instagram’s best new feature in years... stolen from Telegram (but hey)

Hello, geeks!

Welcome to your weekly dose of social media geekery.

Kicking things off this week… This is the best new feature Instagram has launched in years.

In recent times, Instagram’s app has become a bloated, confusing mess.

It mostly just wants to ram crappy recommended posts and Reels videos into your feed at every opportunity.

But Instagram’s new ‘Channels’ feature is actually really smart and potentially very powerful for creators.

It leans into the shift to private sharing where most of the engagement between friends now takes place, as opposed to in public feeds.

It also creates new opportunities for both brands and creators to connect with their audiences. And plenty of scope for monetisation (paid channels, sponsored channel content).

WhatsApp has its own version of Channels with WhatsApp Communities...

🔥 My Geekout News Alerts Community on WhatsApp has been the most popular and fastest growing channel I’ve launched in years. Geekout on WhatsApp hit 5,000 members in under 4 weeks! One-to-many broadcast channels are super popular right now.



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Okay… Let’s get into it. These were the hottest headlines in social this week:


  1. Elon Musk Forced Twitter Algorithm To Boost His Tweets [OH ELON]

  2. TikTok Working On Paywalled Videos + Revamped Creator Fund [MO’ MONEY]

  3. Instagram Is Killing Live Shopping Features In March [STREAM ENDING]

  4. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki Is Stepping Down [FULL STORY]

  5. Social Media ‘Tycoon’ Steven Bartlett Accused Of Misdirection + Half Truths [I’M OUT]

Want a rundown of everything else new and noteworthy in social this week?

You got it! (cracks knuckles, stretches). Let’s go…!

Twitter has a new revenue growth strategy… Selling weed… Elon tried to boost engagement for advertisers by replying to their brand tweets… Elon also unblocked everyone he blocked on Twitter to get more tweet likes… And says he expects to stay on as Twitter CEO for around a year more… Twitter revealed the best performing Super Bowl tweets by brands.

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TikTok’s CEO is fed up of Meta and Zuck stirring up shit in the U.S…TikTok launched a very HQ-trivia like feature with a $500k prize… TikTok is testing an in-app checkout feature… YouTube Shorts added a comment replies feature… YouTube also quietly started testing multi-language audio tracks… And it launched its new commercial music licensing marketplace, Creator Music… But… YouTube creators have been shocked by the fees it’s charging.

Discord added live video streaming and screen sharing to Stage Channels… iOS users got a bunch of new emojis to play with… Pinterest extended the length of video pins to 5 mins… And Pinterest’s Education Academy for marketers got a refresh and new courses… Spotify is launching a TikTok-style feed for music content (surprised it took them so long tbh).

And finally… StarWars just joined TikTok! 🪐

(the Force is strong in this one… Sorry. I’ll get my coat).


  •  ✨ SLAY: The No-Judgment Guide to Gen-Z Slang in 2023 [TYSM]

  • ⚡️ PRO TIPS: A Beginners Guide to Linkedin Advertising [SHOW ME]

  • 🏆 INFLUENCERS: The Top 10 Social First Instagram Influencers 2023 [REVEAL]

  • 🎙️ PODCASTING: How To Boost Your Podcast Ranking on Spotify, YouTube [TELL ME]

  • 🤖 TOOLS: 7 Game-Changing New AI Tools For 2023 [DISCOVER]

Alrighty then… Let’s jump into the stories making the most headlines this week.

Analysis of the biggest developments in social is coming up next [keep scrollin’] 👇

– Matt

🚨 Everyone's talking about…

Not too long ago, live shopping was the future of social media monetisation… or at least that’s what the big tech companies were willing to bet a huge chunk of cash on.

But it increasingly looks like a feature that is enormously popular in parts of Asia simply doesn’t translate well to other parts of the world. Latest example: from 16 March, creators on Instagram won’t be able to tag products in livestreams.

This follows TikTok’s struggles with live shopping in the UK, and the fact that for all the hype, live shopping is hardly something you hear ordinary people talking about much.

Was the idea that live shopping would be big in the West simply part of the same Covid-lockdown inspired mirage that made tech companies think they had to hire rapidly to support an enormous, permanent ecommerce boom? Quite possibly.

The pandemic had clouded the true picture. As consumers stayed home, online retail boomed and e-commerce sales skyrocketed. When the dust settled and things returned to normal, however, analysts found that U.S. consumers had not embraced live shopping.

One report noted that social commerce as a whole, which includes livestream shopping, only made up around 5% of total e-commerce sales in the U.S. last year, per Insider Intelligence data.

Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

But while Meta is done with live shopping (it killed a similar feature on Facebook last summer), others are still betting on it, with Amazon, TikTok, and YouTube all still offering live shopping in parts of the West. Let’s see if they’re still running in a year’s time, eh?

And as TikTok tests in-app checkout, social shopping is unlikely to be a total dead end. But the idea that a successful idea can be ported directly from China seems unlikely to be a good one. And now China’s ‘Zero Covid’ policy is dead, how might that affect live shopping there?

When users found their Twitter ‘For You’ feed was filled exclusively with Elon Musk tweets earlier this week, most must surely have assumed it was an accidental bug.

Well, it was a bug but it wasn’t quite accidental. Yes, the world’s most insecure billionaire was reportedly so angry that his (very vanilla) tweet about the Super Bowl was outperformed by Joe Biden that he, deleted the tweet and flew straight back from the big game to oversee an urgent ‘fix’ to make his tweets more popular.

As Platformer reported (syndicated by The Verge):

After Musk threatened to fire his remaining engineers, they built a system designed to ensure that Musk — and Musk alone — benefits from previously unheard-of promotion of his tweets to the entire user base.

Zoe Schiffer and Casey Newton, Platformer

By forcing his tweets on all of Twitter, Musk received a 737% boost to his impressions, according to third-party data. As part of his mission to boost his visibility, he even unblocked everyone he’d blocked over the years (including me).

Musk might have joked about forcing his tweets down users’ throats, but quite frankly, the whole thing just looks desperate and a little sad.

A supposed business and tech genius (according to his fans and his own self-cultivated mythos) rallying the troops on a Sunday night to drop everything and make himself look more popular can’t inspire much confidence in the investors who shovelled millions of dollars into his Twitter purchase.

A little more focus and a little less ego wouldn’t go amiss. While Twitter saw an advertising bump from the Super Bowl, it might not be a longterm fix for the business. Moves like embracing cannabis advertising and almost begging users to ‘like’ an ad seem desperate. Even Tesla has unsubscribed from Blue.

And as his coders massage Musk’s numbers and ego, Twitter suffered Super Bowl downtime and another outage on Wednesday. Meanwhile, rushed changes to the API have been delayed again.

No wonder Musk has been in such a bad mood. He claims Twitter will be ready for a new CEO by end of the year, but whether anyone will want to pick up whatever husk of a platform could be left by then is another question.

Creator funds have suffered quite a bit of blowback lately. After all the hype around platforms offering cash incentives to creators, they didn’t translate into sustainable revenue for many, and the platforms gradually backed away from the concept.

Bucking the trend, TikTok is reportedly testing a new creator fund with bigger payouts for top talent, along with a paywall feature allowing creators to charge spot payments to watch videos.

The Information reported that the move is part of a wider push to re-energise TikTok’s growth after its pandemic-driven boom came to an end. But creator funds aren’t necessarily sustainable on their own, and creators are likely more sceptical of them than they were a couple of years ago.

Meanwhile, Meta’s next big thing for creators appears to be one-to-many broadcast channels. After the launch of WhatsApp Groups (like my Geekout group, which is almost full!) , Instagram yesterday announced Channels, a similar one-to-many broadcast messaging feature.

This has been a thing on Telegram for years, but if it takes off for Meta, it could be an interesting route to monetisation. Could they let creators charge for a special feed of broadcast updates? It’s certainly more sustainable than short-term payouts from a creator fund.

😆 LOL tweets

📈 Going viral

Rhianna’s half time show at the Super Bowl provided prime meme material, with the marshmallow-like dancers inspiring plenty of top quality tweets.

Meanwhile, Adele only had to show up and watch the game to claim runner-up place for the title of Super Bowl Meme Queen.

😴 From wired to tired

They were Hot, but now they are Not:

Is BeReal over? App Store data (and maybe your own feed in the app) seems to paint that picture…

…but the BeReal team seems to be fighting back. A new music-sharing feature with Spotify integration has been spotted in code.But is that enough to keep users engaged in an app that has already been cloned by Instagram and TikTok?

😮 WTF?!

“The FBI filed a criminal complaint against Amir Hossein Golshan, which claims he hacked into influencers' accounts to get money and explicit videos…”

🔨 Tool of the week

Use Google Sheets to track your social media marketing performance? This new extension brings the power of ChatGPT to make your life easier. It promises to be able to “answer questions, format cells, write letters, and generate formulas, all without having to leave your spreadsheet.”

These large language models are about a lot more than just freaking out journalists and helping students cheat at coursework, you know!

🐞 Bugged out

A Twitter bug is hardly a rare thing these days, but this one’s pretty eye-popping…


Remember Yammer? It was Microsoft’s work-focused social platform for years. After it long ago fell out of fashion, the company is now killing Yammer and folding some of the features into its Viva Engage offering.

🧵 Top thread

This thread is a good cautionary tale about creators working with sponsors 👇

❓️ Questions of the week

It’s funny how quickly a new social media buzzword goes from cutting edge to lame cliché.

Tap through below for lots of ‘authentic’ ‘engagement’ from my Twitter followers 👇

And if you’re a coder looking for something to build, here’s plenty of inspiration for you…. 👇

💡 New feature spotlight

Instagram Channels are well worth reading up on. They could be an important part of the platform’s offering if they reach their potential.

The feature is beginning in the US with a small number of creators, but you can request early access at this link.


👀 Must-reads

This is a brilliant inside look at the story behind Amtrak’s all-time classic tweet, ‘Trains’. These things aren’t as off-the-cuff as they look…


💬 You can quote me on that

When I’m mentioned in the news, you’ll find it here:

I spoke to The Times about the social media ‘deinfluencers’ who delight in bashing brands:


📈 Charts of the week


📊 Stats of the week

Snapchat released new usage figures this week, and you can strike out any thought you had that it’s a dying platform…

YouTube might be paying out a revenue share for Shorts, but you’re not going to get rich off it…


  • Monthly traffic to LinkedIn went up 17% between Dec 2022 and Jan 2023

  • Twitter's new algorithm boosted Elon Musk's tweets to 400 million impressions per day, up from 137 million impressions on a typical day

Meta News

  • Meta’s Oversight Board says it will start reviewing cases far more quickly - as fast as 48 hours in some cases. [Reuters $$$]

  • Meta has increased Mark Zuckerberg's security allowance by $4 million. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • Mark Zuckerberg is among the tech CEO subpoenaed by US House Republicans over content moderation. [NBC News]

  • Meta has delayed setting team budgets as it reportedly prepares another round of job cuts. [Financial Times $$$]

  • Meta found and severed ties with someone who leaked VR headset details to a YouTuber, the company’s CTO told staff. [The Verge]

Insights to give you an edge at work:

  • The top 10 social-first Instagram influencers in 2023. [Hootsuite blog]

New features and tests:


  • Meta has started rolling out Facebook work accounts so you can keep your work on the platform separate from your personal life. [Meta News for Developers]

  • Facebook will soon reveal even more details about why you see specific ads in your feed. [Meta Newsroom]


  • Instagram's 'Messaging Highlights' feature has been spotted in the wild. [@MattNavarra]

  • Instagram has been spotted working on a 'Save posts with friends’ feature. [@eskoosme]

  • Instagram has tweaked the Reels interface. [@WFBrother]

  • Instagram is bringing GIFs to comments. [@hammodoh1]

  • Instagram is testing the ability to search viewers of a Story. [@hammodoh1]

  • Instagram is working on reactions for Reels. [@alex193a]

  • …and it might remove the ability to react to Stories with emojis. [@alex193a]

  • Instagram is still working on the ability to see posts liked by your friends on the Explore page. [@alex193a]

  • Instagram added Valentine's Day-themed quick emoji reactions for Stories. [Mashable]


  • WhatsApp is rolling out document captions, longer group subjects and descriptions, and more on Android. [WABetaInfo]

  • WhatsApp could soon add a 'Kept Messages' feature to save the occasional disappearing message. [WABetaInfo]

VR, adtech, and more:

  • You can now create Reels in Meta Business Suite. [@JackHorwood]

  • Meta Business Suite now lets you manage and view clips from livestreams. [@ahmedghanem]

  • Meta is working on assistant software for smart glasses. [Lowpass]

Twitter News

  • Twitter seems to be not letting (at least some) users sign up for new accounts. [@_jamesmundy]

  • Twitter has closed two of its three offices in India, and is asking displaced staff to work from home. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • Twitter’s A.I. ethics team rushed to publish their research before Elon Musk took over, for fear he would lay them off. [@Insider]

  • Some former Twitter staff are building rival platforms. [Bloomberg $$$]

New features and tests:

  • Community Notes for quote tweets are now shown on iOS and Android, in addition to the web. [@CommunityNotes]

  • Twitter could soon let you choose the quality of an uploaded video. [@nima_owji]

  • Twitter is working on a counter for how many times a tweet has been bookmarked. [@wongmjane]

  • Twitter is developing a label showing how many Twitter Coins a tweet has received. [@nima_owji]

  • Twitter has been spotted renaming ‘For you’ to ‘Top’. [@ahmedghanem]

TikTok News

  • TikTok’s CEO has spoken out about his push to fend off a ban in the US. [Washington Post $$$]

  • …and US senators have urged CFIUS to wrap up its TikTok probe with strict restrictions. [CNBC]

  • TikTok now employs 5,000 staff in Europe. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • TikTok is planning two more data centres in Europe amid data security concerns. [Reuters $$$]

  • The TikTok team accused of spying on journalists had a history of employee complaints. [Semafor]

  • TikTok is popular with college admissions officers checking up on applicants’ digital footprints. [Washington Post $$$]

  • A Dutch investigation will decide whether TikTok is safe for the government devices. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • TikTok has removed an ad featuring an apparently deepfake Joe Rogan. [Mashable]

  • The Chinese government is a party that can’t be ignored in the negotiations about TikTok’s future in the US. [Wall Street Journal $$$]

  • The ‘Kia Challenge’ on TikTok forced Hyundai and Kia to roll out a software update to millions of vehicles. [The Verge]

  • The hot new internship for college students is creating TikTok content for brands. [New York Times $$$]

  • TikTok parent ByteDance's Pico VR headset has more than tripled it's market share to 15% in the past year. [Wall Street Journal $$$]

Insights to give you an edge at work:

  • TikTok has added 70,000 new data insights to its insights tool for marketers.[Social Media Today]

New features and tests:

  • TikTok is about to launch a Trivia game with $500,000 in prize money. [TechCrunch]

  • TikTok now lets you edit your featured video on TikTok if you have a music tab. [@jonah_manzano]

💥 More social media news and updates

  • YouTube’s influencer-marketing programme looks set to go self-service following staff cuts. [Insider $$$]

  • Job cuts in trust and safety teams have raised fears of a rise in online abuse. [NBC News]

  • Mastodon fared best from the ‘Twitter exodus’ after Elon Musk took over. [TechCrunch]

  • Canadian creators are wary of an incoming law that would force platforms to showcase more Canadian content. [Wall Street Journal $$$]

  • Amazon’s ‘Crown’ channel on Twitch has been exaggerating its popularity. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • A.I. chatbots could cause chaos on social media, say researchers and academics. [BBC News]

  • Russian Telegram users have suspicions the Kremlin has back-end access to the platform. [Wired $$$]

  • The founder of WallStreetBets is suing Reddit, claiming the company wrongly removed him from its platform. [The Verge]

  • The US Food and Drug Administration has turned to memes and social media snark to fight misinformation. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • Twitch will host TwitchCon events in Paris and Las Vegas this year. [The Verge]

Insights to give you an edge at work:

  • Getting started with LinkedIn ads? Here’s a full beginner’s guide. [Search Engine Journal]

  • Pinterest has refreshed its ‘Pinterest Academy’ education platform, with new courses and insights for marketers. [Social Media Today]

  • Why content on Snapchat has become less profitable for some news publishers. [Digiday $$$]

New features and tests:

  • YouTube has launched its new commercial music licensing library, Creator Music. Partner Program members in the US can now use it. [TechCrunch]

  • …although the cost of some tracks is eye-popping. [Insider $$$]

  • YouTube is testing multi-language audio tracks. [Social Media Today]

  • YouTube has added 'Shorts as comment replies and new data stories cards. [Social Media Today]

  • YouTube Kids is coming to Roku, game consoles, and more smart TVs. [9to5Google]

  • Snapchat has added ray tracing to its AR lenses for added realism. [@MattNavarra]

  • Snapchat now lets you manage your location history. [@ahmedghanem]

  • Pinterest now lets creators upload up to five minutes of video content as Idea Pins. [@LindseyGamble_]

  • Discord Stage Channels now support live video, screen sharing, and text chat for up to 300 participants. [The Verge]

  • Clubhouse is working on the ability to discover shared contacts with other in the same room as you. [@alex193a]

  • Clubhouse could soon add a user banning feature for Houses. [@alex193a]

  • Clubhouse is working on a ‘payment proposals’ feature. [@alex193a]

📖 Weekend reading

😳 And finally...

A.I. seems to be taking over everything right now. David Guetta created a fake Eminem featured vocal by using one A.I. to write lyrics in his style, and another to clone his voice.

There’s no word yet from Eminem about the stunt, but I doubt he stans it 🎤

Tap through to watch the clip for yourself 👇

📅 Back next week...

…. And that is your lot. You’ve reached the end of this week’s Geekout!

It’s time to Guett-a out of here. 😬

These outros are getting worse. 😁

I’ll get ChatGPT to help me out next week.

Right… It really is time to GTFO of here.

Goodbye, geeks!

– Matt


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