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Welcome back to another week of Spark Bites by Spark Growth! TikTok launched a new feature to its parental controls, and Facebook released new “Care” Reactions in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Read more for further social media updates! 




Earlier this week, TikTok announced the launch of new parental controls to better project minors who are using the app. The main feature, entitled “Family Pairing,” builds upon TikTok’s existing controls that were released two months ago and effectively enables families to individually customize safety controls. Parents can utilize this feature by linking their own TikTok account to their child’s account. Controls include “Screen Management,” which sets a limit on teens’ usage of the app; “Restricted Mode,” which limits the appearance of inappropriate content; and “Direct Messages,” which restricts who can send messages to the account. 






In its latest efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, Facebook launched two new “Care” Reactions on the platform. On Messenger, this includes a beating purple heart, and on Facebook, this includes an emoji hugging a heart. These new Reactions reflect on the current reality the world is dealing with and are aimed at sharing support and positivity between users. 



Facebook is also adding new features in order to better tackle the spread of misinformation on coronavirus. Titled “Get the Facts,” it will also be included in Facebook’s COVID-19 Information center. This section will highlight reputable sources and articles, and simultaneously debunk false news and information surrounding the virus. 


Facebook fact-checking COVID-19



The CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, announced the release of the platform’s new COVID-19 symptom maps, created in partnership with Carnegie Mellon. Currently, this map is for the U.S. only and aims to help governments with response planning. The map highlights the number of people who have reported coronavirus symptoms on a county-by-county basis. Zuckerberg also confirmed that Facebook’s next steps will be to provide these symptom maps for countries all around the world. 

Facebook map



Next, reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong has discovered that Facebook is testing longer lasting Stories, with the option to keep Stories available to watch for up to three days. Currently, Stories disappear after 24 hours. Though Facebook has not confirmed whether or not this feature will be released to the public, this option may be helpful for users looking to improve audience reach and engagement on a particular Story. 



Earlier this week, Wong also discovered that Facebook is testing adaptive color backgrounds for users’ profiles, with the options including red, dark blue, light blue, and green. However, this has not been officially confirmed by Facebook. 





In the platform’s efforts to support local businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic, Instagram has added a gift card, food ordering, and fundraising tool in the form of Stickers. Businesses can utilize these stickers either on their Stories or profiles. For gift cards and food orders, when a user taps on the sticker, they will be redirected to the business’ website to complete the purchase. For the fundraising tool, users will be redirected to a personal fundraiser on Facebook. These new options encourage Instagram users to help keep businesses afloat during this difficult time. 

The gift card and food order stickers are now available to users in the U.S. and Canada, and will be rolling out globally in the next few weeks. The fundraiser feature will be coming to users soon, but no official date has been given. 


Food order sticker being displayed in Stories



Instagram is testing the option to simulcast Instagram Live sessions to users’ Facebook page. Simulcasting is the ability to transmit the same content across multiple channels. As pictured in the Tweet below, this would enable users to automatically broadcast live videos to both their Instagram and Facebook accounts. If released, this feature would be ideal for businesses looking to save time while simultaneously optimizing audience reach across both social platforms. However, the release of this feature has not been officially confirmed by Instagram. 


Additionally, Jane Manchun Wong has discovered that Instagram is testing a new “Challenge” Sticker for Stories, allowing users to nominate other followers in a challenge. For example, recent trending challenges include the
#ToosieSlideChallenge and the “Run 5 Donate 5” challenge. This sticker may help boost user engagement on Stories. However, Instagram has not confirmed whether or not this feature will be released to users. 



Lastly, Wong uncovered that Instagram is working on a Story Sticker entitled “Share Professional.” This feature would allow users to promote business or other professional accounts in their Stories. 





In another discovery by Jane Manchun Wong, LinkedIn is currently testing a Poll option for the platform. Polls are used across various social media platforms in order to get user feedback on certain topics. If LinkedIn releases this feature, this may help users boost audience engagement on their profiles, and also allow another channel of interaction between users and their followers. However, LinkedIn has not provided any confirmation on this feature’s release. 


Wong has also uncovered that LinkedIn is testing a hashtag “presentation mode.” This feature highlights users’ posts including the specified hashtag, allowing a broader conversation to take place. The addition of this feature may allow users to more effectively understand the scope of a chosen hashtag, and to research how other users may be utilizing it in their content. 





In collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), WhatsApp has released a new Sticker Pack, entitled “Together At Home,” to help users stay connected during this time. These stickers were released with the goal of providing users with better support in educating family and friends through the platform. Aside from English, text for these stickers is available in Arabic, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Turkish.


That’s all for this week’s updates! Be sure to follow Spark Growth on Facebook for more social media, branding, and digital marketing news!

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