BLOG POST BY: Eliza Borrett

INDUSTRY ROUND UP #13: PINTEREST ON THE DECLINE? TIKTOK STORIES AND ZUCKERBERG’S METAVERSE

In this week’s Industry Round Up we breakdown exactly what is going on at Facebook regarding a Metaverse, we also take you through the latest influencer news including yet another huge achievement for the FaZe Clan! Finally, we delve into the latest changes happening with social media platforms, and you don’t want to miss which platform is bringing out a new Stories feature…

Mark Zuckerberg & The Metaverse

So what is the Metaverse? Well, the term was coined in Snow Crash, a sci-fi novel by Neal Stephenson in 1992, if you want another example picture Ready Player One (the film or the book), which depicts a Metaverse where people escape to, which blurs the lines between reality and the virtual world. The video game sector in particular has already played around with the concept of Metaverses, for example, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, has elements that contribute to a formation of a Metaverse. Key elements that you would associate with a Metaverse include the fact that things happen live – that can’t be saved and experienced again. You can buy and sell, even invest in a virtual world – like in the real world. Finally, in a Metaverse, you can bring your virtual self and anything connected to your virtual persona to different experiences in the 3D virtual world.

Enter Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg recently made a statement that the future of Facebook is beyond connected social apps. As stated by Zuckerberg, “In the coming years, I expect people will transition from seeing us primarily as a social media company to seeing us as a Metaverse company”. Interestingly, the company is already making movements through the formation of a Metaverse product group, headed up by Instagram VP Vishal Shah, with plans to rapidly hire new talent for the group. However, the creation of a Metaverse connected to the Facebook experience is no small feat, the Metaverse will probably be years in the making, but is yet another way Facebook plans to dominate online experiences on a global level.

Pinterest On The Decline?

Pinterest stocks dropped by 18% after reporting a decline in monthly users in the second quarter. In the latest report, Pinterest stated they had 454 million monthly users, which is down more than 5% from a report in April.

The drop in users is being attributed to the world opening back up, and people having more time to socialise. Interestingly, Pinterest is a social media platform that isn’t designed to document users lives, like Instagram and Snapchat. Users aren’t using the app when heading out with friends or taking pictures of their food at restaurants – so it makes sense Pinterest would see a drop in users as restrictions lift. Snapchat in particular has reported an increase in daily active user expectations, showing that the apps designed to document social experiences are still benefiting from continual growth. 

Pinterest has been trying to win marketers and creators over of late, whether that be through new features that are shoppable or new ways that creators can monetise their content on the platform. However, this latest report showing a decline in users might be the very thing to put people off Pinterest. To note, it’s not just Pinterest – other platforms have also reported some growth issues including Twitter, which failed to meet its monetisable daily active users expectations and Facebook, which was unable to meet monthly active user expectations.

Tencent Hit By China’s Crackdown On Tech

In recent months, the Chinese government have been scrutinising tech giants over issues such as data security and monopoly concerns. Now Tencent has become the next tech company hit by crackdowns in China. Tencent is essentially a Chinese multinational conglomerate company that owns Riot Games, among other companies in the internet and tech sector. However, following fears of gaming addiction in China, the government have pushed Tencent to implement new restrictions on gaming products to limit time spent playing games. As a result, Tencent has announced new restrictions that limit the time children can spend playing its games.

As expected, following this move, Tencent experienced a drop in shares of more than 10%. The company’s most successful game ‘Honor of Kings’, will now only be playable for a single hour a day, and two hours on holidays for minors! There will also be a block on children under 12 from spending in-game money. Interestingly, this isn’t the first round of restrictions set on the game, Tencent already implemented limits for younger children – but not to the extremes now evident.

The end result was many international investors losing a large sum of money following crackdowns. It is also worth noting that Tencent has a significant hold in the US market, with investment stakes in the likes of Fortnite, Snap, Tesla and Activision Blizzard. So Tencent may not be well known to the Western market, but they are certainly present in some of the biggest companies around the world.

The D’Amelio Show Hits Hulu September 3rd

TikTok royalty, The D’Amelio family, have announced the date of their show on Hulu. The show will be an eight-episode documentary-style show, showcasing the lives of the famous sisters, Charli and Dixie, and their parents Marc and Heidi.

The announcement of the launch was featured on the Hulu YouTube channel, with the family talking about what to expect to drive excitement among fans. The show will be unscripted and follow the family as they navigate their lives and work in Los Angeles.

This move to episodic content on streaming platforms and TV is something that is becoming a huge trend, with social media talent being recognised for how many viewers they can attract through their loyal fanbases, which are grown organically and authentically on platforms such as TikTok and YouTube. Don’t be surprised to see more influencers have TV programmes, with the likes of YouTube creator Tana Mongeau, already having an MTV show.

FaZe Clan’s Brand Deal With McDonald’s

FaZe Clan is a professional esports and entertainment organisation, based in Los Angeles with 85 members that form the FaZe roster. We’ve mentioned FaZe Clan a lot recently with the organisation having some of its members featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and the gaming organisation making plans to invest heavily in new content formats that are podcasts

However, in recent developments, FaZe Clan has signed a longer-term deal with McDonald’s to help align the brand with the gaming community. The new deal was announced on the FaZe Clan’s Twitter account, with a trailer that featured some key members that included FaZe Rugg, FaZe Adapt, FaZe Swagg and the Nuke Squad. The partnership will entail a cross-platform content plan that highlights inclusion in gaming, communicated through the diverse stories of the FaZe Clan.

We are seeing more brands move in on gaming organisations as the popularity of the gaming vertical booms. Only last week, Lexus signed a deal with 100 Thieves, another gaming organisation, which will also involve a longer-term partnership with some of its members.

Tana Mongeau’s Podcast Finds Early Success 

Tana Mongeau is a creator that started on YouTube with the ‘story time’ format, which became extremely popular around 2015 onwards. Since then Tana has explored new content avenues including an MTV show, music videos and launching an Only Fans account. However, in Tana’s most recent venture, the creator has launched a podcast named ‘Cancelled’. Tana’s first guest was Trisha Paytas – a YouTube veteran and infamous internet personality, who just recently quit the extremely popular podcast ‘Frenemies’, with Ethan Klein of H3 Productions. 

Following the launch, the podcast climbed the charts, currently standing in the top 10 on both the iTunes ‘Top Shows’ and Spotify’s ‘Top Podcasts’ charts. Tana has also applied the same multi-format strategy as most YouTube creator’s who have launched a podcast, by releasing the audio version through streaming platforms and then uploading a video version to YouTube.

In the second episode, Tana was able to pull in some big sponsors including Adam and Eve and Noom – just to name a couple. The new podcast will be a regular content stream for Tana, which will also feature some of Tana’s friends that include Hunter Moreno and Brooke Schofield. This is yet another example of a creator moving into the podcast format and finding success, which comes at a time when most social platforms are looking at new ways to make audio content and podcasts more accessible aka Facebook.

TikTok Tests A Stories Feature 

TikTok is testing a Stories option that will disappear after 24 hours. The feature appears to be situated in a collapsible left-hand side panel in the main feed, with users having the ability to tap into Stories from people they follow. The feature appears to have a dedicated camera and creation flow, streamlining the production of Stories away from the main short-form video creation flow.

The Stories format is a feature that has been replicated across most of the major social media platforms, first through Snapchat which was then copied over to Instagram and so on. The benefits of TikTok having a Stories feature is in the maximisation of engagement – as ephemeral content is something that has really taken off on social. Furthermore, adding a Stories feature does create opportunities for new ad space in the future, as TikTok looks to go to the next level as it makes ground on the likes of Instagram and Facebook in terms of users.

YouTube Shorts Launches New Payment Opportunity  

YouTube has announced the launch of the Shorts Fund, enabling the platform to pay up to $10K per month to individual creators based on top-performing content. 

As explained by YouTube: 

“Each month, we’ll reach out to thousands of eligible creators to claim a payment from the Shorts Fund- creators can make anywhere from $100 to $10,000 based on viewership and engagement on their Shorts”.

YouTube also highlighted that this is only the first step in a monetisation model for Shorts. Notably, this payment opportunity is also available for creators who aren’t part of the YouTube Partner Program, which allows creators to make money on their content through advertising revenue, channel memberships, merchandise shelves, among other things. The funding for this new initiative will come from YouTube’s broader Shorts Fund, which was announced in May, and will be an additional monetisation pathway for those creators who aren’t able to monetise Shorts with ads at this point in time.

We’ve already seen Snapchat benefit from a similar model, which saw the app payout $1 million per day to most popular Spotlight clips (which is essentially Snap’s short-form video feature). The main aim of the monetisation options is to attract and retain creators, so there is a continuous flow of creative content. This appears to have worked for Snapchat, with Spotlight’s active users growing to 125 million.

YouTube Adds New Features To Live-Streaming 

YouTube is adding new features to help improve engagement within streams and maximise awareness of live broadcasts within the YouTube app. YouTube is first expanding Premier trailers to upcoming live streams, enabling creators to add a short preview to the stream event page. Trailers were introduced last year, helping creators to add a 15-30 second clip to a scheduled video premier, this option essentially helped to build hype for content and maximise viewership. 

Furthermore, YouTube is expanding the access of a live chat polls option, allowing another way for viewers to engage through live content, streamers can set up a live poll from the chat window and add up to four options for viewers to choose from, this feature was only previously available for gaming creators, but it appears this has now been opened up for all streamers.

These updates come as TikTok steps up live streaming capabilities, and both YouTube and TikTok experiment with live-stream commerce. In the next few years, we should expect to see social media platforms morph into a digital QVC, as platforms make it easier to shop for products in real time.

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Written by: Eliza Borrett

Insights Manager at The Goat Agency