This week in social media news, Snapchat gives Instagram a taste of its own medicine and Twitter braces itself for an onslaught of political advertising.
Also, Twitter considers helping users clean up their timelines and Snap patents a way to measure the emotions of a crowd. Facebook makes its global video debut and pursues VR educational programs while Instagram plays protector with new tools. Snapchat Shows introduce ecommerce, Instagram gives its profile tab a makeover and young consumers in the UK prefer Snapchat over all over platforms. Meanwhile, Snapchat teams up with Tunemoji, YouTube lets more creators use unskippable ads and offers digital wellness tools, Instagram helps college students find each other and Facebook tells users what they have in common with strangers.
Snapchat Users Can Now Save, Delete Chat Messages
An update to Snapchat adds the ability to save or delete chat messages once they have been read. In addition, videos can be filed with a “Bounce” feature that replays a moment in a loop, similar to Instagram.
Why it matters: Snapchat got its start for deleting messages automatically once opened, offering a sense of privacy and something you had to keep checking. Now that users can save them, albeit only for 24 hours, they run the risk of leaving “evidence” behind. On the flip side, users who engage in multiple chat conversations can better keep track of them by saving. Time will tell whether users approve of the new save feature, at the time when Snapchat is trying to save face with Android users. The “Bounce” video feature, meanwhile, gives Instagram a taste of its own copycat medicine as Snapchat offers the ability to play moments back and forth on loop.
Details: Snapchat announced three big updates to its platform that could impact the way users interact with the app. For one, users can choose whether to save their individual chat messages for up to 24 hours instead of deleting them automatically. Secondly, users can delete chat messages they have already posted. The third update is a fun way to film videos and display key moments on a loop. Called “Bounce,” the feature works the same way as Instagram’s “Boomerang.”
Twitter Announces New US ‘Issue Ads’ Policy
Ahead of the inevitable flood of political ads coming our way, Twitter has announced new requirements (and exemptions) for advertising candidates or issues.
Why it matters: After the 2016 US Presidential Elections, transparency has become a top concern for social media sites that are used for manipulation. Allowing users to come to their own judgment about an ad while exempting the press from strict guidelines will place Twitter in a position of control over its content during a sensitive time.
Details: Twitter has enacted a new certification requirement for anyone that wants to place an ad on its platform calling attention to certain issues or political candidates. Advertisers must undergo a certification process to prove their location within the US and meet eligibility requirements. This applies to both political candidate ads (for/against) and issues related to abortion, civil rights, climate change, guns, healthcare, immigration, national security, social security, taxes and trade. Twitter says this list will continue to grow. Publications that report on these issues are exempt from the new requirements.
Twitter Tests Recommendations For Accounts To Unfollow
Twitter conducted a brief test this week in which the app suggested accounts to unfollow based on lack of interaction.
Why it matters: Gaining followers is a mainstay of Twitter users, who may not appreciate being reconsidered at the app’s suggestion. On the other hand, unfollowing accounts that you don’t interact with could open up the feed for content you would engage with.
Details: This week, a few Twitter users posted screenshots of prompts to reevaluate who they follow. “You don’t have to follow everyone to know what’s happening,” the app said. “Make sure you’re only following people that make Twitter great for you.” The company confirmed this test with Slate, adding that the test has concluded. There is no word at this time as to whether the feature will become an official one.
Snap Patents Ability To Read Group Moods
A patent filing by Snap, Inc. details a technology that would gauge the emotions of a group or attendees of an event based on their selfies.
Why it matters: As with any patent, a filing doesn’t necessarily mean that an idea will ever see the light of day. If Snap does end up using this patented technology, the filing describes a scenario in which event promoters would pay to measure the mood of their attendees.
Details: Snap, Inc. was granted a patent on August 28 for a system that measures and scores the emotions of a group of people posting on Snapchat. The filing shows examples of measuring a group selfie, as well as those attending a speech. The general idea is that Snap could help score the effectiveness of an event or particular location by analyzing selfies taken there.
Instagram Adds Tools To Verify Account Identities
On Tuesday, Instagram outlined three ways it is helping to keep its users safe.
Why it matters: Bots, imposters and foreign interference have social media users (and advertisers) feeling unsure about who to trust. These steps will help verify the identity of popular accounts, as well as point out any suspicious behavior like username changes. In addition, allowing access to third-party authenticator apps may help prevent a mass hacking event like the site experienced recently.
Details: Instagram has revealed three ways it is working to build trust around accounts that gain a lot of followers. “About this account” will offer details such as country of origin, accounts with shared followers, username changes in the last year and ads they are currently running. A new form within the Instagram app will allow users to apply for verification, i.e. the coveted blue checkmark next to their name. Applicants will be required to prove their identities. Lastly, Instagram will offer support for third-party authenticator apps that create a two-step log-in process.
Facebook Watch Gets Global Release
After a year in the US, Facebook Watch has been released to the rest of the world.
Why it matters: Facebook has worked out some of the kinks and added new features during Watch’s first year, allowing the brand to confidently release its video platform in other countries. More locations mean more potential ad revenue, which is Facebook’s bread and butter.
Details: Facebook’s video platform Watch has been granted a global release, the company announced on Wednesday. According to the company, more than 50 million people in the US come to watch videos on the Watch platform for at least a minute. In addition, total time spent watching videos in Watch has increased by 14 times since the start of 2018.
Oculus Educational Pilot Programs Foster New VR Content
Facebook is taking its Oculus Education Pilot Programs to schools, libraries and museums in three different countries.
Why it matters: Facebook is looking for more ways to engage users in VR outside of video games and is allowing others to figure out how to do this. While gamers tend to be early adopters of such technology, VR hasn’t proven to be the runaway hit that Facebook probably imagined when it bought Oculus in 2014.
Details: A new Oculus Education Pilot Program will launch in Seattle, Taiwan and Japan to “better understand how teachers, students, and various institutions can use VR for learning and collaboration.”A partnership with select public schools in Seattle will develop an educational program designed to create new content and train teachers on how to use VR. In Japan, efforts will focus on teaching remote students through VR and in Taiwan, Facebook is giving Rift and Oculus Go headsets to the Taiwan Internet and E-Commerce Association to distribute as they see fit across libraries and museums.
Snapchat Show Debuts Ecommerce With Adidas
Adidas is officially the first brand to offer purchasing integration directly into a Snapchat show.
Why it matters: Snapchat has recently begun offering purchases directly through its AR Lenses, and ecommerce integration may entice premium ad partners to its shows.
Details: A new show called “Fashion Five Ways” premieres on Snapchat on Tuesday and will offer its viewers first dibs on Adidas’ new Originals Falcon W sneakers. Viewers can swipe up during the show to purchase the shoes, marking the first time that ecommerce has been directly tied to Snapchat programming.
Instagram Tests New Profile Layout With Sidebar
Some Instagram users have noticed changes to their profile tabs that include a new sidebar.
Why it matters: The new sidebar allows users to save posts and discover new accounts to follow. This news follows last week’s announcement that users can view recommended accounts after all new content has been viewed.
Details: As reported by Android Police, Instagram is testing a new layout under the profile tab. The latest iteration removes but the user’s story archive and puts them under a new side menu, accessible by tapping the top right icon or by swiping from the right side of the screen.
Young Consumers In The UK Will Flock To Snapchat, eMarketer Predicts
New predictions by eMarketer suggest that Snapchat users in the UK will reach 16.2 million this year, with over a third comprising of those between the ages of 18-24.
Why it matters: Snapchat is on track to surpass Facebook in terms of young social media users. Facebook continues to attract more users overall, but is dropping in popularity within the 18-24 age group.
Details: According to new forecasts by eMarketer, over 90 percent of social media users in the UK between the ages of 18-24 will use Snapchat this year. By comparison, 83 percent of this demographic will use Facebook.
“These so-called Facebook-nevers are eating into Facebook’s user growth significantly,” said eMarketer senior analyst Bill Fisher. “While the media giant’s Instagram purchase looks to have been a shrewd move in as much that it’s picking up that young user base, it’s struggling to hold onto the coattails of Snapchat among these cohorts.”
Snapchat Adds TuneMoji Integration
TuneMoji users can now share musical GIFs on Snapchat.
Why it matters: Snapchat is looking for additional ways to attract and keep its user base as sites like Instagram continue to imitate its products. TuneMoji is one of the first brands to use SnapKit, first introduced in June.
Details: Snapchat has partnered with TuneMoji, a musical GIF site that allows users to share animated pictures. As of this posting, TuneMoji users have to share the GIFs directly from the app and cannot access them from Snapchat.
YouTube Offers Unskippable Ads To More Creators
Any creator on YouTube that qualifies to monetize their channel will soon have the option of choosing unskippable ads.
Why it matters: YouTube stands to make more ad revenue if said ad cannot be skipped. This may, in turn, translate to more income for YouTube content creators. Audiences may not be as excited, however.
Details: YouTube has announced on its Creator Insider Channel that the site will soon offer unskippable ads to all creators that quality for monetization. These ads would run between 15-20 in length.
Instagram Tests Groups That Connect College Students
Users on Instagram are being invited to connect with students from the same school and graduating year through “College Groups.”
Why it matters: The feature, first introduced on Facebook, is now being tested on Instagram. If successful, the app would allow schools to create groups and engage its students, while allowing them to connect individually.
Details: As reported by CNBC, Instagram users are able to join groups created by their alma mater. At this time, users are registered as current students despite their year of graduation, but testing will continue, using feedback from users.
Facebook Testing Feature To Connect Strangers
Facebook is trying out a suggestion feature that compares users and highlights what they have in common.
Why it matters: Facebook is looking for more ways to connect users and keep them on the site longer. If users aren’t opposed to sharing their personal information with strangers, the feature may allow more connections to take place based on common interests.
Details: A test is currently being conducted in the US called “things in common.” The suggestion is similar to how Facebook displays friends of friends to encourage more connections, but with strangers.
YouTube Rolls Out Digital Wellness Features
Google is continuing the digital wellbeing trend with features designed to help users manage their time online.
Why it matters: The tools allow users to choose how they interact with YouTube and not the other way around. Investing in user wellbeing not only allows YouTube to display responsibility for its role in people’s lives but helps the site encourage more meaningful interaction.
Details: YouTube has introduced new tools for users to manage their time on the site/app. Users can now choose a daily digest instead of instant notifications or disable them altogether. In addition, users can see how much time they spend watching videos through a dashboard.
Editor’s Note: Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, August 31. Have a news tip? We’re looking for changes to and news surrounding social media platforms as they relate to marketing. Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.