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Geekout Newsletter #8 - Let's get Reel... maybe 🤔

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Geekout Newsletter
Issue #8 • View online
Don’t keep this newsletter all to yourself…
View it online and SHARE it with all your people!
Hello, geeks! 👋
So… It’s been a week since Instagram went global with its TikTok copy-paste, Reels. How are we finding it so far?
In a very unscientific survey of my friends and work contacts, most thought it lame. The biggest and most common criticisms related to lack of creator tools, the short 15-second video length limit, the sense that most of Reels content was just TikToks reuploaded, and remarks like “Reels’ algorithm sucks!”
I do think no matter how good Reels was at launch, it would have been ridiculed or torn to shreds by virtue of the fact it’s a Facebook product, and because TikTok is just so damn popular. Regardless, it’s only been out a week (for most people) and I do think Instagram will fix a lot of the UI/UX issues.
However, the real challenge for Facebook is the emotional attachment and joyful experience TikTok has built up with its users. You can’t copy and paste that so easily. Oh, and lets not forget we still have the small matter of Trump banning TikTok or forcing its sale to Microsoft to be concluded.
Right… It’s time to see if Facebook changed one of its algorithms to screw with your social media strategy, or if Twitter added a random new feature no one ever asked for… etc etc
Go grab a coffee, we’re heading into the social media nerd-zone ☕️👇
— Matt
❗️ PS. Don’t forget to join the Social Media Geekout community on Facebook. You are one of us now!
⚠️ PPS: There will be NO Geekout Newsletter next week. I am taking a week’s holiday with my kids in Cornwall. Maybe I will just send you a random weird af GIF instead, or an awful selfie? 🤔

🚨 Everyone's talking about...
Now we’ve all had more than a week to get used to Instagram Reels, the reviews are… not great. A choice quote from Brian X. Chen and Taylor Lorenz’s joint New York Times review above:
Not only does Reels fail in every way as a TikTok clone, but it’s confusing, frustrating and impossible to navigate. It’s like Instagram took all the current functionality on Stories (a tool to publish montages of photos and videos with added filters, text and music clips), and jammed them into a separate, new complicated interface for no reason.
The fact it’s harder to use, has fewer features, and doesn’t save music along with saved clips all let Reels down for Brian and Taylor.
And as The Verge’s verdict explains, it’s not just harder on creators; people just looking for some good videos to watch have it much easier with TikTok. Even the good stuff is often just TikTok reposts:
Reels feels tacked on. It’s impossible not to notice the flood of reuploaded videos from TikTok, with TikTok watermarks still dotting the upper left-hand corner of reel after reel. The authentic reels mostly seem to come from featured Instagram creators, and they’re often based on popular TikTok trends.
Sounds like IGTV’s problems all over again, right?
With publishers reportedly not keen to dive in, Reels has an uphill struggle ahead if it wants to be anything more than a quirky but unnecessary feature in an app that could do with more simplicity, not less. Facebook can take a little solace that at least some brands have shown an early interest.
Twitter buying TikTok? It seemed a strange pairing, given TikTok’s price tag, but apparently they held initial talks that probably won’t lead to anything. In fact, most of the news this week has been about why the deal with frontrunner Microsoft might hit the skids.
Microsoft founder (no longer with the company except as an adviser) Bill Gates thinks its risky, some Microsoft staff aren’t keen [$$$], and even if it goes ahead it could be technically complex and take a long time.
The whole thing just keeps getting messier. Whether it’s news of a “brawl” between Trump’s advisers over the best approach to take, various murmurs about TikTok suing Trump (the latest of which says TikTok’s staff will sue), or intelligence agencies not seeing TikTok as a Huawei-style threat at all, it seems like as time goes on there’s less clarity over what will happen, not more.
But the uncertainty continues to create opportunities for TikTok’s rivals. News this week broke that both Facebook and Snap talked about buying Dubsmash [$$$]. But at least there’s some good news for TikTok: it may be saved in India yet, via a proposed investment from Indian megacorporation Reliance Industries.
If you use a Twitter app on your phone these days, it’s probably the official one. While third-party apps like Tweetbot built up loyal followings in years gone by, they’ve massively fallen behind in features as Twitter neglected to update its API so it could get as many people as possible using its platform on an app they control.
Twitter has loosened up a bit more of late; remember the open social networking standard Jack Dorsey proposed last year? We still don’t know if that will come to anything, but it shows Twitter was thinking a bit less about locking down its technology.
And now Twitter has launched an updated API that promises to bring third-party apps up-to-date with features like threaded conversations, polls, and pinned tweets. Some developers will have to pay for the privilege, but at least Twitter seems to be treating developers as people worth talking to again, and it’s even being open about its roadmap for the future. This can only be a good thing for those of us who want to use the best software for Twitter, whoever makes it.
👀 ICYMI...
Stories you need to know about:
Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp:
Facebook Announces New Group to Develop its In-App Payment Options
  • UK regulators want Facebook to run Giphy as a separate business with its own manager. [Bloomberg $$$]
  • Facebook is cracking down on news publishers with political ties skirting rules on political advertising. [Axios]
  • Facebook will now show a warning when you try to share news about Covid-19, with the aiming of stopping people from sharing out of date or inaccurate information. [The Verge]
  • Facebook says it removed 7 million posts for spreading harmful misinformation about Covid-19, and added labels to 98 million posts deemed false by fact checkers, between April and June. [Engadget]
  • Facebook has banned blackface and anti-Semitic stereotypes. [The Verge]
  • Facebook and mobile gaming firms have concerns about new iOS 14 privacy features. [9to5Mac]
  • Instagram will ask suspicious accounts to verify their identity with government ID. Unlikely they’ll get a verified badge, though! [Business Insider]
  • WhatsApp is freezing new access to its developer platform tohelp prevent another Cambridge Analytica-style scandal. [Business Insider $$$]
TikTok Tracked User Data Using Tactic Banned by Google
  • TikTok has announced the first 19 people to benefit from its Creators Fund. [The Verge]
  • France is the latest country to launch an investigation into TikTok. In this case, its plans for EU citizens’ data. [Bloomberg $$$]
  • TikTok will sponsor the New York Yankees baseball team for three years in a new deal. [Marketing Dive]
And the rest:
Scribd acquires presentation-sharing service SlideShare from LinkedIn
  • LinkedIn says it’s caught in a ‘cat-and-mouse game’ of Covid-19 misinformation. [AdAge $$$]
  • LinkedIn has a new process to tackle harassment via InMail paid messaging. [Social Media Today]
  • Hackers took control of several big subreddits to post pro-Trump content. [Vice]
  • Reddit banned a racist subreddit after the company’s co-founder Alexis Ohanian reported it. [The Verge]
  • TikTok rival Likee is on the rise. It has reached 150m monthly active users. [TechCrunch]
  • Tencent isn’t too worried about a US ban on WeChat, believing its main business in China will be unaffected. [BBC News]
  • But Apple believes the impact would be severe if it has to ban WeChat from the Chinese App Store. Sales of iPhones would fall through the floor in China. [9to5Mac]
  • The Trump administration wants a court to dismiss a lawsuit against the president’s executive order targeting social media companies. [Business Insider]
  • Ben & Jerry’s got into a spat with the UK government over a Twitter thread in support of refugees. [BBC News]
  • The UK government paid a contractor to analyse the public’s tweets as part of its Covid-19 pandemic response. [The Guardian]
  • Media owners with diversified revenue lines are best-positioned to weather the pandemic. [Digiday $$$]
  • Political ads may be forced to carry a ‘digital imprint’ disclosing who paid for them. [The Guardian]
  • People don’t have a good idea how much time they spend on social media, a study by Facebook has found. [TechCrunch]
  • UK public trust in news on social media is low, with Facebook lowest, and Twitter highest. [Ofcom]
❓ Question of the week
This tweet’s reply thread is going feel so relatable for a lot of you.
There’s some spot-on responses. 😆👌
Check it out now and add your own!
Matt Navarra
you know you’re a social media manager when...
🔨 Tool of the week
Planable | Best Free Social Media Tool for Approval and Collaboration
📲 Quick hits
Updates, experiments, and useful info snippets:

  • Facebook is killing its low-data Lite app due to low usage. [MacRumors]
  • Facebook has extended the branded content tag to Groups. Admins can now publish posts in partnership with, or on behalf of, advertisers. [AdWeek]
  • Facebook has released Graph API v8.0 and Marketing API v8.0, and detailed changes to its app review process. [AdWeek]
  • Facebook is testing more detailed analytics for individual posts in Groups, for Group admins only. [@MattNavarra]
New analytics for Facebook Group admins
New analytics for Facebook Group admins
  • Facebook is removing more than 1,000 targeting options, mainly because they are not widely used or they are duplicates. [AdWeek $$$]
  • Facebook’s Giphy has launched a new tool that lets you create animated meeting backdrops to spice up video calls. [Social Media Today]
  • Facebook and Instagram have launched voting hubs to help users register to vote and understand the process. [CNet]
  • Facebook is testing a ‘short videos’ feed with TikTok-like swipe up in its main app. This appears to be in addition to Instagram Reels. 🤔 [@MattNavarra]
  • Instagram is working on a ‘Pro’ camera mode with advanced settings. [@alex193a]
  • Instagram has fixed a bug that meant it didn’t delete content you thought was gone forever. [The Verge]
  • Instagram is working on automated captions for Stories. [@alex193a]
  • Instagram is testing a Reels tab to replace to search tab in the lower navigation bar [Social Media Today]
  • Twitter has officially rolled out restricted reply options to all users. [Twitter blog]
  • Twitter is testing automatic translation of tweets in the feed. [9to5Google]
  • Twitter has added a translation option for bios that are in a language different to yours. [@TwitterSupport]
Translation for Twitter bios. Credit: Twitter
Translation for Twitter bios. Credit: Twitter
  • Twitter is testing breaking quote tweets out as a separate metric from retweets. [The Verge]
  • Twitter has revised the text in its warnings when users try to tweet potentially harmful things. [Social Media Today]
  • Twitter is working on an audio message feature in DMs. [@alex193a]
  • TikTok has launched a tutorials site for marketers. [Social Media Today]
  • TikTok is finally adding 2-step auth as a security option, unfortunately it’s SMS or email based, both less secure than an authenticator app or physical security key. [@MattNavarra]
  • TikTok now lets you put text on the cover of your videos to tell viewers what its’ about. [Social Media Today]
  • TikTok’s PR team is now on Twitter. [@TikTok_Comms]
  • Snapchat has new lenses specifically for use on TikTok. [The Verge]
  • YouTube has stopped emailing users about new videos because so few people click on them. [9to5Google]
  • LinkedIn has published a new guide to making the most of its platform. [Social Media Today]
  • LinkedIn has added new alerts and lead management options to its Sales Navigator platform. [Social Media Today]
  • Google is taking on LinkedIn with ‘People Cards’ in Search, which act like business cards when people search for a name. They’re initially only available in India. [TechCrunch]
  • Pinterest is expanding availability of its skin tone matching options, and adding more brands into its AR Try-On program. [Social Media Today]
  • Pinterest and Vimeo have partnered to make it easier to create video pins. [Social Media Today]
  • Amazon has renamed Twitch Prime to Prime Gaming, better reflecting its status as a benefit for Prime subscribers. [The Verge]
  • The latest Android 11 beta adds 117 new emoji for you to try. [9to5Google]
📖 Weekend reading
😳 And finally....
Guess who’s back….?
📅 Back in two weeks...
Congrats! You made it to the end.
You are now fully up to date on all this week’s social media industry news.
You’re such a nerd. 🤓
Respect 👊
Before you go and get on with your weekend…
If you ❤️ this free newsletter, can you do me a favour…?
  1. Join the Geekout community on Facebook 🗣
  2. View this newsletter online and SHARE it with your work colleagues + followers ❤️
  3. Find, Follow, and Geekout with me in all these place: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | TikTok | LinkedIn
Now… go and drink in moderation, and enjoy your weekend!
Goodbye geeks!
— Matt
This newsletter is edited by Martin SFP Bryant.
Copyright 2020: Matt Navarra Media Ltd
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