Instagram to Reward Smaller, Original Content Creators

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Instagram

TODAY’S EDITION
  • A breakdown of the impact of Instagram’s forthcoming updates to its ranking system, which will prioritize smaller, original content creators — what it means for creators, aggregators, brands, and influencer marketing.

  • Meta is testing a tool to help marketers identify the best creator content to use in ads.

  • TikTok and Universal Music Group have settled their differences and signed a new licensing agreement.

  • Pinterest's newest content format is attracting Gen Z as it tops half a billion monthly active users.

  • VSCO is leaning on AI to bring brands and photographers together.

Instagram Is Updating Its Ranking System to Support Smaller, Original Content Creators

Instagram

This week, Instagram announced upcoming changes to its ranking system aimed at providing smaller, original content creators with an equal playing field alongside creators who have larger followings, content aggregators, and accounts dedicated to reposting other creators' content.

What's Changing?

These changes, set to be implemented in the coming months, include:

  • An updated ranking that will give smaller creators more distribution.

  • Replacing reposted content with original content in recommendations.

  • Adding labels to reposted content that link to the original creator.

  • Removing content aggregators from recommendations.

What Else?

Instagram is also developing a method to rank recommendations to provide all creators the opportunity to reach larger audiences despite their follower count. Initially, the content will be shown to a smaller audience that Instagram predicts will enjoy it. Then, content that is resonating with be shown to a slighter larger audience, and so on.

What It Means for Creators

These updates aim to alleviate the frustrations expressed by smaller creators on Instagram regarding their reach and the unauthorized reposting of their content. They achieve this by rewarding them with attribution where appropriate and wider distribution. This, in turn, is expected to lead to stronger performance.

On the flip side, aggregators and reposters might experience a decline in performance as they won't appear in recommendations. To counter this, they'll need to add their own spin or commentary to the content they share from others, or, even better, focus on sharing more original content.

Implications for Brands & Influencer Marketing

There could also be implications for brands utilizing influencer marketing and user-generated content within their organic social strategy. Reposting content from creators may not only underperform but could also lead to a decline in overall account performance if they are excluded from recommendations.

As an alternative, brands that often repurpose creator content may want to:

  • Use the Collabs feature with creators for content that they want to share on their Instagram accounts.

  • Only have creators create content for them to post on their Instagram account as opposed to creators sharing it themselves so there’s the potential for it to be served in recommendations.

If they prefer not to change their current approach, that's perfectly acceptable. However, in such cases, brands should be mindful of the potential impact of these changes when they are implemented. This includes considering the performance measurement of content from creator posts that are also shared on their own profile.

The Timing Couldn’t Have Been Better

With all the talk about the potential TikTok ban, creators are increasingly serious about diversifying. The timing of this announcement couldn't be better. With Reels and YouTube Shorts emerging as key alternatives in a world without TikTok in the US, this should further convince creators to prioritize Reels due to its potential TikTok For You Page-like algorithm.

Tackling Attribution & Reposted Content

Instagram isn't alone in addressing the issues of attribution and the reposting of other people’s content. Other platforms like Pinterest and YouTube are also taking steps. For instance, Pinterest added an Account Claiming feature that allows creators to receive attribution when their Instagram content is shared on Pinterest.

Meanwhile, YouTube recently clarified its policy regarding "reused content," emphasizing that creators may face suspension or rejection from the YouTube Partner Program for posting such content without significant commentary or modifications.

Why These Efforts Are a Must

These efforts by platforms are crucial because they help maintain the satisfaction of creators who share content, ensuring they receive proper compensation when monetization is involved, and promoting the sharing of more original content across platforms.

When creators aren’t properly credited for their content or see it being stolen by others without any repercussions, it could lead them to question whether to continue sharing content. This becomes a significant issue because content is what keeps users engaged on social media platforms, and creators are the ones producing the best content.

Meta Tests New Tool to Predict Best-Performing Branded Content for Partnership Ads

Meta

Meta announced several AI-powered tools at IAB NewFronts 2024, including a new tool to predict which organic branded content will perform best as Partnership Ads. It's currently being tested internally, but Meta plans to integrate the tool into its business solutions once it gathers insights.

Why It Matters: Paid media has become synonymous with sponsored content, with Partnership Ads becoming one of the most common ways for brands to amplify content from creators.

High-performing organic content that adheres to creative best practices often excels as ads. However, leveraging AI to identify content for Partnership Ads can save time and effort, and likely yield better results due to the extensive amount of data considered. If these AI recommendations lead to efficiencies and higher performance, they could encourage more investment in Partnership Ads, which would benefit Meta's ad business.

AI Advertising Solutions: AI-powered advertising solutions were a common theme at NewFronts, which was a prediction of mine last year. For example, TikTok is using generative AI to curate trending, brand-adjustable content against which brands can run ads with its new Pulse Custom Lineups offering. Meanwhile, Snapchat is touting generative AI to allow brands to create custom Branded AR ads.

TikTok & Universal Music Group Reach A New Licensing Agreement

TikTok

After a three-month dispute, TikTok and Universal Music Group (UMG) have reached a new licensing agreement. This deal will restore music from UMG's artists, songwriters, and labels to TikTok in the coming weeks. UMG will also gain:

  • Access to TikTok’s technology, marketing, and promotional capabilities

  • Improved remuneration for artists and songwriters

  • New promotional opportunities

  • 'Industry-leading protection' with respect to generative AI

Why It Matters: As anticipated, TikTok and UMG have found a path forward while still securing other partnerships. Though details are broad, the new agreement appears to address the primary concerns outlined in UMG's open letter regarding low artist royalties and TikTok's investment in potentially harmful AI tools, to the benefit of artists and songwriters.

Creators and fans should also be happy. Previously muted videos will regain their sound, allowing them to be enjoyed as originally intended, and they’ll have access again to music from the world’s biggest artists for future content creation.

Caution for Creators: Despite this, creators be cautious about relying too heavily on licensed music for their videos and balance it out with original audio. As TikTok's revenue rises, UMG or other music labels may let their licensing agreements expire to negotiate better terms, putting creators in similar situations in the future.

Pinterest's Collages Drive Growth Among Gen Z Users

Pinterest

In Pinterest's Q1 Earnings Call, CEO Bill Ready revealed that Collages, its interactive AI-powered format that allows users to cut out objects in images and combine them for shoppable collages, is driving high engagement.

According to Ready, "users are roughly three times more likely to save collage pins versus other pins on the platform," and a significant portion of the platform contains clickable products. Additionally, nearly 70% of Collage creators are Gen Z.

Why It Matters: Collages give younger users a new way to curate content to express themselves and a new surface for Pinterest to layer in shopping. This, along with other efforts like body type ranges in search and having a presence at Coachella, is helping to attract a Gen Z audience to the platform, which continues to be its fastest-growing demographic and now its largest, making up 42%.

Getting in Front of Gen Z: It’s uncommon for an app to age down, as they generally attract older users as they mature, as seen with TikTok. With a substantial Gen Z user base, brands targeting this demographic can leverage Pinterest to reach them in a less crowded space compared to TikTok or Instagram.

VSCO Launches VSCO Hub To Connect Brands With Creators For Photography Work

VSCO

VSCO has introduced VSCO Hub, an AI-assisted platform that connects brands with photographers. Using a reference image, brands can find photographers whose styles align with theirs and further refine the search with filters such as location and category.

Brands can then request to connect with selected photographers, and if they are available, VSCO will facilitate the introduction, but the brands and photographers will define their collaboration terms and pricing.

Why It Matters: VSCO is bridging the gap between brands and creators for photography work. This supports their goals of aiding creators in monetization and enhancing their subscription revenue.

The focus on enabling brands to identify photographers with a particular aesthetic will be appealing to brands that want to outsource work for on-site shoots, product photography, user-generated content-style images, and photo licensing.

AI for Search: VSCO joins other creator marketplaces that are integrating more AI to help brands find the right creators based on their goals. Instagram also added machine learning to offer custom creator recommendations via its Instagram Creator Marketplace, indicating an industry trend toward AI-driven matchmaking.

For more news, trends, and insights on the creator economy from the week, visit my website.

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WHAT I’M READING

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THANK YOU

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