We have taken a look at some of the biggest updates throughout the year of 2019, and how social channels are pushing features on their networks to ensure more creativity in social media marketing…
The Whatsapp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger merge
Possibly the biggest piece of social media news over the past few weeks is Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, announcing that he wants to combine the Facebook Messenger, Instagram and Whatsapp services under a single platform. This would allow users to communicate across the three services easier, but don’t expect to see this soon as it has been announced it could be as late as next year.
This does however mean that all platforms will be more secure, with a backend supporting end-to-end encryption, stopping messages being viewed by third parties. There are still a lot of unanswered questions and we are sure there will be more news across the year, but the initial news has created more questions than answers.
Facebook is testing an array of new features
For social media marketers running various pages on the platform, you might have recently noticed a new ‘Page Quality’ tab being tested. What this means is it is now easier for those managing pages to get a better understanding of how well their pages are complying with Facebook’s Guidelines, which will cut down on the likes of fake news and bullying in the long run. The new tab shows admins content that has been removed for violating community standards.
Facebook has also been busy testing out new features, such as the new ‘Community Actions’, which allows users to call for action on certain issues. It’s essentially an online petition, getting people to create fundraisers, organise events, create discussions and tag representatives who could take action. Those interested can simply click a “support” button to get involved.
Alongside this, on the other end of the spectrum, Facebook has been trying to re-engage with younger audiences by testing out a new video feed of memes within the main product, called ‘Facebook LOL’. It’s currently only being tested out within a few communities, but expect to see it soon full of various meme categories (such as animals, fails, pranks etc.) and allows users to interact with reactions.
YouTube is updating its user functionality
YouTube is making it even easier for users to navigate between videos as it has started to introduce the option to swipe left and right on mobile devices to get to the next video in a playlist or recommended. This is replacing the previous tapping motion that was needed. Quite a few users who have already tried this motion have reported back that if you swipe left to return, it takes you back to the same position you skipped from.
That’s not all for YouTube in January though, according to reports, it is testing a new ‘recommended downloads’ feature in the app. This follows the feature that allows a user to download videos to their device to watch at a later date, which has been active for a few years, but now it’s going to make it even easier to find new content to watch at a later date too, recommending videos to make offline. Keep an eye out for this one!
Instagram is testing new features
It seems like every month we write this blog, Instagram seems to be the forefront of new features and tests to improve user interactivity, throughout the Stories function, timelines and direct messaging, and February is no different.
It has been revealed that Instagram is working on another sticker to include in Stories, this time a ‘donation’ button, which will allow users to collect funds for non-profits using the creative functions Stories allows you to utilise. Facebook’s own donate buttons have helped raise over £1billion since its launch, so this is a great step to bring it to Instagram too.
So, what else is Instagram testing? Well, it could be the end of Instagram focusing on the mobile-only approach, with internal tests looking to launch Direct Messages for the web. Messaging is one of the top engagement factors for social media apps, and following the success of Facebook Messenger on desktop, it’s turning to Instagram desktop for the next step. This could be part of Facebook’s ambitions to regroup all of its messaging platforms.
Live video has arrived on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is really focusing on its video efforts lately, trying to keep up with the functions other social channels have already brought in with success. The next launch for LinkedIn is its first live video streaming feature, which has recently been launched to a select few invitees to test out, and is opening up an application process for those who want to test it on the professional network.
Similar to the functions on Periscope, Facebook Live and Instagram Live, users will be able to broadcast live to their followers who are able to interact with the stream by commenting as it goes on, being visible to everyone who is viewing it. This will be a great function on the channel, and it is likely business professionals will use it to stream webinars, conferences, product announcements and business-related Q&As. Keep an eye out on this one as it gets rolled out to more users.
More new Group features for Facebook admins
It seems Facebook has added even more features to its Groups to help admins build better communities on the social channel. One of these new features is the ability for admins to create better-structured posts using a variety of formatting tools, such as larger text, bullet pointed lists and block quotes, which is a great way to showcase any new news to the group or add group rules to pin to the top of the page.
Another feature is the ability for admins to create paid group subscriptions, which allows groups to charge users for joining the group as a monthly subscription, and to offer free trials to those wanting to test it out and see if it’s worth joining.
Finally, Facebook has launched a pilot program that allows groups and brands to collaborate with sponsored posts featured right inside the group. All of these features show that Groups have become an important part of the Facebook experience, and it is no surprise they are testing new features and investing time into making these places better for communities.
Instagram’s in-app shopping experience
This has been a long time coming, with the past year or so seeing the app introduce more and more features for tagging products and linking to Facebook shop, but now they have introduced and tested a feature to shop directly on Instagram.
It is currently being tested with a lot of large shopping brands in the US (think Nike, Uniqlo and Zara for the level of brands), but it’s only a matter of time before it gets introduced to the world. So what does it involve? Essentially, brands will be paying for a selling fee allowing the general user to tap on a product that has been featured on a post and “checkout with Instagram” meaning no more having to get redirected to the company’s website or external shop. There will be options to see further photos of products, different colours, sizes and delivery information. What is also good for shoppers is the ability to add a PIN code once adding your card or PayPal to ensure quick and easy shopping in the future.
More updates for the Twitter platform
It seems every month we are bringing more small Twitter updates that are making everyday use of the channel easier and beneficial, and March is no different. For those more creative with visual content on the phone app, Twitter has updated its camera, allowing users to simply swipe left when they want to take a photo or capture a video, meaning those out and about can create more content quicker.
That’s not all; it’s currently testing out a ‘subscribe to conversation’ button, which means it will now be much easier to follow a conversation, which has often been something consumers have been asking for. This means users can get a notification once subscribed, without engaging with them personally.
Three new metrics for Facebook’s Relevance Score
Facebook has announced a variety of new updates to its ad metrics, with one replacing the current relevance score with three new metrics. The ad platform has constantly evolved since its introduction and the metrics that advertisers use to measure success has to change too.
What that in mind, the social platform is improving how relevance is reported. So, from the 30th April onwards, ad relevance diagnostics will measure quality ranking, which is how an ad’s perceived quality compares with other ads from the same audience. It will also measure engagement rate ranking, how the engagement rate compares with others ads of the same audience, and conversion rate compared to ads with the same optimisation goal and competed for the same audience. Keep an eye out for this come the end of April.
April was the month of social media testing
It has been announced this month that Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are all testing new functions which will have a good effect on both audiences and businesses. First up, Twitter, who launched their “Twttr” app, which is an experimental app aiming to test new features with a variety of users. These features may or may not make it to the main app, but they are currently testing the removal of engagement buttons in threads, a less-cluttered design and right-to-left swipe on conversations.
What’s next? Well, Instagram is testing something major with a new feature that could hide likes from a post from everyone except the account that posted it. We all aim to get more likes, whether you’re posting personally or for a business, which would certainly focus on posting good quality content rather than a numbers game.
If you’ve been on Facebook in the past few months, you’ll have noticed posts that only feature text have become more eye-catching with bolder text and coloured backgrounds. With this in mind, they are now testing “text effects” which allows you to change the font style (similar to Stories) and background colours/patterns, making it easier for users to create eye-catching assets through the site itself.
Remember Vine? It’s back, but with a new name…
The popular looping video app, Vine, was bought by Twitter in January 2017 and shut down, which has caused many to crave for the app to be republished. For now, we have to make do with old Vine compilation videos on YouTube to reminisce, but the good news is that it is making a comeback.
It will now be called “Byte” and they tweeted this month that they’ve sent out a beta test to the first 100 people. If you aren’t familiar with the app, it allows users to record or upload short, looped vertical videos, which we expect to be short-form, allowing for more creativity when it comes to storytelling through video. Keep an eye out for this.
LinkedIn’s latest updates
LinkedIn has continued to update the app and site with new functions in recent months, and April is no different. Introducing its new ‘Teammates’ feature, which allows members to add their co-workers to the platform easier, following the news that 60% of members were more likely to like, comment, share or message co-workers, compared to other connections. It allows accounts to add their co-workers to a list, which LinkedIn will use to prioritise updates in their feed about the team’s activity.
Following this, LinkedIn is also introducing ‘Reactions’, just like Facebook, which is five new ways to react to content you see – like, celebrate, love, insightful and curious. The introduction of these reactions is part of LinkedIn’s plans to grow as a platform where conversations cover a wider range of subjects such as industry news and career successes.
Twitter takes retweeting to a whole new level
Every time we write these monthly blog post round-ups, Twitter is more often than not the social channel with the least amount of updates, and why would they? They have a formula that seems to be working and bringing more people to be creative on the app. A recent update to Twitter though, is something you might have seen on your own timelines when it comes to retweeting.
The last time they updated the retweeting function allowing users to quote tweets, it gained positive feedback and allowed businesses and influencers to be more creative than ever (think Burger King’s Kanye West retweet). Now, there is the option to add GIFs, photos and videos to the retweet itself, which is available already on iOS, Android, and the web platform. Have you seen any businesses using this new feature in an exciting way?
“Groups” are taking over on Facebook
If you’ve logged into Facebook recently, you may have seen at the top of your timeline an announcement prompting users to explore the ‘new’ groups feature. Mark Zuckerberg announced that he wants the platform to become a place to connect with neighbours, colleagues and those with a common interest, giving businesses an opportunity to create groups as part of their social media strategy.
The redesigned Groups tab makes it easier for you to explore groups you are enrolled in, alongside exploring similar groups based on your interests and what your friends are already connected to and engaging with, therefore it is a good time for brands to create groups based on their industry and products. Keep an eye out for Facebook’s ‘More Together’ campaign which is currently being launched to promote this focus.
Find out how to use Facebook Groups to step up your social media marketing strategy with our free eBook.
New Facebook tool could affect ad targeting
Facebook Pixel is set to become less effective for marketers due to a new tool being announced last year, which is starting to be rolled out in the coming months. Although, the name of the tool is yet to be announced we do know it will allow users to manage how their off-Facebook activity is used by advertisers, meaning if it is disconnected, targeting options like the Facebook Pixel cannot be used to reach the person with tailored advertisements.
Facebook has spoken with businesses and agencies to get an idea of what advertisers need to know, and based on the feedback they have gathered four important things. Transparency can be good for businesses as it allows people to feel better about the ads they are seeing. The tool is also designed to educate users about how information is used, along with keeping the off-site activity in mind when planning campaigns, and analytics will not be affected. Keep an eye out during the second half of the year on this one.
LinkedIn now shows all your ads from the last six months
Another big news story coming out of May from an advertisers point of view, LinkedIn is following Facebook’s lead with a new Ads tab on LinkedIn pages, but what does this include? Well, for one, it displays all Sponsored content that advertisers have ran from the last six months in a bid to keep it’s platform “a safe, trusted, and professional environment” in their words.
The new tab also includes ad settings that members can access from within their own LinkedIn account, and is set to be the start of a wider range of updates coming in the near future to bring useful information about ads people can see on the social channel. This is being rolled out to all across the next few weeks in June.
Facebook’s new game ads
Facebook is bringing more monetisation options to publishers and game developers, meaning people playing games on Facebook can expect to see a lot more in-game ads.
The social network is going to begin rolling out access to rewarded video for all developers and publishers that don’t already have the option in their monetisation manager dashboard within the Audience Network.
On top of that, Facebook is extending playable ads – which it debuted on the news feed in August 2018 – to the Audience Network in both rewarded video and interstitial formats.
Info removals for Facebook Page owners
If you’re a Page owner on Facebook, whether for a client, your own business or a hobby/community, it is important to keep up to date with page optimisation, making sure the page and your business is looking as professional as possible.
Recently, owners will have seen a notification from the company announcing the removal of a number of fields in the info section. On August 1st, the ‘Company Overview’, ‘Biography’, ‘Affiliation’ and ‘Personal Interests’ sections will be no more, with users being prompted to add this information to the Page’s description instead. This is important for any SMBs and public figures whose primary online existence is through Facebook Pages.
Pinterest’s “Complete the Look” search tool
Fashion and home interiors communities play a massive part on Pinterest, with many people in this industry heading to the site for inspiration and new thoughts. Pinterest is broadening its eCommerce capabilities in these areas with a new ‘Complete the Look’ tool, allowing users to discover new items more easily.
The way this works is the new visual search feature will recommend fashion and home décor products based on the context of an image. For example, if a user searches for a music festival outfit scene Pin, it will recommend products found in similar images, such as wellies, sunglasses and outfits. This is great news for brands to gain more exposure on Pinterest, with more Pins surfacing via visual search.
LinkedIn is helping candidates prepare for interviews
A recent survey conducted by LinkedIn found that 54% of those looking for jobs feel the interview stage is “moderately to extremely challenging” due to uncertainty and lack of confidence. With this in mind, it has updated its site, along with the app, and introduced new tools to help with the interview stage.
So what does this involve? The new tools are currently in the process of being rolled out and will advise users for preparation by identifying commonly asked interview questions, giving an overview on why it will be asked, a sample answer, the best way to approach the question and tips to go alongside this. These will come in the form of short videos, with certain aspects being available for Premium users only. Expect to see this in English speaking countries very soon, within the job tab.
Twitter updates makes following back easier
Twitter continues to update its user experience, wanting people to grow their user base and boost engagement throughout the social channel. One way they have tackled this is to introduce a new ‘follow’ card appearing right in the notification feed, when you see people have interacted with your content.
Making it easier for users to follow back pages, as opposed to clicking through to their page and following from there has reportedly already been successful with profile growth rising. Pretty handy right? Give it a go…
Instagram removes its “likes” numbers
Possibly the biggest thing to come out of social media for July was Instagram’s decision to remove post like counts, starting with six countries – Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand.
The main focus of this was to take away the “vanity” element of post likes, getting people to focus more on people expressing themselves. It is currently at a testing stage but expect to see this rolled out to all countries as soon as feedback has been given.
Pinterest’s new video features
Being a platform with a main focus of inspiring others through the likes of tutorials and how-to-videos in a variety of specialities, it has introduced a variety of new features to help businesses and creators reach their audiences easier and effectively.
With this in mind, they have introduced an improved video uploader, a new video tab, new lifetime video analytics and the Pin Scheduler tool. What does this mean for creators? Well, business profiles can now feature all their videos in one place for people to discover. It also means accounts can now upload videos directly to the platform to engage with audiences and access new metrics. That’s not all, you can now schedule video content in advance without the need for a third-party tool.
Instagram using AI to crack down on offensive comments
Instagram has announced a new AI feature which is cutting down on bullying through the app. This new feature will automatically flag offensive comments and for those who are commenting, it will ask them if they intended to post the comment and gives an opportunity to reconsider.
That’s not all though, it is now a possibility to “shadow ban” individual users, those who are commenting in an offensive or spammy way for example. The new feature will hide the public comments from everyone but their author, so they will never know that you have banned them, as they stay visible to the author. This is a big step in the right direction to cut down on social media bullying.
Introducing Google’s new social networking app, ‘Shoelace’
Earlier this year, Google shut down its social network, Google+ due to low user engagement, but already has thoughts on its next venture. This month they announced their decision to launch a brand new social network, and have called it Shoelace.
Shoelace’s main focus is to bring people together in real life, through common activities and interests, giving users the choice to fill in your interests and find like-minded people interested in the same thing. This also includes any real-life events you may be taking part in a certain area. The app also introduces you to new events you might enjoy. Keep an eye out for this one.
Responsive Ads come to Facebook
Facebook have followed on from what Google Ads did last year, and have introduced a new responsive ad feature. It’s great news for advertisers as it now allows you to create several versions of your single-media adverts, with the options of updating headlines, ad copy and descriptions.
So what makes it so good? Named “multi text optimisation”, it lets you test out how benefits and features resonate with different audiences to help ensure you are getting the best results possible out of your campaigns. This option leaves messaging combinations to the algorithms and can accelerate testing of different types of messaging. This is another indication of how machine learning is being applied to ad creative, and something we expect to see plenty more of in the future…
Planning events through LinkedIn
Very similar to something we have seen on Facebook for quite some time, but LinkedIn has officially launched its “LinkedIn Events” feature which now makes it easier to create events such as face-to-face professional gatherings, conferences and more. This is a feature we personally feel would be beneficial for a while.
Located in the ‘Community’ panel (the left of the newsfeed), you’ll find a +Create button to set up your event. The event itself gives you the ability to send notifications directly to all those who have clicked attend via post updates, and also the ability to use search filters to invite the exact right professionals and engage with LinkedIn’s members. Previously, with events like this, we have had to link externally when promoting, such as through a website or Facebook, but this now gives us the ability to share posts directly linking to the LinkedIn Event instead. Pretty useful right?
Could organic impressions be dropping again on Facebook?
This seems to be a recurring theme in the world of social media, with organic impressions being the centre of attention on Facebook, mainly from businesses wondering if they should be focusing on organic or paid? We believe the two work perfectly together, but could organic be dropping further?
Facebook is changing how it calculates organic impressions meaning it will likely decline, but this is only a temporary test. The reason for the test is to determine how it counts impressions to better match its ad metrics. It will be updating the way it filters repeat organic impressions to align with the methodology used for paid advertising through Facebook. Keep an eye out for this one as they try out more tests.