With TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, under increased revenue pressure, you can expect to see more e-commerce integrations on TikTok very soon, to capitalize on the app’s key opportunity.
This is already happening in a number of ways, with the latest test showing that users in Indonesia have access to a new ‘Shop’ tab in the app, which sits alongside their ‘For You’ and ‘Following’ feeds.
As you can see in this example, shared by Watchful.ai, TikTok is now testing a specific shopping segment, with as much UI priority as its main content streams. There’s also a shopping cart icon in the top right, so you can add items to buy as you scroll, which, as noted, indicates the next evolution of the world famous video app.
TikTok has been going in this direction for some time, which essentially follows the same development process that ByteDance used for the Chinese version of the app, called “Douyin”. The majority of Douyin’s revenue now comes from in-stream e-commerce integrationswhich also provides a valuable avenue for creator monetization, via brand partnership integrations that facilitate more organic-like promotions within the app.
TikTok hopes to incorporate the same into its offering, which could help it compete with Instagram and YouTube on creator monetization. Right now, creators can make a lot more money on YouTube, through the YouTube Partners Program, which pays out billions to participating creators every year. This, eventually, could become an existential concern for TikTok, as for Vine before it, as the biggest stars will logically gravitate towards the platforms where they can reap the most benefits,
This could see them deprioritize TikTok over time, which is why TikTok needs to make in-app commerce work, while providing more revenue potential and opportunity, and helping ByteDance capitalize on the popularity of the app.
And as noted, ByteDance would be very keen on having more revenue right now. The company has cut thousands of staff in recent weeks as part of a major cost-cutting drive, sparked by the Chinese government’s regulatory crackdown on the live streaming, gaming and social media sectors.
In an effort to reduce the influence of live-streaming platforms and rule over technology platforms, the CCP has put in place restrictions on what can be streamed live, how much people can spend online, and when people can watch, especially young users. . This has forced many to reevaluate their use of Douyin as a business opportunity, which has also put a strain on ByteDance’s prospects – and amid the broader global economic downturn, the company’s balance sheets are no longer suddenly not as good looking as they used to be, and as one would suspect they should, given that TikTok’s ad spend continues to rise.
But now TikTok presents probably its most valuable opportunity, while ByteDance could also look to capitalize on it now, before other regions potentially follow China’s lead and implement similar restrictions on commerce. and live activity.
It seems less likely outside of China. But again, TikTok is under regular scrutiny over its potential harms and risks, with an FCC commissioner this week calling on Apple and Google to pull the app from their stores over fears it could be used as a surveillance tool by the Chinese authorities.
Essentially, TikTok’s future prospects are not guaranteed, which is another reason why ByteDance will want to move forward now and derive as much revenue from these tools and features as possible.
It’s still working on integrating its full suite of commerce tools, including payment options, as well as its integrations with Shopify and other commerce platforms. But you can bet it works fast, which could present more opportunities in the future.
At least as long as TikTok remains available, that is.
It’s been in testing for a while, but today Instagram launched an updated version of its new full-screen main feed test, which expands Instagram posts – whether static images, of videos or reels – into a full-height, TikTok-esque swipeable stream of all different types of IG content.
As you can see in this example, in the new format Instagram Reels and Video Clips are expanded to full-screen style, with the navigation bar, description, and Instagram logo overlaid on top of the content.
It’s a change from the option’s original presentation, which was first spotted during testing in March.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Goal shared a story on the updated layout style, along with a note that “photos are still an important part of Instagram.”
But that’s not that important, especially since Reels is now Instagram’s fastest growing content option, with 20% of all time spent on Instagram in its Reels feed.
Interestingly, this new approach would also move the stories bar out of view, although the longer-term approach will likely see stories incorporated into this new presentation format as well, with an image count bar at the bottom of the screen. screen, encouraging users to swipe through for more.
The update reflects the continued influence of TikTok, which has changed the way nearly every platform now views growth, with the app’s continued rise changing user behaviors, on a much broader scale. than just within TikTok itself.
Indeed, a new report from The Verge this week revealed that Facebook is also looking to dig deeper into the short-form video trend, with the format’s popularity now altering user attention spans and shifting consumer expectations. , which basically means platforms follow the trend or lose audience by ignoring it.
Instagram is Meta’s most similar platform in this regard, and as such it makes sense that it is looking to “go TikTok” and transition to a more aligned content feed.
It also lines up with what Instagram chief Adam Mosseri pointed out in December last year, when he said that video would be a key focus for IG in 2022.
“We will double our focus on video and consolidate all of our video formats around Reels”
This appears to be the ultimate next step on that front, and another repositioning in its showdown against TikTok, to mitigate TikTok’s growing dominance in the space.
It’s not available to all users yet, but more people will see it soon – and from there, I’d bet the next integration, including Stories, will arrive soon after, moving Instagram to a much more TikTok-like experience.
For brands, if you’re not creating short video content yet, maybe it’s time to start testing because it’s going to become the thing on IG.
Change is coming to your Facebook feed once again, with the Meta-owned platform looking to shift its focus in line with evolving media consumption behaviors.
According to an internal overview from Facebook app chief Tom Alison, obtained by The Verge, Meta is looking to incorporate more AI-recommended content into Facebook feeds, based on overall engagement and popularity, not your personal connections. . Which is similar to how TikTok sources content from a wider pool than its immediate network, while Facebook is also working to streamline content sharing by bringing more messaging tools into the main interface.
As Meta explains:
“The Home experience will balance both connected and non-connected content. We’re working to clean up the top of the feed and make it as easy to view friends’ Stories as it is to discover new content on Reels. We’re also exploring a Community Dashboard to provide direct access to the communities that matter most to you. Finally, we’re testing a product to give you predictable access to your Connected Feed, with the ability to sort chronologically and filter by Groups, Pages, and Friends. Internally we call him “Mr. T” and I am excited about the progress the team is making.”
Which sounds interesting, but as Mr. T himself once said, “I feel sorry for the fool” who pushes too hard on major product changes, which could put important elements of the core app experience at risk.
The Verge provided its own overview of how the updated Facebook feed will work:
“TThe main tab will become a mix of Stories and Reels at the top, followed by posts that your discovery engine recommends on both Facebook and Instagram. It will be a more visual experience, with lots of videos, with clearer prompts to direct message friends with a post. To make messaging even more prominent, Facebook is working to place a user’s Messenger inbox at the top right of the app, undoing the infamous decision to separate the two apps eight years ago.”
The updated strategic shift is almost entirely influenced by TikTok, which continues to gain more usage momentum, to the detriment of Meta’s own apps. Those trends are now too significant to ignore, and it’s not just the focus on short-form video per se, it’s the broader usual changes this causes, in terms of reduced attention spans and new user habits, reported for TikTok’s compelling ‘For You’. ‘ food.
If it wasn’t already clear that Meta is doing its best to keep up with TikTok, it’s about to become a lot more obvious, based on proposed changes to its main feed.
In her overview of strategic priorities for the app, Alison outlines the proposed shift toward AI-powered content discovery, based on your interests, rather than what your friends share.
“Historically, Facebook has taken an entity-centric approach to discovery. We help you connect with the friends, groups, and Pages you care about most, then updates from those connections are sorted into Feed. Offline content in Feed appeared through the shares of friends, groups, and Pages you follow, but offline recommendations historically weren’t a core part of the Feed experience. However, we invest heavily in discovering unconnected content across adjoining surfaces, meaning through search queries or recommendations, first products like Watch, News and Marketplace.”
The change, which Alison describes as a “discovery engine” approach, will aim to highlight more interesting content in the app, “regardless of whether it was produced by someone you’re connected to or not.”
Meta has already been making investments on this front, with Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg noting on his first quarter earnings call that:
“While we’re seeing an increase in short-form video, we’re also seeing a major shift in sources from being almost exclusively curated by your social graph or follow graph to now having more of your AI-recommended source, even if the content was not posted by a friend or someone you follow. Social content from friends and people and businesses you follow will continue to be much of the most valuable, engaging and differentiated content for our services, but now being able to accurately recommend content from across the universe that you don’t directly follow also unlocks a wealth of videos and interesting posts that could be useful and would otherwise be lost.”
That follows TikTok’s lead in bringing out more content, which is a better experience for creators (who get more views) and users (who get access to a wider variety of content), but it’s a fundamental change that away from Facebook’s longstanding sweet spot. Differentiation: It has the largest user base of any platform by far, which is why it’s so valuable as a connection tool.
TikTok has changed this, and while platforms like Reddit have long capitalized on multi-source recommendations, TikTok’s algorithm has effectively systematized user interests, showing you more of what you like without you having to explicitly communicate it. following certain profiles and/or communities.
That essentially dilutes Facebook’s strength, and while the app remains a key connection tool, it’s now looking to evolve its systems in line with this new paradigm shift.
A key focus in this regard, of course, is Reels, which is Meta’s fastest growing content option.
Camera rolls already account for more than 20% of the time people spend on Instagram, while video in general accounts for 50% of the time people spend on Facebook. And now, per Alison’s outline, Facebook will be looking to lean into this even more.
“The current short-form public video genre opens up new ways for people to create and discover content. While Facebook’s discovery engine is designed to support many different formats (text, photos, video, and eventually Metaverse experiences), our biggest gap today is related to short-form video, and that’s why we we focus on integrating Reels in Home, Watch, In. -Feed Recommendations, and Groups.”
In other words, expect a lot more Reels, in a lot more places, in the Facebook apps.
If you don’t like short-form video, you’re in the minority now, and again, the usual changes that the rise of shorter-form content has caused means that all video platforms must adapt to these new consumer behaviors, or they run the risk. risk of losing. audience as a result.
This will require a significant shift in Meta’s approach, which, again, until now has been based on providing content recommendations based on your explicit signals of interest – that is, the people, groups, and businesses you’ve chosen to connect with on your apps. .
Switching to algorithmic recommendations is much riskier, as doing it wrong can quickly cause engagement to plummet. But getting it right, as TikTok has shown, can have big payoffs.
Another central risk for Facebook, however, will be the amplification of more controversial and sensational content, which might do well in the algorithms, but might not be the tastiest stuff to show its 2.9 billion users.
This is also an issue on TikTok, as users are regularly shown, for example, highly sexualized videos from young creators, who are incentivized to post them for more likes and reach. In some ways, TikTok gets away with it, due to its focus on younger audiences, but you can bet Facebook won’t get the same leniency if it starts algorithmically amplifying questionable clips.
Putting more faith in algorithms could end up being a big problem for Facebook in this regard, as the platform is already considered a key hive for conspiracy theories and misinformation, largely due to the engagement that sensational content sees. in the app.
Right now, Facebook can argue that these types of posts are largely limited by personal sharing, but a more comprehensive algorithm will change that dynamic and see Facebook send these posts to more users.
Is that a good approach for Facebook? Time will tell, but I’d be willing to bet that more problems and concerns will arise as a result.
On another front, Alison also points out that helping people seize economic opportunity is another strategic focus, as commerce remains a long-term key for Meta and Facebook.
“It’s also strategic for Meta as more on-site trading experiences help us mitigate signal loss from ads. [and] it is one of our main products that fits well in the market with YA. We will continue to invest in both organic and business-driven commerce products, and there is a growing opportunity to integrate delightful commerce experiences into products like Groups, Live and more as part of our effort to democratize economic opportunity on Facebook.”
In short, more Reels, more product listings, and more content from people you’re not connected to in the app.
It makes sense, considering broader trends in web engagement, but there are some major risks for Facebook, which could backfire on the app.
LinkedIn is currently seeing ‘record levels’ or user engagement, but much of that is apparently dominated by re-posts from other platforms, spam, vaguely topical polls, and various other low-interest posting actions specifically designed to generate superficial participation.
At least, that’s how it feels, but LinkedIn is working to improve this, and today, LinkedIn launched a new initiative to provide more transparency on how it works to combat these elements and improve your LinkedIn experience.
As LinkedIn explains:
“Starting today and for the next few weeks, we will be publishing “Demystifying the Feed”, a series of blog posts and content on the platform that will aim to provide a greater understanding of how our product works and address common misconceptions and assumptions. . Our ultimate goal is to be transparent with you about how we think about the feed and how things work.”
The first two videos in the series are now live, with LinkedIn VP of Engineering Sabry Tozin explaining what types of content LinkedIn is looking to amplify in the stream:
As well as the alignment between professional and personal growth through LinkedIn content:
The latter is probably a key focus note, with many seemingly off-topic posts potentially falling into the more “personal” category.
Should you post the same updates you share on Facebook also on LinkedIn, where your audience will be professionals and those in your peer network? In most cases, probably not, but as Tozin explains, there are some crossovers that are acceptable and align with the LinkedIn use case.
That information is interesting to have, but really, what LinkedIn users probably want to know is what gets the most traction on the platform and what is likely to be penalized by their algorithms.
LinkedIn traditionally hasn’t provided much insight into this (hence this new initiative), but has previously noted that:
So if you want to maximize the performance of your content on LinkedIn, you probably want to move away from these elements and focus on creating relevant and engaging posts that align with your target audience.
That, of course, won’t stop some people from re-sharing viral posts from other apps as a means of attracting cheap engagement.
However, LinkedIn hopes to provide more oversight on how it’s addressing you with this new initiative, which could help you create a more effective and engaging presence on the app.
The first two videos (above) are pretty general, but LinkedIn says it has more to come, including:
- Demystifying the feed: how the algorithm works and customizing the feed
- Demystifying the feed: content distribution and how we work to address bias
Hopefully, these items will have more specific actionable tips to help you improve your LinkedIn approach.