Platform Update: February

February’s box of tricks features auto-captions on Instagram feed videos and the creation of thousands of worlds on Meta’s VR platforms. Dive into our latest platform update to learn more about the latest developments, and see how your brand can take advantage.

Instagram auto captions have arrived

Now you can add captions to your Insta infeed videos, without having to do any of the work. Instagram Stories rolled out this feature last May, and now feed videos are getting the same treatment. Automatically generated captions are available in 17 languages, with more to come.

This is great news for brands, which can now make all their videos accessible to deaf or hard-of-hearing users, or those who prefer to watch with the sound off. Engagement gets a boost, too, as people can engage with brands’ content without needing the sound on.

Goodbye, IGTV

Time’s up for IGTV, which will be unavailable to download from mid-March. Feed videos rebranded as Instagram Video late last year, applying IGTV’s hour-long time limit to video uploads. Instagram has also confirmed the removal of IGTV in-stream video ads. Creators using this ad format will receive a temporary monthly payment based on recent earnings.

For brands, this may signal a move to make shorter form video, and Instagram says its Reels feature is the largest contributor to engagement growth. By making Reels high-quality, immersive and engaging – and grabbing viewers’ attention in the first three seconds – brands are giving themselves the best chance at making an impression on viewers. Oh, and don’t recycle content from other apps; Instagram avoids promoting videos with TikTok watermarks, for example.

TikTok’s 10 minute wonders

Next up, we’re going from short and sharp Reels, to something altogether longer. We’re talking about TikTok’s 10 minute videos, which have just been rolled out. 

So why would brands be interested? Well, it gives them the option to try something different from time to time, to go into more detail. And long-form content opens up expanded monetisation opportunities, namely full screen mid-roll ads. 

That’s not to say brands should abandon their snappier content, quite the opposite – TikTokers still prefer shorter videos according to the platform’s own data. But if you want to do something longer, you don’t need to head to another platform – that’s what TikTok will be hoping for, anyway. 

VR spaces hits 300,000 users a month

Meta’s Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues have reached 300,000 monthly users, with a user base in Canada and the US only.

10,000 worlds have already been created in Horizon Worlds – a virtual reality (VR) platform designed for social interaction and entertainment – and more are on the way, with a mobile version of Horizon platforms due this year, which will open the experience up to even more of us.

The Metaverse is still a long way off, but is already giving thousands of people the ability to create VR spaces in which to connect with friends, meditate or collaborate creatively.

Meta has just held an event, ‘Inside the lab: Building for the metaverse with AI’ where it announced some new updates, including universal language translation technologies and improved conversational AI. You can see a full recording of the event via the Meta AI Facebook page.

Make plans with Snap Map

Snapchat’s Ticketmatcher feature, created in partnership with Ticketmaster, connects users to local events and concerts in their neighbourhood across 20 countries. Users can browse nearby events via Snap Map, purchase tickets in-app and invite friends through Snapchat stickers.

This could be an opportunity for brands to partner with Snapchat to connect users with their products and services. You can imagine restaurants and food delivery brands, for example, each with their own Snap Map, and in-app purchases enabled. And the benefit for customers is that they get to seamlessly browse and purchase, while discovering new experiences and helping out local businesses along the way.