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Tuesday Tune-Up #345

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Facebook adds AR fashion ads to try before you buy.
Anyone else remember Cher's way-before-its-time closet in Clueless?

Well, if you also frothed over the forward-thinking fashionista, let your 90s envy subside with this new "try before you buy" feature from Facebook. The social network is rolling out an ad format that will utilise augmented reality (AR) to encourage users to "try it on" directly from the ad. The new ads will appear similar to other formats in the Newsfeed but will include an icon to access the new feature, which will open the user's camera and allow them to try on an AR version of the object being advertised. In addition, users will be able to share pictures of themselves wearing the virtual objects to their Facebook Story - potentially offering another in for Facebook to revamp the photo sharing feature as people look to their friends for advice on whether or not an item looks good on them. Michael Kors was the first brand to utilise this new tool with an advert for its line of sunglasses. Will the phone feature prevent future wardrobe malfunctions? "As if."

Ask and ye shall respond: Instagram brings questions to Stories
Last week, Instagram announced the arrival of its new 'questions' Sticker, which enables users to pose a question to their Story audience and receive feedback from followers. The new feature works in a similar way to Polls or the Emoji Slider, except that users now have the option for longer-form, fill-in-the-blank responses. It should be noted QUESTIONS ARE NOT ANONYMOUS, as some embarrassed Instagram users have discovered. Answers are only visible to the poster of the question but can be re-shared publicly on the original question master's Story. Will you ask a question? Answer that at @wearesocialau

Instagram opens up e-commerce features to wider market
Instagram announced last week that it's expanding its e-commerce ad offering to more advertisers. Its Collection ads feature, which offers brands a swipeable carousel display of images and videos and allows users to explore and purchase products without leaving the main app, is now available to all e-commerce brands globally. Meanwhile, the platform's Shopping Bag icon for Stories, which allows users to view further product information (item description, pricing information, links to a website), will be available to all brands to use "in their holiday campaigns." Cheers to Insta for making Santa's job easier! InstaClaus, anyone?

Snapchat plans partnership with Amazon and more for e-commerce power move
Given Insta and Facebook's increase in e-comm, Snapchat may now make it possible to shop via Snaps. While nothing has been confirmed, a tip off came in the form of an unreleased feature in Snapchat’s Android app, suggesting the platform is working on a series of e-commerce partnerships. By integrating with third-party suppliers including Amazon, Shazam and more, Snapchat hopes to create a visual search engine that would identify objects, songs and barcodes from users’ cameras and provide them with a link to where they can buy the respective product online. These links will also be shareable - enabling users to "subtly" hint present ideas to friends and family.

Fire up your front-facing camera: Snapchat introduces Lens Explorer 
While you're shopping around, why not find a new face on Snapchat while you're at it? The social media giant has unveiled a new way for users to discover and unlock Lenses from around the world with the introduction of Lens Explorer for its iOS app. The new feature, which has yet to launch, will give users the option to click on a new icon in the Lens Carousel and either tap a Lens tile to unlock a new Lens or explore thousands of options from feature Stories. The Lenses are the product of Snapchat's Lens Studio, which launched late last year and has seen more than 100,000 unique Community Lenses created.

Twitter explores letting brands take over Explore
Twitter is currently testing a new Promoted Trend Spotlight ad format that would give brands the option to purchase a "visual banner equipped with a GIF or image background atop Explore." This buy would display the first two times a user visits the section that day. The trial is currently being run in the US with Disney and, if successful, could provide an eye-catching alternative to the traditional timeline ads, as well as providing Twitter which a much needed revenue boost. The new format is planned to be offered as an add-on to the traditional Promoted Trends offering.

Twitter gets real about fake accounts
The social media network has confirmed that it has shut down nearly 70m fake accounts in recent months as part of ongoing efforts to clean up bots, trolls and other harmful users on the platform. In addition to which, Twitter has also begun removing locked accounts - those that have been blocked for displaying spammy behaviour - from users’ follower counts. As well as increasing transparency on the platform and improving user behaviour, it's also hoped that this move will help increase the credibility of users' accounts - particularly those of influencers - where follower numbers are often a way of negotiating fees and measuring reach.