Meta focuses on Reels, YouTube partners with Shopify, TikTok expands accessibility tools and Facebook changes feed format
Meta says it’s only Reels from now on
As TikTok continues to take the lead in keeping user attention inside the app, Meta has doubled down with their latest announcement that all video uploads will now become Reels. This can be seen as an attempt to further mimic TikTok, but according to Mark Zuckerberg, Reels are now Meta’s fastest growing content format, making up more than 20% of the time spent on Instagram. Following this, Meta is adding new tools to make it easier to collaborate and express creative ideas, such as allowing users to remix photos and expanding template options.
YouTube partners with Shopify and launches eCommerce tools
YouTube has further integrated eCommerce tools to their platform in a new partnership with Shopify, launching several new shopping features for both viewers and creators. The new features will be available for viewers in the US, Brazil and India, with plans to roll out to more countries later this year. This partnership makes sense as Google research shows that 55% of consumers use online videos for shopping research, combined with the rise in popularity of live in-stream shopping on TikTok. Eligible creators will be able to display their products on YouTube in three ways:
Live streams – tag and pin products at key points during a livestream, and picture-in-picture playback means consumers can watch while they check out.
Videos – show a curated list of products in a product shelf below on-demand videos.
Store tab – a new tab will be added to a creator’s YouTube channel, featuring their entire selection of products.
TikTok introduces more accessibility tools
In April 2021, TikTok introduced auto-captions to better serve users with impaired hearing. In a new update, TikTok has rolled out further tools to improve accessibility, by allowing viewers to turn on closed captions for videos, rather than only giving creators that option. In addition, translations have been added for captions, text stickers and video descriptions to make content more inclusive to users around the world. This update will support an initial batch of languages including English, Portuguese, German, Indonesian, Italian, Korean, Mandarin, Spanish and Turkish.
Facebook updates the feed format
Meta has unveiled plans to revamp the Facebook feed so users can see more relevant content linked to their contacts, while also enabling Meta to show more recommended content, with a focus on videos. Taking inspiration from TikTok, Facebook’s main UI will now be split into a ‘Home’ feed and a ‘Feeds’ tab.
With increasing emphasis on Reels, the planned changes show how forcibly Meta is responding to the rise of TikTok. The feature will be rolled out over the next few weeks, where you will likely see a prompt in the app alerting you to the update. This new direction does suggest Facebook is moving away from its main purpose of connecting friends and family, but it will be interesting to see the performance of algorithmic recommendations. Given the heightened scrutiny of how Facebook’s algorithms already shape discourse, leaning even more heavily on AI feels bold.