December 22, 2020

1. There are some fun new tools in Reels and Stories

There are some pretty sweet Audio Mix and Voiceover features in Reels. Yes, TikTok already does this. It’s not surprising that Reels would try to encroach on that territory.

Also, the editing tools are pretty shiny!

2. Twitter is reverting to an old school RT after analyzing election stats

Interesting development – they added the Quote Tweets to encourage people to add more original though to the content they were spreading on Twitter. Turns out that people don’t actually do that.

3. Instagram is trying to help slow the COVID-19 spread

They’re launching two new features to spread information and try to combat the virus. First, users in surge areas will see a prompt at the top of their feeds that will direct them to local officials to receive more information. In addition, the platform is removing widely debunked information about the vaccine and will flag searches to redirect to credible information from the WHO and the CDC.

Here’s a Twitter thread from @InstagramComms with more details.

4. A new Twitter feature tells you what you have in common with others

Looks like it’s just being tested on Android right now, but they’re making a play to get users a little more deeply connected.

5. Snapchat has taken a look at how COVID has affected consumption

Here’s a shiny infographic summary. To dive into the whole thing, click here.

 

December 7, 2020

1. Twitter may be changing the way it handles replies

Twitter may be adding a way to control some of the replies on Twitter conversation. They’re testing out an option that would limit the replies to only the people that are following you.

This may not seem like a revolutionary shift, but it could definitely help public accounts keep their troll replies at bay. Sounds interesting!

2. TikTok is still for sale

Despite blowing past the Dec. 4 deadline, the Trump administration will not attempt to impose any fines or other consequences on TikTok for the time being, the person said. Negotiations in recent weeks have led to some progress and only a few outstanding issues remain, the person added.

3. YouTube has some new ways to combat hate speech

They announced over the summer that they were going to evaluate how the policies were working. Here’s the gist of what they’ve come up with:

  • Holding potentially harmful comments for review
  • Supporting creators.
    • From YouTube: Starting in 2021, YouTube will ask creators on a voluntary basis to provide us with their gender, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity. We’ll then look closely at how content from different communities is treated in our search and discovery and monetization systems.

4. Reddit reports a 44% YOY increase in users

Not only that, they did it using the Daily Active User metric, which other social platforms use.

“We’re sharing [daily active users] for the first time as a more accurate reflection of our user growth and to be more in-line with industry reporting,” said Jen Wong, chief operating officer of Reddit. “We’re focused on daily usership and increasing this number as we continue to grow our community and scale our advertising business.”

5. Timers on Instagram stories?

Looks like it’s being tested.

November 30, 2020

1. Facebook, Twitter, and Google are joining forces to combat COVID-19 vaccine misinformation

They haven’t told us how they’re going to do it yet the tech behemoths will be working together to get verified information out there. From the BBC:

Fact-checking charity Full Fact will co-ordinate the collaboration.

Taking part in the effort alongside Facebook, Google-owned YouTube and Twitter are the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport; the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism; Africa Check; Canada’s Privacy Council Office; and five other international fact-checking organisations.

So, there we go. Full Fact says that there will be a framework in place by January.

2. Snapchat launches “Spotlight”

And they’re handing out $1 million a day to creators. They can be up to 60 seconds long, and Spotlight requires vertical videos with sound. No still or text snaps allowed! Here are some of their guidelines:

  • Be Creative
  • Avoid Copyright Infringement
  • Stay Safe
  • Don’t Solicit

For a more detailed explanation, you can go to the site.

3. Twitter explains Fleets launch issues

Fleets had some issues in the first week, including tweets being seen after the 24 hours expiration mark and other things interpreted as glitches. There’s a whole thread, but here are the highlights.

  • The Fleets available after expiration were due to a deleting glitch – essentially, the system was overloaded and couldn’t delete fast enough, so there was a backlog. They’ve updated and it shouldn’t happen again.
  • People who aren’t logged in can see Fleets through an API scrape because they’re public.
  • If your Fleets are seen by a lot of people you may get a truncated list of “seen by.”

All of these seem fair. Nothing major. Good luck, guys!

4. TikTok is looking out for those sensitive to strobing light

In a step to be inclusive, they’ve added warnings for creators when their videos may trigger someone with photosensitivity issues.

Over the past few months, our team met with epilepsy advocates who shared feedback on how we can improve our platform. Based on these conversations, we launched a feature a few months ago that warns creators when they produce videos with effects that could trigger photosensitive epilepsy.

 

5. Facebook and the Better Business Bureau have teamed up to reduce holiday season scams

From the BBB:

“So far in 2020, online purchase scams make up more than two-thirds of the reports we receive from consumers through BBB Scam Tracker. Facebook’s partnership means we will be able to reach many more consumers with important information about how to stay safe online.”

According to the release, online scams make up about 2/3 of BBB complaints, so it makes sense. Happy online shopping!

 

November 16, 2020

1. Fleets is still a thing, and Twitter is launching it in Japan

In case you missed it – which would have been easy to do – Twitter is testing its own version of Stories, which they’ve called Fleets. There have been some slight variations between Fleets and Stories – notably, the vertical swipe down orientation. The project launched back in March, but hasn’t made it to the US yet.

Launching in Japan, however, is a big step as Japan is the platform’s second largest market.

2. Facebook is testing ways to animate still photos in your feed.

3. Snapchat is adding astrological profiles

You read that right.

As explained by Snapchat:

“Based on birth date, time and location, Astrological Profiles give Snapchatters insight into their personal star signs. They can also check out their friends’ Astrological Profiles if they’ve added each other.”

This is designed to give relationship and compatibility information based on astrological information. You can enter the information by tapping on your bitmoji icon from the main camera screen, then the purple sun icon next to your name and Snap Score.

4. Instagram Reels and Shop tabs are now on your home screen

From Instagram:

Today we’re announcing some big changes to Instagram — a Reels tab and a Shop tab. The Reels tab makes it easier for you to discover short, fun videos from creators all over the world and people just like you. The Shop tab gives you a better way to connect with brands and creators and discover products you love.

They’re leaning in hard to Reels in their fight to dominate TikTok. Which brings us to our last item…

5. TikTok is still in the US and is about to surpass a billion users

Here’s an interesting little tidbit from App Annie:

TikTok has seen sharp growth in active users by amassing a sizable global footprint in 2020 — nearly tripling in size since 2018. In 2021, we expect TikTok to not only achieve a coveted spot in the 1 Billion monthly active users club, but to sail straight past to 1.2 billion.

 

 

November 10, 2020

1. Facebook is testing ways to animate still photos in your feed.

In an effort to keep people engaged, Facebook is testing out animated photos in a feed. The theory is that people will engage more with moving content than a static photo. Here’s an example from Matt Navarra:

 

2. Twitter is trying out even more misinformation warnings

Twitter is focusing hard on stopping the spread of misinformation. They’re adding warnings to the tweets to try to slow down the spread. This is from Jane Wong:

This pops up when a user goes to like a disputed tweet.

3. TikTok is testing out a new learn feed

Users have been reporting a “Learn” tab placed prominently at the top of the screen. The goal is to highlight all of their education content, which covers a lot of bases, including cooking, art. scientific processes and more. They’re pushing their educational efforts in several ways, including a #learnontiktok hashtag.

There is reportedly a $5 billion educational fund being set up as part of the deal to keep TikTok in the US, but ByteDance – TikTok’s parent company – has denied it.

4. WhatsApp is introducing disappearing messages

Yep. Disappearing messages.

When disappearing messages is turned on, new messages sent to a chat will disappear after seven days, helping the conversation feel lighter and more private. In a one-to-one chat, either person can turn disappearing messages on or off. In groups, admins will have the control.

They’ve said that they’re starting with 7 days, so messages won’t be as quick to disappear as some others. In a conversation, either user can turn on disappearing messages. In a group, the moderator has the ability to turn them on and off.

Here’s more info on how to turn them on.

5. Instagram is working on a way to react to stories without sending a DM

This seems to be far superior to the message system they have going now.

Users will be able to see reactions directly on the story.

 

November 4, 2020

1. Facebook is trying out the upvote and downvote in groups

This isn’t the first time, but they’re bringing it back. It makes sense with the uptick in group activity. Self-policing in social media settings is pretty important, and this could be a step in the right directions.

From Matt Navarra:

2. Pinterest drops a bunch of new features to help retailers finish 2020 strong

There are all sorts of new bells and whistles on Pinterest for retailers. Here’s the short version, from Pinterest:

  • Merchant storefront profile & discovery: helping brands get discovered and inspiring more shoppers.
  • New product tagging: We’re testing an improved product tagging tool that gives merchants the ability to tag their own scene images with exact products.
  • Automatic bidding for shopping: Set it and forget it with automatic bidding for catalog sales in ad campaigns.
  • Conversion Analysis: a more granular look at conversion performance.

3. TikTok stars win an injunction against the White House – App is still up and running

It’s a wild world. TikTok influencers were successfully able to argue that this would interfere with their income.

According to the court documents, plaintiff Douglas Marland has 2.7 million followers on the app; Alec Chambers has 1.8 million followers; and Cosette Rinab has 2.3 million followers. The creators argued — successfully as it turns out — that they would lose access to their followers in the event of a ban, as well as the “professional opportunities afforded by TikTok.” In other words, they’d lose their brand sponsorships — meaning, their income.

4. Half the Facebook staff thinks that maybe the platform isn’t so good for the world

Buzzfeed went to hang out with Facebook on election eve. The reviews from inside were pretty mixed – the impact that the platform made on the election discourse is undeniable.

Only 51% of respondents said they believed that Facebook was having a positive impact on the world, down 23 percentage points from the company’s last survey in May and down 5.5 percentage points from the same period last year.

5. LinkedIn is launching new career path insights, skill assessments, and more

If you’ve tried looking for jobs recently, you know that things can be rough right now. A lot of people are looking for their next steps. LinkedIn is trying to step in and help people figure out what to do next. Enter: Career Explorer

Sometimes there isn’t a clear path forward. Our new Career Explorer tool can uncover careers you could transition into and might not have considered by mapping the skills you have to thousands of job titles. Explorer will highlight additional skills you may need and LinkedIn Learning courses to help you get them. Also, we’ll highlight connections who already have this job or can make an introduction.

October 27, 2020

1. Twitter updates the tweet creation process in ad manager

A small but helpful change has come to the Twitter ad manager creation process. A shiny new layout, Tweet duplication option, and enhanced preview options for new Tweets. Matt Navarra gave us a good update:

2. Facebook makes changes to user feed sorting options

This has been in the works all year – users were picking up on tests back in February. But it looks like they’re moving forward with giving users more control over how they view their feeds. This should make a lot of people happy.

3. Pinterest has a sweet new iOS widget

If anybody is going to jump on the new iOS 14 aesthetic train, it’s going to be Pinterest, right? And they’re doing it right. You can now add a Pinterest widget to your screen that will give you daily inspo from your board or a board that you follow.

From Pinterest:

  • Simply hold an area on your screen and tap the plus sign in the upper-left corner to choose from widgets.

  • Select the widget’s size and add to your home screen.

  • Select a board of yours or one you follow.

  • The image on the widget will change on hourly or daily basis, depending on the Pinner’s preferences, with an option to add a small or large-sized widget (medium-size isn’t optimal for Pin length). Tapping the widget will direct to that Pin in the app.

  • To move the widget, hold it and place it in the best spot.

 

4. Facebook interactions have changed since Covid

Facebook has given us some insight on how social media has changed since Covid hit. From Facebook:

“In a pandemic, connection looks very different and involves reimagining life as we once knew it: conducting meetings from kitchen tables, checking in on grandparents via video and celebrating weddings virtually. As the ways people connect and communicate rapidly evolve, a new normal is emerging for human interactions.”

Some really interesting insights here. It’s worth a read, if only for a look at how this could impact brands long term.

5. Instagram has lengthened the limit for livestreams

Insta is taking the next step their push for Instagram Live. The company announced 3 updates to their Live options:

Will this impact how you approach Instagram Live?

 

October 19, 2020

1. Google’s search updates get even smarter

Google’s announcement gets a lot more into the weeds, but here’s the gist: They’re deploying a lot more AI to help deliver the right results. Turns out about 10% of Google searches are misspelled, so they’re rolling out some changes to decipher misspellings. In addition, they’re rolling out indexing of specific passages, subtopics, and even key moments in videos. According to Google, some of these changes are bigger leaps than all of the changes in the past 5 years.

2. Twitter adds a prompt to alerts users when they are sharing information that has been previously flagged

Twitter has issued a direct response to the misinformation that floats around the platform. They’ll now have a prompt that alerts users that the information is “disputed”.”

Our work to limit the spread of misleading information goes beyond elections. Starting today, before you Retweet or Quote Tweet any labeled Tweet that breaks our misleading information rules, you’ll see a prompt.

 

3. Instagram is pushing influencers to disclose partnerships

This isn’t exactly new territory – Instagram added the “tag a business partner” feature back in 2017. However, following an investigation from the UK Competition and Markets Authority, Instagram has vowed to take steps to ensure that influences are disclosing partnerships, including a prompt asking influencers to confirm whether they’ve received incentives and an improved algorithm for detecting advertising content.

So, if this is your thing, be ready to cross your Ts and dot your Is as they crack down on noncompliance.

4. Facebook releases some insights on group usage during a pandemic

It isn’t a surprise that group usage is way up during the pandemic. Facebook surveyed 15000 members of online communities to understand how groups have been used during the pandemic. The full results are here, but here are the highlights:

  • Engagement is up significantly in 2020.
  • People are relying on groups to stay up to date with local news.
  • Effective moderation significantly improves the group experience. 58% of users said that a good leader makes a community successful.

And it sounds like some of these changes are here for a while:

And 70% said digital tools were very important for helping their communities thrive during the pandemic. This increased participation in online community groups is here to stay: over the next 12 months, 86% of people whose most important community group is primarily online say they’ll continue engaging with that group at the same level (48%), or even more frequently (39%).”

5. You can now include songs in your Snaps with Snapchat’s new “Sounds” option

They’ve talked about it since the summer, but it’s here: Snapchat has launched Sounds.

Users are now able to add music from both up and coming and established artists to their original Snap creations. They have ongoing partnerships with large labels across the line. But this isn’t the end:

Beyond music, we’re also testing the ability for Snapchatters to create their own sounds and add them to Snaps. This will be rolling out globally in the coming months.

 

October 14, 2020

1. YouTube verification badge update

Last year, they announced they were going to change up the verification process. In a nutshell, here are the basic requirements:

  • Must have 100k subscribers
  • Must fill out this form. It will not be available unless you hit the 100k subscriber number.
  • They’ll then assess two key elements:
    • Authenticity. Is it really you? You may need to provide additional documentation.
    • Completion. The channel must be public, completely set up with description, account icon, etc.
  • They reserve the right to revoke your check if they find out you’re not legit.

These are huge requirements, and not necessary for success… but that’s how it’s done, folks.

2. WordPress is letting people post blog posts as tweet threads.

We’re not entirely sure why you’d want to do that, but it’s a functionality that will soon be available. And it’s exactly what it sounds like.

Your blog posts can be converted into tweet threads – complete with images and videos – and sent out to Twitter all at the same time.

Let us know if there’s a solid use for this.

3. Meanwhile, Facebook and Insta post embedding will be broken on WordPress.

Have you embedded Facebook or Instagram posts on the WordPress platform before? They’ll likely be broken on October 24th.

They announced that they’ll stop supporting embeds for unauthenticated accounts. The API will be dropping support for anyone without a developer account… which has the potential to screw up a lot of sites. Check your posts if you used the functionality.

4. Twitter is testing a prompt to hide potentially offensive replies

We wrote about Instagram doing the same thing last week, and it looks like Twitter is testing out a way to follow in their footsteps.

Jane Manchun Wong posted a screenshot of a prompt that is apparently being tested on the platform:

Twitter hide replies

Should be interesting.

5. Facebook is removing all Holocaust denial content

From the platform:

Today’s announcement marks another step in our effort to fight hate on our services. Our decision is supported by the well-documented rise in anti-Semitism globally and the alarming level of ignorance about the Holocaust, especially among young people. According to a recent survey of adults in the US aged 18-39, almost a quarter said they believed the Holocaust was a myth, that it had been exaggerated or they weren’t sure.

They’re working hard to remove the content, but acknowledge that it’s a process and that it won’t happen overnight.

 

Sept. 29, 2020

1. Reddit launched a new 3-tiered advertising system

It would appear that Reddit is working on building bridges to advertisers. They’ve had a hard time, because of their free-speech approach and their user base’s aversion to ad content. They’re working on coming up with a system that is a win for everybody:

Reddit is home to many types of advertisers, all of which have different needs when it comes to their brand message and campaign objective. While Reddit has previously offered the same set of inventory to all advertisers with universal brand safety controls, Inventory Types recognizes that no two advertisers are the same, and provides greater choice to meet these unique needs across three different tiers.

Read their release, but there’s a lot of interesting shifts here!

2. Story Pins are a thing now

It’s true. Pinterest has jumped into the story game.

We’re launching a suite of creator-first features including Story Pins in beta, a new creator profile and analytics tools to track performance. These new publishing and measurement tools will give creators ways to easily publish immersive and expansive stories directly to Pinterest and reach Pinners looking for inspirational ideas and people to follow.

Apparently, though, they will not disappear and will be available to Pin to boards and access over time. Here’s what they look like. Not bad, Pinterest!

3. Pinterest’s Holiday Hub is live

That’s right – they’re trying to make it easier to launch holiday campaigns on Instagram. They’re created personas for their different shopper types, sample pins, success stories, best practices and more.

They say that holidays are starting earlier than ever in 2020 – which makes sense. Bring a little joy into your life and get started!

Here’s a link. Happy Holiday Prep season!

 

4. Instagram has a new set of Shop guides

Are you struggling with your shop, or not even sure where to start? Instagram has you covered.

A lot of users are gearing up for the holiday busy season, and almost all of us are shopping online. Instagram could be a great platform to tackle before you’re up to your eyeballs in orders!

The guides take you step by step through setting up the shop (you have to have a business account, connected to a Facebook page, and access to Business Manager). From there, you can tackle setting up a catalog, checkout methods, platforms, and everything else you need to make shopping on Instagram totally seamless.

 

5. TikTok is still available for download. For now.

A judge ruled the White House cannot infringe on personal communications. The controversial platform was granted a preliminary injunction, citing that it was indisputable that banning the platform would inhibit personal communication.

It all went down just hours before the app was set to be removed from all app stores. It isn’t over yet, though. From WashPo:

Nichols’s ruling does not affect the second order Trump signed that requires ByteDance to divest from TikTok in the United States, said Robert Chesney, an associate dean at the University of Texas School of Law. That order has a Nov. 12 deadline.

Sept. 22, 2020

1. YouTube is testing TikTok-like functionality in India.

With TikTok’s future up in the air, Instagram has already made a grab at the quick-hit, humorous videos through reels. Looks like YouTube is not far behind them.

From YouTube:

Over the next few days in India, we’re launching an early beta of Shorts with a handful of new creation tools to test this out. This is an early version of the product, but we’re releasing it now to bring you—our global community of users, creators, and artists—on our journey with us as we build and improve Shorts. We’ll continue to add more features and expand to more countries in the coming month.

Shorts will give users a chance to create 15-second clips with music, with all sorts of fun recording filters and things that we’ve come to know and love through TikTok.

2. Facebook has placed limitations on the number of ads that pages can run

There are now limits to the number of ads that pages can run concurrently, relative to size/budget. The idea is that the limitations will help advertisers reduce cost and improve performance.

They’re relatively generous, so don’t worry too much.

 

3. TikTok/Oracle deal has been approved by President Trump… in concept

With one week until the President’s official ban of TikTok in the United States, companies are scrambling to finalize a deal that would give ownership to a US company.  Oracle and Walmart have proposed a deal that would allow them to maintain 20% ownership of a new company called TikTok Global – the other 80% would belong to current TikTok owners, ByteDance. Oracle would host US user data on their cloud.

Meanwhile, TikTok downloads are soaring because users are afraid they’ll lose access. The ban would only prevent new downloads and updates, not remove the app from current users.

 

4. Facebook is going back to their roots by launching a new college only space

That’s right – they’re launching a college only space on Facebook.

In the age of COVID-19, where a lot of college students are entirely virtual or quarantining in dorm rooms, it makes sense to give students a way to connect with each other. Features like Campus Profiles, A campus only newsfeed, and a Campus Directory allow students to get back to the old Facebook roots – staying in touch with people in their school.

 

5. Facebook is threatening to leave Europe over data-sharing restrictions

The social network is saying that they may be used to forced to leave Europe entirely after the EU has issued preliminary orders to stop transfers of user data. Essentially. the EU is asking Facebook to keep European user data in Europe, which poses problems for the network. Turns out TikTok isn’t the only one struggling with major international privacy battles.