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

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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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Twitter Tests Expanded Emoji Reaction Options in DMs

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Twitter Tests Expanded Emoji Reaction Options in DMs

Twitter’s looking to give users a broader set of emoji reactions for their DMs, while also, potentially, enabling personalization of your quick reactions display in the app.

As you can see in these mock-ups, shared by Twitter designer Andrea Conway, Twitter’s testing a new search option within the reaction pop-up in DMs which would enable you to use any other emoji as a reaction to a message.

An extension of this would also be the capacity to update the reactions that are immediately displayed to whatever you choose.

Twitter DM reactions

It’s not a game-changer by any means, but it could provide more ways to interact via DMs, and with more interactions switching to messaging, and more private exchanges, it could be a way for Twitter to better lean into this trend, and facilitate a broader array of response options in-stream.

Twitter’s working on a range of updates as it looks to drive more engagement and usage, including tweet view counts, updated Bookmarks, a new ‘For You’ algorithm, and more. Elon Musk has said that he can envision Twitter reaching a billion users per month by next year, but for that to happen, the platform needs to update its systems to show people more of what they like, and keep them coming back – which is what all of these smaller updates, ideally, build to in a broader approach.

But that’s a pretty steep hill to climb.

Last week, Twitter reported that it’s now up to 253 million daily active users, an increase on the 238 million that it reported in July last year. Daily and monthly active usage is not directly comparable, of course, but when Twitter was reporting monthly actives, its peak was around 330 million, back in 2019.

Twitter MAU chart

As noted in the chart, Twitter switched from reporting monthly active users to daily actives in 2019, but looking at the two measurements, it’s hard to imagine that Twitter’s monthly active usage is any more than 100m over its current DAU stats.

That means that Twitter has likely never reached more than 350 million active users – yet Musk believes that he can best that by close to 200% in a matter of months.

Seems unlikely – even at current growth rates since Musk took over at the app, Twitter would only be looking at around 500 million users, optimistically, by the end of 2024.

If it can maintain that. More recent insight from Twitter has suggested that user activity has declined since those early post-Musk purchase highs – but maybe, through a range of updates and tweaks, there could be a way for Musk and Co. to maximize usage growth, beyond what seems possible, based on the stats.

We’ll find out, and as it pushes for that next level, you can expect to see more updates and tweaks like this, with enhanced engagement in mind.  



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Tarte Influencer Marketing Criticized 01/31/2023

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Tarte Influencer Marketing Criticized 01/31/2023

With consumers obsessed over the price of a dozen eggs, could conspicuous consumption-driven influencer marketing falling out of favor? That is the question brands might be considering after the
backlash that cosmetics brand Tarte is receiving after a sponsored trip to Dubai. “Influencers were called out for appearing not …

Read the whole story at Marketing Brew »



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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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