This week in social media news, Twitter users can no longer fill Facebook feeds simultaneously and YouTube gets in on the Stories craze.
In other news, WhatsApp is ready to make money, YouTube Music pledges regular updates and game developers get more options on Facebook. Snapchat’s new Lenses like the sound of your voice, Facebook protects your data, Instagram cares about your mental health and YouTube is testing a quick navigation feature. In addition, Japan is a place of strength for Twitter and Facebook removes a large ring of manipulators. Twitter cracks down on video trolls, Instagram tests a way to promote IGTV, YouTube goes dark and Snapchat renews its sports partnerships.
Twitter Among Apps Cut Off From Automatic Facebook Posts
Facebook has depreciated its Publish actions permissions from its API, a feature that allowed other apps to automatically publish posts to Facebook as the logged-in user.
Why it matters: Facebook is still encouraging users to share content from other apps through its Share dialogues. The move was designed to protect unsavory apps from accessing Facebook user information but also forces more interaction directly with the platform. Marketers that relied on the automated Publish feature will now have an extra step in their social media strategy.
Details: Facebook’s Publish actions permissions depreciation is expected to impact roughly 60,000 apps, the company announced. Twitter users quickly learned that they were among those affected. Facebook posts will have to be updated manually, although Twitter reminded users that they can also share tweets via SMS, direct message or email.
YouTube Introduces Its Own Stories Feature
Certain YouTube channels are now able to produce Stories in the style of Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook.
Why it matters: Instagram boasts 400 million daily active users on its Stories feature, compared to Snapchat’s 191 million. YouTube stands to gain from this popular format, especially since its users are, by nature, more experienced in video production and entertainment. If the feature proves successful, Google will undoubtedly begin selling ad space.
Details: YouTube has begun the rollout of Stories that appear at the top of its app. At the moment, it is limited to certain channels only, such as electronics enthusiast Avdan. Channel logos are given a red ring to indicate that a Story has been posted, just like on Instagram.
WhatsApp Launches Business API
WhatsApp is now offering paid interactions between businesses and consumers, as well as access to ads on Facebook.
Why it matters: In its Q2 earnings call, Sheryl Sandberg said they were “very focused” on WhatsApp, adding that 3 million people were testing business solutions. It’s not entirely surprising that Facebook would release its business API only a week after this statement was made. Facebook may be the number two ad seller in the world, but it’s running out of real estate. Adding monetization to WhatsApp will allow the company to pursue revenue growth while connecting solutions with other platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
Details: Facebook released its WhatsApp Business API on Wednesday, offering solutions to brands that include calls to action and custom notifications. The API will allow businesses to send customized, non-promotional notifications such as shipping confirmations and appointment reminders, which will be charged at a fixed rate once the message has been delivered. Businesses can respond to questions and comments for free within 24 hours, encouraging quick turnaround and better customer service.
YouTube Music Will Be Updated Every Two Weeks
Google has updated YouTube Music and will continue to do so about every two weeks, adding features or tweaks to keep the service competitive.
Why it matters: YouTube Music launched in May, but lacked many of the same basic features users can find on competing services like sorting in alphabetical order. Regular updates will allow the service to be fluid, adding or improving features while the service is still in its infancy.
Details: YouTube Music has begun rolling out updates, including the ability for Android users to download songs to an SD card. Elias Roman, a product manager for YouTube Music told Engadget that the company plans to continue these regular updates every two weeks. The app recently removed its “Shared History” feature that combines YouTube and YouTube music, for example. In an update scheduled sometime in the next few weeks, YouTube Music will allow users to specify whether they want to stream or download songs in low, medium or high quality settings.
Facebook Gaming Extends Ad Solutions
Three new ad solutions—playable ads, retention optimization and a minimum return on ad spend (ROAS) bidding have been added to Facebook Gaming effective August 2.
Why it matters: The three new ad solutions allow developers to optimize campaigns to reach paying users or increase retention by allowing them to try a game before installing. In a saturated game marketplace, targeting the most valuable users upfront will offer higher return on investment.
Details: Mobile game developers can now access three new tools on Facebook designed to reach the most valuable players. Playable ads give Facebook users a way to test the game directly from their News Feeds and can download the app if they like it, offering better intent. Retention optimization allows developers to target users more likely to re-engage based on previous behaviors. Lastly, a minimum benchmark has been added to ROAS bidding to ensure that advertisers meet specific requirements.
New Snapchat Lenses Respond To Voice Commands
Snapchat has introduced new augmented reality Lenses that animate based on what the user says.
Why it matters: Snapchat has to keep finding new ways to remain competitive, especially as Instagram finds success with augmented reality. While the voice-activated Lenses are still in their early stages, the new feature is a sign that Snapchat continues to invest in the same technology that made it famous.
Details: New Lenses have been spotted on Snapchat that the prompt the user to say words like “ok” and “cool.” Saying the right word will cause the Lens to animate, such as a cat’s paw giving a thumbs up or adding jazz music in response to the word “love.”
Facebook Cuts Off API For Thousands Of Apps
Making good on its August 1 deadline, Facebook cut off API for any apps that were not submitted for detailed review and verification.
Why it matters: Back in May, Facebook told developers that it will scrutinize which business gain access to its API by introducing a more detailed verification process. Withholding its API from those who did not comply shows that the company is serious about rethinking its previous methods in favor of protecting user information.
Details: Facebook announced that it has revoked API access to “thousands” of apps that did not submit a new application, pursuant to the new requirement effective August 1. This new procedure includes verification of business identity, supplemental contracts and agreement that restricts the use of data for the sole purpose of servicing the individual customer.
Time Management Tools Added To Facebook And Instagram
Facebook and Instagram have simultaneously added tools that allow users to track and manage their time spent on social media.
Why it matters: In December, Facebook addressed concerns—and studies—that too much social media use can damage one’s mental health. While Facebook acknowledged “passive” use as potentially hazardous, the company insisted that actively participating can be “beneficial.” These tools will not only allow users to be more aware of their time on the platforms but give Facebook plausible deniability if a user chooses to scroll their mental health away regardless of warnings.
Details: On Wednesday, Facebook and Instagram announced new time management tools available in Settings that include an activity dashboard, a daily reminder and a new way to limit notifications. The company said it developed these tools based on “collaboration and inspiration from leading mental health experts and organizations,” as well as academics, internal extensive research and feedback from the Facebook/Instagram community.
“We want the time people spend on Instagram and Facebook to be intentional, positive and inspiring,” Ameet Ranadive, product management director at Instagram and David Ginsberg, director of research at Facebook said in a blog post. “Our hope is that these tools give people more control over the time they spend on our platforms and also foster conversations between parents and teens about the online habits that are right for them.”
YouTube Tests Swipe Feature On Android Devices
YouTube appears to be testing swipe video navigation that would allow users to swipe back and forth between content.
Why it matters: Swiping through content is a common feature on social media apps, which makes it a viable option for YouTube. The site considers a video view to be anything 30 seconds or longer, so quickly skipping content wouldn’t impact viewership metrics. Also, it may give YouTube a way to insert ads much like Instagram does while viewing Stories.
Details: Google+ user Joe Kelly discovered the ability to swipe through videos on the YouTube app home screen and posted a video of the feature to see if anyone else had seen it. The swipe navigation feature appears to be available only on certain devices, indicating a test.
Nearly 64 Percent Of Japan Uses Twitter
EMarketer has increased its estimates of Twitter penetration in Japan, naming it one of the social network’s strongest demographics.
Why it matters: Twitter resonated with Japanese users following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami as an alternative method of communication when telephones were not available. In addition, the Japanese language includes many one-symbol words, allowing users to create longer messages, even before the 280-character expansion.
Details: EMarketer now estimates that 63.3 percent of Japanese citizens use Twitter at least once per month from any device, compared to Facebook and Instagram at 39.9 percent and 38.1 percent, respectively. The research firm expects Instagram to surpass Facebook by the end of 2019, with nearly 42 percent of social network users in Japan using the platform at least once a month.
Facebook Discovers Fake Accounts Coordinating Washington Protests
Facebook announced the removal of 32 Pages and accounts from Facebook and Instagram once it was discovered they were involved in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” designed to instigate US protests.
Why it matters: Facebook wants the public to know that it is successful in detecting and putting a stop to coordinated efforts, as well as the hurdles they face in doing so. The company said it is investing heavily in “more people and better technology” to prevent bad actors misusing Facebook, as well as working much more closely with law enforcement and other tech companies. While the company hasn’t determined who is behind the scheme, the masterminds went to much greater lengths to obscure their true identities than the Russian-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) has in the past.
Details: A coordinated effort by unknown parties created at least 32 accounts on Facebook and Instagram as well as Facebook Pages and spent $11,000 on advertising to promote them. The groups organized 30 events going back to May 2017 and were behind protests planned in Washington next week. Some of the activity is consistent with patterns observed from Russian groups during the 2016 election, but with enough differences that Facebook is unsure of the culprits. Law enforcement and Congress have been informed of Facebook’s discovery.
Twitter Will Punish Repeat Offenders On Live Video Chat
Beginning August 10, Twitter will review and suspend accounts for repeatedly sending video chat messages that violate site guidelines.
Why it matters: Twitter has long been criticized for allowing abusive behavior on its platform in the name of free speech. Taking a more aggressive stance against offenders may help ease concerns from users, investors and most of all, advertisers as the company continues to push video as a revenue source.
Details: In a blog post on Friday, Twitter said it will continue its commitment to fostering safe conversation on its platform by “launching more aggressive enforcement of the guidelines” related to chats sent during live broadcasts. Periscope and Twitter users can already report and vote on video chat messages to determine if they are spam, abusive or otherwise unwelcome. According to existing Periscope guidelines for video chat, repeat offenders may be suspended from the broadcast or even on future videos for bad behavior. Twitter did not outline any new procedures, which indicates that the company “went easy” on some offenders in the past.
Instagram Tests IGTV Carousel Inside Flagship App
A new IGTV video carousel has been spotted by a few Instagram users, displaying select long-form videos directly in the news feed.
Why it matters: IGTV launched a month ago with its own dedicated app. To encourage widespread viewership and attract creators, Instagram is tapping into its existing user base to garner attention.
Details: Instagram is testing a video carousel inside its news feed, the company confirmed last week. “We’re always testing new and different ways to surface interesting content for people on Instagram,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch. The feature displays videos underneath Stories, encouraging users to browse IGTV videos. Another user noted the ability to add IGTV videos to Stories.
YouTube ‘Dark Mode’ Rolls Out On Android Devices
Google has begun a rollout of a YouTube “dark mode” for Android devices, several months after the feature went live for iOS users.
Why it matters: Dark mode changes the appearance of an app’s interface to black, reducing eye strain and saving battery life. The feature may allow Android users to browse the app longer, especially at night.
Details: Dark mode became available to iOS users in March and the feature has begun a rollout to Android devices, although it’s not clear when it will be available to all users. The feature is also available for web browsers.
Snapchat Ramps Up Sports Content With New Partnerships
Snapchat has extended a partnership with the NFL and penned a new one with NBC Sports Group.
Why it matters: Snapchat is placing faith in its Discover partners to draw users to the platform and keep them there. The disappearing-message app faces tremendous pressure to compete against Instagram which continues to outperform Snapchat despite copying its features. The NFL claims that its content earned 52 million unique views during the 2017-18 season.
Details: The NFL has renewed its partnership with Snapchat, Deadline Hollywood reported Monday. Snapchat will continue to produce “Our Stories,” which combine NFL-produced segments with media captured by the fans. During football season, a Publisher Story will be released every day the move to once per week during off-season.
NBC Sports Group has also partnered with Snapchat for a new weekly original Show called Premier League: Extra Time. The show will debut exclusively on Snapchat’s Discover page at the start of the 2018-19 Premier League season.
Editor’s Note: Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, August 3. 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 [email protected].