The sweet relief of a stupid TikTok video was definitely welcome this week, which saw new coronavirus restrictions in many parts of the world and anxiety building in the United States with the election a few days away.
As the short-form video platform and other social media companies capture our attention, they continue to figure out ways to monetize it. TikTok and WhatsApp are the latest to experiment with added commerce elements. Read about them and more in our latest wrap-up of recent social media developments.
1. The Influencer As Political Animal
While Facebook and Google are pausing political advertising as the election comes to a close, they’re not halting sponsored political content posted by social media creators. The divergent policies raise questions over what constitutes political advertising and how to govern it. The Federal Trade Commission requires social media influencers and creators to clearly label sponsored posts. The Federal Election Commission oversees political ads. Per FEC rules, paid political ads, online or otherwise, must include disclaimers to inform the public about the groups paying for them, but specific guidelines for social media influencer disclosure haven’t been issued. (TikTok, by the way, isn’t permitting political ads or creators touting paid political messages.) Learn more here.
Political groups and strategists say they work with paid micro-influencers – people with a few thousand engaged social media followers – who post on platforms including TikTok, YouTube, Instagram and WhatsApp. @eculliford reports https://t.co/WQkfWyurbJ
— Reuters (@Reuters) October 29, 2020
2. Tiktok’s Shopify Play
TikTok wants to keep creators on its platform churning out the type of content that has made its audience glued to it during the pandemic. Allowing them to earn more money by staying put could be a big help. That’s what TikTok is trying to accomplish with a new e-commerce initiative enabling Shopify merchants to run promotions. The promotions can be generated in their Shopify dashboards. According to TikTok, around half of its users have indicated they discovered products through advertisements within the app. Learn more here.
3. WhatsApp’s Shopping Options
As Andrew Hutchinson of Social Media Today explains, Facebook’s attempts to monetize WhatsApp have fizzled to date. So, the social media company is changing its tactic. It’s expanding WhatsApp’s in-app shopping options and will be charging fees for some advanced functions. WhatsApp has 2 billion users worldwide and more than 175 million people message a WhatsApp business account daily. The app’s research shows people tend to message businesses to get help, and they often make a purchase when they do. WhatsApp is also looking into providing options for businesses to manage their WhatsApp messages via Facebook’s hosting services. Learn more here.
4. Instagram’s Live Stream Move
Instagram is stretching the live stream limit from one to four hours. Live usage jumped over 70% during the pandemic, and the update is meant to help those who’ve had to pivot to virtual events. Additionally, at the end of live streams, Instagram is inserting a “Live Now” section in IGTV to direct users to more live content and soon it will support archiving. Learn more here.
5. Nudity Policy Change
Facebook and Instagram have modified nudity policies to help stop discrimination against Black and plus-size creators. As Nosheen Iqbal details in The Guardian, the modification comes after Instagram was called out in August for taking down photos of plus-size model Nyome Nicholas-Williams’s body-confidence shoot. Many Black, plus-size and other creators from underrepresented groups reported treatment similar to Nicholas-Williams’s treatment. Thin, white creators haven’t faced such treatment. Discussing the policy change, a spokesperson for Instagram told The Guardian, “As we looked into this more closely, we realized it was an instance where our policy on breast squeezing wasn’t being correctly applied. Hearing Nyome’s feedback helped us understand where this policy was falling short, and how we could refine it.” Learn more here.