The Digital Round Up - June 2021

Digital Alchemy rounds up some of Junes's biggest social media and digital marketing stories.

The Digital Round Up - June 2021

Digital Alchemy rounds up some of Junes's biggest social media and digital marketing stories.

As we head into the summer months, we’ve all got hopes for longer days, brighter skies, and plenty of sun. Whether or not these hopes can come to fruition though, well that’s another thing. However, if you’re looking for a consistent guarantee this July, then something we are sure of is that no matter the weather, there’s always going to be big news stories in the digital world. How can we guarantee that you ask? Because a member of the Digital Alchemy team has kept their ear to the ground, meticulously scrawling the internet to find you some of the biggest stories of the month. This is your digital round up, June edition.

Coming for the Crown – YouTube Shorts rolled out in the UK along with a huge new feature

The growth of TikTok in the past couple of years can’t be understated, nor can its cultural impact and relevance. A popular social platform that has continued to grow since its inception in 2017, the COVID-19 pandemic proved to be hugely beneficial to the rise of TikTok with the app skyrocketing during lockdown – seeing a 75% growth in users according to Forbes, with the app finishing 2020 as the most downloaded app in the world. I mean, how many of us ‘wasted’ days in lockdown by endlessly scrolling through skits, sketches, and memes alike? Well, that has shown no signs of stopping with TikTok users spending an average of 850 minutes per month on the app, which now has 1.1 billion active users across the world according to stats gathered by Influencer Marketing, 2021. With growth like that, it never goes unnoticed, and it isn’t long before your competitors take their shot at your crown. Whilst Instagram has had its crack with Instagram Reels being introduced last August to mixed results, YouTube also has tried their hand with the creation of YouTube Shorts announced last September, with the featuring becoming available in the UK this month along with a huge development…

The ability to sample audio from other users’ videos is one of TikTok’s main features, proving to be one of its greatest strengths that has gotten TikTok to where it is today through the creative way that users rally around a sound and use it in their videos. Whether it’s a song or just any piece of audio, the sound feature on TikTok is its not-so-secret-weapon for success. So, again, naturally, your competitors might just catch onto that, and that is what YouTube Shorts have done. Announcing the new feature at the end of May in a community blog post, the feature is now available in some of the markets in which Shorts has recently been introduced – including Canada, some Latin American countries and of course, its UK debut. The new audio feature is going to allow users to access the huge array of audio within YouTube from its many pre-existing video catalogue. The idea here is that it will allow users to let their creativity flourish by remixing the endless opportunities at their disposal. There are some concerns though, with many existing YouTubers feeling as though this will lead to people ‘stealing’ their content by using their audio without permission as to what it will be used for. If they were okay with that happening, I’m sure they’d just use TikTok…

Major changes at Instagram - IG Boss Doubles Down on Looking to Replicate TikTok Success

Speaking of chasing TikTok's success, Instagram boss, Adam Mosseri, has recently shared a video detailing the plans for Instagrams immediate future. Not concerned with the aforementioned mixed reaction to Instagram reels, the platform is instead looking to push it even further in a bid to replicate what has led to TikTok's surge in popularity. Sharing a video to his Twitter and Instagram, Mosseri gave a breakdown of what users can expect from Instagram as they look to expand, improve, and "build new experiences" in four key target areas including; creators, shopping, messaging, and of course, TikTok copying - wait no we mean video... Speaking on creators, the idea is to help strengthen the "shift in power from institutions to individuals across industries" to give more creative freedom to those producing content and helping them make a living through doing so. Whilst Mosseri didn't break down the changes they were going to be making to benefit creators (yet), you can imagine it is all about putting more emphasis on those individuals and their creativity and what they come up with, encouraging and inspiring more users to try their hand at content creation. Both shopping and messaging were only hinted at as well, with Instagram looking to further lean into e-commerce to catch up with the latest trends and how the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift from offline to online by a number of years, whilst they are also looking to catch up on messaging with more and more people using direct messaging to stay in touch with their close ones. Mosseri made it clear that the purpose of the little update was all about video, and the impending change in attitude across the app. With video content proving to be a huge spot for growth across all social platforms right now - of course inspired by TikTok as you can guess - Instagram is looking to lean into that more and more. "We are no longer a photo-sharing app" was the message by Mosseri in a bombshell revelation to those who indeed do share photos on the app, before clarifying that the number 1 reason users remain on Instagram is to be entertained - and a stronger focus on video content is the natural evolution in entertainment on social platforms right now. Over the next couple of months, IG will be looking to experiment more and more with video content across the app in a bid to keep up with the competition of TikTok and YouTube. Mosseri also revealed another new feature that was to be rolled out through testing at the end of June...

Soon, your feed may start suggesting content that you don't follow (yet) or don't engage with (yet), but that is tailored towards your interests. This is an expansion on their 'suggested posts' feature, which usually comes after you have exhausted scrolling through everything your friends have posted. But now, the suggested posts will be entwined with the accounts you do follow - sometimes even coming ahead of friends and family. This is all about expanding your feed and introducing you to accounts and posts that you may be interested in but just haven't come across yet. Users can add topics they are interested in and posts will start appearing based around that, or based around accounts and pages they already follow. Not happy with the posts being suggested? The new test comes with a snooze button to stop them from showing up and given some of the backlash towards posts no longer showing in chronological order, that snooze button may come in very handy...

Coming Together – Leading Social Media Platforms Join the COVID-19 Vaccine Drive

In a bid to encourage young people to book their vaccine appointments, leading social media platforms are coming together to provide users with information and content that will help to push them towards getting their jabs. The collaborative campaign has been pushed after a poll found that 13% of people aged 16 – 29 were hesitant about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. So, who’s all involved? Snapchat, YouTube, TikTok, and Reddit are the chosen team coming together to do their part to help with the fight against COVID-19. With the vaccination programme opening to everyone over 18 in England, the UK government has turned their attention to getting 18 – 29-year-olds to sign up, and they feel as though that the way to do it is through social media targeting. Across the apps, each platform is looking to implement content that will help inform and influence users. Snapchat users now have access to NHS stickers, filters, an augmented reality lens, as well as hosting a series of questions and answers with medical experts on the Prime Ministers official Snapchat account. On top of information on the jab, Snapchat has also added features that provide resources for people looking for more general information surrounding health, mental health, and wellbeing. Reddit is also following Snapchats Q&A lead by hosting its own live ‘ask me anything’ sessions on its coronavirus forum. So too are TikTok, who will be collaborating with Team Halo – a group of scientists who are using entertaining and shareable videos to provide and promote the latest information on vaccines. All of this is about providing “life-saving vaccine information” with Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, praising the social media platforms for “coming together to support the biggest and most successful vaccine effort in NHS history”. Meanwhile, YouTube is collaborating directly with the NHS on a new video campaign that is going to highlight life before COVID and play on the nostalgia of people’s lives and experiences before a year in lockdown to urge support for the vaccine programme. So far, so good it seems, with over 1 million vaccine appointments made over the weekend after the books were opened to all adults.

Although there’s no sign of Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter yet, earlier this year it was announced that Facebook and Instagram would be backing a new nationwide social media campaign launched by the government and the NHS to show support for vaccine rollout. That campaign features specially designed profile frames and graphics for users to change their profile pictures with - including frames such as “I’ve had my vaccine”. On top of that, a virtual roundtable event featuring Facebook and Instagram – as well as Google – committed their efforts to ensure that no one would profit from the promotion of false information regarding the vaccine, as well as responding to flagged content quicker, and to work with the appropriate authorities to promote the actual science behind the vaccine. So, although those particular social media giants are playing their part, it remains to be seen if they will be involved in this current campaign. And still no sign of Twitter anywhere.

Marketing Own Goal – Ronaldo Snub Warns of the Dangers of Social Media

Finally, how a sponsorship snub showed the dangers of marketing, and truth, within the social media world… Healthiest man alive / the world’s most famous footballer and Portugal captain, Cristiano Ronaldo is a man who knows how to look after himself - and that means strictly no carbonated drinks. This is something that Coca Cola found out the hard way when during a press conference at this summer’s ongoing European Championships, prior to their opening match vs Hungary, Portugal’s very own CR7 sat down ready to greet the press, only to be met by two bottles of Coca Cola. Not exactly impressed with the product placement of the tournament’s sponsors, the last thing Ronaldo wanted was to be seen along with the brand, so he simply enough moved the bottles out of the way before holding up his bottle of water and proudly proclaiming “Agua”– Spanish / Portuguese for water of course. This was obviously Ronaldo’s way of saying ditch the fizzy drinks and stick with trusted H20. As one of the world’s most famous sporting faces with a social media following of 550 million, the exchange naturally went viral, and thus came a lesson in modern marketing, and how headlines can so easily trump the truth.

The Ronaldo brand is undoubtedly the sporting King of social media. Not only was he the first athlete to reach the 500 million followers mark on social media, but his earnings directly off the pitch are said to beat the earnings he makes from being on the pitch – his endorsements earning him as much as £35 million in the last 12 months. His presence on social media is even more valuable to brands, with his posts delivering £53 million in value to sponsors in 2020 and expected to hit £71 million this year according to Hookit. With figures like that it’s easy to see why Ronaldo is a marketing dream, or a nightmare in this scenario. With the footage from the press conference going viral, the snub was seen as a hit to Coca Cola and a bit of an embarrassing snafu. It wasn’t long before plenty of other brands jumped on the back of it to promote themselves, and the benefits of drinking water. Not long after though, headlines about how Ronaldo was directly responsible for the value of Coca Cola dropping by $4 billion on the market started to circulate. Publications across the world began to run with the story – claiming Ronaldo himself ‘wiped’ $4 billion off the value, with many pointing towards Spanish newspaper, Marca as the source. It’s fair to say these reports were slightly exaggerated, and by slightly exaggerated we mean they weren’t true. At all. The value of Coca Cola was already dropping that day prior to, and during, Ronaldo’s press conference according to multiple sources, so the timing of events simply doesn’t add up. So, what is the lesson here? Why did so many publications run with the story? Well, because it’s an eye-catching story. It’s one made for social media that highlighted the power of a modern influencer in affecting a brands value. The headline-grabbing nature of the story made it easy to share across social media platforms along with the viral clip itself, without anyone doing any fact-checking. It’s the type of story that is made for the current post-truth world of social media. Not to mention it was fantastic for the Ronaldo brand. With such a large following and presence online, it showed that by a simple action, and pointing towards a healthy lifestyle, Ronaldo’s influence is unmatched - or at least that's what his PR agency would want you to believe. The real lesson is let’s all start fact-checking, yeah?

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Digital Alchemy
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Aberdeen, AB21 0BP

We are a full service digital agency, focusing on web design, digital marketing and branding.