Social Media News (May)
This month social media news has been dominated by upgrades and changes to Facebook and Instagram. This should come as no surprise since Facebook hosts its annual F8 conference at this time of the year, using it to showcase platform upgrades.
Instagram Building its Commercial Strength
Shop for Creator Upgrades
Facebook used the occasion of its F8 conference to announce several upgrades to Instagram’s Shop for Creators, with testing starting this month.
The envisaged changes will allow shoppers to purchase the creator’s outfits directly without leaving Instagram. Up until now, creators have needed to tag the brands they are showcasing, include details in the caption, then respond to requests and messages asking for more information about finding the products.
This new feature gives creators the ability to tag products in their post so followers can simply click and shop for the items.
A New Shopping Account
In another bid to expand its commercial reach, Instagram announced this month that it had added a dedicated shopping account to its stable of products called @Shop.
The account features curated product posts from online merchants with product tags that users can easily tap and shop. The content is based on real-time interests from within the Instagram community across a range of shopping categories such as fashion, beauty, home decor, and more.
This new account also opens new opportunities for smaller brands and creators to reach a larger audience.
Changes to Explore
Instagram continues to make changes that encourage users to buy from their advertisers, and the recent changes to Explore are no exception. This month, Instagram added a re-designed navigation bar to the Explore screen with shortcuts to IGTV and Shopping. Beneath this, users will find topics that are tailored to their interests, such as Food, Art and Travel. Stories are also now part of the Explore bar.
The Shop filter bar offers shortcuts to categories making it easier for users to spend.
In an about-turn, Instagram has added support for landscape videos on its IGTV video. The vertical format of IGTV was intended to differentiate it from other video platforms, but the format has not been as popular as expected for the long-form video product. This follows an earlier upgrade to the IGTV design to bring it more in line with other social video platforms on the market.
The ongoing improvements that Instagram offers users and advertisers appear to be paying off. According to an eMarketer report time spent by Instagram users in the US is rising. Facebook and Snapchat on the other hand, are losing on the same metric.
Facebook Gets a Facelift and Other Upgrades
A Makeover for Facebook
Users may have noticed that Facebook has a whole new makeover, having lost most of the blue background in its news feed and replaced it with white. According to a TechCrunch report, this is the biggest facelift in Facebook’s history.
At the same time, the company has added new group features and placed Stories at the top of users’ feeds. According to a report in Social Media Today, it is also working on a new layout for its Stories feature. This will make Story composition easier to use as there are more tappable buttons on the composer. The new additional sidebar will feature options like Studio Effects and Privacy buttons.
Facebook announced this month that it has made two changes to its algorithms. The first change will ensure that people see posts from friends with whom they most want to engage, and the second is aimed at bringing the most useful posts to the user’s feed.
In an earlier announcement, Facebook informed users that video ranking would be updated to ensure that original videos that people enjoyed would be highly ranked. The videos that would receive the heaviest ranking weight would be those that attract the most visitors. Original videos that attract large returning audiences would also receive a higher ranking. Under this, repurposed content would not be favored.
Making it Easier to Buy and Sell
Social Media Today reports that Facebook is set to launch a feature on Marketplace that will allow buyers to organize delivery anywhere in the US and to pay for the purchases directly on the platform.
Facebook has also launched an automated Ads feature aimed at small and medium businesses, according to a report from Marketing Land. The new feature automatically creates up to six versions of an advertisement and will help them with targeting suggestions.
In a bold new move, Facebook is planning to launch a cryptocurrency all of its own according to a BBC News report. The article says that by the first quarter of 2020, the platform will have introduced a digital payment system. Facebook management hopes that this offering will make it easier for users to make quick and secure payments online and across borders.
Changes to Messenger
Upgrades to Facebook Messenger will make it easier for businesses to interact directly with their customers. The Ads Manager now contains new leads generation templates for use by advertisers. This will take users to the Messenger app so that they can interact directly with the business. This will allow customers to book appointments or ask questions.
A Catalogue Option on WhatsApp
Reported in Marketing Land, Facebook is adding a product catalog option to WhatsApp, allowing users to view products on the app. WhatsApp Business has been in operation since early 2018. It is aimed mainly at small businesses. It is likely to continue to make changes that will improve advertising revenue.
Shorter Video and Still Image Ads on YouTube
Google recently announced that it was adding still image ads to its YouTube advertising offering. These will then appear in the home feed of users. YouTube calls these Discovery ads. For businesses, this means that you can target your chosen segment of the 1.9 billion active YouTube users even if you don’t use video advertising.
YouTube has developed a shorter video ad format called Bumper Machine according to a TechCrunch report. This technology can automatically compile a six-second ad from longer ads saving advertisers time.
Live-stream With Guests on Twitter
Social Media Today reported on Twitter’s new live-streaming option that enables users to live stream video and add audio-only guests to their real-time conversation.
The ‘Live Guests’ option lets viewers request to take part in a live-stream conversation. If permitted by the streamer, the guest’s avatar appears on-screen and their audio broadcast to all viewers.
Those hosting a live video on Twitter can invite up to three people as guests.
LinkedIn Acquires Drawbridge
LinkedIn has entered into an agreement to acquire Drawbridge. Drawbridge specializes in data analytics and LinkedIn would use their artificial intelligence software to improve market targeting. This will help advertisers to more accurately hone in on the customers who are most likely to buy their goods and services.
Social Media News (April)
The past month has seen plenty of changes to the social media landscape, particularly in the area of advertising opportunities. Here we give you the lowdown on the top social media news stories you need to know.
Facebook Newsfeed Changes
The Verge reports that Facebook is currently testing a newly designed user interface that will combine the newsfeed with Stories so that both appear in a single interface and feed that you tap through similar to Instagram or Snapchat Stories. This comes on the back of recent reports that Facebook would be moving away from permanent public posts in favor of private, encrypted messaging.
There are also reports that Facebook is testing variations of its Reactions to give them a more animated feel.
Controversially, Social Media Today also reported this month that divisive, controversial content is more likely to increase reach. It reports on an investigation into Fox News’ domination over news media rivals on the platform.
Facebook 3D Photo Options
According to Social Media Today, Facebook will shortly include new 3D photo options in the platform. The 3D photo function uses the dual camera feature available on many of the newer model smartphones to create a layered image. Users can see the 3D effects by turning the phone slightly to the side. The new options will allow users to share their 3D pictures on Facebook Stories. Users can also track who has viewed and shared the photos.
Facebook Reports an Increase in Users
Facebook’s Q1 results, published this month, celebrated a considerable increase in the number of users to 2.38 billion active users. This is an increase of 55 billion users over the quarter. 1.39 billion people log on to Facebook every day. It seems the privacy scandals of recent months have had little effect on the number of Facebook fans.
Facebook Stories remains one of the more popular features on the platform with 500 million people viewing Stories every day. Facebook has reached this milestone in just two years.
Enhancements for Advertisers
According to the Facebook Business site, the Ads Manager app is changing. The app navigation bar is easier to use and it has more features. These changes will allow users to more easily track the advertisements that they post.
Search filters have also been improved and the design of the pages enhanced. Facebook has made it possible for users to revert to the old design if they prefer the older version.
Digital Information World reports that Facebook has introduced a new feature that makes it possible for advertisers to post images that have a 1:1 aspect ratio in line with the square aspect that is used by Instagram. This feature is only available for Facebook link ads not for page posts. The aim of the change is to allow advertisers to use the same images on Instagram and Facebook. Facebook has found that 1:1 images have a much higher click-through rate than images with other aspect ratios.
Snapchat New Features and Ad Partners
This month has seen Snapchat rolling out its faster, upgraded Android app. All users will have access to the new version by the middle of the year. Other Snapchat upgrades include improvements in lenses and Stories.
It has also recently launched its Snapchat Ad Kit and Snapchat Audience Network. Snapchat has partnered with other apps such as Houseparty and Tinder to host the Stories that users have developed on their Snapchat camera and Story kit extending reach across other platforms.
Publishing its first-quarter results Snapchat revealed that the number of daily active users has increased by 4 million to 190 million active users. This is the first user increase in over a year.
The Snapchat team has been hard at work growing the product offering. Snapchat’s new features include a host of interactive lenses and advanced augmented reality features.
Social Media Today reports that the Snapchat Creator profiles are also set to take off. After years of treating all users as equals, the loss of several influencers to other social media platforms has led Snap to reassess their policy. The result is Creator Profiles. Influencers will have the option of having a different and enhanced layout when you tap on their profile name and/or image. Creator Profiles have a custom image and a description field, giving the creator more opportunity to share information about themselves.
Twitter Cracks Down on Spammers
During the month, Twitter reduced the number of accounts that users can follow from 1000 per day to 400. The company has done this to prevent spammers from following and unfollowing accounts in quick succession. According to an article on TechCrunch, this action became necessary due to growing automated and aggressive spamming.
Twitter is also launching a simpler process for users to report tweets they believe are attempting to mislead voters with this scenario added as an option in the ‘report tweet’ workflow.
Twitter Reports Promising Results
Twitter’s Q1 performance report has revealed an increase in active users on the platform. While lower than this time last year, the number of active Twitter users now exceeds 330 million, pipping Snapchat, Pinterest, and LinkedIn to the post. The Monetizable Daily Active Users (MDAS) are up a whopping 11% from the previous year. The MDAS number is important for advertisers as it reflects the number of users who can be reached.
Twitter also reported an 18% increase in advertising revenue year over year. While advertising engagement had increased by 23%, the cost per engagement has dropped by 4%.
LinkedIn Reactions and Other Features
Reported in TechCrunch this month, LinkedIn has added a reaction function, not unlike that available to Facebook users. LinkedIn management hopes that the addition of this feature will help to stimulate engagement on the platform.
LinkedIn announced during the month that it would enable the upload onto personal and business pages of various documents such as PowerPoint and PDF. This will offer marketers yet another option to expand their reach and share their knowledge on the platform.
LinkedIn testing a function that caters to freelancers and small businesses. Social Media Today reports that the feature gives the user an option to ‘Add services you offer’ to better connect service providers and service seekers.
Pinterest Ads and Video
In early April Pinterest added two new ad functions. These include Conversion Optimisation and Conversion Options for Videos. Advertisers can use the Conversion Optimisation to track audience behavior. They can then use this information to optimize advertisements so that they are shown to people most likely to convert.
With this new function, you are no longer constrained to optimizing for clicks. You can choose to optimize for several different actions. You can also use the tracking information to help you to choose target markets for future ad campaigns.
Promoted Video will lead the visitor directly to the landing page that leads to the advertiser’s webpage.
As Pinterest prepared to go public it published user numbers now at 265 million – up from 250 million just six months ago. These figures are not as high as some of the other social media platforms but with 84% of Pinners using the platform to make purchasing decisions, marketers shouldn’t overlook Pinterest. In a busy month for the platform, Pinterest also started trading on the stock exchange.
Instagram Introduces Checkout
Instagram is taking the next step in online shopping by introducing a checkout. Users can now make purchases directly within the platform by clicking on the checkout. Until now sellers have had to redirect users to their websites to make purchases.
A TechCrunch article reports that retailers will pay a user fee for this service. The size of the fee is still not known. Right now, more than 20 top brands such as Adidas and Prada are testing the service with only US users able to use the checkout option at this time.
Social Media News (March)
Facebook in the News
Preventing Discriminatory Advertising
During March Facebook announced that it had placed limitations on targeting criteria to prevent discriminatory advertising. More specifically, age, zip code and gender targeting have been removed from the targeting options of advertisers offering employment, housing or credit.
Facebook developers are also in the process of developing a tool that will allow users to find these ads even if they are not targeted.
The decision to limit targeting options is a result of an agreement reached by Facebook and a group of civil rights organizations to ensure advertising tools aren’t misused.
Easier to Engage on Facebook Posts
Social Media Today reports that Facebook is giving users an easier way to react to image or video posts. Users will be able to hold down on the image or video and will be given like or comment options. This means users don’t need to scroll down to the bottom of a post to access the engagement options. The same article also highlighted that some users are seeing the ‘upvote’ ‘downvote’ options on comments again. So it’s definitely a case of watch this space for marketers wanting to get the most out of engagement on Facebook.
In a bid for more transparency, Facebook has announced the introduction of a new Ad Library this month. In an expanded version of what was called Ad Archive in the US, the library keeps a record of advertisements on all the Facebook platforms for seven years along with information on who placed the ads and what was spent on them. It will also include information that will identify ads connected to politics and other issues of public interest.
It is hoped that these improvements will not only improve advertising transparency but will help to prevent misinformation and vote swaying as reported in TechCrunch. The Ad Library function will be available across the globe by the end of June.
Hate Speech Ban Extended
Following the live broadcast of the Christchurch shootings this month, Facebook has been in serious discussions about the use of the platform for the publication of hate speech. The ban on hate speech now includes those searching for or supporting white nationalists terms.
The company is considering restricting those allowed to use Facebook Live based on any previous community standard violations. It will also use AI to identify violent videos to quickly remove them from Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook Disruption & Losses
Mid-month Facebook suffered the longest social media blackouts it has ever endured. Facebook and its sister companies Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger were all down for 14 hours. It is estimated that the company lost around $90 million as a result.
New Tools on LinkedIn
This month LinkedIn partnered with Adobe to offer LinkedIn account-based marketing capabilities to Adobe Experience Cloud customers.
Earlier in the month, LinkedIn launched three new targeting tools. With the help of Bing Search Engine “Lookalike audiences” and “Audience templates” will give advertisers better targeting opportunities.
Lookalike audiences will help advertisers target audiences based on the professional profiles of their current customers or site visitors. Audience templates will aid marketers who have less information about their target audience to search for relevant targets.
LinkedIn has also added a new option to its messaging stream. A meetings calendar will allow users to plan meetings with other users without leaving the platform. Pressing the availability option will take users into the calendar. Users do not have to load a new calendar into LinkedIn. They can use their existing calendars. This can make it easier for B2B marketers to connect with targeted individuals.
Pinterest is Expanding its Reach
Pinterest announced this month that they are expanding their advertising to include Germany, Austria, Spain, and Italy. In addition, test ads have been launched in the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, and Switzerland.
The platform has been expanding the ways that businesses can market their products, adding an option that allows users to find more of a brand’s products with a tap of a button. Users will also receive shopping recommendations based on their personal preferences. To use the option, the user clicks more ideas and is offered a personalized selection of products based on their previous selections.
Brands can place their full product catalog onto the platform and create dynamic pins. This feature is open to all businesses that want to advertise products on the platform using the Ads Manager.
Snapchat in the Movies
Snapchat has launched the first voice-activated augmented reality lens in collaboration with Warner Brothers for the new movie Shazam.
Snapchat’s recent testing of eight new languages provides a glimpse into their expansion plans. Five of the eight languages tested are spoken in India. India has the world’s largest Facebook following making it an attractive market for other social media platforms.
Twitter Tests New Twttr App & Camera Tool
Twitter released its prototype Twttr app for testing during March. The prototype has been created as a separate app to the regular Twitter app, to enable public experimentation of new ideas on how Twitter should look, feel and operate. The prototype mainly features changes to reply threads.
TechCrunch reports that Twitter is rolling out a new camera tool allowing users to capture images in a stories-like format. The tool features overlays and other visual upgrades offering more immersive and visual-first content options.
Photo TechCrunch March 11, 2019
Check the Facts on YouTube
First reported in Buzzfeed, YouTube has recently launched, but is yet to roll out a new video feature. Fact Check invites users to verify facts from questionable sources. In this way, YouTube hopes to control the spread of false news.
Facebook Launches Premium Video Ad Program
Advertisers will have the opportunity to promote their brand in conjunction with Facebook’s highest-quality video content as part of a premium video ad program announced this month.
Facebook Showcase program aims to target bigger advertisers wanting to enhance brand awareness alongside popular Watch shows and other video content from the most engaging, highest quality publishers and creators on the platform.
The announcement comes as Facebook grows its offering of Watch programs including Returning the Favor and Red Table Talk.
The Showcase program is currently available for campaigns aimed at US audiences with a number of options including ad placement in specific shows and the ability to reach people within targeted interest categories.
Updates to ‘Why Am I Seeing This’ Ad
In Facebook’s continued crackdown on non-consensual ad targeting, the social media platform this month offers more transparency in how advertisers have obtained a user’s information.
Techcrunch reported that starting 28 February, Facebook’s “Why am I seeing this?” button in posts will include more information about the source of contact info.
Previously, you could see basic information such as the brand that paid for the ad, biographical details the advertiser was targeting and if the brand uploaded the user’s info. The changes will show more detail such as when your info was uploaded. It can also show whether contact info was provided via the brand or one of their partners, as well as when access was shared between partners.
The update gives users greater ability to understand how a brand has obtained their information. It also aims to identify advertisers that are using contact information they may not have obtained in a legitimate manner.
The changes to “Why am I seeing this?” follows Facebook’s labeling of “paid for by” labels to political ads to counter election interference.
Image via Techcrunch
Facebook Campaign Budget Optimization Migration
Lastly (since Facebook seems to dominate the social media news cycle) Facebook announced this month that its Facebook campaign budget optimization feature will be applied to all existing and new campaigns from this September.
Campaign budget optimization will see advertisers set a central campaign budget to optimize across ad sets, instead of specifying spend at an Ad Set level.
The optimization feature distributes budget to the top-performing ad sets in real-time. It was introduced as an optional feature in November 2017, but from September 2019 it will be automatically applied to all existing and new campaigns.
Advertisers have been assured by the social media platform, that campaign budget optimization is available for any campaign objective and they can still control their spend at the Ad Set level, with minimum and maximum spend limits still being adhered to.
Instagram Live Titles
Marketers would have more opportunities to include promotional messaging and context for video content via a title option for Instagram Live.
Social Media Today reported that the title option for Instagram Live appeared on the pre-launch screen for some users.
The change, albeit small, is another opportunity for brand content to be discovered and when used in conjunction with Live question stickers, could potentially boost engagement.
There has been no announcement yet on the full roll-out of this feature.
Instagram IGTV Previews Appear in Main Feed
You may have noticed this month IGTV previews showing up in your main feed – expanding the reach of Instagram’s vertical-video content.
The change means that when someone you follow publishes a new video, it will appear in your feed as a preview which you can if you want to, watch in full in IGTV.
According to the Verge, it’s a push from Instagram to integrate IGTV, a standalone app launched last June, into the main Instagram platform to increase its popularity.
IGTV lets users upload videos up to 10 minutes long, putting it in the same space as YouTube and Twitch. Larger accounts can upload videos of up to one hour.
The Verge reports that adoption of IGTV by content creators has been hampered by the platform’s insistence on vertical video, as well as some user issues with the interface and search functionality.
It appears that Instagram may be testing a donation sticker for its Stories feature, after app researcher, Jane Manchun Wong spotted the feature.
Reports suggest the feature would be similar to what Facebook offers with its fundraising and donation tools, with users able to search a list of not-for-profits to link directly to their sticker.
It’s definitely a case of watch-this-space for marketers working with charities, fundraising events and non-profit organizations.
Pinterest Files for IPO
The Wall Street Journal reported this month that Pinterest Inc. had confidentially filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering (IPO). The article went on to say that the IPO is expected to value the company at US$12 billion or more.
If other social media platform IPOs are any indication, going public could have a significant impact on how the organization operates.
That being said, Pinterest continues to distance itself from the social network label, describing the platform as ‘a discovery engine’ and ‘a catalog of ideas’.
Shop the Look
Building on Pinterest’s focus on helping its users discover new ideas, the platform this month enhanced its Shop the Look feature.
Shop the Look was introduced in 2017, identifying matching products so users could buy them. The feature was largely managed in association with partner brands and via manual tagging.
This month’s update fully automates the process, with “Shop the Look” introduced for Home Decor on iOS.
Advanced image identification technology and other improvements means Pinterest can select products without much human supervision. The latest change to Shop the Look will rely on organically matching the products, but brands will be able link their products in pins Pinterest will be drawing on.
WhatsApp Turns 10
WhatsApp celebrated its 10th anniversary and continues to dominate message app usage.
With around 1.5 billion users, the Facebook-owned messaging app is the most used messaging platform in the world, ahead of Messenger and China’s WeChat.
Image via MobileMonkey.
Snapchat Usage Remains Steady
Here’s some positive social media news (if you’re Snapchat) 😁
Snapchat usage is holding steady according to the social media platform’s most recent earnings report.
Snap’s Q4 and full-year report card gives some reason for optimism with daily users, while not increasing, not decreasing either.
Snap Lenses was flagged as a key driver of future growth with “70% of users (playing) with or view(ing) a Lens every day, while users played with or viewed Lenses 700 million times on New Year’s Eve, up nearly 40% year-over-year”.
Will they or won’t they? This month there has been a great deal of talk about whether we will ever get to edit tweets.
The topic was given air time during an interview between Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Joe Rogan.
Dorsey said the platform was looking at the ability to make edits in some circumstances and potentially within a certain timeframe such as a 5-second to 30-second delay in the sending.
“The issue with going longer than that is it takes that real-time nature of the conversational flow out of it,” Dorsey said.
So while there is no definitive answer to whether editable tweets will be introduced, it hasn’t been ruled out either.
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