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Instagram Chief Outlines Key Areas of Focus for the App in 2023



Instagram's Chief Explains the Latest Changes in the App Following User Backlash

2022 was a mixed year for Instagram, with the platform reaching a new milestone in monthly active users (2 billion), while also repeatedly copying TikTok and seemingly losing its own identity, at least to some degree, in the process.

The biggest challenge for IG seems to be that it’s no longer a unique app. Its tools and features are all so derivative that it’s not a cultural leader anymore, not in the way that it once was, while its insistence on highlighting more content from users that you don’t follow has seen the app stray further from its roots, and into a sort of void between YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, and even Facebook of times past.

Which, again, at 2 billion users seems to still be working, and Instagram’s copying of TikTok has provided at least one important benefit, in stopping many IG users from straying to another app. But it feels like Instagram is also on the edge of the relevance curve, and that it could quickly fall out of favor if it were to make any more significant missteps.

Remember the panic when Kylie Jenner said that she was over IG?

Ultimately, however, the numbers tell the tale, and right now, Instagram remains a critical consideration for most marketers, by sheer size alone. And with that in mind, it’s important to understand where the platform is headed, and what’s coming next for the Meta-owned app.

Today, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri has provided some insight on just that, posting a quick overview of the platform’s three key priorities for 2023.

As per Mosseri, Instagram’s key elements of focus are:

1. Inspire people to be creative

Mosseri says that this is a fundamental on which Instagram was born ‘with those amazing photo filters and crazy frames back in the day’. Pretty sure the ‘crazy’ features he’s referring to actually came from Snapchat – but Instagram was the first major platform to implement different filters and overlays for images, in order to customize your image posts.

Along those lines, you can expect to see Instagram adding in more visual customization and editing tools, with, I’d hazard a guess, more specific focus on AR creation, and integrating 3D objects and experiences in the app.

Why? Because Meta knows that it will need creators to help build its metaverse vision, and Instagram is its best pathway to connect with next-level talent – because no one cool uses Facebook anymore, and its other apps don’t facilitate the same level of visual creation.

As such, Instagram really is Meta’s gateway into the next phase, and it’ll need to use IG to not only connect with the next generation of artists right now, but to also guide them into multi-dimensional creation.

The social platform that can best facilitate simplified 3D creation, in all its many applications, stands to win out in the AR/VR shift, and you can expect to see Instagram looking to add more tools along these lines throughout the next year.

2. Help people discover things they love

This is both a major opportunity and a major risk for IG, because in order to do this, it needs to shift user behavior away from what they know and love (seeing the latest posts from people and profiles that they’ve chosen to follow) and into a new, TikTok-like experience, which is no longer geared around your own curated social graph.

That works on TikTok because that’s how the app established itself from the start, with a focus on highlighting the best content from across the app, based on your interests, as opposed to pushing you to follow the users that you like, and keeping you confined within your direct-defined scope.

TikTok ultimately succeeds in this approach because its algorithm is so good at showing you more content that you like, which then enables it to double down on that engagement by broadening the pool of content that it can choose from. On Instagram, you want to see the latest posts from friends and the profiles that you’ve chosen to follow first, and while IG is trying to shift users away from this, it hasn’t been a smooth transition as yet.

It also negates the need for a feed algorithm. The original justification of the algorithm was that there are so many posts that you could be shown each day, based on the amount of pages and people that you follow, that they have to be sorted by an algorithm to show you the most relevant ones. But now, Instagram is adding more content into the mix.

So do we still need an algorithm or not?

In any event, you can expect Instagram to continue along this path, with more content from people and pages that you don’t follow being jammed between updates in your main IG feed.

Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg noted back in July that just over 15% of the content in Instagram feeds was being delivered via its AI recommendation engine, and that he expected to see this ‘more than double’ by the end of 2023. That, despite some hiccups along the way, is likely still the plan.

Will that extend to Stories too, in showing you Stories from people and pages that IG’s algorithm thinks you might also like? Probably – though I remain pessimistic that this is going to work out the way that Instagram hopes.

3. Spark connections between people  

The last element relates to the use of the main IG feed for content discovery, with more people now sharing and discussing posts in DMs and Stories, which is a new shift in social engagement.

It used to be that people shared posts publicly, both as a means to connect with others and share more about their own personal interests. But over time, and amid various concerns related to divisive discourse and ‘cancel culture’, more people have become increasingly wary about what they share to their main feed, which has seen a bigger trend towards more private sharing, and engaging around content within smaller, private groups.

Instagram’s been looking to feed into this with new additions like ‘Notes’, which enables users to share a conversation prompt in a Stories-like bubble above your Direct inbox.

The idea is that this will help to trigger new conversations and engagement opportunities in the app, which, as Mosseri says, could help IG differentiate itself from other apps by building for engagement around content, as opposed to just focusing on the content itself.

Will that work? I mean, maybe. Again, Meta has noted several times that more people are now sharing in Stories and DMs than they are in their main feed, and if the second step above works as Instagram hopes, in shifting user behavior towards discovery, this could be a new way to generate more discussion and engagement in the app around the latest trending clips and posts.

Overall, Instagram’s going to remain on the same path that it’s been following over the past 12 months, with the key element being the shift towards using the main feed for content discovery.

Again, I’m not sure that’s going to work, but if Instagram can get its algorithm right, that could be a path towards maximizing engagement by leaning into usage trends, while still providing a unique experience based on your social graph.

Which, up till recently, had always been Meta’s unassailable advantage. You might find better content in other apps, but you still need to log into Facebook and IG every day to see the latest posts from your closest friends and family, at least some of whom won’t ever bother to download the latest apps. But TikTok’s discovery algorithm flipped the script, by making the content itself the focus, which has quickly rendered Meta’s advantage in connections largely obsolete.

Which is why Meta’s now playing catch up, and maybe it can, maybe not. But you can see what it’s trying to do with this approach.

So what does that mean for brands and marketers looking to make best use of IG?

Well, for one, I would be taking note of the latest creative additions in the app, and looking at how you can use these new eye-catching, attention-grabbing updates to improve the presentation of your posts. Do note, however, that no amount of cool effects and edits will work as a substitute for knowing your audience, and the role your products play in their lives.

Identify your key value proposition, and the pain points your offerings address, then accentuate those through creative, native techniques.

In terms of discovery, understanding your audience’s broader interests, and playing into that, could get your content displayed in more user feeds, based on the other posts that they engage with, while considering your options for DM connection could also help to enhance your customer relationships, in line with their other communications.

Really, Instagram’s looking to work with the trends, which could help to guide your strategy along the same lines. Or at the least, you’ll be working in line with what Instagram’s looking to accentuate, which could help to improve your platform performance.

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Israeli president tells Musk he has ‘huge role’ in anti-Semitism



Elon Musk, the world's richest person, said in video remaks that Hamas militants 'have been fed propaganda'

Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, said in video remaks that Hamas militants ‘have been fed propaganda’ – Copyright POOL/AFP Leon Neal

Israel’s president told Elon Musk on Monday that the tech mogul has “a huge role to play” to combat anti-Semitism, which his social media platform is accused of spreading.

The meeting came after the world’s richest person visited a kibbutz community devastated in attacks by Hamas militants on October 7, and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defence officials.

Musk has been criticised over what critics say is a proliferation of hate speech on X, formerly Twitter, since his takeover of the social media site in October 2022.

He has been accused by the White House of “abhorrent promotion” of anti-Semitism after endorsing a conspiracy theory seen as accusing Jews of trying to weaken white majorities.

Israel’s figurehead President Isaac Herzog told him: “Unfortunately, we are inundated by anti-Semitism, which is Jew hatred.

“You have a huge role to play,” he said. “And I think we need to fight it together because on the platforms which you lead, unfortunately, there’s a harbouring of a lot of… anti-Semitism.”

Musk did not mention anti-Semitism in his video remarks released by Herzog’s office, but said Hamas militants “have been fed propaganda since they were children”.

“It’s remarkable what humans are capable of if they’re fed falsehoods, from when they are children; they will think that the murder of innocent people is a good thing.”

On October 7 Hamas militants broke through Gaza’s militarised border into southern Israel to kill around 1,200 people and seize about 240 hostages, according to Israeli officials, in the worst-ever attack since the nation’s founding.

Vowing to destroy Hamas in response, Israel has carried out a relentless bombardment of targets in Gaza, alongside a ground invasion, that the Hamas government says has killed almost 15,000.

A temporary truce has been in effect since Friday.

– Talk of satellites –

Earlier Monday, Netanyahu and Musk discussed “security aspects of artificial intelligence” with senior defence officials, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Musk and Netanyahu held a conversation on X following their tour of Kfar Aza, one of the communities attacked by Hamas.

“We have to demilitarise Gaza after the destruction of Hamas,” Netanyahu said, calling for a campaign to “deradicalise” the Palestinian territory.

“Then we also have to rebuild Gaza, and I hope to have our Arab friends help in that context.”

Netanyahu told Musk he hoped to resume United States-mediated normalisation talks with Saudi Arabia after Hamas’s defeat and “expand the circle of peace beyond anything imaginable”.

The war stalled progress towards a Saudi-Israel normalisation deal, and in early November Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler denounced the conduct of Israeli forces fighting Hamas in Gaza.

Israel’s Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi said his country had reached an understanding in principle on the use of Starlink satellites, operated by Musk’s company SpaceX, in Israel and the Gaza Strip “with the approval of the Israeli Ministry of Communications”.

Starlink is a network of satellites in low Earth orbit that can provide internet to remote locations, or areas that have had normal communications infrastructure disabled.

In September, Netanyahu urged Musk “to stop not only anti-Semitism, or rolling it back as best you can, but any collective hatred” on X.

Musk said at the time that while his platform could not stop all hate speech before it was posted, he was “generally against attacking any group, no matter who it is”.

X Corp is currently suing nonprofit Media Matters on the grounds that it has driven away advertisers by portraying the site as rife with anti-Semitic content.

Musk has also threatened to file suit against the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy group, over its claims that problematic and racist speech has soared on the site since he completed his $44-billion takeover.

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Is this X’s (formerly Twitter) final goodbye to big advertisers? It looks like it



Is this X's (formerly Twitter) final goodbye to big advertisers? It looks like it

It looks like big advertisers are leaving X (formerly Twitter) for good and its owner Elon Musk couldn’t care less.

In the packed DealBook conference in New York on Wednesday, he bluntly told them to shove it. 

This response came after another round of advertisers including IBM, Apple, CNN and Disney bailed on his social network after Musk seemingly supported an antisemitic conspiracy theory last month by responding to an X user’s post — a move he’s since admitted was silly and apologized for. Musk was less remorseful over the uproar caused among advertisers, telling the room: “This advertising boycott is going to kill the company… let’s see how Earth responds to that.”

For many large marketers, this marks the end of a drawn-out farewell (lasting a whopping 13 months) to advertising on X since Musk took over. Surprisingly, even some of X’s own staff members are now calling it quits. Freelance journalist Claire Atkinson reported a “wave of resignations” from CEO Linda Yaccarino’s sales team, including a few of the remaining ad executives who were there before she officially joined in June. Musk’s actions are essentially reversing any recent progress made in reviving X’s advertising business.

Lou Paskalis, CEO and founder of AJL Advisory confirmed that Musk’s comments were indeed another extra nail in the already well sealed coffin because it reaffirmed what most large advertisers already know — Musk resents having to be beholden to them.

“He is trying to position their legitimate brand suitability concerns, largely precipitated by his ongoing antics on X, as a vast, left-wing conspiracy among advertisers to ‘blackmail’ him into constraining his right to free speech,” Paskalis said. “As someone who spent over three decades in the ad buying business, it’s laughable to think that we could all act with that level of coordination, presumably in secret.”

This event highlights how out of touch Musk is with what keeps his company running. He takes an ad boycott as a personal insult when, truthfully, it’s just part and parcel of managing a platform these days. Look at how often YouTube and Meta have dealt with similar issues over the years. The difference? The bigwigs at those companies prioritized protecting their businesses, not their public personas, and were willing to make compromises to win back advertisers. Not that it took much to win back those ad dollars — advertisers rely on those platforms as much as the platforms rely on them.

“It’s just a very sensible decision not to continue advertising on that platform which poses such a strong brand safety risk,” said Ebiquity’s chief strategy officer Ruben Schreurs. “To do all this on stage is unheard of, I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

The largest advertisers seem to agree. Unlike their previous boycotts of advertising on X, this one is permanent for many of them. Some of the most active accounts like Disney, Paramount, Liongsate and Sony Pictures haven’t posted in nearly two weeks. This chimes with what one senior ad exec, who had been in touch with a number of X’s advertisers over the past year, told Digiday last month. Advertisers who had continued to spend on the platform only paid a fraction of what they used to prior to Musk, out of fear of getting called out by Musk if they didn’t.

“It’s easier to pull advertising than it is to return, and what makes the X ad boycott unique is that it isn’t primarily about content adjacency or moderation,” said Jasmine Enberg, principal analyst, social media at Insider Intelligence. “Advertisers are concerned about the reputational damage and the uncertainty of doing business with Musk, and yesterday’s comments will deepen the rift between them.”

An impossible job has now become even more challenging for Yaccarino. Ad dollars weren’t exactly flowing into the social network before Musk’s latest rant. X has averaged a 55% year-over-year revenue decline, according to Guideline. This figure increased to 61% YOY between May and August 2023 — despite Yaccarino joining the company during the summer. 

“The hill she [Yaccarino] must climb to rekindle advertiser demand for the platform just went from steep to vertical,” said Paskalis. “I don’t know how anyone could overcome a direct verbal assault of the magnitude that Musk delivered at the DealBook conference against a customer base already alarmed by his previous rage inducing, divisive and dog whistle laden tweets. None of this will cause Linda to leave, in my opinion, as she sees quitting as failure and failure is not an option in her calculus, no matter what damage may be done to her reputation.”

X did not respond to Digiday’s request for comment.

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YouTube Adds New Analytics Cards, Simplifies its ‘Product Drops’ Feature



YouTube Adds New Analytics Cards, Simplifies its ‘Product Drops’ Feature

YouTube’s making some updates to its Product Drops feature within live streams, while it’s also adding some new analytics cards, and testing a new format for its TV app.

First off, on Product Drops. YouTube’s changing the requirements for Product Drops in live streams so that more creators will be able to include drops to highlight their items.

Up till now, Product Drops have only been available to creators who’ve connected their Shopify stores, or have access to Google Merchant Center, while creators have also had to plan Product Drops in advance, and schedule them via Live Control Room. But now, YouTube’s giving more creators more ways to access the feature.

As per YouTube:

“Any creators who have connected to their first party stores, or are participating in the YouTube Affiliate Program can set up Product Drops in the live control room on YouTube. This means that more creators will be able to use Product Drops to boost sales and engagement on their live streams.”

YouTube will also now enable creators to implement Product Drops at any time during a live stream, eliminating the pre-planned requirement.

“This will give creators more flexibility to react to the moment, and drive excitement in real time.”

YouTube says that many creators have seen good response to their Product Drops, with the interactive, engaging process helping to drive hype, and spark more response from viewers.

Product Drops are available via the Live Control Room in YouTube Studio. You can read more about how they work here.

YouTube’s also updating its Community Posts creation flow, in order to simplify the process, and ideally get more channels posting text-based updated in the app.

Community Posts remain a lesser element, though YouTube’s been working to make them a bigger focus throughout the year, by adding additional engagement elements like pollsquizzesdisappearing updates, and more.

Simplifying the creation process is another step in boosting awareness, and potentially driving more interaction with you YouTube audience.

YouTube’s also adding some new revenue analytics cards, including “Total Members” insights (which includes subscriber data) and “Where Members Joined From”, which will provide more insight into what’s driving channel growth.

YouTube’s also adding new data on why users have canceled their membership within the insights tab in YouTube Analytics.

YouTube analytics cards

As you can see in this example, the new card will show the reasons why people have opted to stop their subscription to your channel, based on responses provided in the cancellation flow.

Finally, YouTube’s also experimenting with a new format for its TV app, which will make it easier to access different elements.

YouTube TV app

As you can see in this example, shared by 9t05Google, the new format will include bigger buttons to access different elements, and further customize your YouTube experience on the bigger screen.

Connected TV is the fastest growing viewer segment for YouTube, with more and more people now looking to consume YouTube content on their home TV set. As such, it makes sense for YouTube to roll out more updates aligned with big screen viewing in order to feed into this usage.

Some handy updates, across various elements, which are worth noting as you go about managing your YouTube presence.

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