With Q2 2019 now behind us, it’s time to analyze what worked, what didn’t and look ahead to new trends in the world of social media. Summer is off to a hot start. Twitter announces several new updates and publishes “Are Marketers Missing Customer Signals On Social?” blog post; Instagram tweaks its account disable policy, Youtube allows its users to seamlessly switch between audio and music videos and engagement on LinkedIn is exploding.  

Twitter Publishes “Are Marketers Missing Customer Signals On Social?”

Twitter shared a blog post featuring Diana Helander, head of marketing for the Twitter Developer Platform, speaking about the importance of social listening as part of an extended Marketing Disrupted podcast. 

Why it matters: Per the blog post, “In our data-driven world, marketers need to think more about the nature of social conversations and not just look at raw social data.” 

The details: Helander chatted with Marketing Disrupted podcast hosts Brent Chaters and Amber Mac about the importance of social listening, and the role Twitter Data can play in helping marketers solve problems. 

“It’s important for brands to start listening,” Helander says. “Brands can help identify something newsworthy, or if needed, remediate an issue. But that’s just a first step. Following on from that is active engagement with those audiences, whether it’s for brand voice, marketing campaigns or customer service—engaging in that conversation and doing so in an authentic way,” she said. 

You can listen to the full podcast here

Twitter Addresses Conversation Gaps, Tries Out New Icons 

Also, this week, Twitter rolled out several updates, including testing new icons for more clarification in reply streams and trying to resolve conversation gaps, created by hidden tweets. 

Why it matters: These new updates aim to improve conversation flows on the platform, which should help support higher and more meaningful engagement. 

The details: Twitter rolled out a new feature that will use icons instead of words to indicate conversational contributors. In addition, the social media company is fixing the issue with too many “This Tweet is unavailable” notices in conversations, which occur due to deleted or protected Tweets, or muted keywords. In the following weeks, the users will start noticing more context on each notice, explaining why Tweets are unavailable. 

Instagram Tweaks Its Account Disable Policy 

The company announced a change to their account disable policy in a blog post

Why it matters: Per Instagram, “[the] changes will help quickly detect and remove accounts that repeatedly violate our policies.”

The details: With the new policy, in addition to removing accounts with a certain percentage of violating content, the Instagram team will remove accounts with a certain number of violations within a window of time to enforce the policies more consistently and hold people accountable for the content they post on Instagram. 

A  new notification process is being introduced as well, to help the users better understand if their account is at risk of being disabled. This notification will also allow users to appeal content that has been deleted. 

The policy change might be linked to the recent tragedy, related to the death of 17-year-old Bianca Devis, whose photos were posted on Instagram after she was murdered. 

YouTube Users Can Now Switch Between Audio And Music Videos 

Youtube will allow users to seamlessly switch between audio and music videos.  

Why it matters: Being able to switch between the media with more ease should allow for a more seamless experience for users and provide a better way for brands and broadcasters to interact with users. 

The details: YouTube users will notice a new video button at the top of the screen when they start listening to a song, and by clicking it,  they can instantly start watching the music video. 

The new feature simplifies the process of enjoying audio and music and according to YouTube:

  • “[Makes discovering] new music videos is easier than ever before. From recent mega-hits to deep cuts, if a song has a video, YouTube Music will surface a video button so switching between audio and visuals is just one click away.
  • YouTube Music has perfectly time-matched over five million official music videos to their respective audio tracks, so no matter when or how often you flip back and forth between the two, you won’t miss a beat.
  • When you flip from video to song, say goodbye to the other sounds that go with the music video — like those long introductions — and enjoy the song as it was intended.
  • Not into music videos? We’ve got you covered. To stick to songs 100 [percent] of the time, visit your settings and turn off the music video option by toggling “Don’t play music videos” to the “on” position.” 

LinkedIn Engagement Is On The Rise 

According to Microsoft’s FY19 Q4 results update, LinkedIn’s parent company, the career-focused social media platform, grew sessions and revenues.

Why it matters: These numbers indicate the presence of a significant and highly engaged audience on the platform. 

The details: Highlights from the report include LinkedIn revenue increasing by 25 percent ($371 million) and LinkedIn sessions growing by 22 percent. 

Instagram Expands “Hide Likes” Testing To More Regions 

Despite the users’ mixed feelings about “Hide Likes,” Instagram seems to be serious about its intent to launch the feature and expands the testing to additional regions, including Australia. 

Why it matters: The company claims it’s trying to make sure that followers concentrate on meaningful content rather than its popularity and like count. 

The details: The feature that hides the total number of likes and video views is currently testing in Canada and has now expanded to Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand. As part of the trial, users can see how many likes a photo received, but followers won’t see the numbers, and you can’t see how many likes other peoples’ photos received. Business accounts will still be able to access engagement metrics.

Twitter “LiveCut” Video Editing and Publishing Tool

Twitter terminates SnappyTV live video editing tool, and replaces it with “LiveCut,” integrated into Twitter’s Media Studio. 

Why it matters: “LiveCut” allows publishers to create, monetize and share videos of live broadcasts on Twitter. 

The details: To start using “LiveCut,” publishers need to obtain access to Twitter’s Media Studio, which is provided via Twitter Partner manager. 

Guides and tips on using “LiveCut” can be found here

Liverpool Football Club is a video publisher who, among some others, already participated in Twitter’s LiveCut beta program. And  here’s what Adam Hulme, head of social media for Liverpool FC had to say about the new tool, “It was great to be able to share this incredible occasion with our fans all over the world in real time. The club utilized Twitter’s LiveCut tool to capture and deliver short, shareable, memorable, and now iconic clips within a matter of minutes, and with ease.”

TikTok Spotted Testing A “Discover Tab”

Jane Manchun Wong spotted TikTok working on a “Discover Tab” feature. 

Why it matters: “Discover Tab” will likely replace “Search” function at some point in the future and make it easier for TikTok users to discover new content based on their interests and preferences while providing a more convenient way to interact.

The details: Besides “Discover Tab,” TikTok is also working on a tool that will help the users to quickly send videos to friends and link a TikTok profile to Google and Facebook accounts.

Facebook Allows UK Users To Report Scam Ads 

Facebook  has launched a tool for its UK users, which allows them to report ads they suspect might be scams.

Why it matters: The new consumer safety feature will help to create a more credible environment on the platform, as well as improve brand safety amid persistent data privacy complaints about the platform.

The details: To use the tool, users can click the three dots in the top-right corner of each ad on the platform, select “Report ad,” choose “Misleading or scam ad” and then “Send a detailed scam report.” A dedicated internal ops team at Facebook is said to review reports and remove scam ads. 

Facebook To Debut WhatsApp Payments In India 

Also, Bloomberg reported that Facebook had finished an audit of related data practices and is close to rolling out WhatsUp payment service in India. 

Why it matters: WhatsUp payment service has the potential to open up a new and thriving user base in India for brands, as WhatsApp has an extremely large user base on the subcontinent, around 300 million. Arnav Gupta, an analyst who tracks digital payments at Forrester Research said on the matter, “Everybody from eight to 80 years old in India are clued into WhatsApp, giving it phenomenal reach. Besides, peer-to-peer businesses like MakeMyTrip and BookMyShow, which are already using WhatsApp, will find it very easy to route payment transactions through the messaging app.”

The details: Per Bloomberg, the payments service has been in beta mode in India since early last year for a million users, but the national rollout has been postponed, partially due to government regulations. To launch the service, WhatsApp is required to use a third-party auditor to verify that all data involved in payments will be stored on servers only in India. The company is getting ready to submit the report for approval to India’s banking regulator, the Reserve Bank of India

Twitter Launches New Follower Listings In Notifications

The company announced the rollout of an easy-to-use format that alerts users to new followers.

Why it matters: The new feature makes it more efficient to manage new follows and follow back, without having to take extra steps of clicking-through to the profile of that person to hit the “follow” button.

The details: The feature will include a larger profile panel within “Notifications” tab and allow users to follow back directly from the alert that someone is now following them.

We Are Social Details Social Media Use In 2019

Hootsuite and We Are Social published a new report, revealing how people are using the internet and social media in 2019. Facebook remains the most widely used platform and video continues to expand. The reports are available for the U.S. , UK, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Australia, Saudi Arabia, China, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Why it matters: The research provides insight into the global and national use of social media, and how marketers can best reach social audiences.  

The details:

  • 45 percent of the world’s population, or 3.5 billion people, are now social media users 
  • 59 percent of social media users are aged 13 and above
  • 93 percent of them, or 4 billion people watch online video content, with vlogs attracting 2 billion viewers 
  • Snapchat’s audience increased to 369 million, with the platform’s advertising audience jumping by 19 percent in the past three months 
  • Facebook is still most popular among teenagers with 113.3 users and potential reach of advertising on the platforms being aged 13 to 17 

Facebook Spotted Testing ‘Suggested Moderators’

Social media expert Matt Navarra noticed the company testing a new feature for group administration. 

Why it matters: ‘Suggested Moderators‘ is targeted to group members which Facebook’s system identifies as engaged users who may be able to help manage their online communities.

The details: The new option will make a recommendation on group members as potential moderators based on their involvement, frequency and interactions within the particular group.  Right now the test is in limited beta. 

Google Keeps Toying With Social Networking 

According to Gizmodo, Google started testing a social networking app, aiming to bring people closer “offline,” based on their activities and interests.

Why it matters: If (finally) successful, Google might join social media giants and offer another useful advertising platform. However, it is too early to tell if the app will be popular with audiences. 

The details: The app, created by Google’s Area 120 unit, is called Shoelace. It provides suggestions every day on nearby happenings that give people a reason to meet up and the activities range from “Spin vinyl on vintage decks” to “Play ping pong at a modern lounge with full bar” and more. 

“The whole premise of Shoelace is to tie people together based on their interests—like two laces on a shoe. We do so through activities—which are fittingly called ‘Loops.'” 

Shoelace is available on the latest versions of Android and Apple’s iOS and requires an active Google account to sign into the app.

Facebook Hires A Former Vine General Manager

Jason Toff, a former Vine GM of two years will join Facebook’s new division–NPE Team as a product management director.

Why it matters: This move is likely related to Facebook’s ambition to compete with TikTok and create a successful video sharing platform. 

The details: After going after TikTok already and failing with Lasso, Facebook might be hoping to reapproach the initiative with the new talent. And Toff seems to be a perfect fit for the job, as according to his LinkedIn, he not only spent two years at Vine, but also worked for other competitors. He served as director of product management at Twitter and a partner at Google’s Area 120. 

Snap Is After Chinese Advertisers 

TechCrunch reported that Snap and Baidu, a Chinese website and search engine, recently renewed their sales partnership

Why it matters: Companies that purchase media through Baidu are guaranteed access to all forms of advertising in Snap’s videos, real-time selfie effects, overlays and more, and therefore, can reach young and extremely dedicated audiences, TechCrunch reports. 

The details: Sheng Hu, head of U.S. strategy and partnership at Baidu’s Global Business Unit said, “Our partnership with Snap Inc. provides Chinese companies new avenues to expand their businesses through Snapchat advertising. We look forward to connecting with marketing executives in China and beyond on behalf of Snap to discuss the benefits of these advertising solutions.”

WhatsApp, Telegram Suffer From Security Flaws 

Researchers from Symantec found flaws that could make it possible for potential hackers to change images and audio files in the apps.

Why it matters: Per Symantec, although secure messaging apps are an important tool for individuals, politicians and companies who wish to keep their conversations private and protected from surveillance, the apps themselves are still not immune to hacks. 

The details: The four main threats of Media File Jacking attacks are image manipulation, payment manipulation, audio message spoofing and fake news. 

To ensure that media files are kept safe from hackers, Symantec recommends the following: 

  • “Validate the integrity of files: Store in a metadata file a hash value for each received media file before writing it to the disk. Then, confirm that the file has not been changed (i.e. the hash is the same) before the media file is loaded by the app in the relevant chat portion for users to see. This step can help developers validate that files were not manipulated before they are loaded. This approach balances between the security (protection against Media File Jacking attacks) and functionality (e.g., supporting third party backup apps) needs of the IM apps.
  • Internal storage: If possible, store media files in a non-public directory, such as internal storage. This is a measure some IM apps have chosen.
  • Encryption: Strive to encrypt sensitive files, as is usually done for text messages in modern IM solutions. This measure, as well as the previous one, will better protect files from exposure and manipulation. The downside is that other apps, such as photo backup apps, won’t be able to easily access these files.” 

Snapchat Tests New Binge-Watch Friendly Feature 

Snapchat is reportedly testing a new feature, similar to the Netflix home page. 

Why it matters: The new “Shows” section feature will have a special section for shows, separate from the Discover page, which will make it easier for the viewers to binge-watch. 

The details: With the test, which was recently spotted in the app, an additional swipe over from the Discover page brings up a hidden “Shows” section. A Snapchat spokesperson confirmed to Mashable that the company is testing the “Shows” section feature, but it’s not yet clear if or when it will become widely available. 

Twitch Still Beats YouTube Live, Facebook Gaming And Microsoft’s Mixer In Life-Streaming 

Per a new report from StreamElements, Twitch still had its second-biggest quarter to date, capturing more than 70 percent of total hours watched across all live streaming platforms.

Why it matters: These numbers indicate that Twitch is attracting a growing and engaged audience.

The details: According to the StreamElements report, Twitch viewers live-streamed a total of 2.72+ billion hours in Q2, or 72.2 percent of all live hours watched. To compare, viewers live-streamed 735.54 million hours on YouTube Live (19.5  percent), 197.76 million on Facebook Gaming (5.3 percent) and just 112.29 million hours (3 percent) on Mixer. The researchers also found that the majority (almost 75 percent) of Twitch’s viewership still came from people tuning in to the top 5,000 channels. Also, out of the 2.7 billion hours watched in Q2, these top 5,000 channels drove 2 billion of the hours watched. 

Influencer Marketing Spend Grows By 83 Percent Year-Over-Year 

Influencer marketing measurement company, Instascreener, reported an 83 percent year-over-year increase in influencer marketing spend. 

Why it matters: Despite the complaints around ineffective measurement, fake followers and influencer fraud, there is still a large demand for influencers. For example, brands such as Fashion Nova invested $5.5 million into influencers and vodka brand Ciroc spent $3.4 million in the second quarter of this year. 

The details: Per the report, Q2 of 2019 was the largest quarter yet for influencer marketing, with brands spending a total of $442 million, which is up by 18 percent, $69 million, compared to Q2 2018. $314 million of the total spend was spent on Instagram. Although, it is important to mention that a total of $58 million reached fake followers.

Twitter Rolls Out The New Version Of Twitter.com

Twitter is officially rolling out the redesigned version of Twitter.com, VentureBeat reported

Why it matters: According to VentureBeat, the redesign is Twitter’s attempt to bring new features and functionality to users.

The details: On the front end, the redesign means a faster and more personalized experience. On the back end, that means serving the right experience based on the user and device. 

Editor’s Note: Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, July 19th. 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 editorial@alistdaily.com.