15 big changes on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat

Marketers must keep current with digital trends, especially when large social media platforms introduce new features and tools. Here’s what you should know.

If you work in marketing, public relations or social media, you know that social media is in constant flux.

Changes happen almost daily, and staying on top of these can be daunting. Sifting through the clutter is time consuming.

Here’s a list of recent innovations, including rumors worth paying attention to:

Facebook

1. Facebook is big on video: According to Facebook’s last earnings report, Facebook users watch 100 million hours of video daily. Facebook now emphasizes video in their ads platform, and is rolling out live video broadcasting (think Periscope in your news feed) to ordinary users, not just public figures and news publishers.

2. The “like” button will never be the same: Facebook revamped its “like” button, enabling users to express several reactions and emotions through emoji-like buttons.

The possibilities of social media managers and customers misinterpreting one another could be endless. On the other hand, the changes could give brandmanagers a more nuanced, accurate snapshot of fan sentiment.

3. Facebook’s Sports Stadium tries to emulate Twitter: Facebook’s first test of their real-time sports commentary feed was a resounding failure during the Super Bowl. They have only a few weeks to make tweaks for March Madness.

4. Algorithm changes, virtual reality and more: Facebook now relies on qualitative feedback to ensure that relevant content gets served up to users. Facebook is also preparing for virtual reality, and new tools to help nonprofits raise money are coming. Messenger will also be changed in 2016.

TL;DR (too long; didn’t read): If you’re not producing brief videos that are optimized for Facebook consider it. Stay tuned to see how changes to the “like” button will affect brand managers and users.

Instagram

5. Ads are here: If you’re an Instagram user, you’ve noticed that sponsored posts in your feed have skyrocketed.

After Facebook bought Instagram, brands could advertise on Instagram to meet three goals: website clicks, video views and app installs. If you know how to set up an ad on Facebook, you don’t have to learn a new ad platform for Instagram. Instagram ads can be set up on Facebook’s ads manager or power editor.

6. Multi-account access is available: You can add up to five accounts without having to log out and log back in.

7. Boomerang: Late last year, Instagram debuted this video app that creates a one-second, looping video.

8. A new video metric: Instagram added a new metric on Feb. 24 to its video view counts. Now users can see how many times their videos are shared on the app. Wondering what counts as a view? A whole three seconds.

TL;DR: Marketers familiar with Facebook advertising and brand managers with compelling photo and video content should be excited about Instagram’s advertising opportunities. The ability to manage multiple brand accounts is also finally here.

Twitter

9. An algorithm-based timeline: Will this be the change that gives Twitter new life, or is it another nail in its coffin?

In a major shift from its traditional timeline, Twitter introduced a new timeline, in which the most popular tweets displace the most recent tweets at the top of the timeline. Users can opt-in, but all signs point to this change becoming platform-wide soon.

10. Prepare for longer tweets: Rumors hint at the removal of the 140-character limit for tweets. This might be welcome to social media managers who struggle to sum up their brand message succinctly. Veteran users don’t seem happy about it.

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11. GIFs are coming: In partnership with Giphy and Riffsy, Twitter is rolling out a native search in tweets. Soon everyone will be able to react to tweets with more than just letters, emojis and hashtags.

TL;DR: Twitter is trying to balance its desperate need to add users with keeping its current users happy. Many find Twitter confusing and hard to use. #RIPTwitter?

LinkedIn

12. LinkedIn focuses on mobile. LinkedIn has been silent on major changes for 2016, but kicked off the year with a new app design for iOS and Android.

The design’s simplicity in theory makes it easier for users to find relevant content. LinkedIn also made search faster and its message feature more conspicuous.

Snapchat

13. Share your account’s link: One of the big complaints from new Snapchat users is that the app is hard to use, and finding people on Snapchat isn’t as intuitive as on Twitter or Facebook.

Snapchat users can now add new friends by location, username or Snapcode. They can also share their usernames with a URL.

14. Video messaging is coming soon. Snapchat users view 6 billion videos a day. Though you can video-message users on Snapchat, it isn’t easy. It’s reported that Snapchat is working on a major redesign of this feature.

You might ask yourself why this matters. The answer is predictable: money. Snapchat monetized itself with advertising and is looking for other revenue.

15. The Wall Street Journal joined Discover: The Journal has joined 19 other publishers who share content on Snapchat daily. It’s the first newspaper to take this leap of faith—will others follow? PR pros might have to think about how to pitch via a Snapchat story.

TL;DR: Start treating Snapchat as a legitimate social network now. It’s not just for teenagers anymore.

Kelsey Leavey is PR and social media specialist at The Hodges Partnership. A version of this article originally appeared on the firm’s blog.

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