BLOG POST BY: Eliza Borrett

INDUSTRY ROUND UP #16: LIL NAS X VS TONY HAWK, BILLBOARD’S INFLUENCER-FOCUSED MUSIC CHART AND THE END TO INSTAGRAM SWIPE UPS

In this week’s Industry Round Up, we explore exactly what is hypocritical about the lack of outrage from Tony Hawk’s new blood-infused skateboards. We also cover Billboard’s latest music chart, which will focus on music popularised by social media creators. Finally, we will jump into the latest platform changes including Instagram’s decision to end swipe ups.

Lil Nas X Vs Tony Hawk

Tony Hawk recently announced a collaboration with Liquid Death – a canned water company that saw the skateboarding legend sell boards infused with his blood for $500, which has since sold out. This move by Hawk is being compared to the ‘Satan Shoe’, released by Lil Nas X earlier this year, also including blood in the shoe which caused widespread outrage, and led to Nike filing a lawsuit against the music artist. In contrast, Tony Hawk’s blood infused skateboards did not receive the same criticism.

Lil Nas X tweeted his opinion on the topic stating “yall were never actually upset over the blood in the shoes? And maybe u were mad for some other reason?”[sic] – alluding to the fact it was a question of sexuality over actual outrage of the blood being used on/within a consumer product. Lil Nas X also took to Instagram to express his opinion on a post by RAPTV, which reported on the blood-infused skateboards, with the artist commenting ‘Nah He Tweakin’. This response alone has since received over 143,000 likes and has seen Instagram comment sections being flooded with the phrase – especially on Tony Hawk’s recent Instagram posts. Memes have also been popping up across the platform, integrating the now infamous phrase ‘Nah He Tweakin’.

The takeaway is surely the hypocrisy of outrage for one individual and not the other, highlighting the question of why people were really mad about Lil Nas X’s ‘Satan Shoe’, surely this same energy should be directed at Hawk’s skateboards – since blood in the product was the excuse being used for so many people publicly bashing Lil Nas X?

Facebook’s Workrooms Launches In Beta

Facebook launched a beta of its ‘Workrooms’ app that allows users to attend meetings utilising VR headsets, transporting them to a shared virtual meeting space.

As explained by Facebook:

“Workrooms is a virtual meeting space where you and your colleagues can work better together from anywhere. You can join a meeting in VR as an avatar or dial into the virtual room from your computer by video call. You can use a huge virtual whiteboard to sketch out ideas together, bring your computer and keyboard into VR to work together with others, or just have expressive conversations that feel more like you’re together in person.”

Horizon Workrooms is the first step in developing Facebook’s Metaverse – a future goal outlined by Mark Zuckerberg which moves Facebook beyond just building a set of connected social apps, but building an interconnected set of VR experiences, revolutionising how we all experience the online world. Horizon Workrooms essentially replicates elements of a physical workspace through the ability to use your desktop keyboard, access files and share and display files in the virtual shared space. 

This new format of virtual meetings comes at the right time, as lockdown restrictions have normalised remote working. Couple this with Facebook’s latest Oculus Quest 2 product selling more units than any other VR headset release from the company. Therefore, Workrooms could take off providing VR tools continue to become normalised within different industries.

Billboard Launching Influencer-Focused Music Chart 

Billboard will recognise digital creators who have helped popularised songs through their content creation with an influencer-focused music chart. This new chart has come to light, following the impact and influence of TikTok on the music charts. TikTok has already shown its ability in bringing old hits back, resulting in said songs and sometimes albums climbing to the top of modern charts. TikTok is also becoming instrumental for new artists or new music releases, seeing songs included in viral trends or content jumping right to the top of the charts just because they’ve become trending sounds on the platform.

The music chart will rank top creators on TikTok and YouTube, as well as the songs these creators have made popular according to viewership and engagement provided by analytics partner Shareablee. The chart is named ‘The Song Breaker Chart’, a collaboration between Billboard and Logitech For Creators – who previously created the ‘Song Break Awards’ that identified creators making waves in the music business. 

The total rankings from August’s Song Breaker Chart include Usim E. Mang who started the synchronised sway to ‘Alors On Danse’ by Stromae and Vanessa Clark who popularised the “glitching’ trends to ‘Get Ur Freak On’ by Missy Elliott and ‘Kurxxed Emeraldz’ by Luci4.

Influencer Energy Drink Scores Huge Distribution Deal

Josh Richards is a creator with over 25 million followers on TikTok and an entrepreneur known for his investment in various startups, whilst Bryce Hall is another creator with over 20 million followers on TikTok known for his controversial image and involvement in events such as Social Gloves – the TikToker vs YouTuber influencer boxing event held earlier this year. The two TikTok creators, who developed their careers together in the creator house, ‘The Sway House’ launched the energy drink Ani, last year and now have scored a 400-store distribution deal as the energy drink now heads to Walmart.

Ani started off selling direct-to-consumer then moving to small distributors – selling out very quickly. Flavours Lemon Lime and Black Cherry will now be available in 400 stores in the US, containing less caffeine, sugar and calories than the average energy drink. Richards stated that during the development stages of the product, his followers and Bryce’s provided feedback, helping to ensure the energy drink was something his audience actually liked. 

This is yet another example of creators stepping out into new business ventures outside social media collaborations, creating successful products that leverage highly engaged audiences that have grabbed the attention of huge retailers.

Facebook Re-Opening Applications For Black Gaming Creator Program 

Facebook’s Black Gaming Creator Program launched in December 2020, offering benefits such as Facebook Gaming Partner status, access to new products, community support via a private Facebook group, educational summits, content monetisation and monthly payments.

Since the launch of the program, Facebook has seen a large number of applications and has accepted 42 creators. Now Facebook is excited to re-open up the program application process to new creators for a second year. Luis Renato Olivalves, Facebook’s global director of gaming creator partnerships, said in a statement. “With many new partners in the first year, this program is proof of the growing excitement for entertaining, diverse and creative personalities and new communities within game streaming.”

The Black Gaming Creator Program will pay out $10 million and is part of Facebook’s $200 million initiative to support Black-owned businesses and organisations on the platform.

Instagram Removing Swipe Up Links 

Instagram is changing how external links are shared on Stories, removing the current ‘swipe up’ and replacing it with a new link sticker option. The swipe up will be removed from the platform on August the 30th, to streamline the Stories creation experience since other interactive elements are in the form of a sticker.

A benefit will be the creative control, allowing users to customise the appearance of the link sticker to maximise the impact. Instagram will also hope this change will further engagement as users can receive reactions and replies to content with a link sticker – as you were previously unable to receive feedback on a Story with a swipe up link in the past. 

The standout benefit will be the fact links can be prominently placed on Instagram Story frames, which could in turn increase clicks as opposed to a small swipe up prompt at the bottom of a Story frame. However, the swipe up action has become the norm for Instagram users and therefore, could hinder the performance of link stickers on the initial launch.

Finally, it is yet to be confirmed that link stickers will be available for all users or just those with verified profiles or 10K+ followers – as in the past the VP of Product at Instagram has stated that link stickers for all is the end goal.

TikTok’s Effect Studio 

TikTok has launched its own AR Effects Studio, enabling users to build their own effects for TikTok – similar to platform tools developed by Facebook and Snapchat. The Effect Studio also named the ‘TikTok Effect House’ is currently in beta testing with select developers. 

TikTok aims to launch the ‘Effects House’ to all creators, furthering the creative opportunities on the platform and elevating the user experience. Facebook has certainly found success through its Spark AR platform, with more than 400,000 AR creators publishing 1.2 million effects on Facebook and Instagram, while Snapchat reported that 200,000 creators have built over 2 million Lenses on Snap’s Lens Studio. Both platforms have found that AR effects have resulted in bolstered engagement on each respective platform, which will be TikTok’s ultimate aim with this new AR development tool.

TikTok’s Shopify Shop Tab

TikTok has announced a new shop tab for Shopify merchant profiles, adding a product display to the experience in-app.

As explained by Shopify: 

“Shopify merchants with a TikTok For Business account will soon be able to add a shopping tab to their TikTok profiles and sync their product catalogues to create a mini-storefront that links directly to their online store for checkout.”

This is yet another eCommerce push for the platform, not yet allowing an in-stream shopping experience but allowing retailers to benefit from building a presence on the platform and driving consumers to purchase through Shopify stores. The more TikTok can show views on the platform can also result in purchases, the more businesses are likely to invest time and money into the platform – thus creating more opportunities for creators to also monetise their content through brand partnerships. 

TikTok will be expected to push forward with more eCommerce integrations based on what we are seeing with Douyin – the Chinese version of TikTok, which has seen the majority of revenue coming directly from eCommerce transactions, which has tripled over the last year due to COVID. The new Shopify shop tab is now available to Shopify merchants with a TikTok Businesses account in the US, UK & a small group of Canadian merchants.

Pinterest Introduces An Inclusive Hair Pattern Search Feature

Image From: Pinterest Newsroom

Pinterest has a growing number of users who are turning to the platform for hair and beauty tips, which has inspired the platform to introduce a new hair pattern search. The new feature allows users to search hair patterns in six categories: protective, coily, curly, wavy, straight, and shaved/bald, allowing for broader and more inclusive searches. This allows users to get accurate results that represent their specific hair type, the feature then allows them to be able to make searches such as ‘summer hairstyles’, ‘glam hair’, or ‘short hair’ for their specific hair type.

Last month on Pinterest, there were over 120k searches related to hair. Top hair searches increasingly include specific terms such as ‘natural hair twists protective’ (a search which is up 15x this summer, month on month) and ‘best haircuts for thick wavy hair’ (up 13x).

The release of this new feature comes after Pinterest launched skin tone range searches, another inclusive feature launched in 2018. The new hair pattern search feature is available in the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand on desktop, iOS, and Android.

“Just the simple idea that I don’t have to work twice as hard to find a hairstyle because of my hair type is a game-changer,” says Naeemah LaFond, an editorial hairstylist and global artistic director of the Amika hair care brand, who advised Pinterest during the feature’s development.

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Written by: Eliza Borrett

Insights Manager at The Goat Agency