We can all agree that this year social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter have kept everyone on their toes.
With their new features, bold changes to their USP (yes we are talking about you Twitter!) and long overdue upgrades, this blog looks at the main social media sites, their key changes and how businesses can utilise them for the greater good.
Still the largest of the social media sites, Facebook has advanced its plan to provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ by offering so many new functions and features to try and keep its community on its platform.
Have we mentioned how important video content is going to be? (the answer is yes, many times!)
To really highlight that, apart from the extra reach you get using Facebook Live, you now can have a two-way video conversation without having to be in the same room or country! All those guest interviews you want to do can now happen across the globe at a click of a button, making video content more engaging and easier to do.
This is only in personal feeds and messenger at the moment. But it is being rolled out to businesses. This is the same function to their sister company Instagram. The question will be what businesses will do differently on Facebook to Instagram to satisfy audiences that are on both platforms which will want to see different content?
Split testing of feeds & demotion of ‘engagement-bait’ posts.
There is no secret that Facebook has been trialling new feeds whereby all business updates go into a secondary feed unless they are paid for. But, in recent days Facebook has expressed that posts that ask for a form of engagement (known as ‘engagement bait‘ – see image below) will also be demoted. When these updates roll out, it will be interesting to see what will happen to businesses usage of Facebook and whether their advertising revenue will continue to rise. This is a daunting prospect for most. So what can businesses do to try and avoid spending lots in advertising (which is only going to get more expensive BTW)?
- Utilise groups. Share your updates with groups that are relevant to your business or the content you are sharing. Facebook looks to be favouring groups at the moment over pages, so while they are, take advantage.
- Brand advocates. Turn your customers/clients/employees into advocates of your brand and ask them to share your content. Not only into their feeds but also into groups that you may not be a part of. Now you can’t expect them to share or engage with every piece of content, but by championing them, showcasing the work you have done for/with them will increase the chances of them doing so.
- Tag and check-in. By tagging individuals and businesses, and ‘checking-in’ when you are out and about, will give the place or person a notification and encourage them to engage with you.
Linking Groups To Pages
This year Facebook announced that Groups have more than a billion monthly active users which is more than half its audience! Therefore it is not surprising that Facebook has made Groups a focus in 2017. You can now link groups to your business page, which enables you to build a community around your page and brand.
A word of warning – if you manage your pages via Facebook’s Business Manager you will not be able to link to groups. We hope Facebook fix this is just a glitch soon.
For Instagram, their main focus has been on their stories feature. But before we go into those one major update to their newsfeed is the ability to follow hashtags.
What does this mean? Go and search for a hashtag that you use a lot (or more than one) and you have the option to follow. What happens next is that the people that use these hashtags will show up in your feed without you having to follow them. While this could fill up your newsfeed with updates from people that you don’t want there, it also increases your chances of being seen by a new audience and having your updates engaged with. Like with all updates to these social media sites, there are pros and cons.
Back to Instagram stories.
The main new features that we have noticed to increase engagement are:
This has been evolving ever since it started and now being able to use location tags and # has meant that users of Instagram stories can reach new audiences, whereas before it was purely based on your following.
While there is not (yet) any statistics, it is clear that by using location tags increases the reach of your stories. Mix these up with specific locations, i.e. Typeface Group and broader locations, i.e. Basingstoke or Hampshire, to get in front of different people.
Polls are also one of the new features that are designed to increase engagement with your stories. This will only improve your chances of being seen in the suggestions/explore section of Instagram, but we wonder if they will start to add an algorithm to this element soon as well?
Stories are no longer just shown at the top of the feed. Instagram now also place ‘recent stories’ within the feed you scroll down, giving you a second chance to reach your followers! They have also added a highlights feature, allowing stories to hang around longer than 24 hours. This is a great way to highlight particular activities, events, products, services or promotions for longer than 24 hours.
Other feature updates that make Instagram the most engaging of the social media sites are:
- Responding to stories and DMs with a photo
- Rewind feature
- Constant update of filters and stickers
- Superzoom (a personal fave to add a bit of drama)
- Desktop and out of app capabilities increasing to allow those with poor internet access to get involved
Tip for Instagram is to keep your audience wanting more with engaging stories, beautiful images and useful information (while staying on brand of course!). Variety will keep people coming back to see what you are doing next. Staying on brand will ensure that your message and ‘feel’ is in line with what your audience would expect.
Out of all the social media sites, Twitter seems to have had the least changes. Bar the previously blogged about photos and URL’s allowance; the main one has been the increase from 140 to 280 characters.
This has been a recent bone of contention. A lot of people (including myself) think that by increasing the characters, Twitter has sold out on it’s USP. Having to scroll more to absorb the same amount of content is not cricket. BUT, the hype (like anything) will die down soon and hopefully, people will revert to writing short tweets.
While these additional characters shouldn’t affect your Twitter marketing strategy, here are a few things not to do with them:
- Use words that are not required. If you can say it in 140 characters, then do. Use the extras as a bonus.
- Add more than two hashtags. This rule still applies, and it will be interesting to see if engagement is still at it highest when only using one.
- Remember you can still tag people into photos so don’t spam an update with lots of twitter ID’s either!
Other social media sites that have upgraded include LinkedIn. They have introduced native video and have upgraded their networking site to become slicker and in line with users expectations of today. Their app is still clunky in comparison to their desktop version, but hopefully being able to update company pages via the app soon!
Pinterest is also tweaking their offering behind the scenes. They have removed the <3 from their pin’s, thus forcing you to pin them or not gives a clear indication to businesses of what people really want! The new design layout we are sure is to be inline with all the other social media sites that seem to favour the round over the square. Even with Pinterest still evolving its advertising platform, it is one of the best sites for businesses that sell products. With over half of people that pin a product going on to purchase it, it is a no-brainer for retailers to be spending time here.
These are just a few of the updates on the top social media sites with tips on how to use them. Which others have you seen and utilised? Let me know.
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