BLOG POST BY: Eliza Borrett

INDUSTRY ROUND UP #19: TWITCH VS HATE RAIDS, THE MET GALA AND YOUTUBE AND PINTEREST AND SHORT-FORM VIDEO

In this weeks edition of the Industry Round Up, we explore the ongoing issue Twitch faces with its hate raid epidemic. We will also jump into the latest influencer news that includes the increased presence of YouTube creators at the Met Gala. Finally, we will cover the latest with platforms, with some highlights including Pinterest testing its own TikTok-esque feature and Instagram’s ‘Map Search’ tool.

Twitch Sues Users Over Hate Raids 

Not too long ago a number of streamers organised a protest that called for users and streamers to boycott the platform to stand against hate raids. Raids on Twitch are essentially a feature on the platform that allows streamers to direct their viewers to another channel – which is typically done when a streamer is about to go offline. However, like anything, some users have been using the feature for the wrong reasons, deciding to send others to spread hate and harass creators.  

Now, Twitch is taking action through a lawsuit involving two anonymous users who have been “targeting black and LGBTQIA+ streamers with racist, homophobic, sexist and other harassing content”. All of these points are in violation of Twitch’s terms of service. Twitch has also taken additional steps against hate raids including banning thousands of accounts, new chat filters and the development of a detection solution to stop users simply making new accounts once banned.

The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California targets users who are identified by their usernames “Cuzzcontrol” and “CreatineOverdose”. Twitch states they initially took action by suspending and banning these accounts, but these users then created new accounts and now have multiple aliases on the platform, as well as operating thousands of bot accounts to conduct hate raids. According to Twitch “Cuzzcontrol”, is responsible for an estimated 3,000 bots that have been used in recent hate raids. The lawsuit also alleges that the users identified in the Twitch hate raids may also be coordinating future attacks on platforms such as Discord and Steam. 

Organisers of the original protest on hate raids are feeling more optimistic with these recent actions by Twitch. The platform is now taking tangible steps to stop the serious and dangerous attacks through hate raids. However, the situation is complex with no easy fix to quickly protect certain groups on the platform.

Walmart x Litecoin Hoax

Earlier this week, Walmart appeared to be planning to accept the cryptocurrency Litecoin as a method of payment for goods, according to a press release by GlobeNewswire.  However, as this story developed and reporters did some digging, this appeared to be fake news. A Walmart spokesman confirmed later on that this was indeed an inauthentic press release, with Walmart never listing such partnership plans on the official corporate website – which you’d expect. The official Litecoin Twitter account had retweeted the news, giving the markets the information needed to drive the price up 33%, since crashing on confirmation of being false.

There has been a lot of recent media attention on “pump and dump” schemes, with cryptocurrencies currently being less regulated and riskier than public company stocks. Being a volatile and unregulated market, cryptocurrencies have become a new way for scammers to take advantage of new people entering.

The Try Guys Head To The Food Network

The Try Guys is a US-based group on YouTube consisting of Keith Habersberger, Ned Fulmer, Zach Kornfeld and Eugene Lee Yang. The origins of The Try Guys brand started in 2014 at BuzzFeed, when the members all worked for the internet media company. However, in 2019 the group separated from BuzzFeed after accumulating hundreds of millions of views for the company’s YouTube channel. 

Now The Try Guys YouTube channel, independent from BuzzFeed has over 7 million subscribers and has achieved 1,843,637,697 channels views since 2018! Every week the group release content featuring challenge-based content where they try out various things. Interestingly, it is usually the food content that regularly brings in high volumes of views. 

In recent news, The Try Guys are heading to TV with a cooking show that is on the move named “No Recipe Road Trip”. The Food Network has just ordered a full season, following the success of a one-off special of the show. The show will feature the group creating classic recipes across America, with episodes currently going into production. The shows’ premise is based on the ‘Without A Recipe’ content series on The Try Guys’ YouTube channel – which has been a hit. The new show will not only be on The Food Network but also on Discovery+, being yet another example of a YouTube format being adapted and its creator’s leveraged for traditional media and streaming platforms.

NikkieTutorials Announces Her Latest Beauty Venture 

Nikkie De Jager, also known as NikkieTutorials on YouTube, has announced that she is launching her own beauty brand named Nimya. Nikki is one of the largest beauty creators on the platform with over 13 million subscribers and over 1,492,159,400 channel views since launching in 2008. 

It is no surprise that another beauty YouTuber is launching a brand with the likes of Jeffree Star, Nikita Dragun and Jaclyn Hill all taking this route. However, Nikkie in her latest video that announced the launch, commented that her intention was not to start a brand. Nimya actually stemmed from a question from her manager of what products were not out there that the market needed. From that question on Nimya was born, and will feature those products that Nikkie felt the market was lacking – which is set to release on September the 23rd. 

Nimya is a brand completely self-funded and is a risk for the YouTuber. However, judging from the success other creators have had with their brands, it will be no surprise if it takes off, due to the fact Nikkie already has built an audience that trusts her recommendations for all their beauty purchases. 

YouTube Invites Creators To The Met Gala

The Met Gala used to be an event closed off to social media creators. However, as the power of the influencer has grown, their cultural significance has become undeniable, elevating many top creators to a position of celebrity, who arguably have more influence on fashion than many actors and singers in modern times!

The 2021 Met Gala marked a bigger push than years before at celebrating creators, with YouTube hosting five creators at its table that included  Emma Chamberlain, NikkieTutorials, Jackie Aina, Eugene Lee Yang and Addison Rae. The creators were joined by Robert Kyncl (Chief Business Officer at YouTube) and Derek Blasberg (Head of Fashion and Beauty and Director of Public Figures at YouTube). 

Although the event was skipped last year due to COVID-19, YouTube in the year prior did host Lilly Singh and James Charles at its table. This jump in the number of creators this year indicates a direction the Met Gala may take in future years. Interestingly, Instagram was the official sponsor of the event. However, unlike YouTube, Instagram invited an array of celebrities to the event including Megan Thee Stallion, Saweetie, Brooklyn Beckham and Evan Mock to name a few.

LinkedIn Investing $25 Million Into Creators 

LinkedIn is launching a new incubator program for creators as part of a larger $25 million investment into the business influencer space. This news follows a post by the Global Head of Community Management at LinkedIn, who stated that a new “Creator Accelerator Program” is in the works, which will invite 100 U.S-based craters to be part of a 10-week program that involves coaching, networking, a $15,000 grant and a chance to be featured on the official Linkedin channels. 

The move is reactionary to the increase in engagement on the platform, this new program will aim to accelerate future engagement lifts through incentivised ventures that reward creators who are driving relevant conversations. This is similar to moves by other social platforms that are investing in funds and other monetisation solutions to reward top creators, in hopes that they continue delivering great content and keeping users engaged. 

The new program from LinkedIn will begin accepting applications and will be looking for diverse applicants with a range of professions and experiences. Another initiative by the platform is complementary virtual events, to highlight voices through September including “Create Learning Week” and “INFused” – which will serve to celebrate Black creators on LinkedIn.

Instagram’s New “Montage” Feature

In another step to ensure users on the platform maximise their usage of Reels, Instagram is developing a “Montage” option. This new feature will enable users to convert their Instagram Stories frames into Reels clips. 

The “Montage” option was first spotted by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi, and strangely follows a move by Instagram to discourage users from sharing feed posts directly to Stories. Instagram has stated that users don’t like seeing content in other Instagram formats being replicated directly to another, so this move goes against this view. 

Instagram is clearly trying to test new ways to push forward Reels, and has stated that Reels consumption is growing at a rapid rate on the platform – but arguably still not to the degree to rival TikTok. TikTok has dominated downloads charts and is gaining on Instagram in capturing the same audience and delivering a superior experience in terms of short-form video. 

However, as Facebook is looking to bring short-form video to the platform through an Instagram Reels integration, it could capture the platform’s existing user base. This will be a huge benefit for the platform in competing with TikTok, which currently lacks the billions of users that Facebook benefits from.

Pinterest Tests Full-Screen TikTok-Like Feed

Pinterest is the next platform to build TikTok-like qualities into its platform through a vertical scrolling, full-screen feed to aid pin discovery. The new discovery option will reportedly include a “Browse” and “Watch” display, with the prior being the traditional Pinterest search feed and the “Browse” being a TikTik-esque feed with both video and still images displayed full screen in the vertical orientation. 

This feature is still in testing and was spotted by a platform user, with Pinterest yet to confirm that this feature will make it to a full rollout. This move further indicates the influence TikTok is having on the developing user experience across all social platforms.

Pinterest did see huge success over lockdown and then failed to experience the same rate of growth as restrictions loosened. However, Pinterest is unique in that it is a platform where people are actively looking for product recommendations, and its Idea Pins feature is having a similar impact to Reels with elevated levels of organic reach and impressions. 

It will be interesting to watch how Pinterest continues to develop platform features to keep up with the current leaders in the market.

Instagram’s “Favourites” Feature

Instagram is testing a new feature that will allow users to see the content shared by their favourite creators higher in their feed, the feature will be called “Instagram Favourites”. This is set to allow users to categorise the content they would rather see on their feeds, which may increase the use and time spent on the app.

Since Instagram got rid of the chronological feed, users have complained about the unlikelihood of seeing content from people they know or want to engage with, so this recent update by Instagram may help to rectify such criticisms and attract more users back to the platform.

The new iteration will give users more control about what they see, rather than features such as “Close Friends” which allows the user to determine who sees their content.

Instagram’s New “Map Search” Tool 

Users in Australia and New Zealand are the first test pool for a new feature called “Map Search” on Instagram. This new tool will hope to facilitate improved business discovery on the platform through locations of interest on an in-app map, which will show business information and show public posts tagged in the business location. 

Users who have access to this new tool are provided with a new map option on the Discover tab, where users can access the Map Search, highlighting various businesses in specific areas. When a user finds a business of interest, they then can click on the said location and be presented with information including opening hours, address, price information and a direct link to the business IG profile. 

This new feature sounds very similar to the Snapchat map tool that was recently added to the platform, providing information on local businesses, highlighting locations recently visited by connections as well as popular locations in a specific user’s area. This wouldn’t be the first time Instagram swiped a feature from Snapchat, with the platform infamously rolling out Instagram Stories off the back of the success of Snap’s ephemeral content feature. 

The move makes sense with Instagram having almost every business in modern times on the platform or at least one of Facebook’s owned apps. It will be interesting to see how this tool develops and better facilitates footfall to local businesses.

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Written by: Eliza Borrett

Insights Manager at The Goat Agency