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Facebook Outlines a Range of New Video Tools, Including Messenger Rooms for Group Video Hangouts

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced a range of new video tools across Facebook’s family of apps, in order to meet demand and evolving use-cases during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Zuckerberg made the announcements via Facebook Live stream, noting that with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic set to carry on for some time, live video is likely how we’re going to see a lot more announcements and events. 

Here’s what’s coming to Facebook’s various video tools.

First off, on video calling – which Zuckerberg says is the most used type of video interaction in its apps around the world. Catering to this, Facebook will soon double the capacity of group video calls on WhatsApp from 4 to 8 participants.

WhatsApp video group calls

That exceeds the on-screen video chat limit in Messenger, which displays up to six participants at a time, but you can add up to 50 people to a Messenger video chat, with the remainder in audio-only mode.

Zuckerberg praised the security measures of video calling on WhatsApp, and said that group video calls have been a highly requested feature among users.

Over on Messenger, Facebook is adding new effects tools to improve or alter your video chat presentation. Facebook’s adding 360 virtual backgrounds to change the look of where you are in video calls.

Facebook Messenger virtual background

While it’s also adding ‘Mood Lighting’ effects, again to alter your video chat presentation.

Facebook Messenger mood lighting

Zuckerberg also discussed the recent expansion of Messenger Kids into more regions, noting that its messaging app for younger audiences now has over 7 million active users, and has seen 3.5x growth during COVID-19.

Facebook’s also looking to assist singles during the COVID-19 lockdowns with a new tool that will enable Facebook Dating users to invite potential matches into video chats.

Facebook Dating video

But the biggest addition announced by Zuckerberg is likely a new Messenger Rooms option that will be hosted in Facebook Messenger, but will be made available across all of Facebook’s apps, providing a new option for people that want to set up virtual, unplanned hangouts to catch up.

Facebook Messenger Rooms

As you can see here, Messenger Rooms looks a lot like Zoom – and that’s likely a key inspiration.

Zuckerberg noted that Rooms taps into the rising popularity of virtual meeting spaces, but will be different to other offerings because people won’t need to schedule their Rooms up front – “like you do with more typical enterprise services”. Instead, you can start a Room at any time, and an active listing of all Rooms that you can join will be displayed at the top of your Facebook News Feed – even above Facebook Stories.

Messenger Rooms

Zuckerberg says that this will be great for ‘neat, serendipitous, spontaneous interaction’ – and definitely, you can see the value here. With your friends and connections able to set up Rooms, and list a topic of discussion, you’ll be able to join whenever you want, and catch up via Messenger video.

Up to 50 people will be able to join a Room at a time, and there will be no time limits on how long a Room can run for. At this stage, however, Rooms will not be available to Facebook Pages, so you won’t be able to create a separate Room meet-up under your Page/company name, you’ll need to do so via a personal account.

Zuckerberg also notes that there will be very specific privacy controls and invite options for Messenger Rooms, while you’ll also be able to schedule your Room meet-ups, if you’d prefer a more structured process. 

You’ll also be able to send Rooms invites across Facebook’s apps – while Zuckerberg also says that even people without a Facebook account will be able to join via URL.

Messenger Rooms

Rooms is now being tested with a selected group of users, with a broader rollout planned “in the coming weeks”.

In addition to this, Zuckerberg also announced that Facebook is bringing its Live guests option back to Facebook Live.

Facebook Live guests

Facebook removed the option to go live with a guest on Facebook last December, which, in retrospect, was unfortunate timing, given the current shift to video tools to connect amid COVID-19. Now Facebook will bring the option back once again – so for all those readers who’ve been asking where it went, it’ll be restored very soon.

Zuckerberg also noted that the Facebook Events team has been redeployed to work on how live video can be utilized for events, and they’re focused on creating new experiences, including the ability to charge fees for viewers to join live video functions on Facebook.

Facebook Live events

Zuckerberg says the capacity to charge video event fees will help artists and SMBs, and businesses that rely on in-person services to support them. More info to come soon.

And lastly, Zuckerberg officially announced that Instagram Live is coming to desktop PCs.

Instagram Live desktop

We reported on this earlier this month after several people noted that they were able to view Instagram Live broadcasts on the web. But now, it’s official – you can view Instagram Live streams via the web by logging in on the desktop site.

In addition to these announcements, Zuckerberg also shared some new video usage stats, and provided an overview of Facebook’s ongoing efforts to assist in the COVID-19 relief efforts.

On video usage, Zuckerberg says that:

  • More than 700 million people are conducting video calls on Facebook’s apps daily. The number of video calls has doubled during COVID-19, and some categories, like group video chat, have gone up 10x or more in the period.
  • Sales of Facebook’s Portal video connection device have grown by more than 10x during COVID-19. Zuckerberg says they’re working hard to make more Portals to meet the demand.
  • Every day, more than 800 million that engage with live video across Facebook’s apps. Zuckerberg notes that, of all its video options, the fewest people are producing live content, but it attracts the most viewers. Worth noting in your approach.

There’s a heap to take in, and we won’t know the full detail of each new addition till they get fully released. But soon, you’ll have a lot more Facebook video options to consider.

Some great opportunities to connect.

Socialmediatoday.com

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Twitter Applies for US Licenses to Facilitate In-App Payments

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Twitter Applies for US Licenses to Facilitate In-App Payments

Twitter has taken its next steps towards facilitating payments in the app, with The Financial Times reporting that the company has begun applying for regulatory licenses in US states, the next legal requirement for providing payment services in the app.

Payments, which Elon Musk has a long history in, could be another way for Twitter to generate revenue, by enabling transactions between users, from which it would then take a small percentage. Musk has repeatedly flagged his vision for payments as part of his broader push to make Twitter into an ‘everything app’, which would provide more functionality and usage benefits.  

As reported by FT:

In November, Twitter registered with the US Treasury as a payments processor, according to a regulatory filing. It has now also begun to apply for some of the state licenses it would need in order to launch, these people said. The remainder would be filed shortly, in the hope that US licensing was completed within a year, one of the people said.”

From there, Twitter would also look to establish agreements with international regulators to enable payments in all regions.

As noted, payments are a part of Elon’s broader plans for a more functional app, which would replicate the utility of China’s WeChat, which is used by Chinese citizens for everything from ordering groceries, to buying public transport tickets, to paying bills, etc. WeChat has become such a crucial connective element, that it formed a key part of China’s COVID response, with authorities using the app as a means to manage COVID positive citizens and restrict their movement.

Musk isn’t ideally looking to use Twitter as a control device (I don’t think), but the broader concept is to add in more and more functionality, in order to both generate more income for the company, and make the app a more critical element in the interactive landscape.

Twitter’s already exploring several options on this front.

Several app researchers have uncovered mock-ups for Twitter Coins in the back-end of the app.

Via Twitter coins, users would be able to make donations to creators in the app, through on-profile tipping, but beyond that, Twitter’s also exploring options like unlockable tweets, paywalled video, and more, as it seeks to embed broader usage and adoption of in-app payments.

A big opportunity also exists to facilitate remittance, or sending money to family and friends, which is a key use case in many regions. Remittance payment services often charge processing fees, and various social apps have been trying to find new ways to facilitate such without the same costs, with the idea being that once people are moving their money in-app, they’ll then be more likely to spend it in the same place.

Thus far, social platforms that do offer payments haven’t been able to embed this as a use case – but maybe, with Musk’s experience, knowledge and connections, he might be able to make this work in tweets.

Elon, of course, got his start in payments, with his first company, an online bank called X.com, being bought out by PayPal in 1999, his first big business win. And while his focus has since shifted to electric cars and rockets, Musk has keen understanding of the digital payments space, and how it can be adapted for varied usage.

According to reports, Musk told Twitter investors in May last year, that his aim was to see Twitter bring in about $1.3 billion in payment revenues by 2028.

That would give the company a sorely needed boost. After Musk’s cost-cutting efforts, which have resulted in the reduction of around 70% of Twitter staff, the company could be on track to potentially break even this year, or close, but a lot has to go right to get the platform back on track. And with advertisers continuing to back away from Twitter spend, it’s not looking good, while subscriptions to Twitter Blue are unlikely to provide much relief, at least at this stage.

As such, the shift into payments can’t come fast enough, though it’ll still be some time before we see the possibility of in-app payments.

Also, while Musk has made it clear fiat currency will be the main focus of this push in its initial phase, cryptocurrencies could also, eventually, be included. The price of Dogecoin, Musk’s favorite crypto offering, rose to a 24-hour high after news broke of Elon’s expanded payments plan.

Will payments be the answer to Twitter’s revenue woes? Maybe, if Elon’s vision for billions in payments revenue comes to fruition – and with his previous track record, you can’t dismiss the notion entirely.

But it’ll take time, many approvals, and many more steps before we reach the next stage.

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Social Responsibility And Ethics In Influencer Marketing

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Social Responsibility And Ethics In Influencer Marketing

Chief Growth Officer (CGO) at HypeFactory, a global influencer marketing agency.

It’s no secret that influencer marketing popularity has skyrocketed over the past couple of years, and partnering with influencers isn’t a new concept. Just over the past year, the industry was valued at $16.4 billion and still keeps growing, with a whopping revenue forecast of $143.10 billion in 2030.

Since the beginning of influencer marketing, people have talked about how influencers and social responsibility fit together. It stands to reason that influential people would use their large fan bases to help others. However, when influencers and businesses collaborate, they each have specific responsibilities to the communities in which they operate.

Sponsorship Transparency And Gender Stereotypes

One of the most critical skills for an influencer is honesty. Influencers base their marketing strategy on being genuine and sharing personal tales and thoughts with their target audience. They are not celebrities living in a bubble of fame that very few of their followers will ever reach; instead, they live lifestyles that are reachable and use items that their viewers would find helpful. This approach has significantly contributed to their immense level of success.

However, many influencers don’t play by the rules, especially when it comes to impressing brands they’ve made deals with, even though transparency is essential to the sustainability of an influencer’s career. Because of this, many people would think that the most important ethical issue in influencer marketing is sponsorship disclosure.

The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in the United Kingdom have all put out rules about how influencers should be honest in their posts and about their relationships with brands. If you disobey the regulations, you risk facing penalties, fines and legal bills. You also risk losing the trust of your customers for good.

Moreover, when doing influencer marketing, it’s essential to consider gender stereotypes and how people usually think men and women will act in different situations. The Committee on Advertising Practice (CAP) has said that since June 2019, marketing materials could no longer show men and women in ways that are based on stereotypes. These rules state that ads “must not use gender stereotypes that are likely to hurt or offend a large number of people.” Great campaigns, like Nike’s “Dream Crazier,” have challenged gender preconceptions.

Improving Influencer Marketing’s Reliability And Authenticity

Authenticity is essential in influencer marketing. People listen to influencers who are honest and relatable. In addition to the moral problems I mentioned above, brands and influencers must also follow FTC rules, community guidelines and terms of service on social media platforms.

Based on my experience as a chief growth officer at a global influencer marketing agency, here are some things brands must consider for influencer partnerships that are authentic and reliable.

Outline—and stick to—the ethical principles that your brand stands for.

Before you can begin your search for the ideal influencers, you must first understand the core principles of representing your business. Most businesses start by determining their values and ethics early on. They then use these to build their brand identity. It’s up to each company’s brand to decide where they will draw the line and how they will show their core values on social media.

However, consumers place a high value on consistent honesty. Customers are likely to call out your company for being hypocritical if it says it wants to fight racism but then partners with an influencer who has a history of making small slights against people of color. Or if your company promotes equal pay yet pays female influencers less than it does male influencers, contributing to the continuation of the pay gap between male and female influencers.

As a result, you will likely lose the trust of these customers.

Collaborate with real influencers.

One of the most effective ways to stick to influencer marketing principles is by collaborating with real-life influencers. Choosing the right influencers is crucial for building consumer confidence in your product.

Determine which influencers are authentic and have credibility with your intended audience. Specifically, it would be best to look at how many people engage with their content and how good it is. Even though engagement numbers are essential, they only tell part of the story about an influencer’s reliability. Please pay close attention to their writing style, the brands they’ve worked with, the accuracy of their reviews, etc.

Develop a long-term partnership.

When you’ve found a group of genuine, influential people with whom you can collaborate successfully, it’s crucial to keep in touch with them over time. Even if they are paid to review a product, genuine influencers always give honest opinions. Because they follow all the rules, the spectator can have more faith in them.

Consequently, after a shortlist of influencers has been compiled, you should perform authenticity checks. Check their content feed for branded articles. Make sure that any disclaimers you find adhere to the first point’s disclosure guidelines. Consistently partnering with the same influencers demonstrates to customers that you value their brand’s success just as much as they do, which can increase consumer confidence in your business.

Conclusion

Authenticity serves as the cornerstone of the influencer marketing strategy. Influencers earn the trust of their followers and become successful when they always provide high-quality, authentic, relatable content.

In addition to the concerns over the morality of influencer marketing, brands and influencers must follow the criteria established by the FTC and the community guidelines and terms of service based on social media platforms. You can shield your brand from potential ethical and legal difficulties and still enjoy success with influencer marketing if you are aware of the expectations and follow certain best practices.


Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?


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Key Notes on Building Your Brand via Your Social Profile Visuals [Infographic]

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Key Notes on Building Your Brand via Your Social Profile Visuals [Infographic]

Looking to give your social profiles a visual refresh for the new year?

This could help – the team from Giraffe Social Media recently put together an overview of the whys and hows of building your brand via your social profile visuals.

There are some good notes here – a key consideration is consistency, which ensures that you’re building your brand with every post and update.

Check out the full infographic below.

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