This week, Instagram is hosting its Creator Week panel series, in which a range of internal experts and platform influencers share their insights into how to make best use of the platform, how to connect with audiences, how Instagram’s algorithms actually work and more.
Today, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri took the stage for a live Q and A session in which he answered a range of the most commonly asked questions from Instagram users.
Mosseri provides a range of insights, including:
- Instagram can’t guarantee stable reach due to constant changes in the algorithm. Mosseri notes that as more people join Instagram, competition for reach is always changing, which means that users will see fluctuations in their reach stats.
- In terms of best practices, Mosseri says that leaning into video is good, with the first two seconds being crucial to hook viewers in. Mosseri also notes that hashtags are still valuable for discovery, while posting consistently (Mosseri notes two feed posts per week, two stories per day) will help to build your following. In another Creator Week session on working with the platform’s algorithms, Instagram also noted that while posting to newer surfaces like Reels won’t boost your reach, as such, utilizing all of the available surfaces will mean that you’re increasing your chances of getting your content discovered in the app.
- Mosseri says that the global rollout of Reels has been delayed due to music licensing in some regions
- Mosseri explains that verification on Instagram is about providing identification for people who are more likely to deal with impersonation, and verification is normally assessed based on press mentions of the applicant.
- Instagram is looking to do more on direct payments for creators (gated content, subscriptions, badges and tips), which Mosseri is keen to explore, as it gives creators a more direct relationship with their fans.
- The platform is also looking into new revenue share models for video, including monetization of Reels
- Don’t buy fake followers. Mosseri says that Instagram’s detection systems are improving, based on a range of factors, and purchasing followers can put your account at significant risk.
- Mosseri also provides an update on the steps its taking to address systemic bias and abuse on its platform.
Interestingly, Mosseri also addresses a question on what, in his opinion, TikTok is currently doing better than Instagram. Mosseri says that TikTok is better, right now, at breaking new and young talent, which Instagram is looking to improve on, while TikTok is also better at providing reliable entertainment.
As per Mosseri:
“You know that you can tap on TikTok and you’re going to immediately smile and be entertained.”
Which is an interesting point – Mosseri says that Instagram is working to improve its Reels algorithm to provide a similar, or ideally, better experience, but he does think that TikTok, which has been doing short-form video for longer, is leading the way on entertainment.
TikTok’s algorithm is highly attuned to the specific features of each clip that will get you to stick around, which is why it’s so easy to find yourself scrolling through the endless TikTok stream for hours on end. Where TikTok really wins out is that it’s trained its algorithms on just the right elements to hold user interest, with the full-screen presentation of TikTok clips providing it with more insight into exactly what engages you, based on how long you watch, Likes/follows, what other videos people view in relation, etc.
I suspect most people would agree with Mosseri that TikTok is more entertaining, but it’s an interesting admission from the platform either way.
That said, Mosseri says that Instagram is focused on delivering value for creators in the long run – “and to help millions of creators, over the next five to ten years, to make a living”.
This could be how Instagram ends up holding back the TikTok wave – while TikTok is still growing fast, it hasn’t established a solid framework for creator monetization just yet. Monetizing short-form content is difficult, because you can’t slip in mid or pre-roll ads on seconds-long clips. But on Instagram, creators can monetize their content and presence more broadly, in more ways, while also adopting new trends like short-form content, to a wide audience.
If Instagram can provide more revenue potential, maybe that will prove to be enough of a lure to steal some of those stars from TikTok, and eventually show younger, rising creators that it provides more pathways to revenue for their work.
There are some interesting points of note here for Instagram creators and marketers, and along with this week’s earlier session on the ‘Algorithm Mythbusting‘, and Instagram’s explainer post on the internal workings of its systems, they provide a good overview of the aims of Instagram’s processes, and what types of content it’s looking to promote.
As Mosseri notes, there’s no magic trick that will help you boost every post to millions of people, but by taking note of the signals that Instagram’s team highlights, and the specific explanations provided, you can get a better understanding of the key elements required for an effective platform strategy.
Meta’s Developing and ‘Ethical Framework’ for the Use of Virtual Influencers
With the rise of digital avatars, and indeed, fully digital characters that have evolved into genuine social media influencers in their own right, online platforms now have an obligation to establish clear markers as to what’s real and what’s not, and how such creations can be used in their apps.
The coming metaverse shift will further complicate this, with the rise of virtual depictions blurring the lines of what will be allowed, in terms of representation. But with many virtual influencers already operating, Meta is now working to establish ethical boundaries on their application.
As explained by Meta:
“From synthesized versions of real people to wholly invented “virtual influencers” (VIs), synthetic media is a rising phenomenon. Meta platforms are home to more than 200 VIs, with 30 verified VI accounts hosted on Instagram. These VIs boast huge follower counts, collaborate with some of the world’s biggest brands, fundraise for organizations like the WHO, and champion social causes like Black Lives Matter.”
At first glance, you wouldn’t necessarily realize that this is not an actual person, which makes such characters a great vehicle for brand and product promotions, as they can be utilized 24/7, and can be placed into any environment. But that also leads to concerns about body image perception, deepfakes, and other forms of misuse through false or unclear representation.
Deepfakes, in particular, may be problematic, with Meta citing this campaign, with English football star David Beckham, as an example of how new technologies are evolving to expand the use of language, as one element, for varying purpose.
The well-known ‘DeepTomCruise’ account on TikTok is another example of just how far these technologies have come, and it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where they could be used to, say, show a politician saying or doing something that he or she actually didn’t, which could have significant real world impacts.
Which is why Meta is working with developers and experts to establish clearer boundaries on such use – because while there is potential for harm, there are also beneficial uses for such depictions.
“Imagine personalized video messages that address individual followers by name. Or celebrity brand ambassadors appearing as salespeople at local car dealerships. A famous athlete would make a great tutor for a kid who loves sports but hates algebra.”
Such use cases will increasingly become the norm as VR and AR technologies are developed, with these platforms placing digital characters front and center, and establishing new norms for digital connection.
It would be better to know what’s real and what’s not, and as such, Meta needs clear regulations to remove dishonest depictions, and enforce transparency over VI use.
But then again, much of what you see on Instagram these days is not real, with filters and editing tools altering people’s appearance well beyond what’s normal, or realistic. That can also have damaging consequences, and while Meta’s looking to implement rules on VI use, there’s arguably a case for similar transparency in editing tools applied to posted videos and images as well.
That’s a more complex element, particularly as such tools also enable people to feel more comfortable in posting, which no doubt increases their in-app activity. Would Meta be willing to put more focus on this element if it could risk impacting user engagement? The data on the impact of Instagram on people’s mental health are pretty clear, with comparison being a key concern.
Should that also come under the same umbrella of increased digital transparency?
It’s seemingly not included in the initial framework as yet, but at some stage, this is another element that should be examined, especially given the harmful effects that social media usage can have on young women.
But however you look at it, this is no doubt a rising element of concern, and it’s important for Meta to build guardrails and rules around the use of virtual influencers in their apps.
You can read more about Meta’s approach to virtual influencers here.
Meta Publishes New Guide to the Various Security and Control Options in its Apps
Meta has published a new set of safety tips for journalists to help them protect themselves in the evolving online connection space, which, for the most part, also apply to all users more broadly, providing a comprehensive overview of the various tools and processes that it has in place to help people avoid unwanted attention online.
The 32-page guide is available in 21 different languages, and provides detailed overviews of Meta’s systems and profile options for protection and security, with specific sections covering Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.
The guide begins with the basics, including password protections and enabling two-factor authentication.
It also outlines tips for Page managers in securing their business profiles, while there are also notes on what to do if you’ve been hacked, advice for protection on Messenger and guidance on bullying and harassment.
For Instagram, there are also general security tips, along with notes on its comment moderation tools.
While for WhatsApp, there are explainers on how to delete messages, how to remove messages from group chats, and details on platform-specific data options.
There are also links to various additional resource guides and tools for more context, providing in-depth breakdowns of when and how to action the various options.
It’s a handy guide, and while there are some journalist-specific elements included, most of the tips do apply to any user, so it could well be a valuable resource for anyone looking to get a better handle on your various privacy tools and options.
Definitely worth knowing either way – you can download the full guide here.
Twitter bans account linked to Iran leader over video threatening Trump
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei meets with relatives of slain commander Qasem Soleimani ahead of the second anniverary of his death in a US drone strike in Iraq – Copyright POOL/AFP/File Tom Brenner
Twitter said Saturday it had permanently suspended an account linked to Iran’s supreme leader that posted a video calling for revenge for a top general’s assassination against former US president Donald Trump.
“The account referenced has been permanently suspended for violating our ban evasion policy,” a Twitter spokesperson told AFP.
The account, @KhameneiSite, this week posted an animated video showing an unmanned aircraft targeting Trump, who ordered a drone strike in Baghdad two years ago that killed top Iranian commander General Qassem Soleimani.
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s main accounts in various languages remain active. Last year, another similar account was suspended by Twitter over a post also appearing to reference revenge against Trump.
The recent video, titled “Revenge is Definite”, was also posted on Khamenei’s official website.
According to Twitter, the company’s top priority is keeping people safe and protecting the health of the conversation on the platform.
The social media giant says it has clear policies around abusive behavior and will take action when violations are identified.
As head of the Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Soleimani was the architect of its strategy in the Middle East.
He and his Iraqi lieutenant were killed by a US drone strike outside Baghdad airport on January 3, 2020.
Khamenei has repeatedly promised to avenge his death.
On January 3, the second anniversary of the strike, the supreme leader and ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi once again threatened the US with revenge.
Trump’s supporters regularly denounce the banning of the Republican billionaire from Twitter, underscoring that accounts of several leaders considered authoritarian by the United States are allowed to post on the platform.
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