to monitor, with the app already gaining traction in Europe.

User-generated content

User-generated content (UGC) is on the rise, with UGC ads now outperforming conventional ads on the same topic by 20-50%. Interestingly, UGC videos delivered 12x engagement over other advertising types and companies are harnessing this popularity. Currently, 66% of brands said they increased budgets for creator campaigns in order to promote their business. (Source: Business of Apps). This is likely due to the trust people often feel when opinions are from creators rather than the brands themselves. Marketing teams are not always representative of an audience and so the use of customers who are of similar demographics to their target audience is a smart business move.

TikTok

Of course, TikTok is still topping all of the charts for most downloaded due to its addictive nature. However, what is most intriguing is the consumer spending growth. In the last 3 months, $840 million has been spent on tipping creators. TikTok users can tip creators in a variety of ways, from watching them LIVE or by tipping specific videos they post. Creators can then use the TikTok currency (coins) to boost their own videos, tip other creators, or cash out.

This ‘creator economy’ is extremely powerful as users are spending their money on content that they have access to for free. Therefore, we expect to see more and more creators gravitate to TikTok as it currently yields the highest revenue compared to the other platforms. TikTok also provides brands with more opportunities to make creator led campaigns.

The average monthly hours spent on TikTok currently stands at 25.7 hours per user, compared to 7.9 hours on Instagram. So, if creators weren’t swayed to move to TikTok based on the revenue stream, they should certainly consider it based on the increased opportunities for their content to be seen (4x more opportunities).

When taking the above into account, it is no surprise that TikTok is the 3rd top social media platform after Facebook and Instagram and is projected to have a 25% share of the social media market.

Social media usage

In a recent study, users were interviewed about their social media usage. As their primary purpose, TikTok and Reddit were found to be the source of funny or entertaining content. For brands and products, people tended to search Pinterest, which could be useful to know for any business looking to promote products or services on social media.

A Socialinsider study was conducted with a sample size of 75 million posts in order to investigate the value of hashtags. Instagram has reported that they don’t increase reach and apparently are only there to organise content and improve discovery. The results of the study showed that there was very little difference in the overall hashtag usage rate when compared with performance. For smaller accounts (<10K), 5-6 hashtags seemed to be the best amount to use, but overall, 3-4 hashtags were the optimal amount. They should be well researched and relevant in order to get the reach and engagement.

In terms of the best time to post, creators are always advised to trust their own data as much as possible. You know your own audience, so if you have enough data to make your own judgements- then go off that. However, there are some general advisory times from SproutSocial to post in order to get the best engagement on each platform.

  • Facebook and Twitter: 9am-13pm Weekdays
  • Instagram: Monday 11am, Tuesday-Wednesday 10am-1pm, Thursday-Friday 10am-11am
  • LinkedIn: 7am-3pm Weekdays (Peak engagement on a Wednesday and Thursday)

New features and platform changes:

Facebook

Just one Facebook update to talk about this month; Mark Zuckerberg is focusing on monetization in the metaverse, specifically on AI and community building.

Instagram

  • Instagram has been busy making creator-focused changes. They are downplaying the sharing of content that is a repost, especially posting a TikTok as a reel- a big no-no. They are trying to get creators to post original content.
  • They have improved the support for causes section in the app which will definitely help with fundraising events and activities that can be done directly through Instagram.
  • There are improvements in Stories insights. We now have a better overview of who is watching and engaging with our stories, specifically showing the accounts reached and which percentage of our viewers actually follow us.
  • We don’t normally like to discuss tests that are being done, but this is likely to be introduced so we thought we’d still mention it. There are going to be testing a change to hashtag pages. This will mean we will only see the top hashtags and are less likely to see reused hashtags. This is to increase the usage of original content, which is Instagram’s biggest push at the minute.
  • As you likely know, Instagram loves Reels and wants everyone to be using them. So, we now see improvements in editing for Reels and a lot of barriers are coming down for video production. Some might even argue that it is easier to edit a video on Instagram than it is on TikTok at the minute.
  • We are also seeing new monetization tools for Reels, to encourage creators to continue using Reels- again, no surprise there.

LinkedIn

  • LinkedIn has added a new option to showcase a link on your profile, along with new analytics tools for group posts, a video trimming feature on mobile, and new newsletter display options.

In response to questions in the chat, Luan talked through some of the benefits of a Creator account, including:

  • More insights into who has viewed your profile
  • Default changes from ‘connect’ to ‘follow’
  • You can highlight the topics you talk about at the top of your profile
  • Unlocks deeper insights and triggers to have conversations

You can find out more about the LinkedIn Creator account settings, here.

Twitter

Everybody is talking about Twitter and the man himself- Elon Musk. He bought Twitter for $44 Billion, and it broke the internet. Everyone has an opinion, even KFC. In a tweet on their official page, KFC wrote: “To put things into context, Elon Musk could have bought 17,424,242,424 twister Wraps at £1.98 each or two large pizzas from Domino’s.”

Whatever your opinion is on the transaction, the deal won’t close until October this year and so no changes will come around until 2023. We expect to see big changes in the long term- whatever they may be. It will be very interesting to see what it will mean for the platform.

Other than Elon, there are some other Twitter updates:

  • Professional accounts are now available to all, with some small changes that come along with it.
  • There are talks about adding an ‘edit’ button to Tweets, which also comes with a lot of opinions and is why it is still in discussion.
  • There are new notifications for Twitter Spaces with big developments seen in the past 18 months. This makes it so much easier to get involved in Twitter Spaces.
  • Finally, Twitter has launched a ‘quick promote’ option which makes it easier for advertising and is essentially just a way to boost posts.

TikTok

  • We have now seen GIFs come to TikTok! They are fun and we are very interested to see what people do with them.
  • They have now launched Effect House. This is a sense of augmented reality that brands can get involved in and is likely worthwhile to play around with. With every update, TikTok is becoming more and more interactive and less passive.
  • Speaking of being more interactive, ads are now interactive, with options to ‘swipe up’ and ‘shop now’
  • They are also testing out search ads in which you can pay to be at the top of the search option, this will be a really interesting addition if it comes to fruition.

YouTube

  • YouTube is now providing channel analytics in order to be able to look at searches across the platform. You can now look at the popularity of a specific search and YouTube will even tell you where there is a content gap (when searches outweigh the current availability). This is an amazing opportunity for brands.
  • They are leaning in on the ‘Shorts’ promotion, trying to compete with TikTok. The difference between YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels is that you can get away with repurposing Reels and TikToks on YouTube shorts- so enjoy that whilst it lasts.
  • Remixing has come to Shorts. We can now remix our content by doing a take on someone else’s content. You can either take a snippet of the sound that they use or a cut of their video and imbed it into your video.

Snapchat, WhatsApp and Spotify

Snapchat is currently growing faster than any other social media platform. Although their demographic remains predominantly between 13-18 year olds, they are still gaining lots of traction.

  • Snapchat can now integrate YouTube videos as a sticker in their videos
  • WhatsApp is launching ‘Communities’ which is all focused-on people that you know, and the communities cannot be discovered publicly. They are essentially more formal WhatsApp groups.
  • Spotify now has video podcasts; however, it will be interesting to see if people can transition into watching media on Spotify rather than just listening.

In summary

There are 6 main takeaways from the session:

  1. TikTok’s growth continues, both in users and features
  2. YouTube continues to be an attractive component of a strategy
  3. Instagram will increasingly focus on Reels
  4. New advertising formats present new opportunities for brands
  5. New monetisation tools present new opportunities for creators
  6. Consider your posting times, hashtag volume and the platform mix to target the right audience.

Join Luan and Andy for their next live round-up on 30th June as part of the Lighthouse Social Summit.