Social Media News: The 5 Biggest Stories of the Week

Looking for the latest social media news? This blog has it. This image of a retro-looking microphone against a solid background conveys the message that news is being broadcast
Looking for the latest social media news? This blog has it. This image of a retro-looking microphone against a solid background conveys the message that news is being broadcast

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. Twitter Showcases Tweets That Have Manifested Success

 The power of manifestation is the subject of the latest ad campaign for Twitter. Billboards have started showing up in various cities, showcasing famous athletes and entertainers early Tweets with career aspirations and dreams. Today these dreams have been realized, and it's a nice reminder of the power of intention setting. Sometimes publicly sending your aspirations out into the universe (or on Twitter) can have powerful results! 

2. TikTok Tests Integrated Stories

 TikTok is in the early stages of testing a more integrated experience for its Stories feature. While currently Stories on TikTok live in their own separate space, this change would include them in the “For You” and “Following” sections of the app. Navigation to Stories creation would also now be available from your main feed as well. Users scrolling through will see how many cards each Story contains and can tap through to view from right within their main feed, which is the biggest difference from Instagram’s Stories. 

3. Pinterest Shares How the Male Demographic Uses Pins

 While Pinterests primary demographic is women, a new report indicates that more men are using the platform today, and takes a look at what they’re interested in. The study reveals that men are making big goals and spending decisions for 2022. According to Pinterest: “75% of men in our study are planning to spend more this year to bring their goals to fruition... the study showed a mix of big-picture intention setting (eat better, find work-life balance) and smaller shifts to have more fun (socialize more, spend more time with friends).”

4. Snapchat Adds More Protections for Minors

 In a move similar to one made by Instagram in 2021, Snapchat announced plans to make its platform a safer place for minors. The platform will be adding more safeguards to its “Quick Add” suggestions feature to prevent users under 18 from being connected to and contacted by adults they don’t know. Approximately 20% of Snapchats user base is under 18.

5. YouTube Adds a “Media Kit”

  YouTube has introduced an exciting new addition called “Media Kit” to help creators share their audience and engagement metrics more efficiently and effectively with brands and advertisers. This will make it easier for creators to earn ad revenue and partner with more brands who are interested in getting in front of relevant influencer audiences.

Catch Up on Social News from Weeks Past

Update from January 11th

1. TikTok Underlines the Importance of Audio in Social Content

While “sound off” is the default setting for most platforms when showing videos, TikTok is taking the opposite route. With 9 out of 10 TikTok users viewing sounds as essential, the platform seeks to expand their audio offerings and explore the continuing evolution of how sound is used to create content on TikTok. Audio is a key component to TikTok content, and with its popularity it will be interesting to see if other platforms will eventually switch from sound-off to sound-on by default. 

2. New Profile Search Now Available on Pinterest

Pinterest has made it easier to find specific profiles and creators with a new filter that shows up in search results. The feature showcases Pinners related to certain search terms, so users can identify new people to follow who match their interests. 

3. Instagram Tests Rearrange Option for Your Grid Posts

In what promises to be an eventful year of changes and new features, Instagram is coming in hot out the gate, testing an option that will allow users to rearrange their grid post photos and videos. This would be a welcome addition for content creators on the platform, giving more control over the first posts people see when they visit your profile. Instagram has also teased the possibility of a “pinned post” to come later this year.

4. Meta Launches New Privacy Center

 A new privacy center is now available on Facebook, describing in fuller detail how Meta gathers and uses data, with more control for users to decide what they want to share. There are five different sections where people can find more information about privacy: Security, Sharing, Collection, Use, and Ads. Currently the new center is only available to US users on desktop, with plans to roll it out to a wider base soon.  

5. Twitter Tests Live Reactions

 Given the popularity of video and reaction-posts on platforms like Instagram Reels and TikTok, it was only a matter of time before Twitter tried to get in on the action. They are currently testing a new “live reactions” feature as an additional sharing option. The feature allows users to quote-Tweet with a full screen video response with the quoted Tweet visible.

Update from December 14th

1. Reels as Replies Now Available on Instagram

Instagram is continuing its race to keep up with TikTok, adding a new feature that allows users to reply to photo or video comments with an Instagram Reel. This functionality is already available on TikTok, so it’s clear that Instagram wants to make sure its users have access to the same types of features as its biggest rival. The further integration of short-form video as replies will boost engagement and encourage content creators to make more Reels (we’ll likely start to see a subculture of “response Reels” before long!). 

2. Preview Your Voice Message Before Sending on WhatsApp

Audio features are set to be a continuing social media trend and WhatsApp is getting in on the action with a new feature enabling users to preview voice messages before sending. In an age where leaving a voicemail causes anxiety for an entire generation, this update is a welcome and useful option. You can play your message back and make sure it sounds the way you intended before sending. No more off-the-cuff rambling or robotic script reading!

3. YouTube Tests Location Links

In an intriguing update for YouTube creators, the video platform recently launched “Places Mentioned”. This is a new feature where any places mentioned in your video will show up visually in the video description box, so viewers can easily get more information about locations highlighted in your content. The feature essentially lessens the manual work on creators to add links, making it a more seamless and easy process. It’s unclear at this juncture if the feature is only available on mobile devices.

4. Auto-captions Now Available for Twitter Videos

It’s considered best practice these days to always include captions on videos. Not only are they helpful for deaf & hard of hearing viewers, they also helps clarify what’s said if the audio is muffled, and additionally most videos play without sound by default so they are an easy ways for viewers to decide whether or not they’d like to engage further with the video by turning the sound on. Auto-captions will now be available for Twitter videos, automatically turned on for all videos uploaded on iOS and Android, while desktop users can switch them on and off manually. Currently Twitter video captions are available in 37 languages.

Update from December 7th

1. Pinterest Acquires Vochi - Video Editing App

 In a bid to join other top social platforms like Instagram and TikTok in a “video first” mentality, Pinterest recently announced that it would be acquiring video editing app, Vochi. According to Vochi CEO & Founder: “The Vochi app gives creators the ability to apply high quality effects based on computer vision on objects in a video instantly...These technologies are unique in the industry, and we’re excited to bring them to an even larger audience as a part of the Pinterest team.”

2. YouTube Shares Trends & Top Creators From 2021

 Although the old roundup style from YouTube is still on ice due to negative feedback in recent years, YouTube has still provided those who are curious with some top trends and YouTube creators from the past year. The selections are divided into 5 sections: Trending Videos, Music Videos, Top Creators, Breakout Creators, Shorts Creators, plus an additional section highlighting featured creators from a Livestream event Escape2021. From the results, it’s clear that gaming, music, and vlogging remain popular, but the TikTok format is also becoming more popular in the YouTube Shorts community.

3. LinkedIn Adds New Features to Creator Mode

 New features are now available to users on LinkedIn using Creator Mode, including Live Videos and Newsletters. Creator mode is an option for LinkedIn users who use the platform beyond core networking. Per LinkedIn: “LinkedIn creators are members who regularly share content with their professional community to demonstrate their expertise, ignite conversations about ideas and experiences, and build communities around common interests.” These power users and thought leaders now have access to create LinkedIn Lives and authoring Newsletters that get seen by your followers through automated emails. These features are already available to business pages with 150+ followers.

4. Messenger Tests Payment and Adds Expression Tools

Messenger has been making some significant updates and changes throughout the year to elevate it’s experience for users. Their most recent addition includes AR features, new sound-mojis, including one from Taylor Swift and one celebrating popular Netflix series Stranger Things. Most notably however, is a Venmo-esque payment option that Messenger is testing called “Split Payments.”

Update from November 30th

1. Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, Steps Down

 Effective immediately, Twitter's co-founder and longtime CEO Jack Dorsey will step down from his role. He is to be replaced by current CTO, Parag Agrawal. Dorsey’s leadership has been criticized in recent years due to Twitter's significant role in online harassment and amplifying harmful rhetoric. While the direction of Twitter’s future is still unclear, the app has been innovating heavily, adding many new features. Under Agrawal’s leadership we can expect to see even more changes to encourage usership and business growth.  

2. Optimal Hashtag Usage Revealed in New Report

Just what is the optimal hashtag usage on Instagram for maximum engagement? Social scheduling platform, Later, ran a study, analyzing 18M hashtags and came up with some interesting findings, contradicting what Instagram has put forward as best practice. Later found that using between 20-30 hashtags (30 being the max allowed by Instagram) increases engagement and reach. Instagram encourages users to limit hashtag usage to significantly lower (3-5), perhaps to discourage hashtag spamming, making sure posts only show for relevant searches. Relevancy is of course important, and Later’s report includes suggestions for brands to maximize their strategic use of hashtags.

3. TikTok Tests User Tagging in Videos 

 A small change, but one that gives more flexibility when writing video captions, TikTok has introduced the option to tag other creators in-video. Tagging functionality already exists on TikTok, previously only available within the caption of your video. This new option allows creators to free up space in their captions. There are not currently plans to roll out this feature globally.

4. Instagram Tests Longer Videos in Stories

As it announced earlier this month, Instagram will be testing longer Stories and this test is now live. This change would mean that viewers can enjoy stories with fewer interruptions, and uploading becomes quicker and easier for creators. Instead of tapping through 15-second clips, videos in Stories will now be more fluid. The feature is currently being tested with 60-second video clips. 

5. Giphy Unveils the Most Popular Gifs of 2021

Popular GIF search and sharing platform, Giphy, has unveiled the 10 most popular GIFs of this year. The list features many pop culture references from Baby Yoda to Pikachu, covering a number of emotional reactions, but notably “worry”, “exhaustion”, and “confusion” are common. The list culminates in the number 1 GIF of 2021 from The Office, illustrating a general collective feeling of being fed up.

Update from November 16th

1. TikTok On Track to Surpass 1.5 Billion Users in 2022

According to a new report from App Annie, TikTok is on pace to achieve the 1.5 Billion mark in active users in 2022. This would mean that TikTok surpasses Instagram, which has consistently hovered at the 1 Billion mark. Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook in particular all made concerted efforts this year to match TikTok’s popularity, and this trend will surely continue now with new urgency.

2. Shopping Available Through Facebook Groups

Jumping on the shopping features bandwagon, just in time for the holidays, Facebook is adding a way to browse products within Groups. This new feature “bridging community and commerce” makes it easy for Group members to ask for recommendations and be presented with shoppable options, community reviews, images and product details, all in-app. 

3. Twitter Acquires Threader

Popular app Threader has been acquired by Twitter. The app has helped Twitter users see Tweet threads in a more readable format - a functionality already available within Twitter for Twitter Blue users. It remains to be seen how being an official part of the Twitter family will improve or change Threader usability and features. It will also be interesting to watch how Threader’s competitors fare going forward. 

4. YouTube Joins the Livestream Shopping Trend

Like Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook, YouTube is the latest social platform to offer a Livestream shopping experience, just in time for the holidays. On YouTube, viewers can join streams hosted by celebrities and creators, from November 15 - 22nd, and interact with them as well as access exclusive discounts and other offerings. Unlike their counterparts however, it’s unclear if YouTube’s offering will be iterated upon after the holidays.

5. NFT Profile Images Soon to Show Up on Twitter

Twitter announced earlier this fall that it would be rolling out an option to integrate NFTs into your Twitter profile. This will allow users to connect their digital wallet, for seamless verification and posting of their purchases. The latest update to the NFT integration feature indicates that when NFTs are used as profile images, they will be a different shape (hexagonal), to indicate ownership.

Update from November 9th

1. YouTube Expands Mental Health Awareness Efforts

Youtube has expanded their mental health resources for viewers watching videos containing sensitive subjects. Their crisis response panels, which used to show up only in search results, will now be visible on the video watch page, right underneath the video itself. In a blog announcing this change YouTube says it wants to normalize getting help and that resource panels will start to appear for subjects beyond suicide and self-harm to include anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.

2. Pinterest Shares Predictions for Holiday Shopping

 The holiday shopping trends are starting to show up already, and Pinterest has the leading edge to know which products are showing up on people's wishlists. They also dive into insights based on age range, showcasing differences between GenZ, Millennial, Gen X, and Baby Boomers preferences. 

3. Twitter Allows Non-Twitter Users to Tune in to Spaces

Though it might seem hard to believe, there are people not on Twitter. These folks can now access hosted Spaces content without a Twitter account! All they need is a link to the broadcast to tune in. It’s a great way for brands and creators to expand their audiences. There are some limitations - those without Twitter accounts can’t currently participate in the discussion, but they may in the future.

4. Facebook Removes Ads With Sensitive Content

Facebook announced that it would be removing certain targeting capabilities for ads, based on “feedback from civil rights experts, policymakers and other stakeholders” who have expressed concern about the harm that could be done when targeting specific groups. These include members of certain religions, the LGBTIA+ community, and different political affiliations. Lookalike audiences, location based, and other targeting will remain available.

Update from November 3rd

1. Facebook Does Away With Facial Recognition

Facial recognition technology has been a part of Facebook for many years - allowing the system to notify you when pictures or videos are posted of you, as well as letting you know who to tag in your photos. However in light of recent pressures around privacy concerns Meta will be phasing out this system on Facebook, despite the “number of places where face recognition can be highly valued by people using platforms” according to Meta’s statement. This change will remove more than 1 billion individual facial recognition templates.

2. Pinterest TV Offers Live Shopping 

 Pinterest has officially launched Pinterest TV - live shopping episodes that put the power squarely in the hands of the creators and brands. These livestreams are set to air Monday-Friday, starting November 8th. Hosts have the opportunity to connect with consumers in a brand new way, and viewers can access special discounts. The episodes can be saved and watched later, so don’t worry if you miss one!

3. Instagram Introduces Livestream Shopping 

 Another launch making waves in online shopping is Instagram which introduced its own version of livestream shopping this week. This feature will include perks for viewers like exclusive items only available in-app. Instagram plans to highlight independent creators, black-owned businesses and more. The videos can be accessed from the Instagram Shop tab and will begin airing on Friday November 5. 

4. Snapchat Helps Advertisers With New Certification Course

In an effort to give advertisers all the tools they need to be successful with Snapchat ads, the social platform is presenting a new certification course. The course includes 5 different sessions “designed to help media planners, buyers, and strategists report on and optimize for full-funnel results on Snapchat.”

Update from October 26

1. Instagram Introduces Collaboration Options on Reels & Posts

Instagram continues to add new features in the race to keep up with TikTok. This week, the app announced a new collaboration option for Reels and grid posts. The feature essentially allows users to “co-author” a post or Reel by way of an invite process. Each post will be independent from the other when it comes to analytics, however.

2. YouTube Launches Auto-Chapters 

YouTube continues to improve their search capabilities, now adding auto-chapters in their metadata, for mobile searches. Previously, search would find videos from creator-defined chapters, but those without chapters weren’t searchable by chapter. With this new launch, those videos where creator-defined chapters are unavailable will be searchable. Creators do have the option to opt-out of this new feature.

3. Newsletter Subscription Cards Now Available in Tweets

Twitter has expanded their Revue Newsletter subscribe feature, to now include timeline Tweets, as opposed to a single pinned section on your Twitter profile. The feature also includes a one-click opt-in for users whose emails are already linked to an account. This new subscribe option is great news for creators, especially as the subscribe button will also show up if someone shares a link to your newsletter on their Twitter page.

4. TikTok Adds a Discover List

In order to showcase how creators are using the TikTok app in new and engaging ways, TikTok has launched a page with 50 of the top creators from 2021. These creators cover lots of different bases within 5 distinct categories: Innovators, Foodies, Icons, Changemakers, and Originators. The common denominator between them is a trend-setting and “game-changing” approach to content on TikTok.

5. Snapchat Adds AR Content Studio

Snapchat announced the addition of a new AR studio called “Arcadia” to it’s platform this week. This innovative new approach will pave the way for brands looking to incorporate AR experiences into their marketing strategy. The studio plans to “​​partner with brands, agencies and creators to elevate what’s possible in AR, further cementing it as a must-buy, always-on format to engage with the millennial and Gen-Z audience.”

6. Facebook Rebrands as Meta

Facebook rebranded as Meta in a move to create further cohesion between all their digital apps and companies like Oculus, Instagram, and Spark AR. This ushers in the next stage of digital connection known as the “metaverse” which, according to a statement by Zuckerberg “will feel like a hybrid of today’s online social experiences, sometimes expanded into three dimensions or projected into the physical world.” The Facebook name will remain on the app, but the broad company title has changed to Meta.

Update from October 19

1. Pinterest Reveals New Insights for Travelers Post-Pandemic 

People are starting to travel again, and they’re driven by passions and activities rather than destinations and brands, according to a new report from Pinterest. Travel searches are up by 19% in 2021 while specific destination searches are down 14% in the same period. This is good news for marketers who can now hook people early in the planning stage when they might know they’re interested in hiking, for example, but don’t know where yet.  

2. Twitter Tests Ads in Conversation Threads

 In an already unpopular move, Twitter is testing ads showing up in the middle of public conversation threads on the platform. These ads would appear after the first, third, or eighth reply to a Tweet. The test is global but only a small handful will see the ads to start. This new ad placement presents an intriguing option for creators to monetize viral tweets when they “opt-in” to ads.

3. New Mute Options Available for TikTok Live Streams

 In a continuing effort to ensure a safe space on their platform, TikTok has released an updated Community Guidelines Enforcement report. One of the most notable additions is the addition of a mute option for comments and questions that come in during live streams. People posting potentially harmful or offensive comments will also be given an “are you sure” prompt, which according to TikTok has already seen success with 4 out of 10 people withdrawing their comment. 

4. Facebook Launches Anti-Harassment Measures for Public Figures

 In a similar vein, Facebook has announced that it plans to remove harmful content attacking public figures, in effort to quell issues of mass harassment which often include threats of violence. Severe sexualizing content will also be removed at the request of a public figure: “In addition, we will remove unwanted sexualized commentary and repeated content which is sexually harassing. Because what is “unwanted” can be subjective, we’ll rely on additional context from the individual experiencing the abuse to take action.”

Update from October 12

1. YouTube Introduces 3 New Captioning Features

 There are 3 new additions coming to YouTube’s captioning services. First, automatic captions will now be available to all creators. Previously this feature was only available to those with 1,000 followers or more. Currently only English has been rolled out, however more languages are planned for the future. Secondly, auto translate will be available to mobile video viewers, not just desktop. Thirdly, searchable captions in transcripts will now be available to viewers. Currently this is only on desktop, but mobile is coming soon.  

2. SnapChat Puts New Focus on Mental Health With “Club Unity”

For World Mental Health Day this year, SnapChat shone a spotlight on youth mental health with a new initiative it’s calling “Club Unity.” The app will start partnering with various celebrities from all different industries to put Gen-Z voices front and center. The mental health hub will offer resources such as daily affirmations, information on depression, anxiety, and stress, and articles that cover a wide range of topics such as “starting tough conversations with friends”.

3. Pinterest Releases “Havens” Encouraging Mental Wellness

Also participating in World Mental Health Day, Pinterest created “Havens - Invest in Rest”. This new oasis will include everything from calming imagery to gratitude journal prompts to bedtime affirmations. The new board space is also coming into the real world “anti-burnout” installation in Chicago. Pinterest already made strides this year toward promoting mental wellness with a body positivity move in June, banning all weight loss ads from their site. They also have what’s called “compassionate search” allowing quick access to mental health resources and activities.

4. Instagram Tests In-App Alerts For Issues Affecting Users

After the recent outages experienced by Facebook & Instagram, the photo app took swift action to roll out a new in-app alerts feature. The alerts will notify users of outages or other technical issues with the app, in effort to increase transparency and quell rumors that might start about the issues. Given that most people got their news about the recent outages from Twitter, this move adds a level of accuracy and authority to the information. The new alerts feature is only available in the US currently.

5. Facebook Announces New Creator Fund for VR

Facebook is taking a huge step to support creators and developers in the virtual reality space with a $10 million Creator Fund program designed to encourage innovation and execution in the rapidly growing VR space. Facebook created “Expanding Horizons” an iteration of “Horizons” which they launched last year as an invite only beta testing landscape. This new stage will offer a number of programs including an accelerator program and community competitions.

That's it! Come back next week for another recap of the biggest social media news and PR stories of the week.

Update from September 14

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. 

2. Twitter Allows You to Share Tweets to Select Groups

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. 

4. Twitter Takes Action Against Bots

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. 

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.

2. Twitter Makes Spaces More Discoverable

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

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.

3. Twitter Launches a Newsletter Subscribe Feature

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.

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.

4. Twitter Updates its Agency Playbook

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

1. Making Twitter A Trustworthy News Source

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. 

4. Will Shopping on Twitter Become a Thing?

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." 

2. Twitter is Deprecating Fleets

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. 

3. Twitter Introduces a New 15-second Video Ad Unit

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. 

5. Share Your Tweets on Instagram Stories

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.