2018’s top social networking sites & their changes
2018 has been another year full of social media networking sites and their changes.
Some were welcome and also well overdue. Some were questionable – or perhaps they are yet to show their full potential. But, they all kept social media managers across the globe on their toes. In this blog, we look at a few of those changes which made us cheer – and some which we still haven’t quite got our heads around.
There is one change that the big three social networking sites have all brought in this year which we have to praise them for. They are focusing on authenticity. Twitter continues to cull spam and fake accounts. Facebook has had a massive purge. Also, Instagram is about to crack down on “inauthentic activity”. This is great because it means that the people you are talking to are real. So, your stats will be accurate and should also be better. The only people who need to worry about this are those who rely on vanity metrics to sell themselves – but we know all of our readers are beyond that!
Even after the data scandal, Facebook is still the Queen of all social media networking sites.
In the third quarter of 2018, Facebook boasted over 2.27bn monthly active users. Even with business organic reach diminishing, it is still one of the most popular platforms on which to reach your current and potential customers
Facebook stories rolled out to businesses this year which brought it in line with its sister platform, Instagram. Whilst people and companies do seem to be using Facebook Stories, it is only a select few. They also tend to be pushing their Instagram Stories through rather than producing separate content. Whilst we haven’t seen a mass usage of this function, we can see the benefit of when someone has been live or the event element that has crept in, How? It shows at the top of your ‘fans’/
The use of Groups on Facebook has grown this year. This is partly down to how Facebook has gone back to its roots to bring the community to the platform, and tweak its algorithm accordingly. From free to paid for, these communities are a gold mine when it comes to nurturing brand advocates. From local business groups to selling groups, workout communities to specialist support groups, these hubs are often set up by people who run businesses which complement that community. So, through nurturing these groups, community members turn into their advocates and (sometimes) customers.
So, if you have the time, resource and a USP to run a Facebook Group, our recommendation is to do it now before everyone gets ‘FGF’ – Facebook Group Fatigue. We predict this will happen soon so people will become more selective of which groups they join and, possibly, have a good clear out in the process.
Prevent FBF by:
- Giving something different – what are you going to offer in your group which is different from others? Is there a need for it at all? Do some research before starting something up.
- Providing value to people who join in the quality of content posted and events held, such as FB live or life hacks.
- Having a band of community admins who can be present and ensure that ‘rules’ are adhered to.
- Making people feel special – once you know who the group is for then add further questions to qualify people before letting them in. Whilst this may seem a bit backwards in the name of inclusivity, if you decide that you are starting a group to support local freelancers and then start to let people in who are employed, you are going against the group’s ethos which will turn people off.
- Having an engaged community which is free to post/ask questions without moderation (within the rules, of course).
- Being consistent with your replies, communications and ‘events’. Keep people coming back and contributing to the group by responding to comments and questions, having a regular stream of content (content planning is key) and on or offline events, such as Facebook Lives or IRL (in real life) meetups.
That doesn’t mean that Facebook Pages are pointless
Quite the opposite. Whilst organic reach is getting trickier by the day – the average post reaches 6.4% of a page’s audience – it seems that every business has now claimed their Facebook space, so it’s basically a brand essential to have a Facebook page.
It is safe to say that Facebook’s advertising platform is far superior to any other across the portfolio of social media networking sites. Even with their tweak due to GDPR, and that Facebook data breach, their targeting and analytics mean that you can often get a more satisfying PPC and ROI than that from a Google Ad.
What about Messenger? At present, only 31% of businesses use Facebook Messenger as part of their marketing and sales strategy. Yet, it is the most downloaded mobile app with Facebook coming second and WhatsApp third (which is owned by Facebook, by the way.)
So, there is still gas in the Facebook tank. From building and engaging with communities to looking at ways to communicate with your audiences through Messenger, if there is one thing you need to do with your Facebook strategy for 2019, it is to rethink it as it is never going to be the same again.
It is all about the stories
For Instagram, their main focus has also been on their stories feature.
From GIFs to adding music, from being able to share content you are tagged in to tagging in products, there have been some HUGE changes in how Instagram can and is used. Story views and stats are surpassing newsfeed reach. The focus is now on content which keeps people watching or encourages them to engage rather than just skipping through it. The platform has also introduced its stories algorithm, which we believe is only going to become more focused as people start to create their ‘close friends’ group.
Some of our tips to prevent the ‘skip-swipe’:
- Produce relevant content which your audience wants to see/hear.
- Use some level of captions – not everyone has headphones, and plenty of people still have the sound off all the time.
- Locations, hashtags and tagging all contribute to being seen and heard. Mix them up so you reach different audiences throughout the day/feed.
- Ask questions, respond to questions, use the polls – try different things to see what your audience reacts to.
- Add some raw, real-life content – is anyone else over heavily edited content?
Probably the most dangerous update for us here in the Typeface office is the ability for business to tag products so you can quickly buy them! This is for both news feed posts and stories. So, with 75% of users taking action, i.e. clicking a link after looking at a post, start using this feature immediately if you have products to sell. By doing so, you could reduce the ‘research’ phase of purchasing and increase your Instagram ROI with one simple feature.
Other Instagram updates
Some of the smaller updates have been making everything a bit easier. Some of these include:
- Showing how many times a hashtag has been used so that you can have a healthy mixture
- Highlights of stories to save those which are evergreen or are worth remembering for longer than 24 hours
- Being able to hit reply in the notifications area to enable a quicker response
- Clickable tags and # in profiles
- Shortcut to emojis when commenting or responding (who doesn’t love an emoji)
What is in store for 2019?
We can see Instagram improving their IGTV offering. Actually, it has already started by adding previews into the stories feature to encourage people to watch them. So, our tip is to start producing content for IGTV and add it to your channel. Video is only going to be more in demand in 2019. We can also see more advertising options being rolled out, such as being able to quickly promote stories or boost your IGTV video with a click of a button.
Since last year’s 208 character-gate – Twitter seems to be the one constant in our lives without any earth-shattering updates. But, as mentioned previously, Twitter has concentrated on clearing up fake accounts and preventing people spamming by sending out the same tweet across multiple accounts.
This year, you could change your Twitter
To edit or not to edit
The Twitter edit button debate continues. Whilst we understand that Twitter is very much a conversational and in-the-moment social networking site, when a typo goes out, we would all love a window to quickly change it! But, this sadly doesn’t appear to be something Twitter will bring in any time soon.
Encouraging meaningful interaction
There was a recent uproar about the like button being removed. Twitter’s argument was that they wanted to encourage more meaningful interactions. Whilst tweeters thoughts were that sometimes there is nothing with only responding with a ‘like’ to acknowledge without words or a GIF. Only time will tell if they do remove this option. But, let’s not forget that there used to be a way to ‘save’ tweets you wanted to go back to before that was changed to a ‘like’ – and there was uproar then as well.
LinkedIn has also brought in some upgrades this year. Thankfully, they have tweaked their mobile app to be less clunky. But, there is still some way to go. For example, won’t it be great to be able to update your company’s LinkedIn page from your phone? At present, you still have to get on to the desktop version or post via a third-party app to do so.
Speaking of company pages, LinkedIn has also introduced a way to interact with posts as a company, when the company has been tagged (phew – we hope that makes sense). This then allows businesses to interact outside of the page itself, giving them more exposure and ways to grow their audience.
LinkedIn has also recently added a ‘content suggestions’ function to company pages. This allows the page administrators to see trending topics and articles which are relevant to your industry. You will see content from major news outlets right through to other user’s articles. It is certainly worth playing around this function as there are various filter options available to hone in on the right content for your page.
These are just a few of the updates on the top social media networking sites from 2018. What have we missed off that you love, hate or question? We would love to know. Tweet us with your comments @typefacegroup.
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