Latest in Social Media: March 2016 Recap

Social media platforms are constantly changing. As marketers it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends so you can maximize the ever evolving platforms used by a majority of our target audiences. Here’s a look at key changes this past month that may have an impact on your brands’ social media strategy.

 

Facebook

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Leading social media giant Facebook, currently with 1.55 billion monthly active users, has outdone itself this month with multiple changes across the popular platform.

More than just likes, reactions
If you were one of the many people that wanted something other than a like button, Facebook has finally granted your wish. No, it’s not a dislike button as was initially rumored, but rather a series of “Reactions”. These will be an extension of the Like button, giving you more options to quickly and easily express how you feel.

Source: Facebook Newsroom
Source: Facebook Newsroom

Now you can react with the infamous Like or new additions: Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry.

Instant articles now open to all publishers

Facebook will make Instant Articles available to all publishers on April 12th, less than a year after experimenting with large media outlets such as National Geographic, BuzzFeed, The Guardian and more.

Instant articles is a feature which allows publishers to host content directly on Facebook instead of posting links to direct users back to their own sites. While most publishers will be weary about handing over control of their content (and audiences) to Facebook, the platform is promising significant load time increases for mobile users and revenue sharing for top publishers.

More recently, they have announced the option to collect emails within these instant articles as well, which Facebook hopes will help more publishers see the benefits of using them.

 

Source: Facebook Newsroom
Source: Facebook Newsroom

According to The Wall Street Journal, “The shift could vastly expand Facebook’s wide variety of content, which in turn could potentially result in users spending more time on the site, making it a more attractive destination for advertisers.” 

Trend to Watch:

Notifications

As you should have noticed by now, Live Stream is a big thing for Facebook. When a page you like starts streaming live you get an instant notification (unless you choose to stop receiving notifications). This is huge! Currently brands have to try and catch a users attention on their newsfeed, but with Live Video they get a notification telling them to pay attention.

As if we needed even more reasons to get excited about live streaming on Facebook, it’s reported that Facebook will give live streaming video an edge on the newsfeed – making it the most powerful type of post you can create as it will be more likely to be seen by your Facebook audience.

Twitter

 

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Reacting with GIFs

Twitter introduced GIF search on Twitter earlier this month as a stand-alone button for its mobile app. Users can locate the GIF button next to the photos button in the app’s publish tweet screen and choose from a wide catalogue, or search for a specific GIF, and send via public or direct messages.  

“So much can be expressed with GIFs, and the key is to find just the right one in the moment that quickly and efficiently expresses your emotions,” says David McIntosh, CEO and co-founder of Riffsy. “We’re excited to explore this partnership with Twitter and watch Twitter users discover and share their favorite GIFs in their daily lives.”

Goodybe Real Time? Not really…

Ever logged into Twitter after a long day at work and felt like you missed a day’s worth of tweets? Now, Twitter has announced a new feature which allows users to catch up on the best tweets from people you follow by opting to see the “best” rather than the “latest” tweets. Twitter’s intention to become more algorithm-based instead of exclusively real time has long been rumored, with many users reacting negatively to the idea (#RIPTwitter just a month ago!) when the rumors began circulating.

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However, Twitter has decided to release this as an “opt in” feature rather than a default setting, which should appease the fears of power users. So, while it is currently turned off by default, this is a huge move as it goes against the one thing that makes Twitter different: real time conversations. It will be very interesting to see how this feature evolves, and how the community will react if it ever becomes a bigger part of the platform.

Trend to Watch:

Periscope videos now play automatically on Twitter, meaning you don’t have to open the stream on the Periscope app to watch it. Twitter is betting hard on Periscope, so the less friction there is in consuming the streams the more likely users are to consume the content. This change can make live streaming on Twitter and Periscope as a whole a more effective tool for marketers, and a more enjoyable experience for users.

Instagram

Social Media Account Switching

With Instagram now a key platform for almost every social media marketer out there, the constant logging in and out was a major barrier in being able to effectively manage more than one account at a time. This made account switching one of the most eagerly awaited features, and it is now a reality! For marketers or social media managers that manage multiple accounts (who doesn’t?), using Instagram will be much more efficient and enjoyable.

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Video View Counts

Up until now we had to rely solely on “likes” to quantify the popularity of an Instagram post. While Instagram analytics, a huge need for social media marketers, are still not a reality we are now one step closer thanks to a new feature that will allow marketers to better measure engagement: video views.

Source: Instagram
Source: Instagram

This feature not only allows you to determine how many people liked your video, but how many people actually watched it. This is the first foray into a more effective way to measure and better understand how people are engaging with your brand’s content on Instagram.

Trend to Watch:

More ads, declining engagement. As you may recall from our January Social Recap, Your Guide to the Latest in Social Media: January Edition, Instagram ramped up its advertising business with their latest move: 60-second video ads. This is a great shift for marketers as it allows for the reuse of ads from other platforms, rather than needing to create something solely specific for Instagram.

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That being said, despite Instagram engagement rates still beating Twitter and Facebook, we have seen a decline in engagement by 66.o7% during this time period. While there may be other factors that attribute to this, there is a strong possibility this shift is due to the impact of these large volume ads.

This trend will be a must to follow as we evaluate and see the impact of usability on the popular social media site.

Google

google_500Adios annoying right side ads! Oh wait…

Google is also making a major shift with their ads by removing right side ads on desktops while adding an fourth sponsored ad at the top. While this may seem like a minimal move, the removal of the ads will decrease the amount of ads you see, meaning fewer clicks for those that advertise on this platform.

Source: Adit.Co
Source: Adit.Co

While this does mean a cleaner user experience with less clutter, this may impact organic results by pushing organic ads lower on the initial search page, especially if you are not one of the top three or four paid positions.

The result is going to be a more competitive space, and businesses will need to take an even closer look at the SEO factors to make sure they remain on the playing field.

 

Are you AMPing up your business? 

According to Google the search engine will be AMPing up its mobile search. AMP stands for Accelerates Mobile Pages, and is an open-source project aimed at speeding up the mobile web.

This innovative feature will  give priority to pages that use AMP. Similar to what we have seen on Twitter, this feature will display your search inquiries by relevant pages created with AMP, and they will appear in a section on the search results page labeled as “Top Stories.”

Thus, this feature will allow you to access and engage with content much more quickly than you can with traditional webpages accessed via mobile.

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Source: Google Official Blog

 

David Besbris, VP Engineering, Search states, “ it’s been thrilling to see how the industry has come together to work on this common goal of making the mobile web great for everyone. And given the potential AMP holds for other types of content, we’re excited about what the future holds.”

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As you can see, within the past month there has been an overwhelming amount of changes within the digital landscape. These are just a few announcements that from major Social Media Giants. Brands need to make sure they are being proactive and staying on top of these ever-evolving key platforms as they continue to update the user experience.

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