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Instagram, TikTok and Facebook alternative Octi shuns ads, wraps arms around metaverse future

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Can a new social network succeed against entrenched competitors such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok? Octi, a fledgling startup launching today, has high hopes.

The team at the Los Angeles-headquartered tech company sees an opportunity with Facebook parent company Meta recently facing criticism about harms caused by the social network and Instagram. And legislators have also grilled TikTok, SnapChat and YouTube over concerns about targeted ads, privacy and other safety concerns for young users.

Octi’s teenager-centric networking app, which is live in Apple’s App Store now, doesn’t have advertising like those entrenched sites. Instead, it relies on likes, which can earn users Octi coins to buy digital items – and real-world products from brands such as Funko, Nike and Reebok.

“If you think about it, what we’re dealing with today on social media is just an extension of TV ads,” said Justin Fuisz, Octi co-founder and CEO. “With this model, you can kind of move away from that … to pull this back into a safer, more creative place.”

More than 1,000 are currently testing the Octi app, which has been up and running for two months. But Octi has been working on augmented reality and the integration of shareable video and digital objects for more than three years.

Users can embellish their TikTok-like videos by adding 3D digital objects or putting themselves in virtual landscapes. As they get likes, they accumulate coins. Coins can be spent on digital objects which can be owned by a limited number of Octi users. All users can deploy the objects in their video creations, but owners gain coins as objects are used and gain likes.

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Coins can also be used to get a discount on purchases of sneakers, clothing and other products.

Octi has already created the ability for users sell their digital objects and upload NFTs for use on the platform, too. At some point, users will be able to buy Octi coins, but currently they are free and earned through participation.

But how does Octi plan to prevent hate speech, bullying and other issues plaguing current social networks? For starters, the lack of reliance on advertising – and the need for user views of those ads – changes the paradigm, Fuisz says.

Beyond that, the platform’s use of artificial intelligence and machine learning monitors activity for concerning signs. “We have all the systems in place to keep this healthy from the beginning,” said Octi chief operating officer and co-founder Brian Biggott.

“If someone comes on and just wants to do something awful, that gets caught very quickly and gets taken out of circulation very quickly,” Fuisz said.

So far, Octi has raised $20 million in funding from investors including live music promoter Live Nation Entertainment and Beats Electronics co-founder and music executive Jimmy Iovine.

“The reason Octi is interesting is they recognize this entire generation lives on their phone, with their camera and is interested in the seamless blending of the virtual world and the IRL (in real-life world),” said Rich Greenfield, partner and media and technology analyst at LightShed Partners and an angel investor in the company.

Launching a new app, he said, “is never easy. It’s really, really hard.” However, as more companies invest in the future of connectivity, Octi is seeking to create a “unique experience where (users) can hang out with friends, buy things and share content and interact in a fun, mobile-first world.”

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With all the attention around the concept of the metaverse, Octi does see itself as well positioned. The newly launched app is “an exciting vision and version of metaverse” that connects people, Fuisz said. And the platform can evolve along with new technology such as augmented reality glasses and such.

But right now, “it’s very different than you know, sitting in your basement with the Oculus (virtual reality headset) on and playing,” Fuisz said.

Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.

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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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