Social Media: What’s New?

Social media is an ever shifting landscape. With algorithm updates, new features and constant tweaks there is always something new. Here, I've condensed some of the most important updates from the last few months broken down by network.

Pinterest:

Lens - earlier this year Pinterest announced one of my favourite new social media features, the Lens. Recently they have introduced further updates improving the functionality. Lens is Shazam for objects, and for anyone with a visual product, it is a potential game changer. Words don't do it justice, so I recommend you try it for yourself.

Google:

Feed - while not strictly social media, Google is a company you should always be watching. If you have the Google app on your phone, you may already have experience with the Feed, serving up news tailored to your interest and location this is a brilliant content curation tool.

YouTube:

Three-second video previews - when you hover over a video thumbnail on YouTube you will now see a short three-second clip providing more context before you click. Not a huge change but none the less it has the potential to affect a viewer's decision to click to watch.

VR 180 - full 360 degree VR videos seem too daunting? Well, now you can focus on just 180 degrees instead. YouTube is even working with partners to bring out cameras later this year to make recording immersive video even easier.

Heatmaps for 360 and VR videos - wonder no longer where your audience is looking. This new tool for YouTube allows content creators to understand what areas of their VR/360 videos are being seen by their viewers.

Instagram:

Insights via API - this update means better Instagram analytics through 3rd party tools.

Live video in stories - Instagram stories are hot stuff and the ability to live stream within them has opened up all sorts of opportunities for brands.

Direct response ads in stories - Instagram's ad options are maturing, and the ability to drive direct actions from ads within stories offers businesses an opportunity to deliver immediate ROI from Instagram's increasingly popular stories.

Archiving - removing the need to permanently delete pictures from your feed, archiving gives users more control over their content.

Instagram shuts down bot services - Fake followers and fake engagement are an issue across the internet. Instagram is tackling this head on by blocking the worst sites from accessing its system. Deleting fake accounts and stopping the creation of new ones helps businesses be confident that their Instagram followers are real people.

LinkedIn:

Enhanced report and insights for ads - more stats particularly on the demographics of users responding to ads is always welcome.

Changes to notifications - if like me you despise the pointless notifications LinkedIn sends, you'll love this update.

Images in comments - moving closer to Facebook, LinkedIn now allows comments to contain images. It remains to be seen if this is a good idea or not.

Lead generation form ads - LinkedIn finally adds the most obvious ad type for a primarily B2B network.

Native video (app only currently) - a much overdue update, LinkedIn is finally joining the video party and is rolling out native video uploads. Rumours of live streaming will no doubt prove true (everyone else is doing it).

Twitter:

New design - anyone using Twitter will already have noticed this; the key point is that they aren't finished yet so be prepared to see if anything of substance changes.

Buttons in direct messages - supporting the slowly growing trend for messenger bots, Twitter now allows for DMs to contain buttons reducing the friction between a call to action and taking action.

Twitter Lite - a stripped down version of Twitter for those worried about data usage.

Data controls - now you can see what data Twitter has on you and exercise more control over it.

Notification filters - Twitter has several problems not least among them are fake accounts and trolls, well now we have more control over our notifications, making it easier to ignore the accounts we don't want to interact with.

Twitter TV - Twitter has really embraced live streaming, and with the launch of its TV app, it is signalling a clear direction for the network.

Search by Emoji - with little fanfare Twitter launched the ability to search for a tweet by the Emojis used; its usefulness depends entirely on your audience.

No new users - Twitter's big problem is getting worse: slow user growth is now no user growth. If Twitter can't grow its user base, it is in trouble.

Facebook:

The big one, bear with me there are a lot of updates.

Facebook Spaces – VR is the future, or at least that's what Mark Zuckerberg seems to think. Getting to grips with social VR will put you well ahead of the pack, though the audience isn't there yet to justify fully embracing social VR just yet.

Messenger updates - Messenger apps are big business, and Facebook has released a whole host of new features and updates to its platform, not least among them are chatbots.

Camera effects platform - it's not only VR Zuckerberg is betting on, AR is the bigger potential, and with these new features, AR is here already. I highly recommend investigating Facebook Frames; they're a bit of fun that could help your engagement metrics.

Low-quality landing pages - does your website feature pop ups and too many adverts? Well, Facebook is not your friend. Poor quality landing pages are being downgraded in the newsfeed.

Reducing clickbait headlines - Facebook has been at war with clickbait for ages now, and its latest update takes it down to a more personal level, if you don't share clickbait then don't worry, if you do then sort out your act.

Trending update - fleshing out its trending topics feature, this is good news for publishers as it offers new opportunities for users to see their content.

Captions on live broadcasts - no longer do we need to watch Facebook Live with the sound on, though don't be surprised if the captions are a little off, we haven't got perfect speech to text tech yet.

Gif updates - I'm a huge fan of gifs, so I love this update. Facebook now supports the direct uploading of gifs, and even better they can be used in comments.

Group updates - introducing analytics to groups suddenly makes them so much more useful for brands. These updates mean you should seriously consider how Facebook groups can feature in your social strategy.

2 Billion monthly active users - yes you read that right Facebook is undeniably the largest social network in the world. If Facebook doesn't already feature in your social strategy fix that now because you can guarantee your audience is using it.

Messenger discover - making it easier to find bots and business in Messenger it's time to get serious about customer service and social selling through Facebook.

Metrics update - now you can see how many people are recommending your business on Facebook among other new stats. Who doesn't like having more data?

Find Wi-Fi - a little-known feature you're bound to find useful: Facebook shows you a map of all the local Wi-Fi hotspots shared by businesses. Cafes and shops with Wi-Fi for customers better make sure they appear on the map.

Facebook live from VR - as if VR wasn't enough, Facebook wants you to live stream from inside its VR platform. This is the future Facebook wants to create.

Single inbox - making it easier to monitor all comments, posts and messages this is a welcome update.

Original TV shows - Twitter isn't the only one getting into the TV business; Facebook is rumoured to be working on original TV shows. Has Netflix got a rival in the making?

Household targeting for ads - scared by the amount of info Facebook has on you? Well, you aren't going to like this, but advertisers will. No longer do we need to target an entire household instead we can focus on the key decision makers.

Small business mobile help - a whole host of new mobile features aimed at helping small business owners manage their Facebook presence.

Offline conversion tracking - link your offline sales to your Facebook ads, prove that ROI and understand how Facebook impacts the analogue world as much as the digital one.

Creative hub updates - these updates are a blessing for integration between creative and advertising teams.

Ads in Messenger - Messenger is popular which means it is time for ads. Not a favourite move with users but a whole new area of opportunity for businesses.

Video headers - bored of static images for your Facebook page header? Well, now you can have video.

Stabilisation, 4k and 360 live videos - the camera shaking all over the place can be a huge immersion breaker; luckily Facebook is here to help. Alongside stabilisation we have 4k and 360 live videos, the future is here, and it is in horrifyingly high definition, makeup sales are bound to increase.

Videos to autoplay with sound on - video rules the internet, and you can't escape it. These updates only serve to reinforce that.

Custom ad audiences from Instagram engagement - a long awaited feature currently in testing you will soon be able to target ads to people who interact with your Instagram account.

No more editing link previews - last and probably most significant, this update has already upset a lot of users. No longer can we edit the image, headline or description pulled through when a link is posted to Facebook. Now is the time for a website audit, make sure you have those Open Graph tags in place.

And breathe, that was a long list but believe it or not, that was only a selection of the social media updates from the last few months. Keeping on top of the constant developments is certainly a challenge, which is why CIB's structure of having a team dedicated to social media updates and analytics is such a benefit.

If you need help with anything to do with social media, contact Nick Gill (new business) via email ([email protected]) or phone (01372 371800).

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