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Big Instagram and TikTok changes mean you’ll see longer videos, fewer friends

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Your social media apps like TikTok and Instagram will look more and more alike as the companies behind them add longer and bigger videos to turn content into cash.

TikTok is giving users the option to film and share up to three minutes of video — much more time than its original 60-second limit — in a move it says will allow for better storytelling and more entertainment. The announcement comes after the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, said in a video posted on Twitter earlier this week that Instagram will start showing recommended, full-screen videos on users’ feeds alongside photos and videos from people they know. Instagram, owned by Facebook, already shows recommended photos in feeds, and the platform allows for both 15- and 30-second video reels as well as longer live videos, which can last up to four hours but which viewers must watch in real time.

For the hundreds of millions of users on Instagram and TikTok, longer and more frequent videos mean more time watching, but also potentially more ads and sponsored content that you may not want to sit through. On Instagram, you may also have less control over what you see in your feed — plenty of the videos you’re served will be from accounts you don’t follow. And longer TikTok videos may change the rapid-fire rhythm the app became known for.

The moves are reflective of large social media companies adding and emulating features that have become popular with consumers and worked well for their competitors. When this week’s changes take effect, Instagram will look more like TikTok, and TikTok more like YouTube. Instagram already took steps to add favorite features from other platforms when it debuted Snapchat-like stories in 2016. Twitter and Facebook both rolled out audio chatrooms earlier this year after audio app Clubhouse became popular during the pandemic.

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But this app-melding doesn’t always pay off. Many Twitter users, for instance, opt for threading tweets together rather than taking advantage of the extended character limit the company rolled out in 2017. Instead, people with a lot to say may find themselves on a blogging or newsletter site like Substack — or good old Facebook.

As for Instagram, Mosseri said the move to expand video formats on the platform was because he no longer viewed Instagram as a square photo-sharing app. He said that competition from TikTok and YouTube is fueling the increased focus on video.

TikTok has exploded to the top of the social media game with short-form videos, a modern interface and a scary-good algorithm. In May, it topped Sensor Tower’s top worldwide apps list with more than 80 million downloads. Instagram racked up just 11 million, in comparison.

Meanwhile, Instagram stories are full of content dragged and dropped from TikTok. To keep up, Instagram has to convince its audience — and its advertisers — that its videos are worth some extra time on the app.

“Let’s be honest, there is some really serious competition right now. TikTok is huge, YouTube is even bigger and there’s lots of other upstarts as well,” Mosseri said in the video. “So people are looking to Instagram to be entertained, there’s stiff competition and there’s more to do and we have to embrace that.”

He added that video is driving “an immense amount of growth online for all the major platforms right now and it’s one that I think we need to lean into more.”

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Instagram owner Facebook has been facing antitrust lawsuits on allegations that the social media giant is a monopoly. But a Washington federal judge on Monday handed Facebook a major victory in its battle against government regulators, dismissing two antitrust lawsuits.

Longer, more prominent video content is undoubtedly a good thing for content creators and social media advertisers. But will users stick around for longer video content on TikTok and more frequent video interruptions on Instagram?

Instagram and TikTok declined to comment when asked how longer videos would contribute to their monetization goals.

For Melissa Henderson of Rochester, N.Y., who uses both TikTok and Instagram, the advantages of longer videos aren’t so clear. Short-form videos were a fun thing to browse on TikTok, not something Henderson wanted to see everywhere, said the 21-year-old.

“I love consuming content on [TikTok and YouTube], but I like to separate the media I indulge in,” Henderson said. “Like, ‘Oh, my cousin graduated, I want to go see the photo on Instagram.’ ”

TikTok made a name for itself on short, easy-to-watch clips. And Instagram’s static photos of carefully arranged charcuterie spreads and perfectly flicked eyeliner made it both a punchline and a relaxing place to scroll.

“It’s kind of taking away the voice of smaller creatives on the platform,” said Henderson. “Photos have been universally known as the way we share our hobbies, and Instagram is the main platform for that. It’s becoming a platform we don’t want.”

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android

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Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.

You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).

You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.

While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.

1. Planoly

PLANOLY

We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

2. Buffer

BufferCredit: buffer / app store

Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.

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Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: preview / app store

Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: content office / app store

An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.

Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: plann / apple store

You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…

Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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Social networking websites launch features to encourage users to get boosters

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Facebook Instagram and TikTok are launching new features to encourage people to get their coronavirus booster jabs.

From Friday, users will be able to update their profiles with frames or stickers to show that they have had their top-up jab or aim to when they become eligible.

It follows on from people previously being able to show they have had their first and second jabs on certain social networking websites and apps.

TikTok also held a “grab a jab” event in London earlier this year.

I urge everyone who is eligible – don’t delay, get your vaccine or top up jab today to protect yourself and your loved ones

More than 16 million booster vaccines have now been given across the UK.

People who are aged 40 and above and received their second dose of their vaccine at least six months ago are currently eligible to have their booster.

A new campaign advert is also being launched on Friday, which shows how Covid-19 can build up in enclosed spaces and how to prevent that from happening.

Vaccines minister Maggie Throup said:  “Getting your booster is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your family this winter.

“It is fantastic to see some of the biggest household names further back the phenomenal vaccine rollout, allowing their users to proudly display that they have played their part in helping us build a wall of defence across the country.

“I urge everyone who is eligible – don’t delay, get your vaccine or top-up jab today to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

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How many hashtags should you use to get the most ‘Likes’ on Instagram?

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Hashtags are a key feature of Instagram posts. In fact, they have become an essential means of ensuring more ‘Likes’ on social media – so long as you choose them wisely.

But how many hashtags should you use to maximise your popularity on the social network? The answer might surprise you.

It’s a question that many Instagram users ask themselves: what’s the right number of hashtags to add to a post? To find out, the Later platform analysed 18 million Instagram posts, excluding videos, Reels and Stories.

Interestingly, Later’s results differ from Instagram’s own recommendations. According to Later’s analysis, using more hashtags helps get better results in terms of “reach”, or the percentage of users exposed to the post. By using 20 hashtags, Later observed an optimal average reach rate of just under 36%. Using 30 hashtags gets the next-best reach rate. With five hashtags, reach hits just under 24%.

And while a post’s reach is important, engagement is even more so. From “Likes” and comments to shares and follows – on average, 30 hashtags appears to result in better engagement rates: “When it comes to average engagement rate, using 30 Instagram hashtags per feed post results in the most likes and comments,” says Later’s research.

Yet, at the end of September 2021, Instagram advised its creators to use between three and five hashtags for their posts, while warning them against using too many. The social network advised that using 10 to 20 hashtags per post “will not help you get additional distribution”.

For Later, there could be other reasons behind Instagram’s recommendations: “As Instagram continues to expand their discoverability and SEO tools, it makes sense that they want users to experiment with fewer, more relevant hashtags – this could help them accurately categorise and recommend your posts in suggested content streams, like the Instagram Reels feed or the updated hashtag search tabs,” the website explains. – AFP Relaxnews

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