This week in social media news, YouTube Red makes its theatrical debut, Twitter explains its API changes and LinkedIn woos sales teams with new features.
Also, Pinterest gives an inside look into its recommendation AI, Twitter considers big changes, Crimson Hexagon is off the hook, Tweetbot loses key features and LinkedIn updates Groups. Facebook advertisers are turning images into video, Instagram addresses widespread attacks and Twitter finally suspends Alex Jones.
YouTube Red Competes With OTT Giants By Going To The Movies
YouTube’s indie film Viper Room is headed to theaters this fall, making it YouTube’s first foray outside the app and qualifying the company for film awards.
Why it matters: Film is thriving on OTT both in terms of viewership and acclaim. This year, Netflix was nominated for eight Academy Awards and a whopping 112 Emmy nods. In order for YouTub Red to be taken seriously as a source for quality entertainment worthy of a subscription fee, it needs to become an award contender alongside competitors Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.
Details: Thanks to a partnership with distributor Roadside Attractions, Viper Room will be released in theaters October 26. The indie film, which stars Susan Sarandon, was acquired by YouTube Red back in March and its theatrical release is timed perfectly to qualify for the upcoming awards season.
Twitter Tightens The Reigns On Its API
Twitter is taking a more “focused approach” to improving its app and controlling its user data, as evidenced by cutting off certain features to third-party apps.
Why it matters: As Twitter woos advertisers, it needs to control how users interact with its platform. While Twitter will still allow certain apps access to its API, some features have been discontinued so that users can only get the full experience through official apps.
Details: In a blog post on Friday, Twitter explained why it has cut off certain features from third-party apps like Tweetbot (see below). The company has removed support for Twitter for Apple Watch and Twitter for Mac, replaced its previous Twitter for Windows app with the Progressive Web App and removed support for some outdated developer tools. Twitter reminded users that the official site and apps were always the exclusive source for tools like Periscope and polls.
“We know some of you don’t like this more focused approach,” wrote Rob Johnson, Twitter’s senior director of data enterprise solutions, adding that the company is still invested in its developer ecosystem.
LinkedIn Supports Sales Team With New Features
In an effort to “win the hearts and minds of the entire sales organization,” LinkedIn has added new functionality to its Sales Navigator tool.
Why it matters: LinkedIn is courting revenue by offering its Premium members more tools to succeed. The revamped Sales Navigator feature is designed to help businesses grow on its platform by acquiring new clients and expanding existing client relationships.
Details: LinkedIn has added new tools to its Sales Navigator feature including Office 365 integration, mobile lead pages, new search options, SNAP partners and tools to oversee the deal pipeline. The features add on to LinkedIn’s existing Premium Insights that the site began offering in 2016.
Pinterest Explains Its Recommendation Framework
A Pinterest engineer shared details about PinSage, an advanced recommendation framework being used for ad recommendations on the site.
Why it matters: Image search is becoming a popular method of discovery and technology companies recognize this. Google recently updated its image search display, Apple is developing image search and Amazon has secretly been working with Snapchat for a visual search feature as well. As a visual platform, it’s important for advertisers to understand how Pinterest technology aids in search results.
Details: Pinterest Labs developed a new graph convolutional neural network called PinSage, one of the engineers explained in a blog post on Wednesday. To put it in layman’s terms, PinSage analyzes more information than a standard deep-learning method, making its recommendations more accurate and helpful. PinSage has been used for ad recommendations beginning in February and for shopping recommendations in June, according to Venture Beat.
Jack Dorsey ‘Rethinking’ Core Parts Of Twitter
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said that he is experimenting with features that would promote alternative viewpoints in Twitter’s timeline. The idea would be to address misinformation and reduce “echo chambers” on the platform.
Why it matters: Twitter, as with other social networks, has been accused of censorship and stifling voices counter to their own personal viewpoints. As global users consume news content from social media, companies like Twitter are considering the responsibility of their impact on ideas. If Twitter offers multiple viewpoints, it invites conversation and exploration of new ideas.
Details: In an interview with The Washington Post, Dorsey expressed concerns about Twitter’s core features that aid the spread of misinformation. In addition to displaying alternate viewpoints in the news feed, Dorsey said he is considering a redesign of like buttons, follower counts and labeling bots.
LinkedIn Updates Group Feature To Promote Engagement
Several changes are rolling out to LinkedIn Groups this month, including access from the homepage and simplifying management.
Why it matters: Making LinkedIn Groups easier to interact with and manage from mobile devices would allow the site to increase engagement on the platform.
Details: Based on user feedback, LinkedIn will soon add the ability to manage groups in both iOS and Android apps and simplify the number of admin roles down to owner and manager. In addition, users will be able to access their Groups more easily from the home page and receive notifications about Group activity.
Tweetbot Loses Features Ahead of Twitter API Changes
Tweetbot has lost several key features due to Twitter’s API changes, including push notifications and timeline streaming on WiFi.
Why it matters: Twitter’s API changes are an effort to better control data accessed by third-party apps. The changes are forcing users to use the official app if they want the full experience, however, which is leaving some developers frustrated.
Details: Tweetbot’s timeline will refresh every one to two minutes instead of in real-time and likes, retweets, follows and quotes have been disabled. In addition, any push notifications for mentions and direct messages are also delayed. Activity and Stats tabs have been removed, and Tweetbot has disabled its Apple Watch app as a result of the Twitter API cutoff.
“Because Twitter has chosen not to provide alternatives to these interfaces,” Tweetbot told its users, “we have been forced to disable or degrade certain features. We are sorry about this, but unfortunately, this is totally out of our control.”
Crimson Hexagon Reinstated After Facebook Investigation
Data firm Crimson Hexagon has been allowed back on Facebook after an investigation found it did not use data for government surveillance purposes.
Why it matters: Facebook suspended the data firm in July after a Wall Street Journal piece drew attention to potentially suspicious clients, including Government agencies and a Russian non-profit. After it was learned how Cambridge Analytica used Facebook data, the company isn’t taking any chances.
Details: Facebook has reinstated Crimson Hexagon onto its platform after several weeks of investigation, the company announced on Thursday.
“To our knowledge, no government customer has used the Crimson Hexagon platform for surveillance of any individual or group,” the company said in a blog post.
Facebook Marketers Can Now Turn Still Images Into Video Ads
New Create to Convert tools have been introduced that allow advertisers on Facebook to animate still images.
Why it matters: Video direct-response ads have become a popular strategy on Facebook, increasing 3.8 times across the company’s platforms over the last year. Cutting through the noise of Facebook feeds could be made easier by creating eye-catching animations. Adding these tools allows Facebook’s advertisers to create low-cost animations and (hopefully) achieve higher ROI.
Details: Facebook introduced new tools on Wednesday that add motion to still images, such as animating a brand logo or creating moving elements to an image. So far, tests of the format with Shopback have achieved 5.5 times higher conversion rate while lowering cost per registration by 5.7 times.
Some Instagram Users Locked Out
Several Instagram users have reported issues accessing their accounts this week due to what appears to be a coordinated hacking effort by scammers. Instagram has issued a blog post providing steps to unlock user accounts that have been impacted.
Why it matters: Instagram has not acknowledged (and may not know) the source of these attacks, but it has become a big enough problem that the company has created an official post about it. One clue can be found in the guidelines put forth by Instagram—”suspicious third-party apps.” Instagram suggests revoking any access to such applications but does not define how users can determine which ones are suspicious.
Details: Following what appears to be a coordinated effort to take over Instagram accounts, the company has issued guidelines on how to regain access. Among the usual suggestions like changing passwords and email addresses, Instagram strongly advises that users revoke access to any suspicious third-party apps. This story is still developing.
Alex Jones Receives One-Week Suspension From Twitter
Infowars host and right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been suspended from Twitter for a period of one week.
Why it matters: Just last week, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey refused to cave to pressure from other social media sites and left-leaning users to ban Alex Jones or Infowars, fearing that the social network will become “constructed by personal views” that can swing in any direction. After being punished or removed altogether by Facebook, YouTube, Apple and others, Alex Jones has continued behavior that violates Twitter guidelines. The move to suspend him shows that Twitter is enforcing its rules for a reason and not banning him out of peer pressure.
Details: Alex Jones has been suspended from Twitter for violating the site’s guidelines—specifically, targeted harassment. In a Periscope livestream, the Infowars host, now fueled by what he perceives as censorship, told viewers, “now is time to act on the enemy” ahead of a “false flag” attack. Jones’ conspiracy theory and right-wing political podcasts have already been removed from Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Twitter has been slow to jump on the “ban” wagon, citing concerns over political bias.
Facebook’s Acqui-hire Points To More Interactive Video
Tech startup Vidpresso has officially joined Facebook, giving the social media giant access to its staff and interactive video tools.
Why it matters: As Facebook places more emphasis on its video efforts, Vidpresso’s tools will allow it to compete with interactive communities like Twitch and attract more high-profile creators.
Details: Vidpresso has joined Facebook effective August 13, signaling a more interactive future for video on the social network. The small tech startup offers interactive video tools like polls, comments and elements from different social networks on one screen. Facebook did not buy the company itself, but rather hired its staff and purchased the technology. For now, Vidpresso will continue to provide its tools to clients like BuzzFeed, Turner Sports and Nasdaq.
Twitter Lite Now Available In Over 45 Countries
A streamlined version of Twitter has been added to the Google Play store in 22 additional countries, bringing the app to over 45 countries worldwide. In addition, push notifications have been added so that users can stay informed and threaded tweets give users the entire story.
Why it matters: Social giants are finding new ways to reach underserved locations that don’t have access to smartphones or reliable data. Facebook released its own Lite APK in the US and 7 other countries in March. Twitter’s availability in more countries puts it at an advantage over Facebook for the time being.
Details: Twitter Lite, a pared-down version of its app, has been added to the Google Play Store in Argentina, Belarus, Dominican Republic, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Morocco, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Romania, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Uruguay, Yemen, and Zimbabwe. This brings the total of available countries over 45.
Facebook Makes It Easier For Kids To Add Friends
Children using Facebook Messenger Kids can now initiate friend requests, a process normally left up to parents. The feature is opt-in and parents still need to finalize approvals.
Why it matters: Teenagers are using Facebook less, so it would be wise for the site to entice consumers before they turn 13. The new process allows children to initiate friend requests on their own and doesn’t require parents to oversee the entire process (just the finalization). Facebook is making it easier for parents to take a hands-off approach, no longer requiring that parents be friends with their children and now giving friend requests over to the young users themselves.
Details: A new feature has been added to Facebook Messenger Kids, allowing children to begin the friend request process on their own. When parents opt-in, the app will generate a random four-word passphrase that children can share with others. The parent must still approve all friends before they become official.
Facebook Signs Exclusive Rights To Stream La Liga Soccer Games In India
Facebook has signed an exclusive deal to offer free streaming of La Liga soccer games in India and its subcontinents.
Why it matters: La Liga has two of the largest soccer followings on Facebook, offering the social network a built-in following of avid fans.
Details: Spanish soccer league La Liga has signed its first social media deal—a three-year exclusive contract with Facebook beginning with the 2018/19 season. The partnership will include free game streaming across the La Liga Facebook Page as well as individual team Pages throughout India and its subcontinents.
Snapchat Adds Native Ecommerce To AR Lens
Nicki Minaj’s shoppable AR Lens on Snapchat could mean the feature will open up to creators, as well as native shopping features app-wide.
Why it matters: Often imitated, Snapchat is taking steps to ensure that its signature AR Lenses offer value to brands and its creators. Roughly seven million Snapchat users employ AR Lenses each day, according to the brand, making it prime real estate for brand interaction. Sponsored Lenses have been used for everything from film promotion to makeup, but until now, shopping within the Lens was only available to brands. In addition, users would be directed to an outside website. Opening the shopping feature to creators—and keeping buyers in the app—will allow Snapchat to foster its own ecosystem.
Details: Nicki Minaj is promoting her new album “Queen” on Snapchat with a sponsored AR Lens. Users can try on a bejeweled mask, then tap “add to bag” to purchase a Queen necklace from the artist. Assuming this is a partnership with Minaj and not a brand, the promotion marks the first time shopping through the AR Lens has been opened to creators. Even if the Lens is sponsored by a brand, i.e. Republic Records, it’s a pretty big deal to integrate native ecommerce directly into the Lens.
Facebook Page Engagement Continues Downward Trend
A new study found that engagement with Facebook Pages had declined by over 50 percent in the last 18 months.
Why it matters: Increased competition and Facebook’s algorithm changes are making it more difficult for brands to organically stand out from the crowd. While business Pages are posting more often, overall engagement is on a steep decline. Pages that posted more than 10 times per day experienced the biggest engagement drop-off, while those who posted less than once a day experienced more engagement overall. BuzzSumo found that the optimal video length on Facebook is anywhere between 30-120 seconds.
Details: A joint study by Buffer Social and BuzzSumo examined more than 43 million posts from the top 20,000 brands on Facebook and compared engagement to 2017. The top 20,000 Facebook pages published an average of 135 posts per month during the second quarter, amounting to just over four per day. Buffer observed a 24 percent increase in posts per day compared to the first quarter of 2017.
Editor’s Note: Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, August 17. 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.