Welcome to the February instalment of Social Butterfly – TCD’s state-of-social-media wrap with Digital Content Managers Tessa Charters and Jamie Hatch.
From the latest TikTok and Instagram developments all the way to Snapchat and BeReal – no, we didn’t think we’d hear that name again either – we’ve got the social updates you need.
Grab yourself a snack and strap in, readers, because we’ve got a lot to catch up on.
TikTok has had an outsized influence on the music industry for a while now. Not too long ago, artists were complaining that their record labels were holding back their new tracks until they could build up sufficient buzz around 15-second snippets of the songs on the platform. (Cue Halsey’s TikTok rant, IYKYK.)
But now we’re seeing a step in the opposite direction, as Universal Music Group (UMG) has removed all of its artists’ music from the platform after failing to reach a new licensing agreement. In a scathing open letter, UMG cited a lack of appropriate compensation for artists and songwriters; a failure to protect artists from the effects of AI; and concerns about the ‘online safety’ of TikTok’s users as the reasons for the high-profile divorce.
TikTok responded in kind, slamming UMG for choosing to “walk away from the powerful support of a platform with well over a billion users that serves as a free promotional and discovery vehicle for their talent”.
The stalemate means that a significant number of previously published videos that contained music from the UMG library have now gone silent.
C’mon, guys – how are we supposed to collectively freak out about Taylor Swift’s new album announcement when we can’t even access her songs?
While this move potentially opens doors for smaller artists to potentially go viral, we anticipate that Universal might eventually reconsider its stance, given the impact that TikTok can have on the popularity of new music. Only time will tell if a reunion tour is on the cards.
In the meantime, you can create your own music on TikTok with the AI song generator that has UMG shook. Give it a whirl, you might just go viral. (But at what cost?)
In other TikTok news, creators on the platform have revealed TikTok is pushing for 1-minute landscape videos, promising “increased views” for content in this format. The thought of a landscape video on our ‘For You’ page does make us giggle.
It’s also worth noting that TikTok is trialling 30-minute-long videos – YouTube, is that you?
Goodbye Finsta, Hello Flipside
Finstagram accounts – aka Finstas, aka fake Instagram accounts – have been long used by users wanting to post images and interact with other accounts in a more private manner.
Usually reserved for close friends (or the occasional troll), these accounts may shortly become a thing of the past. Instagram has officially begun live testing of Flipside, a new place to engage with only the closest of friends.
This new function would allow users to create a private profile for a subset of their followers or friends – think ‘Close Friends’ on Stories – to share content of a more candid and personal nature. Until we see it in the wild, we won’t comment on exactly how a brand can utilise this feature, but watch this space.
We’re also stoked that Instagram is now letting you opt-out of DM read receipts. While they may hold us accountable to reply in a timely manner, this will certainly help when followers throw you a community management curveball. We expect this to give social media managers more space to gather the info they need for worthwhile conversations with their brands’ customers.
In a minor update to the platform, but a major update for social media managers, Stories now lets you cancel an upload before it posts. Honestly, we’re grateful to say goodbye to the sheer panic you feel when you notice a spelling mistake or a forgotten link just after hitting the share button.
And in other news… it seems like Threads is experiencing a second wave, having seen a notable surge in downloads in December following its launch in Europe. As the app continues to evolve, and users continue to be very vocal about which features do and don’t work, we’re keen to see if it becomes more relevant for brands.
Under the thumb
After teasing a new Thumbnail Test and Compare feature (aka thumbnail A/B testing) last year, YouTube has revealed that the feature is still being, well, tested. There’s still no timeline for its official launch, but once it’s up and running, you’ll be able to upload up to three thumbnails per video and run them in parallel for up to two weeks to see which one gets the most traction.
In less groundbreaking news, video content continues to thrive. Morning Consult’s recent report on Gen Z’s preferred social media platforms revealed that, surprisingly, TikTok isn’t leading the way. Instead, the report claims Gen Z devotes over 80 per cent of their time to their first true love, YouTube.
Everything Elon all at once
X is continuing its shift towards becoming the self-proclaimed ‘everything app’, from displaying gambling odds (ick) to introducing live video chats and expanding their in-app job listings. We’re only one month into the year and we’ve already heard it all.
One interesting new feature on the platform is Topic Tags for Community Admins. Similar to video tags on YouTube, you can now add relevant search tags to your post to boost your discovery and increase your Community member count. Considering the rise of interest in Communities on X, this does feel like a small step in the right direction.
Snapchat is looking to break up with social media, calling itself ‘the antidote to social media’ in its latest marketing campaign, ‘More Snapchat’.
While they do make some strong *cough* convenient *cough* arguments, here’s the thing: If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, chances are it’s a duck.
On the other hand, BeReal is taking the opposite approach in its quest to make a comeback.
BeReal was crowned the ‘anti-social media social media platform’ when it broke onto the scene in 2022, and honestly, it looked like it had legs for a hot minute. Its focus was very much on real people in real time, and it seemed to work.
But eventually, life got in the way. Users just couldn’t BeReal all the time. We have meetings to attend, cars to drive, children to look after – things that get in the way of posting, and things that aren’t that exciting to see posts about. So, after its five seconds of fame, the platform’s user numbers reportedly started to decline.
However, it looks like BeReal has taken a good look at itself in the mirror and realised it needs to BeMore. The platform has just launched RealPeople and RealBrands – aka official accounts for celebs and brands. Will this shift towards more traditional social media content be enough to power a BeReal revival? We’re looking forward to seeing how it plays out.
The taste test
Finally, we’ve been listening to an episode of The Ezra Klein Show that we’d recommend all of the social butterflies out there should tune into.
The episode, called ‘How to discover your own taste’, takes a deep dive into how social media algorithms have become the puppeteers of taste. Klein and guest Kyle Chayka, a staff writer at The New Yorker, posit that today’s internet encourages all content to look increasingly homogenous, and dulls our ability to develop our own personal tastes.
In other words, are we losing our individuality? And is what we like actually what we like, or just what we are being told to like? (Say that three times fast.)
As people who are responsible for creating content that we hope the algorithm picks up, this is an interesting perspective. We like to think that we’re creative, coming up with unique ideas and concepts, but we definitely know when to jump on a trend when we see one.
So we ask you, social butterflies – as content creators and managers, what do you think our responsibility is in driving taste? Should we be slaves to the algorithm, or highlight individuality?
With budgets and stakeholders to answer to, we can’t ignore the appeal of appealing to the many, but we do agree there needs to be a balance between the two.
‘Til next time…