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Instagram Launches Live Test of Longer Videos in Stories

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After it was spotted in testing last month, Instagram has now officially launched a live test of 60-second videos in Stories, which will mean that longer video clips will no longer be split into 15-second segments, and played across various Stories frames.

Instagram 60 Second stories notification

As noted, last month, app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi shared this message, stored in the back-end code of the app, which is now being displayed to some users in the live environment.

We asked Instagram about the update, and it provided this statement:

The ability to create longer Stories posts comes highly requested by our community. We’re excited to be testing 60-second Stories so that people can create and view Stories with fewer interruptions.” 

Instagram says that the option is currently being tested with a small group of users, with a view to providing more creative freedom, and further integrating the app’s various video options to streamline its creative tools and functions.

Which, really, is the key focus. Back in January, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri flagged a coming consolidation of the app’s video products, with a view to better facilitating creation, and scaling back the platform’s various tools. That started with the merging of its video feed posts into a single format early last month, along with the retirement of the IGTV brand.  

As Mosseri explained to Decoder:

We’re looking about how we can – not just with IGTV, but across all of Instagram – simplify and consolidate ideas, because last year we placed a lot of new bets. I think this year we have to go back to our focus on simplicity and craft.”

The re-thinking of its approach has been largely influenced by TikTok, which has become the most popular social app among young users, overtaking Instagram as the cool place to be.

Part of TikTok’s core appeal is simplicity – on TikTok, you open to a full-screen feed of video clips and live-streams, with all of it combined into one, optimized, focused listing, tailored to each individual user.

Instagram is far more segmented, with Reels in a separate feed, and Stories in its own section. That could be restricting optimal take-up, which is why Instagram’s now looking to bring all of these elements together, which will also, eventually, enable it to showcase the best of each aspect in a single, more-engaging stream.

The expansion to 60-second video clips in Stories is another step in this gradual merging, which, at some stage, will likely see the app open to a full-screen feed of Stories, feed posts and Reels, all in one, enabling IG, like TikTok, to use the full breadth of uploaded content to maximize user engagement.

It’s still a way off that next stage, but longer videos will mean that users can now post full Reels to Stories, for example, essentially merging the two functions automatically. Then it’s just determining how it shifts from the traditional feed to a more Stories/Reels aligned one instead.

That’s a bigger step, and a more fundamental change for the app. But as part of Meta’s broader focus on winning back younger users, you can bet that it’s coming, and likely sooner, rather than later.

Which is why this new test is a significant step. It’s limited for now, but you can expect to see longer Stories videos coming to your Instagram app sometime soon.

Socialmediatoday.com

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The Drum | What Does The Growth Of Little Red Book Mean For Post-pandemic China?

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The Drum | What Does The Growth Of Little Red Book Mean For Post-pandemic China?

The shopping app proves that consumer confidence and community are key to a thriving business post-Covid, writes Michaela Zhu of Emerging Communications.

Little Red Book, aka Xiaohongshu, or more simply ‘Red’, is a leading Chinese social shopping app. With over 300 million users (and counting), western brands are taking notice – and with good reason.

Little Red Book first appeared in 2013. From modest beginnings focussing on female beauty products, the app expanded to help all kinds of global brands connect with Chinese consumers. Whether it’s holiday inspiration, university choices or luxury fashion, Little Red Book is now the go-to app for lifestyle content and shopping.

With a unique mix of social sharing, long-form articles, live-streaming and e-commerce, it’s a vital part of the Chinese social media landscape. What’s more: Little Red Book is the place for interacting with Chinese gen Z and millennial audiences. In July 2022, nearly 30% of Little Red Book’s active users were under 24 years. Another 40% of users fall into the 25-35 age bracket.

Discover how Little Red Book has transformed over the last few years, key trends, and how to integrate them into your China digital strategy.

How Little Red Book is changing post-Covid China

By 2019, Little Red Book attracted over 200 million users. Fast forward nearly four years, and the platform has maintained its grip on affluent Chinese consumers. It’s one of the few social media platforms where growth still exceeds 30% year-on-year. Little Red Book is here to stay, and in a big way.

This user growth has brought significant changes in content, especially as Chinese consumers adapt to post-pandemic life. Gone are the days when Little Red Book catered exclusively to beauty and fashion niches. Instead, people use the platform to make significant life decisions as well as day-to-day purchases. With content on entering high school, getting married and buying property (to name just a few), you’ll find almost every aspect of daily life up for discussion.

While the relaxing of Covid restrictions has brought drastic changes alongside feelings of liberation, there’s understandable uncertainty among Chinese Gen Z. Long-term lockdown life caused younger generations to pay close attention to their immediate environment. There’s a focus on simplifying their lives and recycling items, as well as yearning for distant places and global cuisines.

A related trend for Little Red Book is the growing Chinese travel industry. Unsurprisingly, the recent easing of travel restrictions resulted in a travel bonanza. For example, two billion trips are expected during this Lunar New Year period. These figures are nearly double the previous year’s and represent a 70% recovery on 2019 levels.

China branding: two essential trends

For content marketing in China, there are two major Little Red Book trends that any marketer needs to know. These are the recent surge in travel-related content and the shift toward new minimalism and ‘rational consumption’.

1. Exploring opportunities for the travel sector

With China’s international borders reopening, travel is no longer a far-away dream. Many Chinese visited their nation’s most popular cities during the pandemic years. Others opted for secluded opulence, spawning the growth of glamping as a trend. Indeed, this luxury camping culture saw ‘glamping’ searches on Little Red book increase by 746% during 2022.

In 2023, foreign countries are also a possibility. As a result, nearby destinations such as Tibet and Southeast Asia predict a strong rebound in the coming months.

Global brands such as Marriott Bonvoy are already capitalizing on these trends, hitting the mark with their China marketing campaigns. For instance, the 2021 Power of Travel campaign used 10 Chinese key opinion leaders to show how travel inspired their lives.

With influencers including Chinese gen Z creatives, families and business executives – the brand showed their relevance to the China market as well as inspiration for rediscovering ourselves through post-Covid travel.

2. Embracing minimalist and rational consumption

In the aftermath of an unprecedented pandemic and global economic downturns, people all over the world are simplifying and streamlining their daily lives.

China is no different, and its younger population has particularly embraced a minimalist mindset. This doesn’t mean stopping purchases completely, but instead shows a shift towards ‘rational consumption’.

Young people are especially shunning impulse purchase decisions, resulting in a decline in ‘hard selling’ and live broadcast sales events. This trend has worked in Little Red Book’s favor due to the platform’s focus on in-depth consumer reviews and trusted user-generated content. Put simply, it’s all about building confidence and community before purchases take place.

For more in-depth insights into Chinese social media trends, download our guide to getting started with Little Red Book.

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8 Core Disciplines for a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy [Infographic]

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8 Core Disciplines for a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy [Infographic]

Are you looking to create an effective social media marketing strategy? Want to learn the core disciplines you need to pay attention to?

The team from MDG Advertising share their social media tips in this infographic.

They break things down as follows:

  • Strategy
  • Auditing
  • Technology
  • Paid media
  • Content development
  • Customer response
  • Compliance and risk assessment
  • Measurement

Check out the infographic for more detail.

A version of this post was first published on the Red Website Design blog.

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Five Ways To Make Your Startup Stand Out From The Competition

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Five Ways To Make Your Startup Stand Out From The Competition

Making your business stand out from others in a crowded marketplace is key to its success. High-quality products and services, a smart pricing strategy, and effective marketing are just the basics. The most successful entrepreneurs have a few extra tricks that separate their business from the rest of the pack.

Tell a strong story

Businesses need to do two things to succeed; be relevant and distinctive. As Steven Hess, founding partner at WhiteCap, explains, doing one without the other will lead to failure. “Being relevant on its own leads to a focus on price and an inevitable sublimation into the sea of sameness, and customers will not look for you,” he says. “Being distinctive without solving a problem leads to gimmickry and longer-term weakness. You have to do both, and one way of uniting the two is with a strong story.”

This could focus on the founder’s story, what led them to set out on their business journey, how they identified the problem they are solving, and how they are solving it uniquely. Stories can also be drawn from customers; how are they using your products or services? What problem does it solve for them?

“You also need to look at how your competitors are presenting themselves and then present yourself in the opposite way,” says Hess. “This will feel uncomfortable, and most businesses fail at this point. Why do ads for cars, financial services, estate agents, etc., look the same? It’s because most of us don’t want to stand out. We’re afraid to fail and be seen to fail. But if we are not being seen, being distinctive and solving a real problem, we’ve already failed.”

Focus your messaging on customer needs

A company’s messaging has to be focused on its potential customer’s biggest wants and needs. It should clarify what people will get if they buy from you, what transformation they will see, and how they will feel afterward. “Most importantly, it should communicate what people will miss out on if they don’t buy from your startup,” says business growth consultant Charlie Day. “When you shift your messaging from simply trying to grow a business and make money to focusing on your customer’s biggest wants and needs, the sales and growth will come, and it will set you apart from others.”

Target an underrepresented audience

This can be a powerful way for startups to stand out. “By focusing on a group that larger companies often overlook, they can differentiate themselves and appeal to a unique and untapped market,” says Vladislav Podolyako, founder and CEO of Folderly. “And by providing solutions to the specific needs and challenges of this audience, startups can establish a strong reputation and build a loyal customer base.”

For example, a fitness startup targeting older adults can stand out by offering specialized classes, products, or resources. By providing solutions to the physical limitations of older adults, the startup can differentiate itself from other companies, address the unique fitness challenges faced by older adults, and build a loyal customer base.

However, as Podolyako points out, this strategy must be carefully thought out. He says: “The startup may be associated with an older audience only, so you should work with PR agencies to get the positioning right and potentially think about creating a sub-brand.”

Differentiate your social media strategy

A unique voice and communication style will make you stand out on social media. However, it’s not just what you say but what you do that makes the difference. “If everyone is offering ‘how to’ tips on LinkedIn, create some short form behind-the-scenes videos. If everyone is doing special offers on Facebook, publish some tip-based stories,” says Catherine Warrilow, managing director of Daysout.com. “Make yourself accessible for customer support on the social media channels used by your audience, for example, via What’s App or Messenger.”

Respond promptly to customer calls

Making it easy for customers to contact you and get a response is vital for customer engagement and retention. Yet, businesses are surprisingly poor at answering their phones, listing phone numbers on their websites, and responding to voicemails. It’s a massive turn-off for customers, as a survey by global communications company Moneypenny revealed, with unanswered phone calls topping the list of consumer gripes, cited by 43% of respondents, followed by annoying hold music (35%).

Joanna Swash, Group CEO of Moneypenny, says: “Customers use the phone when they have an urgent or sensitive issue to discuss, so companies cannot afford to provide a poor call experience; business will be taken elsewhere. By mastering the art of call handling, businesses can keep their customers happy and loyal and boost the bottom line in the process.”

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