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Instagram Adds ‘Suggested Reels’ Display in Main Feed, Launches Monthly Reels Trend Insights



Can Instagram make Reels happen, and use it as a tool to curb the rapid growth of rival video app TikTok?

Despite seemingly lukewarm initial response to the option, Instagram’s still looking at ways to maximize the usage of it’s TikTok clone functionality, and after adding a new Reels tab to the main screen for users in India last week, Instagram’s now trying out a few more ways to boost Reels exposure, and get more people using the option.

First off, Instagram’s started adding a display of ‘Suggested Reels’ in the main feed of some users.

Suggested Reels display example

As you can see in this example, shared by influencer marketing strategist Lindsey Gamble, the new suggested Reels listing appears between feed posts, highlighting some of the most relevant clips for you to check out.

The listings have been around for a couple of weeks, and provide another way for Instagram to boost Reels exposure. And if Instagram were to also add the new Reels tab in more regions, that would definitely make more people aware of them, giving Reels more opportunity to catch on. 

Though whether they actually do is another thing – thus far, as noted, most feedback has suggested that Reels is just not as good as TikTok, and that the majority of Reels content is re-purposed from TikTok anyway. Which, in some ways, makes Reels an indirect advertisement for TikTok, which Instagram will no doubt be keen to address.

How it could address such is by promoting the best exclusive Reels content in order to maximize exposure for such, which Instagram’s looking to do via a new, monthly listing of the top Reels trends.

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As per the caption, this is the first Reels Trend Report, which will “take a deeper look” at some of the most popular trends happening via the option. The first report looks at “infotainment”, which could be a trend for brands to tap into with their Reels content.

Of course, as with all things Reels, TikTok is once again the inspiration here. TikTok also publishes a monthly trends report, which can be of value of you’re looking to understand the latest happening in the app. 

It seems that Instagram’s leaving no stone left unturned in its TikTok replication efforts.

Indeed, another element that Instagram is apprently testing is a “Recommend as Featured” option for your Reels clips, which seems somewhat similar to TikTok’s #ForYou featured page where it highlights the best content to each user.

Instagram appears to be looking to tap into the same approach, and given that almost every TikTok user adds the hashtag #ForYou in an attempt to get featured, that makes some sense. 

Except, TikTok says that adding #ForYou, and related hashtags, won’t do much to boost your chances of being featured.

As per TikTok:

Hashtags like #FYP, #ForYou, and #ForYouPage work just like all other hashtags on TikTok, so adding these to your caption won’t necessarily improve your chances of getting on someone’s For You feed. Instead, we recommend using the space in your caption to add context to your video along with hashtags that are relevant to your content.”

So maybe Instagram’s replicating the wrong feature – or maybe, because Instagram’s feed is more defined by the people you follow, as opposed to TikTok’s more open, public stream, which enables it to pull the top-performing clips from more places, maybe then, by adding this check box, Instagram will be able to more closely replicate TikTok’s feed approach, and showcase a wider range of Reels content within its suggestions.

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Either way, it’s only in testing at the moment, so we don’t have much info to go on at this stage.

It’s interesting to watch Instagram’s attempts to copy each element of TikTok, as it will be equally interesting to see if that approach works. I mean, it worked with Stories, where Instagram blatantly ripped off Snapchat – and while Instagram Stories was initially met with similar scorn, it’s gone on to become a key element of the platform, while also stunting Snapchat’s momentum in the process (Snap has re-aligned now, but there was a point where it’s active user count declined in the wake of Instagram’s Stories launch).

Most industry analysts don’t expect Reels to be as successful in this respect – but then again…

Instagram says that Reels is taking off in India, where TikTok has now been banned for more than two months. It hasn’t provided any official stats, but that could be true, with many Indian TikTok influencers looking for a new, more secure home.

And we’re closing in on the deadline for a TikTok takeover deal in the US, with negotiations reportedly on hold due to the Chinese Government implementing new rules around the transfer of technological advancements – like algorithms – in foreign trade deals. The official text of The White House’s executive order on the sale of TikTok gives it till September 20th before sanctions are enacted against the app. 

Uncertainty remains, and for every day it does, surely TikTok’s creators are at least considering their options.

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Instagram, and Reels, is there waiting. And it could still become a thing yet.

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Twitter Expands its Test of User-Reported Misinformation, Expanding Platform Insight



Twitter Looks to Extend its Keyword Blocking and Mute Options to More Elements

After seeing success with its initial test of a new, manual reporting option, enabling users to flag tweets that contain potentially misleading claims, Twitter is now expanding the test to more regions, with users in Brazil, Spain, and the Philippines now set to get access.

Launched in August last year, Twitter’s latest effort to combat misinformation focuses on audience trends and perception of such as a means to determine common issues with the platform, and what people feel compelled to report, pointing to things that they don’t want to see.

The process adds an additional ‘It’s misleading’ option to your tweet reporting tools, providing another means to flag concerning claims.

Which is obviously not a foolproof way to detect and remove misleading content – but as noted, the idea is not so much focused on direct enforcement, as such, but more on broader trends based on how many people report certain tweets, and what people report.

As Twitter explained as part of the initial launch:

“Although we may not take action on this report or respond to you directly, we will use this report to develop new ways to reduce misleading info. This could include limiting its visibility, providing additional context, and creating new policies.”

So essentially, the concept is that if, say, 100, or 1,000 people report the same tweet for ‘political misinformation’, that’ll likely get Twitter’s attention, which may help Twitter identify what users don’t want to see, and want the platform to take action against, even if it’s not actually in violation of the current rules.

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So it’s more of a research tool than an enforcement option – which is a better approach, because enabling users to dictate removals by mass-reporting in this way could definitely lead to misuse.

That, in some ways, has borne true in its initial testing – as explained by Head of Site Integrity Yoel Roth:

On average, only about 10% of misinfo reports were actionable -compared to 20-30% for other policy areas. A key driver of this was “off-topic” reports that don’t contain misinfo at all.

In other words, a lot of the tweets reported through this manual option were not an actual concern, which highlight the challenges in using user reports as an enforcement measure.

But Roth notes that the data they have gathered has been valuable either way:

We’re already seeing clear benefits from reporting for the second use case (aggregate analysis) – especially when it comes to non-text-based misinfo, such as media and URLs linking to off-platform misinformation.

So it may not be a great avenue for direct action on each reported tweet, but as a research tool, the initiative has helped Twitter determine more areas of focus, which contributes to its broader effort to eliminate misinformation within the tweet eco-system.

A big element of this is bots, with various research reports indicating that Twitter bots are key amplifiers of misinformation and politically biased information.

In early 2020, at the height of the Australian bushfire crisis, researchers from Queensland University detected a massive network of Twitter bots that had been spreading misinformation about the Australian bushfire crisis and amplifying anti-climate change conspiracy theories in opposition to established facts. Other examinations have found that bot profiles, at times, contribute up to 60% of tweet activity around some trending events.

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Twitter is constantly working to better identify bot networks and eliminate any influence they may have, but this expanded reporting process may help to identify additional bot trends, as well as providing insight into the actual reach of bot pushes via expanded user reporting.

There are various ways in which such insight could be of value, even if it doesn’t result in direct action against offending tweets, as such. And it’ll be interesting to see how Twitter’s expansion of the program improves the initiative, and how it also pairs with its ongoing ‘Birdwatch’ reporting program to detect platform misuse.

Essentially, this program won’t drive a sudden influx of direct removals, eliminating offending tweets based on the variable sensibilities of each user. But it will help to identify key content trends and user concerns, which will contribute to Twitter’s broader effort to better detect these movements, and reduce their influence.

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Twitter’s Latest Promotional Campaign Focuses on Celebrities Who’ve Manifested Success Via Tweet



Twitter's Latest Promotional Campaign Focuses on Celebrities Who've Manifested Success Via Tweet

Twitter has launched a new advertising campaign which is focused on ‘manifesting’ via tweet, highlighting how a range of successful athletes and entertainers made initial commitments to their success via Twitter long before their public achievements.

Through a new set of billboard ads across the US, Twitter will showcase 12 celebrities that ‘tweeted their dreams into existence’.

As explained by Twitter:

To honor these athletes and other celebrities for Tweeting their dreams into existence, Twitter turned their famous Tweets into 39+ billboards! Located across 8 cities (NYC, LA, SF, Chicago, Toronto, Houston, Tampa, Talladega), most of the billboards can be found in the hometowns or teams’ locations of the stars who manifested their dreams, such as Bubba Wallace in Talladega and Diamond DeShields in Chicago.”

Twitter Manifest campaign

Beyond the platform promotion alone, the billboards actually align with usage trends at this time of year, as people work to stick with their New Year’s resolutions, and adopt new habits that will improve their lives. Seeing big-name stars that have been able to achieve their own dreams, which they’ve publicly communicated via tweet, could be another avenue to holding firm on such commitments, while Twitter also notes that tweets about manifestation are at an all-time high, seeing 100% year-over-year growth.

Maybe that’s the key. By sharing your ambitions and goals publicly, maybe that additional accountability will better ensure that you stick to your commitments – or maybe it’s all just mental, and by adding that extra public push to yourself, you’ll feel more compelled to keep going, because it’s there for all to see.

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In addition to the promotional value of the campaign, Twitter’s also donating nearly $1 million to charities as selected by each of the featured celebrities.

“Some of the charities include Boys and Girls Club, Destination Crenshaw, The 3-D Foundation, and UNICEF Canada.”

It’s an interesting push, which again comes at the right time of year. Getting into a new routine is tough, as is changing careers, publishing your first artwork, speaking in public, etc. Maybe, by seeing how these stars began as regular people, tweeting their dreams like you or I, that could act as a good motivator that you too can achieve what you set out to do, and that by posting such publicly, you’re making a commitment, not to the random public, but to yourself, that you will do it this year.

Sure, 2022 hasn’t exactly got off to a great start, with a COVID resurgence threatening to derail things once again. But maybe, this extra push could be the thing that keeps you focused, like these celebrities, even amid external distractions.  

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Snapchat Adds New Limits on Adults Seeking to Connect with Minors in the App



Snapchat Adds New Limits on Adults Seeking to Connect with Minors in the App

After Instagram added similar measures last year, Snapchat is now implementing new restrictions to limit adults from sending messages to users under the age of 18 in the app.

As reported by Axios, Snapchat is changing its “Quick Add” friend suggestion process so that it’s not possible for people to add users aged under 18 “unless there are a certain number of friends in common between the two users”. That won’t stop such connection completely, but it does add another barrier in the process, which could reduce harm.

The move is a logical and welcome step, which will help improve the security of youngsters in the app, but the impacts of such could be far more significant on Snap, which is predominantly used by younger people.

Indeed, Snapchat reported last year that around 20% of its total user base was aged under 18, with the majority of its audience being in the 13-24 year-old age bracket. That means that interaction between these age groups is likely a significant element of the Snap experience, and restricting such could have big impacts on overall usage, even if it does offer greater protection for minors.

Which is why this is a particularly significant commitment from Snap – though it is worth noting that Snapchat won’t necessarily stop older users from connecting with younger ones in the app, it just won’t make it as easy through initial recommendations, via the Quick Add feature.

So it’s not a huge change, as such. But again, given the interplay between these age groups in the app, it is a marker of Snap’s commitment to protection, and to finding new ways to ensure that youngsters are not exposed to potential harm within the app.

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Snapchat has faced several issues on this front, with the ephemeral focus of the app providing fertile ground for predators, as it automatically erases any evidence trail in the app. With that in mind, Snap does have a way to go in providing more protection, but it is good to see the company looking at ways to limit such interactions, and combat potentially harmful misuse.

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