Digital Dash: Instagram’s branded content ads & more

1. It’s here! Instagram begins rollout of “branded content ads” for influencer collabs

If the term “branded content ads” sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because the newest Instagram ad unit first hit headlines in March of this year.

Back then the feature was just in development.

But guess what?

The official rollout has now begun, meaning branded content ads could be coming to an account near you very soon.

Let’s recap what this is and how it works.

When you partner with an influencer (through Instagram’s Paid Partnership scheme), you’ll now be able to promote the post originally from their feed.

This is just as easy as if it was a regular post from your own page.

You’ll see the creator’s content under “existing posts” in Ads Manager, and from there, all you have to do is select the organic post and run it as an ad (in feed or Stories format).

The ad will still appear as if posted by the creator – which is great for authenticity. But it will importantly have a “Paid Partnership with [brand]” tag underneath the image too.

Image: Instagram

The good thing about this is you’ll have fresh, new content available for advertising directly. This means an end to taking it manually from the influencers page and reposting it as your own before promoting.

But the benefits don’t stop there. As pointed out by Instagram in the announcement blog post:

“68% of people say they come to Instagram to interact with creators. With branded content ads, businesses have an opportunity to tell their brand stories through creators’ voices, reach new audiences and measure impact. Using the tools available on the Facebook ads platform, businesses can reach targeted audiences beyond the people who follow the brand and creator accounts.”

Branded content ads are only possible if the influencer has enabled the option in Advanced Settings. But we’re sure they won’t mind gaining a heap of extra reach – it is free advertising for them, after all.


2. Facebook’s Video Creation Kit gets a sizeable update
If you’ve ever experienced the tedious task of re-sizing a video for multiple social media platforms, you’re going to like this news a lot.

Facebook is upgrading its one-year-old Video Creation Kit to include 5 new tools.

#1. The most standout of the updates is the resizing tool, which allows you to save one video in multiple aspect ratios at the click of a button. So whether you’re posting in Facebook’s News Feed or publishing an Instagram story, your video only needs to be created in one size and it’s ready to be optimised for whatever ad form you need.

#2. You’ll be able to choose from new templates too, such as “Promote a product” and others that add motion to static images.

#3. 20 news fonts have been added.

#4. You will now be able to save drafts of your videos, meaning you can pick up where you left off after that last-minute meeting is over.

#5. There are holiday and event-specific stickers to choose from to help increase engagement.

Images: Facebook

Note that these updates, and the kit in general, are mainly geared towards smaller businesses that don’t have a design team or agency on hand.


3. Bored of Bitmoji? Get ready for Facebook Avatars

It’s been a little while since Snapchat was subject to Facebook’s blatant copycat behaviour. But this week’s news is a prime example of digital plagiarism.

As first reported by Tech Crunch, Facebook Avatars (aka Facebook’s version of Bitmoji) have officially arrived.

For anyone who doesn’t know how these work, you essentially create a cartoon version of yourself.

This can then be used instead of the usual set of emojis, gifs, stickers etc. across Facebook and Messenger.

To make sure the avatar is your exact replica, you can play around with 18 customisable categories, changing hairstyle, outfit, eye colour etc.

Image: Tech Crunch

This is primarily a ploy to lure teens. Snap-owned Bitmoji has proven hugely popular with this demographic over many years, and no doubt Facebook’s hoping to cash in on this.

But that’s not to say there’ll be no interest from older users. In fact, Facebook could spearhead their introduction to the tool.

If you’re the friend who regularly posts funny gifs in Messenger group chats or comment treads, this might make your contributions even more entertaining (for you, we mean. Your friends always find you hilarious, of course).

So far, Facebook Avatars have only rolled out to Australian users.


4. Facebook creates another Stories composer layout

Make no mistake about it. Facebook is not giving up on Stories.

Over the past couple of years, the platform has ignored relatively slow pick-up rates and continued to think up more and more ways to encourage people to use Stories like they do on Instagram.

One recent example is the much more prominent Stories rail at the top of News Feed, as announced at the F8 developer’s conference.

Facebook has also been focusing on more basic changes too, like tinkering with the layout of options within the Stories composer.

We first heard that these may start appearing at the side of the screen (credit to Jane Manchun Wong), and now, another test has been spotted (credit to Akram Alodini via Matt Navara). This one means the options are even more in your face.

We know what you’re thinking. A new layout won’t make a difference if people aren’t clicking on it in the first place.

But it could be that the slightly more mature, slightly less Stories-savvy Facebook users are just having trouble discovering all of the creative elements on offer. Meaning they’re not getting the most out of the tool.

At least that’s what Facebook’s hoping.


5. Infographic: an analysis of Pinterest’s top influencers

If you read Digital Dash every week, you’ll know we’re big Pinterest fans and believe the platform has a unique market niche in terms of audience quality.

Basically, its users are ready to buy.

Surprisingly though, many businesses still aren’t using Pinterest. At least not properly.

However, the platform isn’t doing badly by any stretch of the imagination.

According to Social Media Today, there are now 291 million monthly active users (39 million short of Twitter’s – not that big of a difference).

But when people (outside of social media pros, that is) talk Pinterest, one thing you don’t hear a whole lot about is influencers.

Which is why the below infographic, from a company called SEMrush, got our attention.

It looks at the 500 most followed profiles on Pinterest.

I should mention that budget could play a factor for some of the accounts featured here.

Also historic activity is hugely relevant on Pinterest (much more so than any other platform) so bear that in mind too.

The findings suggest that honing in on not just popular topics, but also subtopics, is key. As is regular pinning – only one account in the top 15 pins less than once a week (one pinned up to 5 times per day)