July 10, 2018: Google Maps expands to include personalized recommendations, Instagram launches Topic Channels in Explore, video chat in Direct & new camera effects, Twitch releases subscription feature for Affiliate Program, mobile social set to overtake mobile search as largest mobile ad channel and IGTV: what influencers really think

Here’s what’s worth knowing this week:

Now Serving: Personalized Recommendations from Google Maps

As promised last month at Google I/O, Google has started releasing some new features for Google Maps, including a variety of settings that revolve around personalized recommendations for dining, events and activities. Specifically, two new tabs can be discovered on the Google Maps home screen – “For You” and “Explore” – while a new Match score helps you quickly assess your options and confidently make a decision.

“For You” – Now, you never have to miss a thing by staying up-to-date with all the latest happening in your favorite areas. You’ll have the option to follow neighborhoods and dining spots you want to try so you’ll always have an idea for your next outing.

“Explore” – Your guide to everything new and interesting nearby. Simply check out an area on a map and you’ll see dining, event, and activity options based on the area your looking at. Trending lists show you where the people are going, and help you find new restaurants based on info from local experts, Google algorithms, and trusted publishers.  

“Your Match” – With a plethora of new options how do you decide where to eat and what to do? Tap on any food, drink or activity venue and you’ll see a match score – a number calculated by machine learning that suggests how likely you are to enjoy a place with an explanation why.

What it means, IRL: Now, picking a place to eat or deciding on activity is as easy as pie. The ‘For You’ and ‘Explore’ tabs within Google Maps allows users to find and discover new places to eat, drink and explore  – closing the ‘commerce’ loop for non-retail businesses (knowing that this behavior is going to start surfacing in search results) – while the new ‘Match’ score uses algorithms to make life easier (i.e. recommend things you like, which supercede other people’s opinions). As well, these new features represent a larger trend towards short-form, iconographic reviews (vs. text-based) as a form of social proof. Netflix has already hopped on-board.

Make it work: The key for marketers in Google Maps lies in discoverability – not in paid (for now). First movers will, undoubtedly, have an SEO advantage. Marketers have the opportunity to collaborate with local influencers to be featured on ‘trending’ lists, as well as update location and search listings to include recent influencer- and user-generated content. Additionally, ratings & reviews on Google should be part of a brand’s overarching ratings & review strategy.


Instagram’s New Summer Features

At last month’s F8 Developers Conference, Facebook made a number of new announcements about coming features for Instagram to increase “time well spent.”. Last week, the company began rolling out the latest updates, which include bringing video chat to Instagram Direct, a batch of new camera effects, Topic Channels in Explore, and an All-Caught Up Tool.

Video Chat: Users can now set up a video chat with 1-3 friends by swiping into the Direct inbox, opening a message thread and tapping the new camera icon at the top right.

Make it work: Group video calls with influencers can keep marketers better connected to influencers in real time; as well as real-time focus groups between influencers and highly engaged fans.

Camera Effects:  Instagram has added a plethora of new AR camera effects to its app, which were designed by influencers and publishers like Ariana Grande, Baby Ariel, Liza Koshy, Buzzfeed Tasty and the NBA. This is the first time that Instagram has leveraged third-parties to design any part of the app and is worthwhile to note how its launch partners of choice reflect the core user personas of Insta Stories.

Topic Channels: Discovering new ideas and inspiration on the ‘Gram just got easier. With Topic Channels, users can now be more intentional about how they navigate posts on Explore. Now, when opening the Explore page, users will see a header with personalized channels, including a ‘For You’ channel that includes a mix of posts tailored to users’ interests. Users will also see channels on topics that they may be interested in, such as Art, Sports, Beauty or Fashion – as well as a list of popular hashtags.

Make it work: Similar to Pinterest’s ‘Guided Search’ feature, the topic is just as important as influencers themselves. Go beyond the standard branded hashtags by leveraging key topical hashtags surfaced in the Explore tab. First-moving brands can orchestrate a “topic takeover.”

All Caught Up: Say goodbye to endless scrolling on the ‘Gram (unless you’re into that). With the addition of the “All Caught Up” Tool, users will now been informed when they’ve seen all the new content posted by profiles they follow within the past two days. Instagram hopes this will help its users better manage their time, in line with Facebook’s wider emphasis on ensuring time spent in their apps is ‘time well spent.’


Twitch Powers Up Its Creator Game

Amazon-owned Twitch is continuing to put influencers first with new additions to its Affiliate Program. The Affiliate Program was developed as a way to connect emerging streamers and Twitch Partners, a group of the world’s most popular video game broadcasters. Starting this week, affiliate content creators will join Twitch Partners in offering all three subscription rates – $4.99,  $9.99 and $24.99 – on their channel and unlock one custom subscription per tier to provide to subscribers. Prior to these new additions, eligible streamers were able to earn income by receiving bit emotes from fans and from game sales purchased on their stream.

Make it work: Similar to how Twitch is investing in its creator community, brands need to realize the same thing – that their most important partners are also the Creators on each of these platforms.


Mobile Social: 1, Mobile Search: 0

Step aside mobile search, mobile social is coming in hot. Within the next year mobile social is expected to overtake mobile search as the the largest mobile ad channel in the US. According to Forrester, in fewer than five years, nearly seven out of every ten digital ad dollars will go to mobile, contributing to 86% of digital ad spending.

Make it work: As the demand for mobile content increases – especially for search (blogs) and social – marketers should work with influencers marketing leads to source influencer-generated, mobile-first content.  


IGTV – What Influencers Really Think

Two weeks ago, Instagram launched IGTV, its new video hub for long-form video content. Within IGTV, viewers are able to swipe through a variety of videos, or swipe up to visit a Browse tab of personally recommended videos, popular videos or creators they’re following.

We wanted to hear what influencers thought about IGTV, so we asked them ourselves. Here’s what we discovered:

  • YouTube is still king, however, influencers are willing to test out the new feature. Test is the key word here, influencers aren’t willing to put a ton of effort into building out custom content for this feature just yet.
  • Some influencers are looking to build up their YouTube channel before switching over to the less familiar IGTV.
  • Lots of influencers are gauging their audience opinions through polls and the responses are mixed. One of the standouts of these polls was an influencer who asked whether or not her followers would rather have her post to YouTube or IGTV, and a day later the influencer started a YouTube page.



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