TikTok's Virtual Assistant is Here

TikTok launches TikTok Creative Assistant, Instagram expands Collabs, the FTC updates its Endorsement Guides to include “de-influencing,” and more.

Today’s Edition

It’s the Fourth of July weekend for us in the States. Surprisingly, it was a big week with a number of new features, tools, and initiatives launched or announced from social media platforms as well as other adjacent platforms and organizations.

Today's edition is a big one with a rundown of these updates, which include notable items such as:

  • TikTok launching a virtual assistant for marketers and creators

  • Instagram expanding Collabs

  • LinkedIn providing companies with an ad format to sponsor posts from employee thought leaders

  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) updating its Endorsement Guides to address "de-influencing"

There's no newsletter next week, but catch me on LinkedIn, where I'll have a few posts prepped that will go live throughout the week. Have a great weekend!

ByteDance (TikTok, CapCut, Ripple)

  • TikTok launched TikTok Creative Assistant, a virtual assistant designed to help advertisers, brands, creative partners, and creators with Business Accounts in creating content on the platform. Powered by TikTok resources such as the Creative Center, data, and insights, the assistant can answer queries related to TikTok content, showcase and analyze top ads, assist in generating and refining scripts for ad videos, and provide creative guidance and solutions. With this assistant, marketers and creators have a digital co-pilot that helps save time and effort. It eliminates the need to search for TikTok best practices, manually analyze the reasons behind the success of certain ads, write scripts, or determine the most suitable tools to achieve specific goals.

  • TikTok launched the Creative Challenge, an in-app feature that allows creators to earn money by participating in brand challenges. With this feature, creators can create videos for use in ad campaigns and receive payment based on the performance of their ads. Since paid media performance is a core component, creators have a higher chance of getting paid than in traditional affiliate-type programs. This is likely to be more attractive to smaller creators, such as "UGC" creators or creators who don't have a consistent flow of branded content deals, as it requires them to do work upfront without any pay guarantees, unlike bigger creators with established revenue streams.

  • TikTok added Subscriber-Only Videos to its LIVE Subscription service. In addition to monthly subscriptions on TikTok LIVE, creators can now charge for exclusive short-form videos that only subscribers can view. Since most creators post feed videos rather than live streams, more creators can take advantage of direct-to-audience monetization.

  • TikTok is developing a Template option that enables creators to use their posts as templates for creating their own videos. This option is similar to Instagram Templates for Reels, but with additional editing capabilities. By lowering the barrier to content creation and increasing the amount of content on the platform, TikTok and other platforms should consider rewarding creators when their templates are used. For example, platforms could offer micro-payments to creators. TikTok could follow a model similar to its Effect Creator Rewards program, where creators are compensated based on how frequently their AR effects are used in videos.

  • TikTok announced it’s establishing a Youth Council that will work directly with teens to gather feedback on an ongoing basis, with the goal of building a safer platform for them and their families. This formalized program is a positive step for TikTok, as it allows the company to collaborate with teens to identify ways to improve the platform based on their experiences.

  • TikTok is terminating TikTok Now, its BeReal clone, which, at the time of its release, appeared to be the end of BeReal. The decision, along with BeReal's sluggish growth, suggests that people are losing interest in "real" content.

  • TikTok has made Carousel Format ads available for beta testing. This ad format allows brands to upload multiple images in a sequence, which users can then swipe through to view more details. It can be valuable for brands in certain verticals, such as e-commerce, that want to showcase their product range in a single ad and repurpose image assets from other platforms, such as Instagram, to drive efficiency. Additionally, as users can swipe through the images, advertisers can collect data on which products users spend more time engaging with, which can help them optimize future ad campaigns.

  • CapCut will soon launch new tools for brands with Ad Maker and Teamspace. The former allows advertisers to paste a link to a product and then generate a number of different ad creatives using production information, details, and keywords. The latter is a new collaboration feature for teams to work together throughout the creative process in the editing app.

  • ByteDance announced the launch of Ripple, a new music production app. Currently available in beta, select musicians and creators can use the app to create and edit audio. For example, they can sing or hum a melody into the app, which uses machine learning to turn it into an instrumental song. Although there is no direct integration with TikTok at present, the app provides musicians and creators with a way to create their own audio for videos. In the future, we may see creators building careers on Ripple and TikTok. This adds to a number of music-related initiatives from ByteDance, including several new ways for artists to make money on TikTok.

Meta (Instagram, Facebook)

  • Instagram now allows U.S.-based users to download Reels shared by public accounts, with creators having the option to opt-out. Downloaded Reels will include an Instagram watermark, the creator's handle, and audio attribution. This functionality was previously rolled out on YouTube and Pinterest for their respective short-form videos. It makes it easier for viewers to recognize content created on Instagram and for potential users to find more from that creator on the platform, similar to what TikTok's watermarked videos have accomplished.

  • Instagram expanded Collabs to allow users to add up to three collaborators to any Feed post or Reel, up from the previous limit of two accounts. This will not only allow more creators to co-author content but will also be useful for influencer campaigns. For example, in shopper programs where creators promote a brand at a specific retailer, creators can invite the brand and retailer as collaborators to distribute that content across all three accounts. That additional reach can maximize performance for all three accounts.

  • Meta has updated its Reels advertising products, giving more advertisers access to Ads on Reels. This allows them to run image ads on creator-produced Reels without disrupting the viewer's experience. Additionally, Music Optimization in Facebook Reels enables advertisers to incorporate high-quality music from the Meta Sound Collection library to make Reels ads more entertaining and engaging. These updates allow advertisers to leverage the growing popularity of Reels across Facebook and Instagram and optimize performance.

YouTube

  • YouTube is testing an A/B testing feature for thumbnails in YouTube Studio. The feature, called Test & Compare, allows creators to compare the performance of three different thumbnails using Watch Time as the key metric. Testing out different thumbnails has proven to be a successful strategy for some of the top YouTubers, helping them determine what works best in getting audiences to watch their videos. With this native tool, more creators can incorporate A/B testing into their workflow and make data-backed decisions to improve video performance.

  • YouTube updated its policies on impersonation, which require fan channel operators to clearly indicate in their channel name or handle that they are not affiliated with the original creator, artist, or entity. Additionally, channels claiming to be fan channels but engaging in content re-uploads are prohibited. These mark a significant departure from YouTube's previous lack of strict guidelines surrounding fan channels. Creators get greater protection and safety, while viewers can better distinguish between original creators and impersonations. As ultra-realistic deep fakes and AI voice generators become more prevalent, look for YouTube to make additional updates in the future.

  • YouTube introduced a new Audience Overlap Card in YouTube Analytics. This card allows creators to see viewer overlap across Video on Demand, Shorts, and Live. This feature is useful for creators who are testing new formats and want to understand viewer interest in each format.

  • YouTube is testing an updated pop-up for ad-blockers. The pop-up notifies users that video playback will be disabled after three instances of blocking videos and prompts them to go ad-free with YouTube Premium. This update is part of YouTube's efforts to reduce the usage of ad-blockers, which disrupt the display of video ads and prevent creators from being paid through the ad revenue share program.

LinkedIn

  • LinkedIn announced several new product updates, including the introduction of Thought Leader Ads. This new ad format enables companies to sponsor posts from thought leaders and creators within their organizations with their permission. With more people becoming creators in the same space as their 9-to-5 jobs, Thought Leader Ads allow companies to tap into the influential voices on their payroll and engage audiences in a more authentic and human way. While this may be easy to execute for companies with official employee advocacy programs, there is likely to be some friction in determining whether employers should compensate their employees for this access, as with traditional influencer campaigns, or whether it is simply an expectation as part of their role.

  • LinkedIn is testing an AI-powered writing tool within the Share box. After users write at least 30 words outlining what they want to say, they can generate a first draft using generative AI and then edit and tweak it as needed to reflect their own voice. The writing tool will lower the barrier for people to share their thoughts and perspectives, but a sea of AI-generated content might lower the quality of content across the platform. Regardless, LinkedIn's investment in AI doesn't look like it will stop anytime soon. In the past month, it has integrated AI everywhere, from profiles to Collaborative Articles, to recruiting messages, and more.

  • LinkedIn is said to be developing a shared analytics feature for Creator Mode. This feature would allow creators to share their analytics with companies for branded content campaigns, including metrics like page and post views. By providing this functionality, LinkedIn aims to facilitate increased collaborations between creators and brands on the platform. The shared analytics can assist companies in assessing the potential reach, engagement, and audience of potential creator partners. It also enables them to measure the performance, track metrics, and evaluate the return on investment when partnering with creators for sponsored content.

Twitch

  • Twitch launched Hype Chat, which allows viewers to purchase messages between $1 and $500 that are pinned to the top of a streamer’s chat. The length of time messages stay pinned, the number of characters allowed, and the design of the messages depend on what the viewer pays. Like last week’s announcement of Partner Plus, there is a 70/30 split between streamers and the platform. Streamers that have fast-moving chats will likely benefit from this move, as viewers are more likely to pay to have their messages spotlighted and stand out in high chat activity.

  • Twitch introduced Content Classification Labels to warn viewers of mature themes in streams. Streamers must apply these labels to their streams if they feature prolonged mature content that may be inappropriate for some viewers, particularly younger audiences. The labels will not affect streamers' visibility, but they could impact their ad revenue. Advertisers now have more context on the type of content their ads are showing up alongside, which may lead them to avoid running ads on channels that feature mature content in order to protect their brand.

More News

  • Kick launched 24/7 live chat support for verified creators, which is provided by humans rather than bots. The platform aims to eventually make this feature available to all creators, regardless of their status. Shortly after, Twitch announced the expansion of Live Chat Support in beta for all Twitch Partners and Affiliates, which could be a coincidence or a reaction to its emerging competitor's move.

  • Flipboard introduced a new Interest Collective program that enables brands to reach audiences who consume Flipboard content from curators, creators, newsletters, and relevant publisher sites through ad campaigns. The program begins with Tech and Travel Interest Collectives and combines two ongoing emerging trends: leveraging contextual targeting to minimize the impact of a cookieless web and brands wanting to advertise across both creator and premium content.

  • Acast announced the launch of host read sponsorships on its self-serve podcast advertising platform. This means that advertisers can now book ad campaigns with podcasters directly, rather than having to purchase them manually through a sales representative or the podcast itself. The platform also uses AI, making it easier for advertisers to discover more podcasts and reach the right audiences.

  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has recently updated its Endorsement Guides, for the first time since 2009, along with an accompanying Q&A resource. One noteworthy update concerns "de-influencing." When creators criticize or say something negative about a competitor of a brand they have worked with, they are required to disclose that relationship, as it can impact how their audience views their comments. It is essential for anyone remotely involved in the creator economy, whether on the brand/agency side, a talent representative, or a creator, to stay up to date with the policies and guidelines from governing bodies to avoid any potential repercussions for violating them.

  • FYPM, an influencer pay transparency platform, has released its 2023 Creator Pricing Benchmark Report. The report compiles creator-provided data from over 16,000 brand deals across 7,200 brands. As pricing for creator content can vary widely due to factors such as who is running the campaign, campaign deliverables, the brand, and more, both brands and creators should refer to various data to take a more holistic approach to determine what they should pay or charge, respectively.

  • Canva inked partnerships with Warner Music Group (WMG) and Merlin to allow subscribers in the US, Europe, Brazil, Canada, and Australia to use commercial music in their creations, such as videos and presentations. Music rights holders will earn royalties when their music is used in published work. This move makes Canva the first visual design platform to offer commercial music, following in the footsteps of social media platforms, which have recently secured deals with music publishers to give creators access to popular and trending music while helping artists reach new audiences and earn revenue.

What I’m Reading

  • The company teaching influencers how to get rich without going viral (Rest of World)

  • TikTok beauty influencer Mikayla Nogueira: ‘Don’t strive to do this career’ (Glossy)

  • BuzzFeed expands creator network to produce more content while keeping fixed costs down (Digiday)

  • TikTok’s fickle algorithm is leading to burnout for content creators (Bloomberg)

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