Here are this month’s new social media features that savvy social media marketers need to know about. (ICYMI, be sure to check out last month’s December 2016 edition, too.)
Twitter shuts down Dashboard, and users give Jack Dorsey a wish list
It can be pretty annoying (even downright terrifying) to realize you’ve posted an incorrect link, a typo, or just something you really wish you hadn’t. Most platforms give you some kind of option for editing posts in these situations. Twitter, however, does not—and many disgruntled users have noticed.
At the end of December, Jack Dorsey (aka @jack, aka founder/CEO of Twitter) posted a tweet asking users what they would like to see improved on the Twitter platform, and a lot of users suggested the “edit” function. Dorsey ultimately admitted that it’s been the most-requested feature on Twitter for a long time, and it’s something Twitter is “thinking a lot about.” As we all know, things tend to move fast in social, so we could see this feature rolling out soon!
Twitter also announced that Feb. 3 will be the last day of the short-lived Dashboard app, which was announced last summer. The aim was to give brands a better way of managing their Twitter accounts. Marketingland ventured a guess as to why the tool never took off: “most brands were already actively using third-party products powered by its API to do their thing.” We’d have to agree—at dooley media, we never really saw a big reason to use Dashboard since we had other great tools in place (analytics.twitter.com and Tweetdeck).
As Twitter continues to try to reinvigorate their platform in order to appease shareholders, it will be interesting to see how they attempt to “bring the best features from Dashboard to the broader Twitter community” (as posted in the @dashboardapp farewell Tweet).
Facebook Auto-subtitles Page videos, and a desktop version of FB Live
The Facebook Live team has been busy! The most-exciting recently announced feature is the ability to start a Facebook Live session directly from your desktop or laptop computer. Until now, you had to either use a mobile device, or set up your page to use the complicated Facebook Live API. The desktop version of Facebook Live makes it easy to use a built-in camera or a USB-connected webcam to instantly broadcast to your fans.
Facebook rolled out a slew of other Live features, too, including the ability to grant a “Live Contributor” role on your page so specific users can broadcast events on the fly. Another update that will make it easier to promote your Live events is a new “Video Permalink” for Pages. Each page can now tell fans to go directly to facebook.com/pagename/videos to view a Live stream. If you’re currently running a live video, it will automatically play when someone visits your videos subpage, so be sure to include that link in posts and Facebook Event pages you use to advertise upcoming Live videos.
Auto-captioning was also announced in the non-live (aka archived) Facebook video category. Because of the silent auto-play function in the Newsfeed, text overlays have become one of the best ways to entice views on the platform. Recognizing this, Facebook just made it easier to get text on your video with auto-generated captioning on Pages. This feature appears to work in the same way it does on YouTube—you simply click the “Auto-Caption” button when you load the video, and then you can preview and edit the text before publishing. In addition to helping get more eyes on your videos, captioning is a great way to let search engines know what’s in your video—so be sure to test this feature out if/when it’s available on your Facebook page!
Instagram Stories get analytics—and ads
Instagram continues to focus big updates on their Snapchat-esque Stories function. This month, they announced the ability to view “the reach, impressions, replies and exits for each individual story within Business Tools.” This engagement information can help brands understand what style is resonating with fans, which can be a big help in optimizing the platform for your business goals. (This level of analytic detail is currently not available on Snapchat.)
Instagram also announced that Stories will soon be fair game for advertisers. For now, there are only “30+ clients” with access, but Instagram is playing up the paid opportunity as creating “an intimacy with people like never before.” If you’re looking for creative new ad channels for your brand, keep an eye on Instagram as access will likely be expanded soon.
By the way, Instagram Stories’ user base recently eclipsed Snapchat - this happened in a very short amount of time, and it has industry analysts predicting the demise of Snapchat.
Snapchat updates the interface (again!) and cracks down on “fake news” in Discover
If you’ve been on Snapchat lately (and if you have auto-update turned on), you’ll probably have noticed a new “search” bar at the top of your camera screen when you open the app. This feature, dubbed “Universal Search,” is reported to be one way Snap Inc. is trying to make the platform easier to navigate for less-techy people. As the Snapchat team appears to be going public soon, this will probably be one way to attract new users and keep stockholders happy in the years to come. Either way, it’s a welcome new way to search through your contacts, groups, and to find new accounts to follow and befriend, and may lead to stronger growth in older demographics as time goes on. If so, more brands may want to start considering the channel for social media marketing efforts.
Snapchat also announced that they’re cracking down on “fake news” and raunchy articles in their Discover publishing platform. The Discover section of the app allows you to tap through channels like Comedy Central, People, IGN, MTV, Bleacher Report, and more for entertainment and news on everything from politics to celebrity gossip. The new rules restrict publishers from posting “questionable pictures” and prevent them from including reports or links to “fake news” websites, saying that content must be accurate and fact-checked.
Pinterest improves their advertising structure with “Ad Groups”
Pinterest Ads just got a little bit more like Facebook Ads. In a blog post, Pinterest announced an update to their Ads Manager system that will include a “group” component in between the “campaign” and “pin” levels. (This is a lot like the Campaign/Ad Set/Ads setup on Facebook’s Ads Manager.)
While this change sounds simple enough, it should make managing ads on the platform much easier for high-volume advertisers. The addition of the Groups will allow managers to assign different budgets and targeting to different groups of pins, and to align those budgets with marketing objectives. It will also let you mimic your ad campaign structure on other social channels (like Facebook) for easier management.