YouTube Leans Into Its Live Shopping & Short-Form Video Ambitions

Edition #25

Happy Friday! Unfortunately, I came down with the flu last week, so that is why there wasn’t a newsletter. I’m feeling much better, and I’m excited to share what I’ve been paying attention to over the past week.

Today’s Edition:

  • YouTube announces Beauty Festival 2022 and first-ever Shoppable Shorts Challenge

  • Instagram brings new creative features to Reels

  • LinkedIn announces new tools and features to help creators grow their audience

YouTube Announces Beauty Festival 2022 & First-Ever Shoppable Shorts Challenge

YouTube is bringing back Beauty Festival, its beauty dedicated digital festival on June 16th. The festival will feature top creators, celebrities, and beauty industry insiders going live for product drops, how-tos, and reviews. Over 40 beauty brands will be included in the activation. For the first time, the entire event will be shoppable, with viewers having the ability to purchase products through YouTube’s live shopping features.

Ahead of the event, YouTube is launching its first-ever Shoppable Shorts Challenge with Glossier for its exclusive, never-before-seen No. 1 Pencil eyeliner. Led by musician Kehlani, creators can participate in the challenge by sharing Shorts with the hashtag #WrittenInGlossier. All content with the hashtag will be shoppable via a link directly on the video.

YouTube continues to lean into its live shoppable and short-form video ambitions. The Beauty Festival will be another opportunity for it to test and learn. With a powerful line-up of creators and brands, viewership will likely be high and will result in a positive ROI for participating parties. Depending on how successful creators and brands determine the event to be, it could be another pivotal step in YouTube helping to increase the adoption of live shopping in the U.S.

The success of the Shoppable Shorts Challenge is also something to pay attention to. Despite Shorts racking up over 30 billion views per day, there hasn’t been any indication as to whether or not Shorts can drive the bottom of the funnel results for creators or brands in the same way TikTok has. With users being able to shop products from Shorts content shared as part of the challenge, we will get a better idea of the value of Shorts, especially in the context of brand collaborations.

In just a few days of the challenge being live, there are already hundreds of videos and creators participating. This challenge structure with the e-commerce tie-in could be enticing for brands that want to create user-generated content at a scale that viewers can also take action on.

Industry News

Instagram brings new creative features to Reels. They include:

  • 90- Second Reels: The length of Reels has been extended to up to 90 seconds long.

  • Audio Import: Creators can import their own audio directly within Instagram Reels for any videos that are at least 5 seconds long.

  • Interactive Stickers: Interactive Stickers like Poll, Quiz, and Emoji Slider that were previously limited to Instagram Stories are now available for Reels.

  • Templates: Creators can create Reels easily by using a template from other creators, which pre-loads the audio and clip placers.

Instagram's new Reels features, from longer Reels to interactive elements to plug-and-play templates, make it easier for creators to create Reels and interact with audiences. These could also start to change the type of Reels content that is currently being created. For example, the increase to 90 seconds could lead to longer tutorials, product demos, or vlogs, while Interactive Stickers could lead to more creators including prompts like Polls or Quizzes to foster engagement.

Templates could also open up a new way for Instagram to reward creators. Since Templates are based on Reels that creators already shared, Instagram could reward creators with points redeemable for cash when Templates of their existing Reels are used by others to create a Reel.

It would be a win-win for all parties involved. The more Templates used, the more Reels content shared, leading to more creators getting rewarded. Let's hope that Instagram does end up building a monetization feature around Templates.

Instagram rolls out Grid Pinning. Following months of testing with select creators, Instagram is giving all creators the ability to pin up to three posts or Reels to the top of their profile. Creators can access Grid Pinning by going to a post or Reel, tapping the three dots at the top right of the app, and selecting the Pin to your profile option.

Grid Pinning gives creators more control over their profile by having the flexibility to be able to highlight specific posts or Reels. Creators can use it to showcase their best-performing content, get more visibility for sponsored content, or keep posts at the top of their profile to main a particular aesthetic.

As I have previously written, the feature could also be an effective way for marketers to extend the lifespan of the content that creators share on their behalf. Having creators pin sponsored content to the top of their profiles for an extended period of time will result in a higher chance of their followers or profile visitors viewing the content, resulting in more engagements and impressions.

TikTok launched TikTok Avatars. Through the new feature, which is available in the Effects section of the app, creators can create an avatar version of themselves. They can choose from different skin tones, hairstyles, accessories, piercings, and makeup to create an avatar that reflects their individual style and look. After their avatar is ready, they can record TikTok videos with the avatar mimicking their movements.

TikTok says it will continue to work with creators and its Creator Diversity Collective to ensure that the feature is as inclusive and representative as possible.

TikTok provides creators with another way to express themselves and connect with others through custom avatars. TikTok Avatars will rival Snapchat’s Bitmoji and Apple’s Memoji, which are also features that let users create digital versions of themselves to use for online interactions.

This on top of the recent launch of Effect House hints at TikTok possibly making a bigger play in the metaverse down the road or at the very least, adding more augmented reality features.

LinkedIn announced new tools and features to help creators grow their audience. All the tools and features are available for creators utilizing Creator Mode. Here is a breakdown of them:

  • Follow link/button: Creators can share or embed a link or button on their websites, emails, and blogs, so that users will be able to subscribe to them with just one click.

  • Follow from the feed: When users see content from creators they aren't connected to in their feed, LinkedIn will show the Follow button so they can subscribe without being directed to the creator's profile.

  • Follow from search: Whenever users search for specific topics, LinkedIn will show creators who discuss those topics regularly so that they can follow them.

  • Connection requests become automatic followers: When a user invites a creator to connect, LinkedIn will automatically have the user follow the creator, whether or not they accept their connection request. Users will then be able to see creators' public posts in their feed.

  • URL in profile header: Creators can add a link, such as a personal website, product page, or portfolio to the top of their profile.

These new features and tools help creators to increase their visibility across LinkedIn and outside of LinkedIn. With one-click Follow buttons, users will be more likely to become followers of creators when they come across their content in search or Feed. LinkedIn turning users who send an invitation request into automatic followers is the standout feature of the bunch since it can drive significant audience growth for creators that receive a notable number of connection requests.

With 10 million-plus creators with Creator Mode toggled on, the platform’s profile setting designated for those who self-identify as creators has proven to be valuable.

Twitter introduced Product Drops. Twitter is giving merchants the ability to add a "Remind Me" button to tweets for upcoming product launches. Users who sign up will be sent a reminder of the Drop through an in-app notification 15 minutes before and at the time of the Drop. When they click the notification, they will see a "Shop On Website" button where they can purchase the product on the merchant's website.

Ahead of signing up to be reminded, users can get more information about the product through a Product Details Page, which will include the price, photos, a product description, and a clickable hashtag that compiles all other conversations about the product.

Product Drops help brands and creators get attention for priority launches and make it easier for consumers to stay up-to-date about when their favorite brands and creators release new items.

The new feature is the latest addition to Twitter Shopping, a set of e-commerce tools designed to move users from product discovery to purchase. Twitter has made strides in building out e-commerce across the platform in recent months, but there’s a chance that progress will come to a halt when and if the Elon Musk era starts.

Pinterest added new editing features for Idea Pins. Pinners now have access to tools like a countdown timer, set recording duration, hand drawing tool, hex code picker, and images as backgrounds. Pinterest also updated its sticker library with more illustrative and decorative stickers, which have color customization and animation options. Creators also can upload their own images like photos or logos to use as stickers.

Pinterest's latest round of editing features helps creators make more engaging Idea Pins, a format that Pinterest has invested heavily in for over a year.

Idea Pins aren't discussed as much as TikTok videos, Instagram Reels, or even YouTube Shorts, but many Pinterest creators have utilized them to grow their presence and to increase the reach of short-form video content they are already creating across other platforms.

What I’m Reading

  • Influencers are charging more for their services across social media platforms (Marketing Brew)

  • Why influencers promoting ‘hustle culture’ to young followers is a dangerous trend (Swaddle)

  • Why does Instagram keep trying to be TikTok? (Vice)

  • ‘TikTok is one of the places where culture is created’: As TikTok popularity swells, Silk looks to tap growth (Digiday)

  • Why Amazon's live-shopping program has struggled to win over influencers, even though it's handing out bonus payment (Business Insider)