• David Mahan

7 Important Covid-19 Social Media Updates You Should Know

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Since Covid-19 hit the US, all eyes have been on the health and political climate of the nation. A worldwide pandemic was escalating, social unrest was rampant, a president was being elected, and we didn't even notice the giant updates from our social media platforms. See how these 7 updates could change the online landscape for creators and social media marketers alike.

1. Fleets

In October of 2013, Snapchat launched their revolutionary “Story” feature. It allows users to post pictures or short videos that are available for 24 hours. Although the feature caught the attention of their users, it wasn’t until 4 years later when other major social media platforms began copying their format.

Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) was the first to duplicate it back in 2016. Now, over 500 million Instagram users add Instagram Stories every day. After noticing the success of its subsidiary, Facebook jumped on the bandwagon in 2017. Three years later, LinkedIn caved in midway through 2020, implementing the story feature on their professional platform. Twitter, obviously feeling left out, has finally launched their Story feature, Fleets, in the US.

Being one of the last major social media platforms to implement stories, Twitter has decided to add some unique features to the standard "Story" format. On top of their Fleets tool, Twitter is testing an audio-only virtual meeting room option.

Users will be able to create and join “Spaces” or meeting rooms where they can listen or participate in a conversation. Similar to the audio-based social network, Clubhouse, each space will have an admin and be able to talk, listen, or request to join the discussion.

2. Twitter’s Carousel Ads

Another important Twitter update to note is their addition of Carousel Ads.

Twitter has been a marketing nightmare for many social media marketers. Getting consistent engagement and results from ad campaigns can be troublesome, but this may be a step in the right direction.

Carousel ads have become one of the most desired ad formats for many digital marketers, including myself. This is primarily due to the positive results that they bring on average.

Certain reports say that carousel ads are 10 times more effective than single image ads, have a 72% higher CTR than single image ads, drive 30-50% lower cost-per-conversion rate, and yield 20-30% lower cost-per-click than domain ads.

With stats like these, it is a wonder that Twitter waited as long as they did. They went through an extensive process to ensure that the new ad format would blend well with the user experience, and will continue testing through 2021.

Since they are now available globally, marketers can create carousel ads through their API or Ads Manager.

Learn more about Twitter’s Carousel ad update here.

3. Facebook and Instagram Ad Targeting

Facebook is no stranger to criticism when it comes to balancing the rights of their users and the will of the companies paying the platform for ads.

In a 2018 update, Facebook announced that they would no longer work with third-party data providers to offer their targeting segments directly on their platform. This was a victory for many and brought good PR for Facebook, but with the increasing trend of integrating eCommerce into social media, concerns will be raised again about the privacy of the consumer.

Over the last year, Instagram has been making large strides in the eCommerce space. To ensure that they don’t receive the same backlash that their parent company received, they are rolling out a “Data From Partners” setting where users can choose to opt-out of the use of partner-sourced data. This would protect their data from third-party users, but would also give them less targeted ads.

Back in January, Facebook presented its users with a similar option, the “Off-Facebook Activity” setting. This feature summarizes what data external apps and sites have collected, any marketing or sales information Facebook may have received, and how they acquired it.

4. Tik-Tok’s Partnership With Shopify

As social media platforms evolve, so do their eCommerce capabilities, and Tik-Tok is no exception.

When the video-sharing social networking service launched, many social media marketers were curious as to how the platform would change and grow. We watched to see what their monetization strategy would look like, and how creators would make money off of their platform.

On October 27th, 2020, Shopify gave us an answer.

Tik-Tok’s partnership with Shopify will allow merchants to launch In-Feed shoppable video ads directly within Shopify. What’s really nice is the store owners don’t have to know how to work a camera in order to create an ad. Shopify is providing templates that can be applied instantly, as soon as you choose a product to promote. As with many templates, there will likely be a format exhaustion effect. This occurs when users get tired of seeing the same templates used by thousands of merchants. If that is the case, you can outsource your video needs to an agency to create custom video ads that meet your company’s needs (Shameless plug).

This is definitely a top update to watch as the two companies are testing new features in the coming months.

To learn more details about this major partnership, check out Shopify’s article.

5. Instagram Reels

Apparently, Zuckerberg was jealous of all of the fame and attention that the new big player in social media was attracting. Instagram responded to Tik-Tok’s new claim to market share last August with the introduction of the Instagram Reel.

Instagram Reels are to Tik-Toks as Instagram Stories are to Snapchat Stories. They are essentially the same (originality is not the name of the game).

The new update is significant for creators, as they now have a new way to share their short videos. Instagram reels can be shared with your Story, close friends, to a dedicated space on the explore page, or in a direct message. With this update, the same content can be distributed through multiple channels almost seamlessly.

Although Instagram may not have been immediate with their reaction to Tik-Tok, they are still ahead of the curve compared to most other major social media platforms. Similar to YouTube and Facebook Watch, Instagram Reels provide an opportunity for cross-platform promotion, and an easy way to expand your audience.

For the full article, click here.

6. Fundraiser Feature

Amidst the strong social unrest during the Summer of 2020, Instagram launched a new way to fundraise for personal causes. This could be for you, your business, a nonprofit you like, etc. The timing of this release could not have been better, as many Americans were inspired to action and wanted to support causes like Black Lives Matter, Covid-19 relief, and supporting small businesses.

In order to create a cause tap “Edit Profile,” “Add Fundraiser,” and then “Raise Money.” A couple of the fundraising rules and features include:

  • You must be 18 years old to create a fundraiser

  • All fundraisers must go through a review process

  • All fundraisers last 30 days, but an additional 30 days can be added

  • You can give anonymously

As noted above, all fundraiser requests are reviewed, and not all are accepted. Save some time and look over Facebook’s Personal Fundraiser Policies to better your chances of being accepted.

For more details about their fundraising feature, you can read Instagram’s article here.

7. IGTV Ads

Instagram launched IGTV back in 2018 but did not monetize it. This year, creators can make money from their content with IGTV ads.

Instagram has been looking out for the creator all year - from the introduction of badges in Instagram Live, to Live Shopping, to IGTV Ads. Instagram is making it easier and easier for creators to make money off of their content and brand.

According to Instagram, “the video ads will be built for mobile and up to 15 seconds long. We’ll test various experiences within IGTV ads throughout the year - such as the ability to skip an ad - to make sure the final result works well for people, creators and advertisers.”

While this feature is still in beta, Instagram will be testing different ad formats, like skippable ads, to see which formats fit the platform the best.

Read more on Instagram’s plans for IGTV here.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post!

If you want my team to just do your marketing for you, click here.

About The Author

David Mahan is an entrepreneur, marketer, and the co-founder of Undrptd and UR Marketing. He has gained a wide base of experience through cofounding a tech startup, marketing agency, and a media company. His passion projects are often centered around education, purpose, and business. Feel free to reach out to David on LinkedIn or Instagram.