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Mackerel Media’s Search and Digital Marketing Roundup – February 2023

Social Media Marketing takes the stage in this month’s roundup. While TikTok continues to soar in popularity, Meta riles creators with a new subscription model. 

Explore the full updates below, as well as our take on Bing’s adoption of AI-assisted search. 

Meta introduces subscription service, Meta Verified 

This month, Meta introduced a paid subscription service, Meta Verified. For $15 a month for iOS users, subscribers can gain access to the highly sought after blue verified tick, as well as extra customer support, account protections and increased reach. 

Pitched as a solution to ‘increase security and authenticity’, the announcement comes hot on the heels of similar models implemented by Twitter, Youtube and Snapchat. As advertising revenues continue to fall against increased competition from the likes of Amazon and TikTok, subscriptions are quickly becoming the go-to revenue booster for global social platforms (while Twitter’s attempt has taken a nosedive, Snapchat has already reached 2 million subscribers)

While it’s true that government-backed identity checks are likely to improve security and privacy on the platform, creators view the model less positively. As platform updates have reduced the amount of customer support available, and algorithm upgrades have limited organic reach in favour of recommended content and sponsored ads, many creators view the change as a crass attempt to make a profit from services which were once fundamental to the platform (just browse the comments on Mosseri’s post below…)

The model will launch in Australia and New Zealand initially, with a view to expand globally if successful. We’ll be interested to see whether resistance from creators will affect this expansion, especially as Meta’s biggest rival, TikTok, continues to prioritise organic growth and creator features (more on that below). 


‘New Bing’ gets people talking 

After much anticipation, Microsoft has launched ‘New Bing’, a new and improved version of its search engine with the addition of the AI-powered chatbot, GPT-3.5

Surpassing 1 million sign ups in just 48 hours, New Bing is still accessible via waitlist only, with plans to roll out more widely in the coming weeks. 

Screenshot of the New Bing homepage. Includes a link to join the waiting list as well as prompts for the new chatbot.

Screenshot of the ‘New Bing’ homepage

So far, reviews have been mixed. On one hand, the new GPT-3.5 overcomes some of the previous limitations of its predecessor, ChatGPT. It is no longer refined to web data until 2021, so is able to source up-to-date answers from across the internet – including from social media platforms. It also has an impressive crawl time for newly published content, and includes citations for all answers – overcoming previous attribution concerns. 

However, the AI-powered search function comes with its fair share of drawbacks. For one, it has the ability to spit out some pretty scary answers, including false claims, accidental racism and concerns about its own memory… To combat, Microsoft has introduced daily chat limits, but we imagine reaching the core of these issues will take some time.

Despite these initial challenges, overall feedback has been positive. Users are pleased with the new speed and showing greater-than-expected interest in ‘chatting for fun’. As Microsoft continues to streamline and overcome initial challenges, we look forward to monitoring these updates in real time – and keeping tabs on how Google’s AI equivalent, Bard, measures up. 

Browse our initial thoughts on ChatGPT and SEO here. 

TikTok introduces Promote tools

The world’s most popular social media platform has introduced a variety of new features to help brands promote their content and creators. 

To increase visibility and engagement, brands now have the ability to add CTAs to their sponsored posts, encouraging either profile visits or direct messages depending on their goal. 

Screenshot of two TikTok sponsored ads side by side. One ad includes the call to action 'View TikTok profile' and the other reads 'Send message'. The ads show the side of a phone and the call to actions are in bright red boxes at the bottom of the screens.

Examples of TikTok’s new Promote tools

They also have the option to magnify influencer-generated content by turning organic creator posts into ads. Similar to Meta’s branded content ads, this function allows brands to maximise the visibility and reach of content which is already performing well. 

These are the latest of a slew of new platform upgrades from TikTok, which is continuously improving its user experience, while elevating the opportunities available to both creators and brands. 

For example, new updates to the TikTok’s Creative Center allow brands to browse the most popular products being sold on the platform (even more invaluable in the era of ‘TikTok made me buy it’. The TikTok Insights tool also enables marketers to dive into trends and shifts across industries. 

Fundamentally, TikTok is the one to beat when it comes to social media marketing. While engagement across all other platforms continues to fall, TikTok achieved a stellar 5.69% in 2022. Offering competitive ad rates, and allowing creators to protect their organic reach without having to pay a premium, it’s time for Meta to tread carefully if it wants to compete…


Looking for more insights on your search and social media strategy? Reach out to a member of our team today.