TikTok adds new Q&A feature
Been patiently waiting to ask your favourite influencer a burning question? TikTok has made your dreams a reality with its new Q&A feature. Creators can now add a Q&A button to their profile allowing followers to leave questions which they can answer via video replies or in a livestream. Q&As have become a top way creators engage fans on social media, having already proven popular on Instagram Stories. For creators, this feature makes things a lot more simple, allowing them to view all their fans’ questions in one place. Q&A works across both video and livestreams, but is currently only available to select creators who have opted into the test.

TikTok is testing a Q&A feature to make life easier for creators | Pocketnow

YouTube launches hashtag landing pages to all users
Hashtags are coming to YouTube, with the company launching a new feature that allows users to better discover content. By clicking on a hashtag or by typing in a hashtag link directly, you’ll be able to find the best funny cat videos in a heartbeat. When you click on a hashtag, you’ll be taken to a dedicated landing page that contains only videos that are using the hashtag. The page will be sorted to keep the best videos at the top, using a ranking algorithm to determine which content deserves to be above the rest. The new feature will serve as an interesting research tool for creators looking to better leverage the hashtag format. How #interesting.

Pinterest launches AR-powered try-on eyeshadow experience
Struggling to choose the right eyeshadow shade to complete your look? Pinterest is here to solve your beauty dilemma by expanding its virtual makeup try-on capabilities to allow online shoppers to virtually try on new eyeshadow. Maybe you love a smokey eye or perhaps you’re more partial to a candyfloss pink? Whatever your style, the platform has something for everyone, allowing try-on with 4,000 shades from brands like Lancome, YSL, Urban Decay and NYX Cosmetics. It works using the platform’s existing visual search technology, its skin tone ranges feature and computer-vision-powered recommendations. Users can filter the products search results by factors like colour, price range and brand. With shops closed, this is likely to be a popular feature for those who want to keep their eye makeup on point during the lockdown.

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TikTok launches its Creator Portal
Needing a little boost to get your creator career off the ground? TikTok has come to the rescue, with the launch of its new Creator Portal, providing guidance and tips to help creators maximise their in-app presence. The portal is separated into six key elements of focus, including ‘Getting started on TikTok,’ ‘TikTok creation essentials,’ and ‘Getting paid to create.’ Each topic contains a range of tips and guides to help creators with each specific component. The new feature could benefit brands and creators looking to establish an effective presence in the app. With the platform expected to reach 1.2 billion users this year, brands will be keen to tap into this audience, with a Creator Portal the perfect way to introduce content creators to the app and its possibilities.

President Biden’s Snapchat Lens offers a virtual inauguration
On Wednesday, a new president settled in for his first night at the White House. Joe Biden’s inauguration was unlike any seen in American history, with the pandemic preventing big crowds gathering to witness the swearing-in of the new president. The Biden team, which has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on Snapchat during their campaign, took to the platform to launch an innovative augmented reality lens that allowed users to picture themselves as the new president was sworn in. There were two lenses on offer; one using the front-facing camera where users are in front of the Capitol and an American flag as confetti falls, and a second where Mr Biden is speaking in front of a crowd of supporters who sent their photos in via email.

Presidential Inauguration Committee Teams Up With Snapchat on AR Lenses

Spotify launches Podcast Ads in UK
People love podcasts, and for advertisers, this brings ample opportunity for great exposure. Spotify has now brought its podcast advertising service to UK shores, allowing advertisers the ability to reserve placements in podcast episodes on a title-by-title basis. They can now buy pre-roll, mid-roll, or post-roll ad placements in podcast shows. The offering is powered by Spotify’s proprietary Streaming Ad Insertion technology, which delivers and reports on confirmed ad impressions as opposed to downloads, as well as reach and frequency. With podcast popularity here to stay, this is an exciting opportunity for advertisers to target this new realm of audience.

Clubhouse announces plans for creator payments
It’s not been a bad year for invite-only live voice chat app Clubhouse, that boasts high-profile celebrity and political users. The platform now has even more reason to celebrate, having just raised new funding. The app will be introducing products to help creators on the platform get played, including subscriptions, tipping and ticket sales. Also on the to-do list for Clubhouse is the development of its Android app, which is currently in the works.

Facebook's AI-generated image captions help visually impaired users
AI has just got a whole lot smarter on Facebook and Instagram. Every picture posted to the platform gets evaluated by an image analysis AI in order to create a caption. The new system should be a real help for the visually impaired, and may help you find your photos faster in the future. Alt-text is a field in an image’s metadata that describes its contents, allowing the image to be understood by people who can’t see it. These descriptions are often added manually, but many people uploading photos to social media generally don’t bother, automatically making this content less accessible to the visually impaired. The improved system now recognises 10 times more items and concepts than it did at a start, with the descriptions including more detail. 

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Bernie Sanders meme goes global
It may have been President Biden’s inauguration, but there was someone else who took the internet by storm on the day. Yes, we’re talking Bernie Sanders and his mittens. The Senator’s image swept through social media and was the top searched meme on Google on January 20th. Want to see Bernie and his mittens travel the world? You’re in luck, as a new website now lets you easily drop him and his chair anywhere with the help of Google Maps’ Street View. Simply put in a location or address in the website, and after one click, you’ll have an image of Bernie sitting wherever you specified. Happy travelling Senator!

Bernie Sanders sitting in front of a t-rex statue

Ones to watch
Bluesky, Twitter’s decentralized social networking effort, has announced its first major update since 2019, Google threatens to shut down in Australia if digital news code goes ahead, Pinterest rolls out dynamic ad specialty and Facebook Oversight Board to decide on Donald Trump’s suspension from Facebook and Instagram within 90 days.