March 2017 Edition: Monthly Social Media Updates You Need to Know

Say goodbye to Q1 2017! In the last month there have been a ton of changes to the big social media channels. Let’s take a look at some of March’s biggest updates in the social media space—and how your brand’s marketing might need to adjust.

FACEBOOK TESTING BRAND-CONTROLLED GROUPS

We’ve noticed a serious decline in users sharing public posts on Facebook. As marketers react to that trend, Facebook Groups—which have over 1 billion members collectively—have become more and more attractive. It’s been impossible for a Business Page to gain entry. Until now.

As reported by Social Media Today, some brand pages now have an opportunity to link brand-related groups to their page (or create new groups) with the business page serving as the group’s admin. This includes the ability for the page to interact within the group as the page, rather than limiting interaction to personal profiles.

This could be a huge opportunity for building a tight-knit community around your product or service and for connecting with your audience on an ongoing basis. A lot of group members actually get notifications whenever there’s a new post in their groups. Considering that your business page’s posts are only going to be seen by a small fraction of your followers, this group function will be an important new avenue to work into your social media strategy.

The Groups feature hasn’t rolled out to very many pages yet, but be sure to check your page settings to see if you’re one of the lucky ones with early access.

SNAPCHAT SEARCHABLE STORIES

Snapchat Stories have become a great way to see what’s happening at events all over the world. You might see a basketball game from the perspective of the cheap seats, from courtside seats, from the media booth, from a nearby bar, and even from the locker room. But events have always been pre-organized, purchased as advertisements, and/or professionally curated. As a matter of fact, brand entry into the Discover page of the Snapchat app used to be Snapchat’s most expensive ad product.

A recent Snap news update (and the video above) outlines a big update to the scope of Snapchat Stories. Snapchat’s AI will be creating a giant, searchable database of stories. In classic Snap fashion, the announcement is slim on details, but the video explains that local stories will include everything from what’s happening at your favorite nightspot, what’s going on at your favorite team’s big game, or even just… “Puppies.” By submitting a snap to “Our Story,” Snap’s machine learning technology will dynamically generate these stories. Then, anyone can find them via the app’s search bar.

This is apparently in limited release, but once it’s widely available it could make a huge impact on local SMBs. For example, if you operate a popular gathering place, say a bar/restaurant, your customers may soon be adding their perspective to your Pub’s dedicated Snapchat room. You’ll want to make sure you know how customers are participating and respond/add content as appropriate.

SNAP IPO UPDATE

There was a lot of buzz in the financial world as Snapchat’s parent company, Snap Inc. (who also makes the Snapchat-enabled Spectacles product), joined the stock market in its initial public offering.

The timing was unfortunate, considering recent news that people were using Instagram’s Stories feature more than the Snapchat version that Instagram based it on. From our January updates:

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.

Still, after months of hype, investors placed $3.4 billion worth of faith in CEO Evan Spiegel and the rest of the Snap team’s hip company. Now, the outlook may be a little less optimistic.

For those who are interested, check out some of these articles for more details:

●      How Snapchat’s IPO Became One of Wall Street’s Biggest Flops (Fortune)

●      4 Strategy Rules for Interpreting Snap's IPO (Inc.)

●      Why Snapchat Is Becoming “Comcast For Kids” (Fast Company video)

It’s not yet clear how Snapchat is going to change now that it’s a public company. We can probably expect new advertising options and possibly other revenue-generating efforts. Some speculate that Snap will buy new technology companies and offer more products.

MEANWHILE, FACEBOOK’S SNAPCHAT MIMICRY REACHES FULL-SPEED

As Snap woos investors, Facebook may be sending a message to its own stock market partners. After months of releasing similar Snapchat clones, they recently announced the “Your Day” feature in Messenger, with similar updates rolling out in their WhatsApp child brand. Just to be clear: “Your Day” functions exactly like a Snapchat Story.

So far, pundits are unimpressed, and many people either haven’t noticed the feature or just aren’t interested. Of course, this could change quickly, but for now we’re recommending you use either Instagram Stories or Snapchat for this style of sharing.

Another interesting update in Messenger is Live Location sharing, a feature that lets users share their geo-location with friends. Similar to how it works on an iPhone’s native Messages app, this is a cool way that Facebook is encouraging more use of the Messenger tool in users’ daily lives. 

FOOD CLAIMS #1 CATEGORY SPOT ON PINTEREST

Laying out some of its big data capabilities in one tasty blog post, Pinterest announced that Food was the #1 content category for US users with a total of 15 billion food pins on the platform. This is a great insight for brands who use Pinterest (especially the food-related ones). The post is also a cool example of bite-sized, data-driven content. Well done, Pinterest.

Additionally, the Lens feature that was announced last month is now available for all US Pinterest users on iPhone and Android:

To get to Lens, update your app, tap the search bar and tap the red camera icon. Then just point Lens at an object – shoes, recipe ingredients, art – to see what ideas it turns up.

“ADVANCED MEASUREMENT” FOR FACEBOOK ADS

After making some big mistakes with their ad metrics last year, FB announced a tool named Advanced Measurement will let Facebook advertisers compare their Facebook campaigns with other platforms.

Facebook announced that tools previously reserved for big-spenders who use their “Atlas” advertising platform will now be available to anyone who places ads on the platform. The tools are focused on reach and attribution, which means that marketers running ad campaigns on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Google will be better situated for determining which avenue drove the most purchases or led to the most impressions among their target audience.

We hope to make sophisticated measurement—which has historically been expensive and reliant on intense collaboration with digital platforms—more accessible to a wider range of advertisers.

360 VIDEO ROLLS OUT ON VIMEO; 360 FACEBOOK VIDEOS ON GEAR VR

360 video is one of those trendy subjects these days. You’ve probably seen it on Facebook, on YouTube, and maybe even on Twitter’s Periscope posts. Now, it’s coming to Vimeo and Gear VR, too.

Right now, there aren’t many examples of brands going big with 360. There are some popular videos from sports teams and big-production movies and TV shows (like Game of Thrones, below). So if you’re looking for a way to stand out, 360 might be an option to consider. There are certainly a lot of ways to share that type of content on social now, and there’s not much competition yet—but that might be because it’s still pretty expensive to produce.

LINKEDIN TRENDING NEWS AND CHAT WINDOWS

Facebook’s not the only platform that knows how to adopt a competitor’s features.

LinkedIn rolled out two features in March that look a lot like Facebook: Trending Storylines and chat windows. The news section, meant to bring users “the most important developing stories in your industry,” is located in the same sidebar area as Facebook’s news section on desktop. On mobile there’s going to be a new “Trending” tab on the home page. The big difference between Facebook and LinkedIn’s offering is that LinkedIn is going to actively manage the content from the start, whereas Facebook relied entirely on algorithms.

For those using LinkedIn to go after the coveted title of Thought Leader, be sure to take note and act on the relevant hashtags that will be associated with each trending story: 

Each storyline will also have a unique hashtag associated with it, making it easy for you to join the conversation and add your own take on the issue.

The other update you might have noticed is the addition of Facebook-style chat windows on your desktop LinkedIn interface. This complements the updated “desktop experience” that LinkedIn has been rolling out now for some time and is meant to help users connect with one another more easily.

NEW “COLLECTION” AD FORMAT ON FACEBOOK

Yes, Facebook was busy in March!  And their new advertising offerings never seem to disappoint.

Last month, Facebook announced a new format called “Collections” that lets you pair a big visual ad (an image or video) with smaller product features directly underneath. A great option for eCommerce sites, this setup provides an easy user interface for allowing people to quickly explore your product offerings while you simultaneously deliver them killer creative.

 

Which updates are you most excited about? Have any lingering questions about how these updates might affect your business? Let us know on our Facebook page!

Catch up on updates from the past few months:

February 2017 »

January 2017 »

December 2016 »

… And sign up for future updates here.


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