We get it! You're busy scheduling content and engaging with your followers, so it can be difficult to make time to sit down and read about the latest Facebook algorithm update or how brands are leveraging TikTok. But, hey, it's also important to carve out time to learn about new ways to improve your social media strategy. So, put down your phone (we know: it's a big ask!) and indulge in reading about recent social media updates.
Top Social Media and PR News Stories This Week
If you work in social media marketing, these are the stories you need to read this week!
1. Facebook's New Summer-ready Look
The big blue social network has unveiled a new set of smart glasses in partnership with Ray-Ban. The glasses can covertly capture what you see, just like Snapchat's Spectacles. However, these glasses have advanced camera features, including stabilization, so that your recording isn't shaky with every step. The glasses are an interesting way to make the process of capturing content less cumbersome (how often do you get your camera app open on your phone after the moment has already passed) and sharing simpler (the recording sync to your phone). For brands, it is important to note that the transition away from highly-polished content to more authentic, in-the-moment videos is clearly here to stay.
Groups on Twitter are not the same as on Facebook because everything ends up on your Twitter feed. However, a new test Twitter is rolling out of topic-based groups within the app allows users to select groups of people they want to share their tweets with. These groups will still be searchable, so followers or non-followers alike can see your posts. For companies with multiple product categories, this could be an interesting way for their community managers to engage with the individual audiences that use its different products.
3. Make Reels by Repurposing Your Instagram Stories
Instagram is working on a new feature called 'Montage ' that enables users to group their Stories together into a reel. According to the company, the consumption of reels has been increasing, so it only makes sense that they would want to make it easier for users to create this type of content. And, obviously, by making it easier to create reels within its own platform, maybe it will deter some users from doing so in TikTok.
Bots are a growing issue online, from video games to social media networks. A new feature from Twitter allows developers or account managers to label bot accounts as such. The label appears right next to the name. While it's unlikely that every bot account will be labeled, the introduction of the label also introduces the ability for Twitter to enforce this new labeling procedure and take action against those accounts that fail to adhere to the new policy.
That's it! Come back next week for another recap of the biggest social media news and PR stories of the week.
Catch Up on Social News from Weeks Past
Update from September 08
1. Sunsetting Stories on LinkedIn
LinkedIn, like Twitter, has decided to shut down its version of Instagram Stories. In a blog post, LinkedIn's Senior Director of Product explained that they are taking the learnings from LinkedIn Stories to 'evolve the Stories format into a reimagined video experience across LinkedIn that's even richer and more conversational.' Apparently, users want these videos to remain on their profiles, not disappear after 24 hours, and more advanced editing tools for the professional setting. LinkedIn Stories will disappear at the end of September, but there's no timeline as to when this new video experience will arrive.
2. Twitter Rolls Out 'Super Follows' and Other Monetization Options
Twitter users with devoted followers now have the possibility of asking their community to subscribe to their account to view tweets that won't appear on their public timeline. As Twitter's tweet explains, 'Through Super Follows, people can set a monthly subscription of $2.99, $4.99 or $9.99 a month to monetize bonus, 'behind-the-scenes' content for their most engaged followers on Twitter.' This new feature is one of several ways that Twitter is expanding its monetization efforts for creators. The company recently introduced ticketed Spaces, a Shop module, and it is also rolling out an official 'Purchase' tab, which is where users can save product listings and make purchases in the app.
3. How Do You Get That Blue Checkmark on Facebook?
Facebook recently explained its view on verification in a blog post and the process that brands or individuals need to follow to get verified. The cache that comes with a blue checkmark is a social currency that many brands and individuals are after. Although Facebook has outlined the verification process, that doesn't mean it's any easier to get verified. If anything, this post tries to minimize the perceived importance of the blue checkmark on Facebook and Instagram.
4. Reddit Reveals a New Ad Promotion
When reading the comments on a popular Reddit post, users will first stumble across an ad. That's right, Reddit has introduced the ability to feature a product placement above the comment section on popular posts. Half the fun of being on Reddit is reading the community's witty comments, so it only makes sense that the network would try to monetize one of its most active sections of the platform. However, it's still not clear how users will feel about seeing ads above the comment section. But knowing how vocal Reddit users can be, it won't be long until we find out. Until then, we salute the brands brave enough to test out this new format.
5. TikTok Influencer Collaborations Just Got a Bit Easier
To help facilitate more brand-influencer collaborations on the platform, TikTok will be making its Creator Marketplace API available to outside companies for the first time. This API will make it easier for brands to find influencers to work with and get a clear understanding of their post-engagement metrics and audience demographics. If you want to kickstart your influencer marketing program, check out how you can manage a campaign end-to-end through Meltwater.
Update from August 31
1. TikTok Adds New eCommerce Functionality with Shopify Tab
Ahead of the upcoming holiday season, TikTok has announced a new partnership with Shopify that expands the company's eCommerce offerings. Shopify merchants can now link their storefront to their TikTok profile, allowing users to browse through products in-app before directing them to Shopify to carry out the actual purchase. The major social media networks are competing for Creators, and adding new ways to monetize or engage an audience is an enticing incentive to remain on the app. We can probably expect new ways for brands and TikTok creators with Shopify storefronts to collaborate and attribute revenue.
Remember Fleets? They weren't around for long, and now Twitter is devoting the space they used to occupy at the top of the timeline to Spaces. You may be a part of a new test that shows you when someone that you follow is listening to a talk happening on Spaces. (Don't worry! There's also a toggle feature to disable these alerts if you don't want people to know what you are listening to.) Twitter has also announced that it is opening up Ticketed Spaces to more users, saying, 'We want to help people creating cool Spaces make $$$.' Again, here's further evidence that the major social media networks are adding new ways for creators to monetize their audiences in hopes of keeping them engaged on the platform.
3. Promoted Posts Arrive in Instagram Shops
A few weeks ago, we posted that Instagram was testing a prompted post option in its Shop tab, and now Instagram has just announced that it is rolling out this new feature to all users. So if your brand is looking to host a Labour Day sale or exploring new ways to advertise directly to consumers, this feature might be of interest to you.
4. Instagram Explains How its Search Works
If you're like us, you've had a hard time finding that meme or Reel you saw on Instagram's Explore page a week later. Instagram Search can be difficult to navigate, but Instagram has announced that it is 'launching a series of improvements designed for inspiration and discovery.' Additionally, the company's blog post outlines how search results appear, how to optimize your profile for Search, and how they keep Search safe. And speaking of keeping the platform safe, they also rolled out a birthday requirement for younger users to verify the user's age.
5. Messenger Turns 10 - Getting Several Features as Gifts
Facebook's standalone messaging app, Messenger, turned 10. Feeling old? Same. To celebrate the apps' birthday, Facebook introduced a few new features: a 'twist' on its existing Polls option, a way to send money directly to friends on their birthday through Facebook Pay, and a new way to share contacts with friends. The updates are minor, but the push to facilitate more peer-to-peer payments on the platform could change the way many people use Messenger in the future if the option picks up.
Update from August 25
1. Instagram Adds a 'Link Sticker' to Instagram Stories
You won't be seeing 'Swipe Up' on any more Instagram Stories very soon. After testing a Link Sticker feature, the platform is rolling out the option to add links to Instagram Stories through a sticker. The sticker feature will give you more control over where you place the CTA on your Instagram Stories. And, although this feature is not enabled for all users, Instagram's Head of Product said that they are hoping to roll this out to more users.
2. Facebook Launches a Collaborative VR Workplace
Not quite ready to go back to the office yet? Well, how about a virtual office? Facebook is betting that the future of work is virtual, and has recently announced Horizon Workrooms. This VR collaboration space 'is a virtual meeting space where you and your colleagues can work better together from anywhere. You can join a meeting in VR as an avatar or dial into the virtual room from your computer by video call.' Interestingly, the virtual conference room mimics the spatial auditory experience of being in a room.
In June we shared the news that Twitter was testing ways for content creators to promote their newsletter content on Twitter. After a few weeks of testing, Twitter is rolling out a newsletter panel that incorporates a 'Subscribe' CTA that Revue members can add to their profiles. This is an interesting way for content creators to cross-promote their work and build their audience across platforms.
4. LinkedIn Explains Why You Should Build Your B2B Brand on the Platform
With 774 million members, LinkedIn offers employers the opportunity to reach a large, professional audience - making it an ideal platform for B2B marketers. And the social network has recently published two reports that explain why B2B marketers should be active on the platform and how marketers can build up their brand on LinkedIn. The reports share interesting insights into the growing number of live streams, conversations, events, etc. happening on the platform, which serve as strong reasoning why you should include LinkedIn marketing in your social media strategy.
5. Facebook Shares What's Popular on the Platform
You've always been curious about what's popular on Facebook, and now Facebook is sharing a Widely Viewed Content report to disclose what's trending on the platform. The update highlights 'the Top 20 most-viewed domains, links, Pages and posts in News Feed in the past quarter, and excludes ads but includes content recommended by Facebook within News Feed units like Suggested For You.'
Update from August 10
1. Instagram Rolls Out a New Shop Ad
The social media app continues its push into eCommerce by testing out a new ad format that allows brands to promote their products within the Shop tab front page. A 'Sponsored' disclaimer appears on the image embedded into the feed's grid. Creating ad space on the Shop tab front page means advertisers have more visibility on their ads and those ads appear less like ads since they are integrated into the grid of other shoppable products.
2. TikTok Tests TikTok Stories
Have you ever noticed that TikTok doesn't have a clone of Stories? From Youtube to WhatsApp, every other social media app has there own version of Stories, and now so does TikTok. The social media network is currently testing the ephemeral content format. We'll be keeping an eye out for any news related to the results of the test because of how undifferentiated the format is from the other type of content shared on the platform. The similarities could impair adoption or alter the type of content visible on the main feed.
3. Instagram Explains the Instagram Reels Algorithm Creating the perfect Instagram Reels is a different process than the one you carry out when crafting the perfect Instagram post. And now, Instagram is giving you pointers on how its Reels algorithm works so that you know what to consider when composing your videos. The carousel post explains how the algorithm determines what content to show a user, the signals of engagement or interest that can increase post reach, and what topics or content to avoid.
While this isn't a product update, Twitter's updated Agency Playbook will certainly help agencies explain how to use the social media network better to clients. The playbook includes several statistics about Twitter users, like 79% of users follow brand profiles, which make a great addition to any pitch deck. There's also an overview of how to create the perfect ad campaign and examples of brands using the platform to build engaged audiences.
5. LinkedIn Adds Video Conferencing
LinkedIn has rolled out a new connectivity feature to its 744 million users: video chat. The feature only supports 1:1 calls, but we guess that it will likely be expanded upon given LinkedIn's parent company, Microsoft, has several video conferencing platforms for businesses. The company's blog post makes it clear that the video conferencing capabilities were added to enable quick business meetings or networking chats, unlike video chat on many of the other social media platforms, which is geared towards catching up with friends and family.
Update from August 03
Misinformation and disinformation on social media networks have been an ongoing issue since the 2016 US Presidential Election, and now Twitter is collaborating with The Associated Press (AP) and Reuters to provide more credible information to users. Twitter's Curation team is responsible for finding and distributing content from reliable sources when a conversation that may be 'noteworthy, controversial, sensitive, or may contain potentially misleading information' is trending. With this new partnership, Twitter's team will be able to elevate credible sources of information to users more quickly. They have also expanded upon how users will see these warnings when engaging with content on the platform.
2. LinkedIn Launches a Premium News Option
We've all been there: You're scrolling through social media, see a news story you'd like to read, but after you click on the link, you're hit with a paywall. Well, according to DigiDay, LinkedIn is testing a new service that offers LinkedIn Premium members five credits they can use every month to view the content behind publishers' paywalls. The publishers hope that the referral traffic will lead to new subscribers while the users benefit from a better user experience on the platform.
3. In Paid Partnership with Pinterest
Most people are already familiar with the 'Sponsored' or 'Paid Partnership' label on social media networks, and Pinterest is adding the tag now along with several new ways for Creators to monetize their posts. By allowing Creators to make their Idea Pins shoppable, these individuals will earn commissions through affiliate links and sponsored posts. Pinterest is a platform where users exhibit a high-shopping intent, meaning B2C brands will want to note these new features that make it easier for users to discover and purchase your products.
eCommerce has not been a significant focus for Twitter since 2015, but now it's giving it a second go. The platform announced a pilot program testing the introduction of a Shop Module. When a user lands on a profile with the Shop Module enabled, 'they can scroll through the carousel of products and tap through on a single product to learn more and purchase -- seamlessly in an in-app browser, without having to leave Twitter.' This feature is certainly something worth testing if you're already experimenting with shoppable marketplaces on other platforms.
5. Making Instagram Safer for Younger Users
Instagram is rolling out a significant privacy update aimed at protecting its younger users. According to the company's newsroom, the update includes:
Defaulting young people into private accounts.
Making it harder for potentially suspicious accounts to find young people.
Limiting the options advertisers have to reach young people with ads.
Previously, advertisers would reach younger users based on their interests or web behavior; however, that option is going away. Now, advertisers will only have the option to target ads to people under 18 (or older in certain countries) based on their age, gender, and location.
Update from July 27
1. Collaborate with Insta-nt Success
Instagram's new 'Collab' option offers 'a new way for people to co-author Feed Posts and Reels.' If you invite another user to be a collaborator and they accept, the post would appear with two profile bubbles. The followers of both accounts will be able to view the content. Brands could use this feature to encourage the influencers that they work with to collaborate on posts or influencers to tag the brand's account as a collaborator.
2. TikTok Launches' Spark' Ads
The new ad type from TikTok allows brands to sponsor already trending organic content that aligns with their offerings. A few weeks ago, we shared how the app wants brands to 'make TikToks not ads'; this is how brands can quickly turn organically trending TikToks into paid ads. The new ad format, which combines influencer marketing, UGC, and paid advertising, is an easy way for a brand to begin experimenting with influencer marketing. The challenge for brands will be to make sure they can identify the UGC that mentions their brand through social listening.
3. Twitter Testing Up and Downvote on Comments
The company has added a thumbs up and thumbs down icon to comments for a small set of users. These votes are a way for Twitter to learn which types of replies people find most relevant. The downvotes will not be visible to the public, and the upvotes will be shown as likes.
4. The Importance of Employer Branding
According to LinkedIn, 41% of people are considering leaving their current employer this year. More people are switching companies, and they are weighting factors other than salary and the number of vacation days in their decision-making process. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said they were looking for 'a sense of purpose' in their next role. This year, brands may want to reexamine their incentive structures or benefits packages to align with what job seekers are looking for in today's market.
5. Instagram Adds Sensitive Content Control Feature
Instagram is putting content censoring in the hands of its users with three new parameters that restrict the type of content that you are shown in the app. According to the company's blog, the three controls are:
Allow - You may see more photos or videos that could be upsetting or offensive
Limit (Default) - You may see some photos or videos that could be upsetting or offensive
Limit Even More - You may see fewer photos or videos that could be upsetting or offensive
Update from July 20
1. Facebook is Investing $1 Billion in Creators
The company is rolling out several new ways for creators to earn money for the content they create on Facebook and Instagram. Facebook has introduced several tools over the past few weeks that creators can use to engage their audiences, such as Bulletin and Live Audio Rooms. Still, they need creators - and their audiences - to begin using these tools. The company's new 'bonus program' rewards creators for hitting certain milestones or trying out different features within the company's bevy of content creation tools. For example, a Live bonus 'rewards creators when they meet certain milestones with badges, such as going Live with another account.' After a year of testing the Instagram Story-like feature, Twitter is pulling the plug on the format. The company mentioned in its blog that user adoption failed to take off after the initial release. The social media platform will use its learnings from Fleets to improve other existing features and devote the top of the timeline to promote Spaces instead. Guess this is one less content format you and your designer have to worry about...
3. Group Experts on Facebook Receive a Special Badge
Group admins can now elevate the voices of the community members driving the conversation within their Facebook group. Admins can designate certain members of their communities as 'Group Experts,' giving them a badge that appears alongside their name within the group. Admins are also getting a new feature that allows them to invite non-group members to join the group. This new feature is great for brands that run community-based groups and want to evangelize members who actively contribute to the group.
4. TikTok is Hosting an Educational Block Party for SMBs
On August 5, 2021, TikTok is kicking off a workshop series to educate small business owners or employees on how to succeed on the platform. Becca Sawyer, TikTok's Global Head of SMB, commented on the program, saying, 'Our goal is to give every business owner in America the same opportunities as the biggest brands and to help them turn their dreams into a reality.' If you want to learn more about how to use Tiktok for your business, you can learn more about the event and RSVP here.
5. Save Your Instagram Stories as Drafts
Sometimes you don't want to post your Instagram story the second after you capture the moment, which means having to save the post to your camera roll later. Instagram is removing that friction by giving all users the option to keep their Instagram Stories as drafts within the app. This update should make it easier for social media managers interested in posting their content in-app.
Update from July 14
1. How does the Facebook algorithm work?
Social media managers have been asking this question for years now, and Facebook is providing some context. The company's video explainer doesn't give you the recipe for how to ensure your posts go viral, but it's a good reminder of how your posts are displayed in the news feed.
Plus, this video could be a good reference for a client or manager that is wondering why more people don't see their posts.
2. Two-factor authentication is coming to Instagram
You're probably familiar with two-factor authentication when logging into your work email or intranet, but it's not something social media users have encountered often. However, Instagram is launching Security Checkup, 'a new feature to help people keep their Instagram accounts secure.' The company's blog post outlines several steps you can take to secure your account, including enabling login requests.
3. Get Personalized Video Messages from TikTok Celebs
TikTok users can request and pay their favorite content creators for video messages, like Cameo. The new feature is called 'Shoutouts,' and users can use TikTok coins, the virtual currency you can purchase to spend in-app.
4. New Ways to Reshare Content on IG Stories
Nothing to share on your Instagram? Why not reshare something you recently liked? Instagram is hoping that more users will reshare content that they have recently engaged with using a 'Reshare' sticker the company is testing out. You can already reshare content to your IG Stories, but the beta users can add an image to the background rather than just the auto-populated gradient background.
5. Are Fleets a thing yet?
Twitter is testing a new feature that displays Fleets from accounts you do not follow once you have viewed all of the Fleets from the people you follow. This test to popularize the story format on Twitter could be beneficial for brands looking to increase their organic reach on the platform.
Update from July 7
1. Why TikTok Doesn't Want You to 'Make Ads'
TikTok has some advice for marketers: 'Don't Make Ads! ' The platform is encouraging brands to make ads and promotional content that mimics the type of content their broader user base creates. To do this, TikTok suggests brands either give it a go on their own or partner with influencers using the app and reshare UGC from customers. The blog cites several examples of small businesses transitioning from polished product shots to more realistic vertical videos. This advice is applicable across social media platforms and references the 'native advertising' trend popularized by the publishing industry.
2. Pinterest Bans Weight Loss Ads
Pinterest has just updated its advertising policy to 'prohibit all ads with weight loss language and imagery' beginning July 1. The new policy bans any weight loss language or imagery, imagery that idealizes or denigrates certain body types, any testimonials regarding weight loss or weight loss products, and more. It isn't the first time the platform has taken a stance against weight-loss advertising, but it is the first time a social media network bans weight loss ads entirely. Pinterest cited data from the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) that eating disorders had risen during the pandemic and its own users' search behavior around body positivity.
3. Shopping Black-owned Businesses on Instagram
Instagram is making it easier for users to find and shop for Black-owned businesses on its platform with the introduction of a 'Black-owned' label. The company said that over the last year, the number of companies that added 'Black-owned' to their bio increased 50%+.
4. Facebook Debuts Bulletin
Is your favorite journalist on Substack? Well, if they are, Facebook is hoping they will join Bulletin instead. The company has just announced the first few writers on Bulletin, 'a set of publishing and subscription tools to support creators in the US.' Creators can offer written and audio content to their subscribers, and importantly, the creators 'will keep all of their subscription revenue for the length of these partnerships, and will have the ability to take their subscriber lists and content with them.'
5. TikTok Plans to Extend Video Length to 180 Seconds
The time you spend scrolling through TikTok may be going up, and that's because the length of a TikTok is being extended. Instead of a max. length of 60 seconds, TikToks can soon be posted that are 180 seconds long after this update. This gives users (and brands) more time to tell their stories without having to break up those stories into multiple segments.
Update from June 29
1. Instagram Explore Is Coming to Your Instagram Feed
Instagram is bringing in content from Instagram Explore (aka people and brands you do not follow) into your feed in a more visible way. If you've ever scrolled through all of the posts from people you follow, you might have noticed that the app would then show you content from people you don't follow. However, how many people scroll that far? So, for a lot of users, this will be the first time they are seeing content from people they do not follow in their main feed. This update blurs the line between TikTok and Instagram further, as Instagram is clearly taking a cue from the way that content is populated in the most downloaded social media app of 2021.
2. Facebook Is Making Social Shopping a Thing on WhatsApp
According to Mark Zuckerberg, over 300 million people visit Facebook's Shops every month and there are over 1.2 million monthly active Shops on the platform. And now Facebook is making it easier for users of WhatsApp to access Shops. The company is also providing businesses with additional targeting options that allow business owners to provide more personalized shopping experiences, with personalized ads promoting special offers to select shoppers in the pipeline. In the company's post, they mentioned that 'one in three shoppers globally say they plan to spend less time in-store even after the pandemic is over,' and Facebook is hoping more of shoppers' time will be spent in its family of apps.
Since when is 15 seconds considered 'long-form content'? Well, in spite of our dropping attention spans, Twitter is launching a new 'longform' 15-second ad unit. Data from the app's test suggests that 'advertisers who used the 15s view bid unit saw an average of +89% higher completion rate, at a 25% cheaper cost per completed view.'
4. Pinterest Identifies the 5 Types of Shoppers Coming Out of COVID
There's no doubt about it: Coivd changed consumer behavior. From the way we shop to the way we commute (hello, from my kitchen table), our routines have changed. Pinterest examined how consumer behaviors have shifted and the new audience segments that have arisen out of the pandemic. The five personas are The Routine Ritualist, The Prioritized Parent, The New Nomad, The Eco Evangelist, and The Emerging Entrepreneur. Have you considered how your target audience's routines may have changed? If not, this research can put you in the right mindset for evaluating and reimagining your customer segments.
The rivalry between Facebook and Twitter is as old as, well, social media. However, a new update to Twitter allows users to share their tweets directly on Instagram Stories. Clicking on the tweet does not take a user from Instagram to Twitter, but maybe that's something to come in the future as well as a way to share content from Instagram directly to Twitter. It's an interesting update that can help brands and influencers reach their followers more easily across platforms.