This month’s social media recap focuses on the Twitter redesign, new Instagram features, and Facebook’s new mission to focus on Groups. All these platform updates are sure to impact PR pros, so let’s dig into what this will mean.

Twitter’s New Look

Twitter has a long list of changes it needs to make to its site. This week it unveiled the first of those changes—a new user interface. What we noticed: privacy settings and account menus have been moved to a side menu, profile photos are round, icons for reply, retweet, heart, and message are transparent, and there’s an additional dashboard on the bottom of your phone screen. Two changes sure to please PR folks is real-time count updates for likes/retweets and links that are staying in the stream. If you’re using Twitter for broadcast, make sure you have an attractive image associated with all your posts and if you’re using it for sponsored posts, be sure to run A/B tests to judge how this might impact your broadcast strategy, sales, and other metrics. 

Instagram Live and Stories Are More Prominent

Instagram now lets you turn live videos into stories, extending the life of your content. So, if followers missed your live video, they can still enjoy your labors up to 24 hours after the event. Also, IG has added a reminder in the photostream for users to check out the Instagram stories of the accounts they follow, reinforcing the pop-up notification received when one of your contacts goes live. If you haven’t used these enhanced features for brand engagement, now is a good time to start experimenting. As IG moves towards a revenue generating model, along with these enhancements, they’re tightening up guidelines of what type of content they expect from influencers and brands. With these multiple options for producing and promoting content via live or stories, IG will expect you to use these features to extend brand engagement without gaming the platform with irrelevant hashtags. 

Instagram Influencers

If you’re a PR pro with an influencer marketing program, the Instagram shift is an important one. We’ve known for some time that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) required users being paid to post about a product to disclose that payment, whether it is via in-kind product, access, or monetary in nature. However, the FTC and social sites haven’t cracked down on those ignoring the regulation. This month, the FTC signaled they were ramping up enforcement with a letter to more than 90 paid social media influencers and brands. In the letter, the FTC states that using a hashtag like #spon or #ad is no longer sufficient, especially if the hashtag appears “below the fold.”

Instagram has yet to penalize influencers or brands for ignoring a new feature, which places a clear “paid partnership” tag on posts, but the FTC has indicated that they will not be so lenient. Your best bet? Full disclosure. Additionally, IG will soon require the “paid partnership” tag while cracking down on violations with a (yet-undisclosed) penalty within a few months. The good news is that audiences engage with ads and sponsored posts on Instagram, even when they’re clearly labeled, so you shouldn’t lose traction from this feature.

Facebook Changes its Mission

Mark Zuckerberg announced a change to Facebook’s mission towards one where they: “Bring the world closer.” This new mission will hopefully result in more meaningful relationships and civic outcomes, nurtured via the platform’s Groups. Since this change of mission will underpin the product’s direction, it’s useful to take note. As Pages are the domain of brands, PR will have to adjust strategy to make use of the enhanced Groups features. It also means that an organization’s corporate social responsibility arm can take the lead in forging engagement on Facebook.

PR Takeaways

As our social media platforms evolve, so must our communications strategy. Keeping relevant for our audience and participating in our communities is imperative in our ever-shifting social media landscape. That’s why using Executive Alerts to keep on top of insights and opportunities should be a part of your media intelligence solution.