ICYMI: Brands ❤️ Attention Edition

Here's what happened on social media this week, Sept. 24

If you’re new here, thanks for subscribing! And welcome back to my returning subscribers! I teach influencer marketing as part of UCLA Extension's Business & Management Program and am the CMO at Fit Body App. This newsletter started as a recap of key platform updates and creator trends that I wanted to share with students. Now, it’s expanded to anyone who’s interested in how individuals, brands and organizations connect and communicate online.  

💻 Roadmap

💵 Insider tracked down some of the influencers who are part of Instagram’s exclusive affiliate marketing beta test and got them to reveal how it works and how much they’re earning (it’s in-line with industry commissions of about 10%-20%).

The test has about 100 creators currently enrolled and 30 brands, including Revolve, Athleta and Outdoor Voices, but plans to expand the tool to all creators in the future. And while ‘shopping stickers’ are only available for use on Stories and in-feed posts, Instagram plans to expand the feature to Reels and IGTV.

📍Pinterest announced a partnership with Albertsons to provide in-app grocery shopping options. The grocery giant is also working on a new Pinterest Ambassador program to train select staff as dedicated Pin creators. 

🏆 Facebook is testing ‘Community Awards’ to encourage engagement in Groups. (Fact: Facebook Groups are one of the few reasons left for visiting the platform.) The new feature will allow admins to give digital awards to ‘outstanding group comments.’

📌 TikTok is testing an option to pin selected video clips to the top of your profile, letting you showcase your favorite work.

👆Click Thru

👟 Are fitness apps the new social platforms? While in no way conclusive, there were two great articles out this week suggesting that next-gen communities are forming on and around fitness apps. Whether it’s cyclists and runners connecting on Strava or through the Nike Run Club or the Washington Post having its own Peloton account — yes, WaPo gave out virtual high fives! — there’s something to be said for fitness’ cult followings congregating around something positive and life affirming.  

⚡️This TikToker is giving iconic brand logos cheesy makeovers and the brands are loving it. Emily Zugay’s redesigns are the 2022 equivalent of getting roasted by Wendy’s on Twitter. Brands are lining up to get mocked on TikTok and then replacing their logos with Zugay’s creations. It’s a win-win for her, people either get it and love to be part of the joke or pile on and increase her engagement. Either way, she’s gained more than half a million followers in the last month. 

⏳ The Chinese version of TikTok is limiting kids to 40 minutes a day. The Douyin restrictions apply to anyone under 14 (enforcement relies on kids having registered with their real names and ages). Douyin will also be unavailable to those users between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. This follows August’s government restriction that limits teens from playing video games during the week. Could their efforts, plus news like last week’s story about Instagram’s toxic effect on teen girls, strengthen the government’s efforts to regulate Big Tech?

🍿 This is a creepy but fascinating read on how China’s Communist Party decided to wipe one of its biggest movie stars from the internet as part of a clampdown on the country’s entertainment industry.  

📲 Democracy took a hit over the weekend when Apple and Google removed a political opposition app during Russian elections. The Smart Voting app was removed from their online stores following pressure from the Kremlin. As this tweet points out: “US tech giants shouldn’t help them suppress human rights in search of higher EBITDA.”   

🔍 Influencer Gabby Petito was murdered on a cross country road trip. The amount of content being created around the case on social media is being labeled as "tremendously insensitive." Meanwhile, the non-stop media coverage is being criticized for ‘missing white woman syndrome’ as it shows just how little attention is paid to thousands of missing persons cases involving Black and Indigenous people.

🏈 NCAA student athletes are taking advantage of hyper local marketing in small college towns. This is a feel-good story about influencer athletes you’ve never heard of.

🔥 A teen on TikTok disrupted thousands of scientific studies with a 56-second video that left researchers scrambling to figure out why their studies were being flooded with young female participants. Never underestimate the power of teen girls.

🚬 Bloomberg might have the best recap analysis of last week’s Facebook Files investigation. “Is This Facebook’s ‘Big Tobacco’ Moment?” compares Facebook’s actions to Big Tobacco’s decades-long campaign to cast doubt on public-health research and mislead the public about the dangers of cigarettes. 

📝 TikTok World happens next week and they’ve released an agenda for their virtual brand marketing conference. RSVP here.