Instagram is testing a new way to notify customers about the release of new products when launch day arrives with stylish stickers and push notifications. 

While the test is currently limited to a small number of brands selected as part of Instagram’s closed checkout beta, it would deliver a promising way to boost the profile of your product launches and improve early sales. 

As the company says in their announcement:

“We wanted to make it easier for people to discover and follow upcoming product launches from brands and creators they love.”

The feature works by letting users opt-in to receive reminders about upcoming products when they see early promotional materials. 

Come launch day, they can then be notified of the product release and even make the purchase without leaving the Instagram app. 

To accompany the new feature, Instagram also launched a new sticker which can be used in Stories to promote your latest products. 

Since the new feature is just in testing, it is hard to predict when or even if it will eventually reach all brands and advertisers. Still, it provides an insight into how Instagram is aiming to help brands keep their products in the front of customers’ minds.

Pinterest is changing things up in a major way for brands, with an all-new design for business profiles and an entirely new ad format.

New Business Profile Design

Pinterest’s new design for business profiles puts the focus directly on dynamic content and a central view of product pins. 

Specifically, brand profiles will now include:

A dedicated Shop tab for showing users your products directly within your profile

The ability to customize profile covers with either videos or images

A streamlines navigation system making it easier to access messaging features

‘Shop the Look’ Ads

Since the launch of ‘Shop the Look’ pins, retailers have been flocking to the organic posts to showcase a wide array of their products in a single image. 

Now, Pinterest is allowing these brands to turn these organic pins into shoppable ads which can promote up to 25 products at a time. 

When these ads first appear, users will see a showcase previewing up to four items, which can be expanded to show the rest. 

‘Shop the Look’ ads are expected to roll out to US advertisers in the next few months.

Google has announced they will be rolling out a broad update to their core search algorithm starting later today. 

While the updates are a regular part of maintaining and improving the company’s search engine, Google has typically been reluctant to give advance notice before the update has rolled out. In some cases, they have even been unwilling to address algorithm updates in-depth after their implementation. 

This is only the second time the search engine has announced a broad core algorithm update ahead of time, suggesting they are being more proactive in communicating with webmasters. 

Google’s Danny Sullivan says the update should start very soon and will take up to a few days to complete. 

The company’s announcement didn’t add any new guidance or recommendations for managing your site during and after the rollout of this update, but Google did recommend reviewing the existing guidelines for core updates:

  • Widely notable effects are to be expected, which can include drops or gains in search rankings.
  • Core updates are “broad” in the sense that they don’t target anything specific. Rather, they’re designed to improve Google’s systems overall.
  • Pages that drop in rankings aren’t being penalized; they’re being reassessed against other web content that has been published since the last update.
  • Focusing on providing the best possible content is the top recommended way to deal with the impact of a core algorithm update.
  • Broad core updates happen every few months. Sites might not recover from one update until the next one rolls out.
  • Improvements do not guarantee recovery. However, choosing not to implement any improvements will virtually guarantee no recovery.

Google is making it easier to find the most important information in YouTube videos for users by including timestamps in search results. 

The feature has been in testing for the better part of a year but has officially been announced this week.

As the company explains:

“Videos aren’t skimmable like text, meaning it can be easy to overlook video content altogether.

Now, just live we’ve worked to make other types of information more easily accessible, we’re developing new ways to understand and organize video content in Search to make it more useful for you.”

The feature is already rolling out, but video publishers will need to take a couple quick and easy steps to ensure the timestamps will appear when their videos show up in search results.

How To Add Timestamps To Your YouTube Videos In Search Results

The good news is there is absolutely no coding or complex technical knowledge needed to provide Google with the information necessary to include relevant timestamps. 

All you have to do is provide a simple list of timestamps and what they relate to within the description section of your videos. For example:

00:05 – Intro

01:30 – Step 1

02:15 – Step 2

03:40 – Step 3

05:00 – Conclusion

Notably, Google is extending this feature to non-YouTube videos as well. However, the process requires a bit more work to properly mark-up. To start the process of adding timestamps to non-YouTube videos, Google asks you to fill out this form. Afterward, they will provide you with the necessary information for marking-up your videos.

For the first time, Facebook is giving you a way to schedule Instagram posts ahead of time without the use of a third-party tool or app. 

The new functionality, available to all business accounts through Facebook’s Creator Studio, allows you to plan your Instagram pictur updates and IGTV videos up to six months in advance. 

The new feature also opens scheduled posts to the full abilities of Instagram. With most third-party tools, users are frequently limited to just one image per post and few offer support for IGTV videos. 

How To Gain Access To Scheduled Instagram Posts

You still have to meet a few requirements to be able to start scheduling your Instagram updates. Specifically, you need to:

  • Have a Facebook Business account
  • Have an Instagram business or creator account
  • Have linked your Instagram account to your Facebook page

Once all that is in order, you can start scheduling your posts through the Facebook Creator Studio by clicking the Instagram logo at the top of this page. 

It should be fairly obvious, but the new feature does not allow for the scheduling of Instagram Stories ahead of time. This makes sense, as those posts are specifically intended to capture a moment in time. If you begin scheduling those posts days or weeks ahead of time, it would lose the authenticity that makes Stories so engaging.

Microsoft is expanding its responsive search ads beta to all advertisers.

Responsive search ads are an increasingly popular way to automatically tailor your ads for the specific needs of individual customers. 

Essentially, the advertiser can create a number of combinations for both headlines and descriptions within a single campaign, which the ad platform then selects based on a specific search query. 

In the case of Microsoft’s responsive search ads, advertisers can provide up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions. When shown, the ads can display up to 3 titles and 2 descriptions. 

After the campaign has run for long enough to gather data, Microsoft will also select the top-performing ad combinations in a report for advertisers, while underperforming combinations will be shown less often or not at all. 

The company says responsive search ads can benefit brands in a number of ways, including:

  • Reducing bulky operations and saving time
  • Serving the right message to the right user at the right time
  • Improving overall ad performance

To ensure the best performance using responsive search ads, Microsoft recommends following these tips:

  • Create responsive search ads in the same campaigns with your current expanded text ads.
  • Provide at least 8-10 unique headlines and at least 2 distinct descriptions with a clear call-to-action message.
  • Review performance regularly.
  • Pinning a headline or description will ensure it’s displayed in the desired position.

All you have to do to join the beta is fill out a short form available here.

New research from Yext and Forbes reinforces just how important it is to keep the information on search engine results relevant to your business accurate and up-to-date. 

The findings from more than 500 US consumers indicates that people automatically assume only half of the information they see in search results is accurate. Additionally, those consumers then hold the brands responsible for any inaccurate information about them, even when it appears outside of your official channels.

The study also revealed a few more bits of interesting information:

  • 57% of respondents say they bypass search and visit a brand’s official website first because they believe the information there will be more complete and accurate.
  • 50% of consumers regularly turn to third-party sites and apps to find information about brands.
  • 48% of those surveyed said a brand’s website is their most trusted source of information.
  • 47% say they are more likely to trust a third-party site over a brand’s website.
  • 20% of current and new customers trust social media to deliver accurate brand information.
  • 28% of consumers avoid buying a brand’s product after seeing inaccurate information.

Marc Ferrentino, Chief Strategy Officer of Yext elaborated on the findings, saying:

”Our research shows that regardless of where they search for information, people expect the answers they find to be consistent and accurate — and they hold brands responsible to ensure this is the case.

… there is a significant opportunity for businesses to differentiate themselves from their competition through verification on and off of their own websites.”

You can download the full report here.

YouTube has ramped up its efforts to remove harmful content over the last quarter, as a new report shows the company removing over 100,000 individual videos. 

That is nearly 5 times the number of videos removed in the first quarter of the year, reflecting a big shift in activity following a new hate speech policy introduced in June. 

Additionally, the company says it has removed over 17,000 channels and 500 million comments in Q2. 

Notably, YouTube says a large amount of the harmful content is flagged using machine learning technology to remove the content before it is ever seen by actual users. According to the company’s data, more than 87% of the videos removed in Q2 were first flagged by YouTube’s automatic systems. 

The report also mentions that an update to YouTube’s spam detection tools has driven a 50% increase in the number of channels removed for violating the platform’s spam guidelines. 

YouTube says the report is only the first in a four-part series which will cover the company’s guiding principles:

  • Remove content that violates policies
  • Raise up authoritative voices
  • Reward eligible creators
  • Reduce the spread of borderline content

As such, you can expect to see more details about how YouTube is working to curate the best platform possible in the near future.

A new large-scale international study from Google shows that shoppers are increasingly using online videos to help make purchasing decisions. 

Specifically, the study – which used a mix of surveys and in-person interviews – found that more than half (55%) of consumers regularly use online videos as part of their shopping research. 

As the company says in its article:

“For more and more shoppers, video is becoming indispensable when they’re ready to buy. In fact, more than 55% of shoppers globally say they use online video while actually shopping in-store.”

Google’s Recommended Strategies For Using Video

Within the article about the report, Google also suggests a few ways brands can use videos to influence online shoppers:

Video Shopping List

One of the most surprising findings of the study is that many consumers are replacing traditional shopping lists with a video. 

“If I go to a store and forget what I need, I pull up the video to see the ingredients. I pull to the side, watch the video, and get what I need,” said one person interviewed. 

Getting Informed and Feeling Confident

For more technical fields or issues, such as finances or repairing complicated machines, videos can be an invaluable way to help shoppers feel more confident about their purchases. 

“YouTube has taught me that I’m capable of doing what I didn’t know I could do,” explained one consumer.

Video Reviews Can Be The Tie-Breaker

Video reviews are one of the most trusted forms of online reviews and are a popular reference point when making purchasing decisions. The wide variety of video reviews out there give people the ability to focus on the features they care most about and see which products will perform best for their needs. 

As one shopper told interviewers, “While I was in Home Depot the other day, I was on YouTube looking up drill sets to see which one was better and which one burned out quicker through stress tests.”

What This Means For Brands

It’s no big surprise that online shoppers are increasingly using videos to influence their shopping decisions. What is surprising is when and where they are referencing these videos and how they are actively using the videos within the shopping process. 

The biggest recommendation from the study is that you “think of ways your brand can show up to meet these in-the-moment needs, whether it’s through ads that spark ideas and inspiration or through more in-depth content to answer questions and help people along their path to purchase.”

If your brand has a LinkedIn page, you are undoubtedly trying to amass followers to grow your company’s profile and expand your reach. 

Now, you can learn from the best. LinkedIn revealed the top 10 most followed pages across the platform this week, along with some added insight into why these pages have been so popular. 

The Top 10

  1. TED Conferences (12.5M followers): Few pages so completely sum up LinkedIn’s audience like TED Conferences, where business leaders share insight, motivation, and inspiration to other professionals. Specifically, the page consistently shares a mix of videos, articles, and images all aimed at business professionals. 
  2. Google (12.1M followers): While Google’s name recognition can’t be ignored, the brand keeps users engaged with its page through steady new content centered on themes of corporate social responsibility, innovation, and by prioritizing the real people behind the scenes at the company. 
  3. Amazon (8.6M followers): This shopping giant places a heavy emphasis on its employees, including frequent videos and articles highlighting the stories of their workers. In this vein, the company also shares inside looks at its company events, and even offers professional advice like job interview tips.
  4. LinkedIn (8.2M followers): Unsurprisingly, the platform’s own page is high in the rankings. Still, the page strives to keep users interacting with their company page through regular content aimed at a wide audience of business professionals, employers, and job-hunters.
  5. Microsoft (7.8M followers): Microsoft doesn’t just use its page to publish branded content about its latest events and products. It also helps share outside content from other business leaders, and promote content created by its employees.
  6. IBM (6.4M followers): IBM takes an appropriately tech-focused angle, but with a distinctly personal edge. The company promotes diversity and inclusion by promoting employees in the news, as well as highlighting its latest innovations in AI, cloud computing, and blockchain.
  7. Unilever (6.2M followers): Curious how this relatively low-profile consumer goods company has gotten this high on the list? Just scroll through their page. You’ll find tons of high-quality, concise content including short videos with clear messages that can be understood even without audio. 
  8. Nestlé (6.0M followers): While Nestlé does create and share content aimed at a wide-swath of business professionals, the main locus of its LinkedIn page is driven by recruiting and hiring workers interested in pioneering the “future of food.”
  9. Accenture (4.4M followers): This multinational marketing firm has grown a massive audience through a steady feed of high-quality content including short videos and business-centric podcasts.
  10. Facebook (4.4M followers): Similar to Nestlé’s page, Facebook uses its presence on LinkedIn to drive recruitment with content focused on career development and professional opportunity. 

What You Can Learn

While these pages cover a wide range of industries and content strategies, there are a few clear commonalities across the most followed pages on LinkedIn:

  • All of these pages create and share original video content.
  • They also use a significant amount of their content to highlight socially responsible initiatives and company values. 
  • Many of these pages put the spotlight on their own employees and their unique stories or talents. 

If you’ve been trying to grow your follower count on LinkedIn, you can definitely take a few pointers from these leaders on the platform.