That year in social – 2018
Below we have taken a look at some of the biggest updates throughout the year of 2018, and how social channels are pushing features on their networks to ensure more creativity in social media marketing…
Facebook’s timeline announcement
In January, Facebook caused a stir by announcing a major update to what users see on their newsfeed. Although slowly being implemented, it has announced that it’s going to switch its focus from public and ‘generic’ content, to engagement from your friends and family being seen the most on your timeline.
So what does this mean for marketers? Well first, it’s not all doom and gloom for your Facebook strategy. Facebook’s Vice President of News Feed, Adam Mosseri, recently stated that the prime focus isn’t to demote public content, but to showcase high quality content with meaningful interactions from friends and family. If a piece of content you put out for your business is well thought out and of important relevance and interest to your target audience and their personal communities then it will still be seen. This will mean it’s time to think outside the box and come up with bespoke, interesting posts to gain a positive reaction. This means avoiding engagement bait such as ‘tag your friend’ or ‘share if you agree’. When the changes start to come in, it’s time as a marketer to analyse what is working and what isn’t and build upon this.
Secondly, you shouldn’t rely on winning at Facebook alone for your social media strategy, with the algorithm able to change at any point. Diversify your strategy and open up to the different audiences and demographics that can be found on various social channels. Each channel has a different audience, so differentiating the content on each channel can work wonders for your business. Snapchat, for example, has a majority audience of 18 to 24, compared to Twitter’s growing audience demographic of 23 to 37 year olds, so different content on each platform will gain different engagement results for your business.
The rise of Instagram stories
Instagram stories are becoming just as important, if not more, than your regular Instagram posts. In January, Instagram introduced the option to highlight certain stories on your profile at the top of the page, meaning they can now have a longer lifespan than the original 24 hours and can be rewatched by users wanting to know more about certain products and news your business has to offer.
The best way to implement this new update into your Instagram strategy as a business is to use Instagram stories in a professional, well thought out way. The creation of branded video and image assets, with the correct dimensions on stories can make all the difference to your brand. If you’re lucky enough to have over 10,000 followers on your page, you are able to add a hyperlink to your story as a ‘swipe up’ option to go straight to your website, or any site you want to link to.
As an example of this, a fashion business can create a ‘lookbook’ of new products on their Instagram story with the call to action ‘swipe up to shop now’ and showcase this story at the top of their page titled ‘Autumn Winter collection on sale now’, meaning a more direct approach to shopping for a user. Previously, Instagram only allowed one link in the bio of an Instagram page, but this new update means you can have various stories with links to various products all featured at the top of your page. Marketers can now be creative with how they showcase products on Instagram with stories allowing the option to have image, video and they’ve recently introduced GIFs!
Twitter improves its image crop feature
Twitter has been cropping images for some time now to improve display consistency when sharing images of various dimensions. It has been using face detection to focus on key elements on an image, but it’s not always worked out well for businesses, with parts of images not being seen, meaning marketer’s have to test out images on hidden profiles before making it public.
Well now Twitter has realised this and is improving this function, which will make all the difference for users viewing your businesses’ content. No more text being cut off, or a vital part of the image, such as a face, not being seen without clicking further in to the image. The new feature will focus on salient regions of the image to ensure cropping is effective for both Twitter’s display and the marketer’s post.
Facebook enters the world of 3D
Through all the news of Facebook’s algorithm changes, fake news stories and privacy woes, it’s always the first when it comes to new technologies for posts that can really benefit brands and companies using the channel for its marketing efforts.
The company recently introduced 3D posts, letting people interact and see 3D models directly on their news feed, with the likes of LEGO, Wayfair and Sony Mobile being the first to showcase these. So how can brands use this feature? Well instead of a simple picture of your product (a car for example), the user can now click and spin the 3D image to analyse the product in more detail. Artists using 3D authoring software can directly drag/drop their 3D files to Facebook to create a 3D post. Expect to see this a lot more throughout next month, and the first foray into their future plans of VR.
Spruce up your Instagram and Snapchat stories with GIFs
Every brand should be using Instagram’s ‘stories’ feature, and with last month’s update on being able to feature stories on a brand’s profile, it’s a great opportunity to be creative with promoting your products and services, along with gaining an insight into which followers are switched on and viewing your posts.
Well now it’s easier than ever for companies to be ‘fun’ with their posts with both Instagram and Snapchat introducing the ability to add gifs to your pictures and videos. It’s as simple as swiping up on your post, searching for a GIF topic and placing this in the desired position, along with hashtags, location tags and more text fonts than ever before. It’s time for brands to get creative.
Schedule Instagram posts (finally)
This is definitely something everyone has been crying out for on Instagram, the ability to schedule posts through social media management tools, in the same way as you would for the likes of Facebook and Twitter. Gone are the days of social media managers setting an alarm to make sure they’ve posted on Instagram.
As you might know, Facebook = Instagram, and last year they introduced business profiles on Instagram, where you connect it to your Facebook business page for extra insights on the app. Well now, if you’ve connected them up, you’re able to schedule through Hootsuite and Sprout Social, with rumours of more social media management tools offering this service in the future.
Hashtags and Mentions in Instagram bios plus new ‘shopping experience’
If you’re a business on Instagram, you’ll know all about the struggles when it comes to linking through to certain content or sites, other than the one link available in the bio. Well, the latest update from Instagram helps slightly, you can now include clickable hashtags and profile @s in the bio, making it easier for people to click through (and follow) your bespoke campaign hashtag, or any sister profiles you might have.
So what’s an effective way of using this update? Create a bespoke hashtag for your Instagram campaign, and use this for every post on your timeline you upload. Once the campaign is complete, or during campaign, prompt people to see all the posts in one place by including it in your bio with something like “View our launch at #_______”. This is an effective way to promote your campaign in the same way you would in the likes of Twitter. This works well with last year’s Instagram update of following hashtags.
If it’s a profile page you’re including in your bio, then Instagram send a notification to that account, letting them know you’ve added this, they can then remove it if it isn’t relevant. Time to edit your bio!
The second and most substantial update as far as Instagram goes is the rolling out of a new shopping experience in the platform to the UK market.
With shopping on Instagram, users are given a visual shopfront to explore new products from businesses they follow. With easy access to pricing and product details, shoppers can tap on a tagged post within feed or through the shop button on a business’s profile. Businesses in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK will now have access to the tool.
With more than 200 million accounts visiting one or more business profiles daily, shopping on Instagram offers more opportunities for businesses to showcase their products, and more time for people to explore the brands and products they love.
LinkedIn adds text and filters for video
LinkedIn is changing, and changing fast. Following on from its recent mobile app update allowing users to upload native video to profiles, it’s now introduced its joining Snapchat and Instagram in letting you add text and video filters prior to uploading.
Whether you’re an avid video creator or your standard recruiter looking to stand out from the crowd on the platform, this is a good move. We already know it’s a highly successful feature on other platforms, and with the company itself recently saying that video content is being shared 20 times more than other content, it makes sense. There’s not many filters and text styles to currently pick from but as it becomes more popular this would change. Perfect for getting your message across in a more creative way, and allowing people to share the message directly with the text overlay.
Facebook makes a small change to prioritise local news
When Facebook recently changed the way people see their news feed, it also announced it will put more emphasis on priorities local news on our timelines, and after being rolled out in the United States, it’s now arriving in more locations, including the UK.
In a statement, Facebook said, “Local news helps people connect to their communities,” and with communities being their main focus on changing the news feed in the first place, this was an expected update. So what does this mean? Well, there will be more posts on timelines from local news sources from the city the user lives in, and any other locations the user has noted down as previously living in, or a fan of visiting. For publishers, this means that Facebook will automatically help them reach audiences more effectively in the cities they want to be viewed in, including surrounding areas.
Upload multiple posts on Instagram stories
Towards the end of April, Instagram updated their app with a really useful tool for those who work with Instagram stories for their business profiles (and personal ones too). Companies are becoming really creative with the stories tool, using multiple images and videos to tell a story promoting a product or ideas about the brand.
Well, Instagram have now noticed this and allows its users to upload multiple images and videos in one go, so you can position your posts in a timeline before pressing ‘upload’, allowing you to see what it looks like, but also allowing your audience to view the complete story straight away. You can have up to ten uploaded in one go, and are able to edit each one with filters, gifs, location tags etc. to make sure your Instagram story is as professional (and fun) as possible.
Brand new designs for Linkedin and Pinterest Business
If you’re an avid user of LinkedIn for your personal profile, you’ll have noticed recently that they’ve updated the design (again) with more emphasis on your employment, education and contact information, which features right under the header. This makes no difference to any business profiles you are currently running but you will have to update your header to match the new design.
Pinterest has joined in with the new design theme by updating their Business profiles, which is being rolled out across the next few months (so keep an eye out). So what to expect? Well, there’s going to be a new interactive header for your page, which is taken from recent pins uploaded, specific boards you want to highlight and most recent activity. To add to the design, business profiles will now show the total numbers of users who have viewed your pins.
Facebook updates it’s ‘Stories’ with new features
It’s been publicly known for a while now that Facebook wants to push it’s ‘Stories’ feature to try and create a challenge for Instagram and Snapchat in particular. In April, they’ve updated this tool with the ability for users to add AR drawings and boomerangs to posts, making it a lot more fun to both businesses and users.
If you’re creating stories through the Facebook app on Android and iOS, you can now add 3D drawings in AR when recording on the Facebook Camera. Facebook have also announced theirs is going to be new updates in the coming months from feedback they’ve received around stories, so keep an eye out.
Group video chat and mentions in Snapchat stories
This is quite a big one for Snapchat, and something that’s more relatable to users than businesses, but they’ve recently introduced the option to group video chat through the app with up to 16 people at one time. In true Snapchat style, the video chat is then never to be seen again, with their main reason behind the update being that it wants the app to be more like hanging out rather than texting.
To coincide with the group video chat, Snapchat have also been busy updating the app with the ability to add mentions to your Snapchat stories, in the same way as you can on Instagram, allowing you to tag any friends or businesses in your images and videos for others to check out. This follows up with their previous updates of making it easier to find new accounts to follow and making updates public.
A busy month for Instagram updates
The team at Instagram HQ have been busy updating the app with a variety of new updates than helps the running process for both users and businesses. Firstly, your existing organic Instagram posts can now be turned into Ads, with a variety of objectives, such as engagement, reach, view views and brand awareness. The catch though? It’s only going to be available for posts that are single video and single photo, and is only available to business profiles.
There have been tons of updates in Instagram’s stories feature too, including the ability to add an emoji slider poll instead of the usual ‘yes no’ question. This is a great interactive way to get users engaging with your updates, asking the questions “how much”. This isn’t all for stories though, you can also share feed posts into Instagram stories. So if there’s a post that has inspired you on the timeline, or a post you are featured in and want to share to your followers, you can now add it to your story as a sticker, and are able to rotate, scale and position as you want. A great way to promote your business to those that are tagging you in their posts.
New safety features for Facebook group admins
Following on from the news that Facebook has taken down 1.3 billion fake accounts in the last six months, they have now improved their groups feature, to make the platform safer for admins. These updates include the ability to locate admin support, which is a dedicated place for admins of Facebook groups to report issues and get a personal response from Facebook within one working day. It is currently available to a limited number of group admins on iOS and Android, so keep an eye out if you run a group community.
There’s also the newly introduced online admin education resources, to help with the community management, in particular keeping them engaged and safe whilst being a part of the Facebook group. This includes product demos, tutorials and case studies, which all came from feedback from group admins. Another update for group admins is the ability to pick and choose which members of the group do not have to have content approved and can post automatically, which is great if you have trusted members who post a lot, but do not wish for them to be an admin.
Snapchat lenses with sound reactions
Here’s a fun one for users of the ever changing Snapchat app. Following on from last year’s updates allowing it’s users to add filters to their face (the famous dog filter for example), which move as the face does on camera, they have now added a filter that reacts to sound. At the time of writing this, it’s in the early stages and the first introduction is a filter, which the areas start moving as soon as you talk, but as we have learnt with the visual filters, we have to expect these to advance further as more users are in demand for updates.
New grid view for Facebook
It’s been a while since we’ve seen any major changes to Facebook profiles, but the recent test has an Instagram feel to it. It’s currently being rolled out throughout the globe, and gives users the option to view profiles in the normal timeline mode, or grid mode. What this means is that it will be a mosaic style page to highlight posts such as videos and images, in square thumbnails. Text only updates are also shown as images.
Facebook’s ‘keyword snooze’ incoming…
This one is still in testing, but it follows up Twitter’s recent feature of allowing users to snooze keywords, in the same way as you can profiles or certain pages, for a 30 day period. What it means for users is the ability to not seen any posts at all that include a certain keyword or phrase, which is great if you don’t like football during the World Cup, or are tired of seeing posts about politics, simply snooze the keywords and you’ll be happier on the platform. This won’t apply to ads however, just organic posts.
Updates to Instagram stories (including shopping)
If you’re an avid user of Instagram’s ‘stories’ feature, which allows you to upload Snapchat style updates to your followers in a fun way, then you’ll have noticed a few new updates recently. One of the main updates is the ability to showcase other people’s Instagram posts, along with what you’re listening to on Spotify, as ‘stickers’ with the ability to move these about and add any gifs or text alongside this.
Instagram is constantly improving the things you can do with Instagram stories, and they’ve added another new ‘poll’ feature, which is currently being tested. This allows a user to ask a question and receive open worded answers straight into their analytics for the post (along with who’s viewed it etc).
And to conclude June for Instagram, they are currently testing the option to expand your ‘shopping’ features into stories, in the same way businesses were using it for timeline posts, you will be able to include a shopping bag ‘sticker’ on your stories update for people to click on and view the product connected to Facebook shops.
Video updates to Facebook and Instagram
If you’ve been keeping up to date with social media news, or an avid user of Instagram yourself, you’ll already know all about the introduction of IGTV. Eventually one to compete with YouTube, this addition to the app allows you to broadcast live or previously recorded videos, up to an hour long, straight to your follower-base. If you’re a consumer, it works in the same way as television in the way that videos begin straight away and you’re able to flick through channels (users you follow), and search functions to discover more. Obviously you’ll be viewing the videos on your phone so it’s functioned to play them vertical and full screen, making it easier and quicker to engage with.
Facebook has also been introducing updates to their site, with a main focus on videos, in particular in groups. ‘Facebook watch party’ is something it has been testing since the beginning of the year, and it’s now launching in groups around the world. So what is it? Well, it allows members of groups to watch live or recorded videos and interact with other viewers/members whilst watching. If you’re a business who runs a group alongside your page, it’s a great opportunity to host videos directly to your ‘fans’ in the style of Q&As, informative pieces or ‘behind the scenes’ look at the business, and being able to respond and interact with viewers at the same time.
Multitask whilst watching videos on Twitter
Everyone knows videos have become more popular on Twitter, you only have to look down your timeline to see a large portion of posts are video assets, which is a great way to interact with your audience, but it hasn’t always been as easy to consume as images have.
With this in mind, Twitter has decided to make things a little easier for consumers and viewers on the app, with the update allowing you to ‘dock videos whilst scrolling’. What this means is you can minimise a video whilst watching it, to the corner of your screen and continue watching whilst viewing all your other tweets. It’s started out in Android, with iOS happening soon.
Updates to LinkedIn messaging
We’ve noticed LinkedIn has really ramped up the updates to both the site and app in recent months, and their latest one is a focus on the messaging side of things. Realising that messaging is a vital part of the social network, whether working with teammates or discussing opportunities with recruiters/group members, it’s a welcome update.
What does it include?
The update now allows you to write longer messages on the app, switching it away from a ‘chat’ to a more formal feature, you can expand the compose box and change the way you message to fit in all desired information. Another update to the messenger feature is the ability to share attachments on the go, instead of waiting to do this on desktop or via email. This was one of the most requested updates according to LinkedIn and we agree it really enhances the platform for what people mainly use it for, sending documents and CVs.
If group messaging is your thing, they’ve made it easier to set this up on the app with ‘smart suggestions’ to include other users who might work at the same company or part of the same group on Linkedin. Adding to this, you can now @ mention others users if you are specifically talking to one person, or want to include them in the conversation and notify them once you have done so. You can also mention people in 1:1 conversation if you want to share someone’s profile.
Redesigned Groups platform on LinkedIn
LinkedIn has prioritised boosting engagement and creating discussion in Groups as their main importance with this latest update. The Groups platform, which is often used by social media managers, is in the launch period.
So just what are the new features? Well, one main difference you might see is the removal of a “moderator” role, and if you’re currently a moderator of a group, you will notice a downgrade to regular member, and those needing to manage a Group needs to be made a “manager” role. In the new Groups redesign, members can reply to comments, edit their own posts and post native video content into the group, as well as interact with discussions directly from the main feed, along with receiving notifications directly, from the Groups you are part of. For social media managers, the lack of moderation options may potentially see a rise in spammy comments, but only time will tell.
You can finally get verified on Instagram
This is something that influencers, social media managers, businesses and journalists have been asking for a while. Instagram has caught up with the other social media channels and allows you to apply for Instagram profile verification, as opposed to waiting for the big day (or knowing someone who works there).
It’s not open to everyone though, which makes sense. To request a verified badge you have to be a celebrity, brand, public figure or meet those account and eligibility requirements, set by Instagram. Where to find this? Head to your setting section on the app, and click on ‘Request Verification’, which you will then be prompted to provide a form of identification to make sure you are worthy of one. Good luck!
Working with social media influencers? Make sure posts are tagged!
It’s no secret that brands and companies are utilising social media influencers as a great way to spread the message about their product or beliefs, but are these companies making sure posts are being tagged? Posts with #Ad and #Sponsored grew by 44% in the first six month of 2018, compared to the previous year, so it’s certainly improving, but the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) have recently announced they’re paying more attention to this.
So is it down to the marketer or influencers? Marketers should really be making sure they are providing enough information to influencers, in particular those new to the scene, and making sure they include the hashtag somewhere in their post, to allow audiences to know whether or not there’s genuine interest from the influencer in the brand, or if it has been paid. It is actually a legal obligation to use the hashtags on advertisement posts, and not to do is technically a breach of consumer protection legislation, and will result in the posts being taken down, which in turn destroys any relationships your brand has with influencers and their audiences.
Facebook pages can now join groups
Great news for those running a Facebook page and wanting to push it further, Facebook has now introduced the option to join in with groups as the brand page. What does this mean for social media marketers then? Well, there’s plenty of groups out there which might talk about your brand or industry, so now you can get involved with the conversations, which is great for brand awareness on the social channel.
Until now, it was only individuals that were able to join groups, but now the new function is being tested, with many group admins noticing the option in their settings. This is a great opportunity to get involved with a variety of communities. Facebook have confirmed the new feature, saying: “We’ve heard from people that engaging with public figures, non-profits, publishers, and businesses in a more intimate setting can be meaningful”. If you’re managing a brand’s Facebook page, give it a go.
Advertisers can now utilise Facebook Stories
Facebook has been pushing its ‘Stories’ feature for a while now, and even though it’s not been fully won over by consumers yet, brands have started to utilise the function in the same way as Instagram stories, using it as a place to promote their products in an engaging and exciting way.
Following on from this, Facebook has decided to roll out the opportunity for advertisers to also use the feature. Just like on Instagram Stories, advertisers will have the ability to target their ads based on Facebook’s full ad targeting and measurement capabilities. It’s early days at the moment, but they’ve been testing it since May with a bigger push earlier this month. Current brands to test out the Facebook Stories ads include KFC, Norwegian Airlines and iHeart Radio, so you’ll be sure to see these a lot more in the future, and a great opportunity for brands.
Twitter wants you to watch live broadcasts
It’s no secret that Twitter has recently been expanding its live stream offerings, with the launch of audio-only broadcasting through Periscope, but it now wants to focus on getting people watching and listening to these live broadcasts through the channel.
So what is it doing to get these in front of people? It’s introducing new stream notifications at the top of users’ timelines, making it easier to get involved with these broadcasts. The notification comes in the form of a highlight at the top of the feed, which will undoubtedly get more people watching. Have you noticed these on Twitter yet?
Have you tried Facebook’s 3D pictures?
You might have seen a few brands or individuals testing this new feature out this month, and we feel it is very effective for markets, 3D pictures on your timeline. It’s not available to everyone at the moment, but if you are one of the lucky ones it’s been rolled out to, and you have a iPhone with dual cameras (anything after iPhone 7 will work), then you are able to create these.
3D photos draw from the depth map that is automatically created using the dual cameras and creates a 3D rendering that moves as the user scrolls and moves their mobile device whilst viewing it on Facebook. Some advice from Facebook… make sure the photo is about 3 feet away, think about the contrast and use texture such as straight edges. We can’t wait to see how brands and influencers will utilise this feature.
Major advancements to Periscope’s live streaming
As you’ll know, the majority of live streams through Twitter are with third party app, Periscope, and they’ve released a whole load of new updates with their latest release. So what’s included? Well, they’re really focused on the stream replays part of their function, allowing for broadcasters to create more shareable assets once the stream has been completed.
Broadcasters and social media managers alike can now edit the thumbnail to their creation, which can show off the best part of their stream. The thumbnail previously was aut-picked by Periscope, with no control over what is picked. There’s also now the option to edit titles afterwards, which is great for search marketing purposes (include those keywords!) and to avoid any spelling mistakes. Lastly, you can now set a custom start spot, so if the video is over an hour long, and you want to showcase a specific part when sharing, then you can pick a custom start spot for this.
The second update involves those pages and brands that have partnerships with other pages or influencers, but without payment. They are currently rolling out the option to tag another page in their post (as a partnership), which is only available for paid partnerships at the current moment.
Major updates to Instagram for businesses and users
It seems like the majority of news around social media is Instagram focused this month, with the app announcing it’s cracking down on accounts with fake followers and likes. This has caused a mass panic to those who have bought their high follower base numbers. It’s good news for marketers though, as it means influencers with a large amount of followers are genuine and worth working with. This coincides with the app testing out new design features for users, allowing for extra contact buttons at the top of a profile, and a new position for bios and profile pictures.
So what else has improved for businesses on Instagram? Well, following on from last month’s product stickers in Stories, they’ve now improved their shopping features further with the introduction of “shopping collection”, the ability to save items to purchase at a later date, and shopping in feed videos, which means you can now tag your videos with products in the same way, prompting people to click through to an external site to buy.
Introducing the new LinkedIn Pages
It feels like every month we’re talking about new LinkedIn updates, and the site is really making changes to challenge some of the big hitters. For November, we talk about the new LinkedIn Pages, a function to the site to help build communities between employees, partners and customers.
What does it involve then? It’s based around community managers fostering daily interactions with their community. The admins are now able to post updates and respond to comments on the go with the mobile app, associate the page with hashtags and join conversations about the brand or relevant topics. It’s really a step in the right direction for LinkedIn, as we see it taking elements of other social channels to finally bring itself up to date.
Chronological timelines for Twitter
Apart from the edit button (which we don’t think would be beneficial), Twitter users are crying out for their chronological timelines back, which is particularly important if you follow a lot of accounts that publish live updates of events, sport or news and you want it in the correct order.
The company tweeted saying it is testing a button to display tweets by post time, in a similar way to what Facebook allows you to do. It’s being tested and available to a small number of iOS users and all Twitter employees. Keep an eye out for this one!