In the past, YouTube and its parent company, Google, have played very coy when it comes to its search and recommendation algorithms. Instead of explaining how it choose which videos to suggest, the video platform has preferred to simply offer tips for increasing a channel’s visibility.

Now, the company’s VP of Engineering is opening up, with what is likely the most in-depth explanation of how the company chooses and ranks which videos appear on users’ home screens. 

In a blog post and corresponding video Q&A,  Cristos Goodrow aims to provide specific answers about what signals matter, which don’t, and how the YouTube recommendation system works under the hood:

“We want these systems to be publicly understood, so let me explain how they work, how they’ve evolved, and why we’ve made delivering responsible recommendations our top priority.”

The Goal of YouTube Recommendations

First and foremost, Cristos lays out that the company recognizes the immense influence of its recommendation algorithm and works intensely to deliver videos that will make each viewer satisfied across their huge range of tastes and interests.

As Goodrow says, “there’s an audience for almost every video, and the job of our recommendation system is to find that audience.”

How Watchtime and Retention Affect Recommendations

Both overall video watchtime and retention rates are widely believed to factor into how likely a channel’s videos are to be included in users’ recommendations. What is much less clear, is whether raw viewing times or retention rates matter more. 

Unfortunately, Goodrow can’t provide much clarification here because the answer varies on a case-by-case basis. 

He explains that YouTube’s data generally shows that viewers who stick around for a greater percentage of a video are more likely to be satisfied. However, this is not the case for every type of video. 

For example, some types of videos tend to have lower retention rates but are still able to provide viewers with the information they are seeking. 

Additionally, the algorithm considers users’ viewing habits when deciding how to rank videos. How much weight it puts into a video’s watchtime and retention varies entirely based on which factor the algorithm believes is most important to each user.

Why Getting Recommended Takes Time

Newer creators often express frustration regarding how difficult it can seem to be to make it into recommendations. In many cases, it can take months before any of a channel’s videos start getting recommended. Even worse, the videos that get recommended may be months old at this point, making them potentially outdated or irrelevant. 

According to Goodrow, though, this is not intended to occur. YouTube’s recommendation system ideally will start surfacing videos immediately after they are uploaded to ensure the best performance. 

Where this breaks down is in trying to understand and recommend videos from new channels.

Without signals from users, YouTube doesn’t always understand exactly who a channel or video is relevant for. In this case, it may take longer for the system to start recommending the channel’s videos while it gathers more information.

Why Big Channels Dominate The Recommended Feed

Another point of contention for many YouTube users is that the recommended feed seems to favor larger, more established creators who are already well known. Instead, many say they want to see more content from new channels they have never heard of before.

Unfortunately, this problem is a result of the same issues driving the problem detailed above. 

Without information from users about the quality or value of a channel’s videos, it is hard for YouTube to accurately recommend the channel and its content for users. 

Because of this, driving user engagement through likes, subscribes, and comments is crucial for helping smaller channels be included in the recommendations. 


The full blog post and video from Cristos Goodrow go into much, much more detail about YouTube’s recommendation systems and how it selects which videos to highlight. If your brand is using the platform to connect with new audiences, build a loyal following, or drive sales, I strongly encourage checking them out for more when you have the time.

LinkedIn is launching new ways for brands to publish content on the platform, including a long-form content format called Articles for Pages and new ways to stream live events.

The new long-form content format provides the first chance for companies or organizations on the social network to publish content that is not restricted by character count while the updates to live streaming better integrate the platform’s streaming features to provide a simpler, more accessible, and more sharable.

Let’s explore these updates a bit more. 

Articles for Pages

While individuals have been able to publish long blogs and articles on their personal accounts for some time, company pages have been restricted to shorter content by arbitrary character counts.

With the new Articles for Pages, brands are finally free to go as in-depth as they want with their content on the social network, with absolutely no length restrictions. 

Importantly, Articles for Pages also comes with informative audience and engagement insights, including audience demographic details.

LinkedIn Live Events

LinkedIn is uniting its “Scheduled LinkedIn Live” and “LinkedIn Events” features together to make live streaming more streamlined and easy to do. 

Under the new title of LinkedIn Live Events, the platform is making it easier to access all of its live-streaming features while also debuting some new tricks and services. 

With LinkedIn Live Events, brands can:

  • Promote a livestream in advance to a targeted audience
  • Notify registrants and select Page followers when the event goes live
  • Generate views on the event page from anyone on the site, whether they’ve hit “Attend” or not, during and after the show.
  • Share the replay of the live content for further reach and engagement
  • Access LinkedIn Live with fewer followers than before
  • Use expanded registration forms for Events to better suit your needs
  • Manage leads with integration with Zapier.

Together, these new features open the door for brands to connect with their audience and promote their products and services in exciting and helpful ways which have been proven to drive leads. They are definitely worth considering if your brand serves professionals or entrepreneurs.

To find out more about LinkedIn’s latest announcements, check out their recent blog post on LinkedIn Pulse.

Facebook shared a new report this week which lists the hottest trends on its platform and Instagram in recent months. 

The latest edition of the Facebook and Instagram “Topics to Watch” report shines a spotlight on the top three topics from both platforms in the second quarter of this based on year-over-year data. 

Importantly, that means these are not the topics that had the most engagement overall. The report shows the trends which specifically showed the growth patterns most likely to lead to long-term popularity on Facebook and Instagram. This helps filter out flashes in the pan which become all the rage for a week and then fizzle out. 

The Topics to Watch On Facebook from Q2 2021

Wedding Receptions

  • 1.57x year-over-year growth
  • 1.20x month-over-month growth

Many couples are deciding now is the time to tie the knot after a year of delayed receptions or spending a year social distancing together. As such, interest in wedding receptions has shot up in recent months across Facebook and its platforms.

However, the impact of the pandemic is still clear since data suggests couples are still opting for smaller gatherings with less than 50 guests or even virtual ceremonies. 

Pop-Up Retail

  • 3.59x year-over-year growth
  • 1.02x month-over-month growth

Pop-up shops have been an increasingly popular trend for retailers in recent years, and recent events have only made them more appealing for both brands and consumers.

As Facebook explains, “Pop-ups can last anywhere from a day to a few months and offer an element of surprise and exclusivity for consumers” while allowing retailers to connect with new customers in untapped markets.

“As some people begin to feel comfortable shopping in-person again, pop-ups provide opportunities for consumers to enjoy a new type of retail experience and learn about all kinds of brands.”

Pet Sitting

  • 1.60x year-over-year growth
  • 1.25x month-over-month growth

After a year of their owners being home to give them constant love and affection, many pets may be experiencing loneliness or feelings of abandonment as companies return to in-office work and social events resume.

To help make the transition back to a regular work schedule easier on their fluffy family (and themselves), pet owners are increasingly seeking pet sitting services. At the same time, some who are looking for more flexible job options post-pandemic are showing interest in pet sitting as a fun way to help bring in more revenue.

Specifically, Facebook users are looking for more modern pet sitting services which allow pet owners to stay informed about their pets throughout the day, helping both pet and owner adjust to the time apart. 

The Topics to Watch On Instagram from Q2 2021

Family Reunion

  • 3.03x year-over-year growth
  • 1.69x year-over-year growth

In an effort to kill two birds with one stone, many are combining the desire to reconnect with family and make some new memories with destination family reunions. Not only does this give people a much-needed chance to get out of their homes, this approach also presents the chance to share the experience with your entire family. 

Of course, not everyone is planning a destination reunion. Data shows that more traditional reunions are also experiencing a rise in popularity on Instagram.

Car Rental

  • 1.81x year-over-year growth
  • 0.97x month-over-month growth

Continuing the theme of getting away from home, Instagram data indicates that car rental demand has grown since the removal of lockdown policies across much of the country. 

The issue has been made even worse (and helped drive interest in the topic) as the availability of rental cars has become limited and costs have shot up due to a microchip shortage slowing the production of cars. 

Drag Shows

  • 1.84x year-over-year growth
  • 1.41x month-over-month growth

Whether it’s related to the growing mainstream popularity of Ru Paul’s Drag Race or the need for excitement and new experiences post-lockdown, Instagram is seeing a surprising rise in interest in drag shows.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, the report describes a drag show as “a gender-bending art form put on by drag artists, or people who dress in clothes and makeup that amplify a specific gender identity, usually of the opposite sex.”

Notably, the report says that many drag shows have continued to be broadcast digitally to account for those who are uncertain about public events due to Covid and bring a feeling of unity or connection to those feeling isolated because of their identity or social distancing.

To see the full report, including even more data and analysis, click here.

It is well known that business listings on sites like Google My Business or Yelp are an important part of connecting modern consumers with local businesses in their time of need, but you might not realize just how essential they are. 

A survey recently conducted by BrightLocal makes it perfectly clear, showing that 94% of consumers use business listings websites to find local businesses and more. 

Below, I’ll be breaking down some of the most interesting findings from the study:

Why Do Consumers Use Business Listings?

After showing that nearly all consumers (94%) have used business information websites in the past year, the survey asked what the respondents had been hoping to achieve. 

They found that most had multiple reasons for searching business listings, but most were driven to specifically connect with brands they’d never done business with before.

Specifically, the results showed that 66% of consumers used business information sites to find new businesses, while 66% found information on businesses they were already aware of but hadn’t used.

Meanwhile, less than half (48%) used local business listings to find information about businesses they had already used before.

Which Business Listing Platforms Do People Use?

Out of more than 20 options, the results showed that the vast majority of people used a small handful of sites to find information about local businesses.

Unsurprisingly, Google led with 89% of consumers using the service to find a local business at least once in the past 12 months

For comparison, Facebook followed with 48% of respondents using the platform for local business information

It should be noted that in many cases, a platform like Yahoo may be using another service’s search engine – such as the case with Bing. Though only 15% of users directly used Microsoft’s search engine to find local businesses, more than a quarter (28%) used platforms powered by Bing.

Additionally, the reason popular platforms like TripAdvisor or Waze don’t appear high on the list is likely that they focus on one niche, unlike Google or Facebook.

Wrong Information Is Rampant

It should be obvious that your listings need to be accurate for a number of reasons. Not only is important for potential customers to be able to actually find the businesses that offer the products or services they need, but local listings serve as powerful SEO signals as well. 

This is why it is rather surprising that most consumers say they have encountered incorrect information in business listings in the past year. 

According to the report, 85% of consumers found incorrect or incomplete information on a business listing in the last year, and 77% saw conflicting information on a business across different online directories.

Wrong Information Loses You Business

To make it clear how directly inaccurate information on your listings affects your business, 63% of consumers say that finding incorrect information on a business listing would stop them from using that business

That is more than half of your potential new customers gone because your phone number, hours, address, or other basic information are wrong online. 

How Covid Impacted Local Listings

It has to be noted that online local business listings have taken on a new level of importance over the past year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Quickly changing business practices, new safety measures, shifting hours, made it necessary for consumers to check online before going to any business – even ones they’ve been to dozens of times. 

For example, 74% of consumers used local listings to see what Covid-19 safety measures brands had put in place.

Unfortunately, brands didn’t always keep up their side of the bargain by updating their listings as things changes. Based on this survey’s responses, 81% of consumers visited a business that said online it was open, but that was actually closed due to the pandemic.


As the study shows, you don’t need to have your business listed on every site out there. Instead, it is better to focus on keeping your information accurate on every directory your business is on – even if you are only on a handful of local business information sites.

For more information, including additional findings methodology, and further analysis, check out the full report from BrightLocal here.

Getting “verified” on Facebook or Instagram serves as a badge of honor, signifying your place as a notable brand or individual on the platforms. However, it isn’t always clear who counts as ‘notable’ and who will be denied the blue checkmark – especially as Facebook and Instagram have recently updated their guidelines for who can be verified. 

To make it clear who can be verified, how to get verified, and what comes with the special badge, Facebook recently shared an in-depth post about the verification process on the Facebook for Creators page.

What Is Verification?

One thing that Facebook wants to make very clear is that being verified is not an endorsement from the platform.

It will not help your rankings or visibility in users’ feeds or earn you favorability in any other way on the platform.

Being verified is just a signal of notability and authenticity – nothing more.

What Is Needed To Apply for Verification?

Along with a typical application form, Facebook also asks for a number of details to confirm that you are a notable person or organization. This includes:

Proof of Authenticity

Facebook requires that you provide a form of official documentation proving that you are the person in question or a genuine representative of the organization applying. This can be done by providing one of the following:

  • A Passport
  • A Driving License
  • Tax Filing
  • NI Card
  • Articles of Incorporation
  • A Recent Utility Bill

Select Your Category

Applicants must identify themselves as one of the following types of profiles or pages which are ‘in the public interest’:

  • News/Media.
  • Government and politics.
  • Sports.
  • Fashion.
  • Music.
  • Entertainer.
  • Gamer.
  • Digital creator / blogger / influencer.
  • Business / brand / organization.
  • Other.

Additional Details

Applicants can also provide optional extra details which describe your audience, reasons why people follow you, and their related interests. 

Along with this, you can provide up to five links to pages or profiles showing that your brand is ‘in the public interest’. 

To be clear, Facebook states that links to clearly promotional or paid content will be disregarded.

Further Notes from Facebook

The post also details some of the basic guidelines and standards for verified profiles and pages, particularly that applicants must be:

  • For an account that represents a registered business or entity, or be a real person.
  • For a public account – with a bio, profile photo, ‘about’ section, and has a minimum of one post.
  • For an account that has a unique presence – pets and publications are also eligible.
  • For an account that represents a highly-searched for and well-known brand, entity, or person.
  • For one account per person or business – with the only exception being for language-specific accounts.

A Word of Caution

Lastly, Facebook warns that getting verified does tend to come with increased attention from bad actors, including hackers, scammers, and impersonators.

As such, it recommends that verified accounts enable two-factor authentication and be watchful for copycats impersonating them.

Ever wonder why some videos perform strongly on TikTok while others struggle to get any eyes or clicks? The social video app wants to help by releasing new four specific tips for increasing your ad performance on the platform.

4 Ways To Improve Your TikTok Ad Performance

Video Resolution of At Least 720P

Having clear, high-quality video is a major component of top-performing TikTok ads, with 83.19% of the app’s highest-performing ads using a resolution of 720P or better. Specifically, TikTok says meeting this resolution benchmark is tied to seeing at least a 5.39% boost to impressions. 

Vertical Aspect Ratio

It turns out, there is a “correct” aspect ratio if you want your video ads on TikTok to succeed. Of the top-performing videos on the platform, 82.13% are filmed in a vertical aspect ratio and saw a 40.08% increase in impressions compared to horizontal or square videos. 

Include Audio

Unlike some other social platforms, the use of sound is highly important on TikTok. As such, 93.02% of the top-performing videos on the app included audio or some type, leading to a 16.05% jump in impressions. 

Notably, this is audio of any type, whether it is a spoken script, music, or another kind of audio content. 

9:16 Aspect Ratio Is Best

Making your videos for TikTok’s native aspect ratio of 9:16 looks the most professional and leads to the most impressions. According to the company’s data, 98.63% of the highest-performing videos used this specific aspect ratio and received 60.45% more impressions. 

Extra Tips for eCommerce on TikTok

Along with the above tips aimed at all brands on TikTok, the company included a few guidelines specifically for aimed at eCommerce brands:

Include an Offer

Though a shockingly low number of TikTok’s best-performing videos (3.21%) included an offer, those that did include a basic promotion saw impressions jump by 67.4%.

Include Different Angles or Settings

Editing your videos to include a number of different angles or shots has a dramatic impact on TikTok video performance. Of the best-performing videos on the platform, 99.29% made use of a range of angles or settings and saw a 40.56% increase in impressions. 

Keep Videos Accessible With Closed Captions

Closed captions do more than make your videos more accessible to all users, they also lead to more views. TikTok says 73.22% of the top videos used this feature and increased impressions by 55.68%.

To find out more, explore TikTok’s best practice guidelines available in the company’s Creative Center.