This week in social media news, LinkedIn launches new Sales Navigator features and says it will factor in dwell time in its content distribution algorithm, Houseparty announces a three-day, celebrity-studded virtual event, YouTube expands its new audience insights to all users, Snapchat updates its analytics layout for creators and Google rolls out tools to let consumers make donations and send gift cards to businesses.

LinkedIn Launches New Tools To Help Brands With Virtual Selling

As part of its regular quarterly tools roll-out, LinkedIn has launched new features on its Sales Navigator platform to help companies with their virtual selling strategies.

Why it matters: The updates will help add extra context to potential leads and clients, allowing marketers to better navigate on-platform efforts and maintain connections with interested users.

The details: LinkedIn’s new Smart Links enhancements lets brands stay connected with buyers by showing them insights on what content they engaged with. The feature also lets Sales Navigator admins see how often reps are sending content and which reps are getting the most views.

To support collaboration across sales teams, LinkedIn is also rolling out an integration with Microsoft Dynamics 365 that enables businesses to create contacts in their CRM directly from a Sales Navigator Lead Page or Lead List. 

The second update includes the consolidation of Notes and Comments into Notes shared in Sales Navigator Lists, Lead Pages and Account Pages, with the option of making notes on relevant Account and Leads either public or private.

Lastly, LinkedIn’s new Alerts panel allows brands to like, comment and share anytime a saved lead posts or shares on LinkedIn without leaving the Sales Navigator.

Houseparty Introduces New Co-Watching Feature Via Three-Day Virtual Festival

Houseparty is hosting an in-app, three-day virtual festival called In the House from May 15 to May 17, featuring celebrity-led jam sessions, workouts and cooking tutorials.

Why it matters: Houseparty is the latest app to introduce co-watching, a sign that there could be new opportunities within the app. Houseparty was downloaded 2 million times in the last week of March and has earned a top-ten spot in app stores of 17 different countries over the last two months.

The details: Viewers can tune in to see popular actors, restaurateurs, social media influencers and musicians perform and share tips via Houseparty on mobile or desktop.

YouTube Expands New Audience Activity Insights To All Users

Now all users can access YouTube’s new listing of when their YouTube audience is online and they can also opt-in to its new video chapters feature, according to YouTube Creator Insider Tom Leung.

Why it matters: The new updates will help users publish content accordingly and allow viewers to find the content they care most about within videos.

The details: The new audience insights chart is available in YouTube Studio analytics and shows when your audience is most active on the platform.

Users can opt-in to YouTube’s new video chapter feature by making sure the first timestamp listed in their video description starts at 0:00 and that their video has at least three timestamps or chapters, with each chapter being 10 seconds or longer.

Snapchat Updates In-App Analytics Layout For Creator Accounts

As spotted by Conviva’s Mike Metzler, Snapchat has rolled out two new updates for creator accounts—an updated in-app analytics layout and a new “Quoting” option that lets creators respond to replies in their public stories.

Why it matters: Available only to select users for now, the advanced analytics will help creators understand what content their viewers are engaging most with.

The details: The new analytics layout shows creators detailed insights on each frame, showing details like views, screenshots, swipe-ups and interactions (tap forwards, tap backwards and swipe-aways).

Regarding its new “Quoting” feature, Snapchat says:

“Quoting is a fan engagement tool that makes it easier to share a subscribers’ reply to your public story. Ask subscribers to send you questions and answer away. You can even mix things up and ask them questions. Fans will be notified when you quote them which can really make their day.”

Facebook’s New Safety Controls Gives Brands More Control Over Ad Placements

Facebook has launched a new set of brand safety controls to enable advertisers more control over where their ads appear across Facebook.

Why it matters: In 2017, the issue of brand placement arose when major brands pulled their YouTube spend over concerns that their ads were appearing next to hate speech and extremist content, causing the platform to lose millions in revenue.

The details: After being in testing with selected partners over the last few months, the new controls include the expansion of whitelists for both Audience Network and in-stream ads. Now, Facebook advertisers can designate which third-party publisher apps to run ads on, allow third-party providers to review and customize suitable videos for in-stream campaigns and opt-out of the test of in-stream ads in live streams from vetted partners.

LinkedIn To Incorporate Dwell Time Into Content Distribution Algorithm

To improve feed ranking, LinkedIn tested dwell time, a metric that measures the time spent on content after clicking on an update in the feed.

Why it matters: Up until now, “viral actions” such as clicking on, liking and commenting on feed updates informed LinkedIn’s content distribution algorithm. Unlike viral actions, LinkedIn says, dwell time is always measurable and can be a more reliable indicator of engagement. The result is higher quality content shown in the feed and a better feed experience for members.

The details: LinkedIn found that there’s a natural threshold at which dwell time would reveal that the user will never click on or engage with certain feed updates. The finding was nearly universal across all forms of LinkedIn updates, leading LinkedIn to add this new machine learning model to improve feed ranking.

Google Lets Businesses Add Donation And Gift Card Links To Their Profiles

Google is rolling out a new tool that would allow businesses to add a donation link, gift card link or both to their profiles.

Why it matters: Google joins the likes of Facebook and Instagram who also recently added gift card and donation tools that enable people to support their businesses as the pandemic keeps their doors closed.

The details: In addition to being able to add a donation link or gift card link to their business profile, owners can share a personal message in their post to let customers know how they’ll use the funds. Google has partnered with PayPal and GoFundMe for donations, and Square, Toast, Clover and Vagaro for the gift cards. Though Google isn’t charging businesses or consumers fees for using the tool, there may be partnering processing fees. Support links will be available in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. The links will be visible to consumers later this month.

LinkedIn Adds New Virtual Events Tools And Custom Announcement Banner

LinkedIn has launched several new products to help organizations engage their community during the crisis including an updated live events tool, a video publishing and archiving tool and temporary features like call-to-action buttons to volunteers and customer announcement banners.

Why it matters: LinkedIn says its Live platform is seeing 23X more comments per post and 6X reactions per post than native video.

The details: LinkedIn has strengthened integration between its two existing features, LinkedIn Events and LinkedIn Live, to enable members to share events via their page, allowing brands to target specific audiences and design a more personalized experience. Using LinkedIn’s new video tab, brands can then archive the live event, which all members of the brand’s community can access. In addition, a new custom announcement banner allows brands to post timely updates to the top of their page while the new volunteer CTA button allows non-profits and school pages to ask members to volunteer.

Instagram and Facebook Announce New Features To Help Support Small Businesses

Facebook has launched a new section called Businesses Nearby, which will show users the latest posts from businesses within a certain radius, their delivery options and current hours, with the ability to book or send the business a message. Additionally, it’s rolling out a #SupportSmallBusiness sticker on Facebook and Instagram.

Why it matters: New features to help increase virtual foot traffic amid the pandemic come after Facebook announced a $100 million grant program for small businesses in March.  

The details: Instagram will feature posts using the #SupportSmallBusiness sticker in a shared Instagram story highlighting similar posts from all accounts people follow. On Facebook, users will be able to tag a post as being “in support of” a certain small business. Facebook has also added a dedicated Business Inbox in the Messenger app, allowing brands to answer questions sent to their Facebook page.

Instagram Tests New Ways To Navigate Through Stories

Instagram is testing an option that would let users toggle through other users’ Stories, according to reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong.

Why it matters: Facebook has repeatedly said that Stories are on track to surpass the news feed as the primary surface for engaging on social media. Giving users more ways to find the content they like on Instagram Stories could lead to a spike in usage, especially during COVID.

The details: Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri confirmed that Instagram is “looking into ways to making it easier to find the Stories you care about most” via a poll on his Twitter asking followers to choose from the following options: “Keep tapping through,” “Hunt and peck” and “Not into Stories.”

YouTube Launches Tools To Help Advertisers Reach Users Watching On Home TV Screens

YouTube is accelerating the launch of its Brand Lift measurement tool for television as YouTube watch time on television grows during COVID, vice president, global video and YouTube solutions Debbie Weinstein says in a Google Blog. Additionally, YouTube is introducing skippable ads for content that’s cast onto the television screen.

Why it matters: Increases in watch time and an influx of daily visitors on YouTube allows brands that can continue advertising in coronavirus to reach more viewers and more easily measure results across YouTube streaming platforms. 

The details: On the brand lift measurement tool, YouTube says: “For viewers, this means surveys are now optimized for the big screen and interactivity with a TV remote, so people can easily respond or skip the survey.”

The skippable ad format is also a significant addition given casting watch time grew by over 75 percent year over year.

Google Launches Rising Retail Trends Tool

To help businesses understand changing consumer interests during the pandemic, Google has launched a rising retail categories list on Think with Google, a tool that shows popular product-related categories in Google Search with data updated daily.

Why it matters: This marks the first time Google has provided this type of insight on product categories people are searching for. It will allow brands to tailor content creation, promotional efforts and new products and services based on consumers’ changing behaviors during COVID. 

The details: The rising retail categories tool will show fast-growing categories of products, the locations where they’re growing and the queries associated with them.

TikTok Brings On New Digital Marketing Partner Bidalgo

TikTok has added Bidalgo to its roster of digital marketing partners for ads via direct API integration, according to a Bidalgo blog post.

Why it matters: Bidalgo’s multi-channel user acquisition platform will make TikTok ads more dynamic, scalable and effective for media buyers.

The details: Bidalgo’s data-driven approach helps advertisers measure the performance of creative assets with advanced insights, take bulk actions on bids, budgets and status based on actionable insights and scale across channels with artificial intelligence-driven recommendations.