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Facebook Launches New Guide To Help Businesses Celebrate LGBTQ+ Culture and Community

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facebook launches new guide to help businesses celebrate lgbtq culture and community

With Pride Month coming to an end, Facebook has published a new guide which outlines how businesses can show their support for LGBTQpeople beyond Pride Month alone.

Facebook Pride Gudie

As explained by Facebook:

“Pride Month is a chance for businesses and marketers to pause and consider how we can become better allies of the LGBTQ+ community. But the work is too important to end in June. When businesses speak out, people listen, and by spotlighting community voices, celebrating and upholding the value of LGBTQ+ lives, educating ourselves and others, and taking proudly public stances that show ongoing support for diversity and individuality we can seize the opportunity to nudge society toward greater acceptance and inclusion.”

The 21-page guide includes a range of stats and notes which underline the importance of supporting the LGBTQ+ and improving representation, in all forms.

Facebook Pride Guide

The guide also includes notes on how brands can contribute to improvement, and example case studies of businesses that have diversified their promotions. 

Facebook Pride Guide

These are important notes, and definitely, there’s a growing awareness of businesses that are simply adding a rainbow logo to their social profiles for the month of June, but are not actually taking any concrete steps towards improving representation or addressing these elements. 

In order to improve, real action is required, and this guide provides some helpful notes and pointers to consider in your approach. 

You can download Facebook’s ‘Forward with Pride’ guide here.

Socialmediatoday.com

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YouTube Highlights its Top Trends, Topics and Creators of 2023

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YouTube Highlights its Top Trends, Topics and Creators of 2023

YouTube has published its annual trend wrap-up, highlighting all the key trends, based on user engagement and search behaviors, from throughout the year.

And most of them you probably recognize, either via your own engagement or subconscious exposure.

As per YouTube:

2023’s Trending Topics in the U.S. reflect fandom’s increasingly important role in transforming cultural moments into fully immersive phenomena that play out across Shorts, longform, livestreams, and podcasts. From original series like Skibidi Toilet to the release of Barbie, fans came to YouTube to put their personal spins on memes, movies, and more.

Ah, yes, “Skibidi Toilet”, a random joke clip that somehow morphed into an epic, post-apocalyptic drama series, set across 68 video clips and counting.

Yeah, it’s super weird, but there actually is a core story told through machinima, or computer game-based animation, which has obviously proven compelling to many users.

Like, tens of millions of them, for every episode.

Among other key trends of note, YouTube highlights the viral “Grimace Shake” response, Jack Black’s “Peaches” from the Mario Bros. movie soundtrack, and Miley Cyrus’s “Flowers”, among various other niche topics of interest.

The top 10 YouTube topics of the year, among U.S. users (by total engagement), were:

The top YouTube creators, meanwhile were headed by Jimmy “MrBeast” Donaldson and his friends once again, as he continued to expand upon his online video (and beyond) empire.

  1. MrBeast
  2. Pink Shirt Couple
  3. Topper Guild
  4. Zhong
  5. VuxVux
  6. Ian Boggs
  7. JT Casey
  8. Jeffrey Bui
  9. Stokes Twins
  10. Ben Azelart

It’s always amazing to me to consider the cultural impact of gaming based on this list. Out of these 10 creators, more than half of them have direct roots in gaming content, which has become a key pathway into content creation, beginning with game streaming, then shifting into other areas.

And gaming is likely to remain a key cultural influencer, because most young consumers these days don’t even watch regular TV, with YouTube, and other online platforms, now their primary sources of entertainment. To them, these creators are not YouTubers, they’re as mainstream as anyone else, which will see them continue to guide future creative trends.

YouTube has also included a listing of “Breakout Creators” and top songs of the year, providing a solid overview of what resonated in the app in 2023.

Also, Shorts is a key factor. YouTube hasn’t provided a Shorts-specific listing for this year, but I suspect that’s coming, maybe in 2024, as Shorts continues to drive more engagement in the app.

YouTube’s full overview is worth a look if you want a reminder of the top trends, or if you want to catch up on what young people, in particular, are currently engaging with.

Let’s just hope they don’t also make another “Rewind” video clip to go with it.

You can check out YouTube’s 2023 Trend Report here.

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Twitch to shut down in SKorea over ‘seriously’ high fees

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The platform said it had tried to lower its costs by reducing the maximum video quality but it was still losing money

The platform said it had tried to lower its costs by reducing the maximum video quality but it was still losing money – Copyright AFP Chris DELMAS

US-based streaming platform Twitch said Wednesday it would stop its service in South Korea in February because of “seriously high” network costs, dealing a blow to millions of users in one of the heartlands of e-sports.

The Amazon-owned company said in a statement signed by CEO Dan Clancy that costs were 10 times higher than most other countries, making it impossible to continue operating.

South Korea allows internet service providers to charge data-heavy companies like Twitch extra fees, which has already led to a long dispute with Netflix.

Big telecom firms in Europe have pushed for a similar deal, which they call “fair share”, but an EU consultation concluded in October that the idea was not popular.

Twitch said it had tried to lower its costs by reducing the maximum video quality but it was still losing money and would pull out of the country on February 27.

“The cost of running Twitch in South Korea is currently seriously high,” said the statement.

– ‘Stellar player’ –

Twitch, acquired by Amazon in 2014 for close to $1 billion, gained significant traction among gamers in South Korea.

The firm does not publish user numbers but it was widely reported in 2021 to have six million users in South Korea, more than four percent of its global total.

The country is known for its passionate, competitive, and dedicated gaming community, as well as its megastar Faker — a gamer hailed as the Michael Jordan of e-sports.

“We would like to reiterate that this was a very difficult decision, and one that all of us at Twitch are deeply saddened by,” the company’s Wednesday statement said.

“South Korea has always been a stellar player in the global e-sports community and will continue to do so.”

Shares in South Korean video streaming service Afreeca TV, Twitch’s competitor, soared almost 30 percent in afternoon trading in Seoul.

Some of the country’s Twitch users were devastated by the news.

One streamer, yummy_2 said: “It feels like losing my job right now.”

– Biden vs Trump –

Netflix was the first major international firm to cry foul over South Korea’s rules on network fees, getting entangled in lawsuits with SK Broadband, one of South Korea’s biggest internet service providers.

However, the two firms announced in September they would drop the legal cases and would now instead “collaborate as partners for the future”.

While the usage fees are a boon to telecom companies, they are bitterly opposed by tech platforms around the world.

European lawmakers and digital rights activists also argue such an arrangement could break rules on net neutrality, whereby telecoms firms are barred from selling faster internet speeds to particular companies.

The issue has been at the heart of a years-long dispute in the United States with former President Donald Trump rolling back net neutrality rules and his successor Joe Biden struggling to restore them.

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Baltimore food influencers do it for the ‘gram. Do restaurants benefit?

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Baltimore food influencers do it for the ‘gram. Do restaurants benefit?

The Cake Out Maryland bakery in Columbia was a labor of love for sisters Sade and Azia Castro.

Between traveling nurse gigs, Sade Castro would take orders over social media for the sweets otherwise found only in the Philippines, advertising flavors from ube flan to chiffon cake with a milky caramel glaze. But few outside their community knew of the shop.

Castro saw foodies on Instagram in videos that garnered thousands of likes and followers. More people had to be searching for “Asian tastes” in Maryland and Virginia, she thought. Why couldn’t her cakes be the next viral sensation?

So she reached out to a food influencer.

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Over the last few years in Baltimore, the practice of connecting restaurants and burgeoning food businesses with social media personalities has become increasingly common, according to public relations executive Dave Seel, who has built an arm of his Blue Fork marketing firm for the task.

“There can be a dearth of coverage for certain subsections of the city,” he said. “Influencers have taken up that space and used it to build followership.”

Baltimore is a small city, especially in food media. There is no Eater, Infatuation or Michelin Guide. People are thirsting for creative, diverse angles, Seel said.

With the rise of food influencers in Baltimore comes an opportunity to provide platforms to communities, voices and cuisines that have been traditionally alienated. But this wave of restaurant marketing has also raised questions about the authenticity of social media tastemakers and where the quest for that viral video leaves small businesses, many of whom are fighting for survival following the pandemic.

Marketing is an extension of community building, Seel said, and to that end, some restaurants have modified their aesthetics to attract new customers over social media.

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Seel cited BLK Swan in Harbor East as a prime example for its well-advertised community events and “selfie walls.” Customers cannot visit Gunther and Company on Toone Street without taking photos by its “Instagram-worthy living green wall,” he said. At times, he has recommended that restaurants invest in a “particularly ooey, gooey picture-worthy” dish.

It does not always go viral or attract the attention needed to generate business, but it’s an increasingly popular strategy.

“Has it eclipsed all other strategies? I don’t necessarily think so. … But do [influencers] have a seat at the table? Absolutely,” Seels said. “You can’t ignore it.”

‘It’s a marketing job’

Tim “Chyno” Chin, also known as “the Baltimore foodie,” is a well-known food influencer in the area. (Jessica Gallagher/The Baltimore Banner)

Tim “Chyno” Chin always dreamed of hosting his own television show about food.

He grew up an army brat, born in Germany and shuttled between bases before landing in Sandtown-Winchester, a Baltimore food desert. It was not “lavish,” he said; food was utilitarian and purchased with food stamps. There was no one like him on TV: Black, Chinese and gay. But as Chin remembers, he had a “charisma” that allowed him to persevere.

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Chin now considers himself part of a “freshman class” of influencers who rose to foodie fame before the local restaurant industry came to embrace the world of social media marketing. Until about six years ago, eateries looking for publicity were beholden to legacy media platforms. The big players trusted to show Baltimoreans where to eat were radio personalities like Downtown Diane and Dara Cooks, he said.

“We slowly started replacing that,” Chin said. “They didn’t understand [social media] was going to catch on the way it did.”

Chin had worked in kitchens and as a server, so he believed he could relay the importance of a social media presence to the old guard of small businesses. He started by running the social media of the former Joe Squared in Power Plant Live, and then shooting food pictures at the now-shuttered Pinch Dumplings in Mount Vernon Marketplace in exchange for free meals.

“I would post something and then a restaurant would sell out of it,” he said, calling it “the Chyno effect” — a byproduct of his time hosting a YouTube show. He’s now garnered followers as “The Baltimore Foodie” and “The Boy with the Blue Beard,” building a more-than-135,000-person Instagram following and appearing as a host for the “Fresh, Fried and Crispy” show on Netflix.

“I’ve got an Emmy waiting for me somewhere,” he told The Banner.

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To show restaurants he was serious, Chin drew up a rate sheet for his services. “A lot of influencers have it,” he said. The sheet explains an influencer’s cost per post, Instagram reel, links, video and stories. “Everything has a monetized value.” Chyno did not say how much he charges, but as his audience across platforms rises, so does his value.

“People don’t understand this is hard,” he said. “You have to constantly evolve with technology, learn algorithms, follow these trends. … It’s a marketing job.”

TikTok celebrities like MMA fighter turned foodie Keith Lee, who recently made news for a video critiquing the service at an Atlanta restaurant, can change an eatery’s reputation with a single post.

Anybody can call themselves an influencer, Seel said, but “it doesn’t mean they have a core following or an engaged following that really creates the marketing effect that can get restaurateurs that return on investment.”

‘It’s such a difficult thing to decide what you’re worth’

Rachel Lipton smiles for a portrait in her kitchen.
Rachel Lipton is the local creator behind the food Instagram @liketheteaeats. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

The world of social media marketing is still largely uncharted. The Federal Trade Commission has codified guidelines on sponsorship transparency for influencers, going as far as to issue $50,000 penalties for failures to adequately disclose paid partnerships.

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According to estimates from Insider Intelligence, more than $6.1 billion is expected to be spent nationwide this year on influencer marketing.

Local influencer Rachel Lipton learned about rate sheets herself in 2017 when 7-Eleven offered her $100 to post its iced tea on her “like the tea eats” Instagram page.

“My wife pulled me aside and said, ‘I think you should be charging these large businesses,’” said Lipton, who already had a full-time job. “It’s such a difficult thing to decide what you’re worth.”

Her pricing varies. Video content took far longer to edit, so she charged more. Her rates also went up depending on the size of the company inquiring about a post. She also is particular about who she will work with — or not. She said she will never post about Chick-fil-A due to their alleged culture of homophobia. And since news broke in 2020 of Ouzo Bay allegedly discriminating against a Black woman and her son, along with follow-up complaints against the owners, Atlas Restaurant Group, Lipton has promised not to promote dining at their restaurants.

Kimberly Kong, the creator of a series of food photography pages known as Nomtastic Baltimore and Nomtastic D.C., has amassed more than 100,000 followers, in part, for making a point of dining at Asian-inspired small businesses in Maryland and Virginia.

“I let [businesses] know that you’re only going to get featured if I genuinely like your food. And it’s going to be disclosed that I was invited and food was comped,” Kong said. Yet she cringes at the “influencer” title and the lack of authenticity it evokes. A large number of her posts were not paid for, she said, and were born out of an interest in wanting to try new spots.

Kong also does not charge small businesses for promotion, citing pandemic-era losses as a reason for many of them to be skeptical of investing in the world of social media marketing. Chin and Lipton also said they offered reduced rates to try and boost local spots.

“I understand the restaurants’ point of view with how slim the margins are and how tough it is right now,” Kong said.

‘Every time we posted something, it just got sold’

1701865565 522 Baltimore food influencers do it for the ‘gram Do restaurants
Sade Castro adds toppings to Cake Out’s rocky road option. The ube cakes she makes with her sister and business partner at the Columbia business are also on the counter. (Kirk McKoy/The Baltimore Banner)

Sade Castro never met the Instagram celebrity that sparked an interest in her Maryland shop.

Neither did her sister and business partner, who repeatedly called Castro “crazy” for inviting someone with more than 100,000 followers to sample their cakes. For three years, the two-person bakery had sold the desserts almost exclusively to a group of Filipino moms over Facebook — and even then, they struggled to meet demand.

“I trust that you really believe in your food recs and that you’ve actually tried and loved every food post,” Castro wrote to Kong on Sept. 9. “With that, I would like you to try our Filipino-style cakes.”

Shortly after, Castro was leaving a sampler of nine cakes at Kong’s door.

On Sept. 21, Kong posted footage of her digging into a gooey can of chocolate cake and slowly slicing into the ube flan’s purple center.

“I was at work when my phone started to go off,” Castro said. Within a day, the video had gone viral. The number of people viewing the bakery’s Instagram page rose by over 900% in a matter of hours, and then again by another 2,000% by the end of the week. About 3,000 new people had followed their rarely updated Instagram by the end of September.

“Why would you do this?” Castro remembered her sister asking. “It’s just the two of us, we’re baking from home, and we have full-time jobs.”

The bakery that had provided roughly 120 cakes each year catering to their Filipino neighbors had received hundreds of orders in a matter of days. “We were messaging people saying we don’t have [the cakes],” she said.

Unable to meet demand, they started a lottery. By the end of October, the attention faded some, with viewers of their content down by 42%, according to Castro’s Instagram analytics. Still, the success of the post presented an opportunity for Castro’s self-proclaimed “side hustle.” “Every time we posted something, it just got sold,” she said.

But a restaurant has to be ready. Seel explained that influencers will often receive a tailored experience: sampler cakes, private dining and even custom sandwiches. The business has to be able to execute at the same level for the regular customers, too.

In October, Fells Point eatery Little Donna’s claimed to be “screwed” after a New York Times critic placed the business on the paper’s list of most exciting places to eat. The now-shuttered Local Oyster also faltered in the spotlight after an influencer-promoted sandwich spurred high demand and community backlash, forcing it to be 86ed from the menu.

“All of a sudden, there can be an onslaught of people and it’s hard to keep up,” Seel said.

Castro has no regrets about Kong’s effect on her business. As of November, Cake Out is searching for ways to increase output and serve the Filipino neighbors who had leaned on them for their traditional holiday treats. Plans to move to a larger kitchen are in the works, due to the support from new customers, Castro said.

“For now, we are grateful.”

Matti Gellman is a Food Reporter for The Baltimore Banner. 



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