Social media is a living organism. Things change all the time. They change in response to developers’ ideas, user requests, scandals, politics and the rise of social awareness. People behind social media networks never sleep. They test new features, algorithms, ads and designs. They are doing their best to keep you attached to your phone, even though one would assume it’s literally impossible to spend more time on social media than we do already.
For business, it’s vital to stay up to date with how social media develops. Every feature and every update might become crucial. Then again, it might not. A lot about social media is pointlessly hyped up and has no real significance. So, it’s important to filter out the noise and stay aware of the things that might affect your marketing campaigns, your paid and organic reach, and your choice of social network. P.S.: this becomes easy when you have good digital partners, like us.
This is the post of such updates. We’re just a bit beyond half-way through 2019, but as you’ll see, there’s been enough changes to start reinventing your social media marketing strategy because more are rolling out all the time.
As of April 2019, Google+ is gone. All profiles and pages are deleted. Google explained that they decided to close down the network “due to low usage and challenges involved in maintaining a successful product that meets consumers’ expectations.
I bet you don’t care since you never used it in the first place. I am with you on that.
In case you’re not 100% sure what this is, TikTok is a video-sharing app that evolved from Musical.ly in 2017. In China, it’s branded as Douyin. The app lets users create and share 15-second videos. It’s something like Vine was. Right now, the app boasts more than 500 million users, particularly with younger users. Kids and teenagers make short skits, lip-sync, create cringe-inducing videos and cooking instructions.
This year, TikTok dived into advertising. Just like the big guys, they now have interest-based targeting, custom audience and pixel tracking, as well as age, gender, location, network and operating system targeting.
TikTok marketing campaigns were getting popular even before the ads were out. It’s only logical that the platform marketing usage is about to blow up.
Through scandals, scandals, and more scandals, a lot has changed the way Facebook works this year. And even more things are about to change. Let’s go through the most significant updates.
1. Custom Ads become more transparent
In the spirit of transparency, Facebook decided to let users know more about why they are targeted by a specific Facebook Ad. The “Why am I seeing this?” explanation now includes the name of the business that uploaded the user’s information to Facebook, potential involvement from agencies, Facebook Marketing Partners or other partners and any other sharing of custom audiences that may have taken place.
You can also see all active Ads a page is running in Ad library, which allows you to discover what your competitors are up to in terms of Facebook advertising.
Facebook has also expanded its testing with ads in News Feed and Marketplace search results. Yet, marketers point out that Facebook is unlikely to give its users much control over sharing their data – after all, that’s how the company is making money.
2. Targeting for certain ads is restricted
In pursuing the noble goal to fight discrimination, Facebook restricted targeting options for some companies. Housing, employment and credit ads can no longer be targeted by age, race or gender. Facebook explained that these changes came as the result of settlement agreements with civil rights organisations that will help protect people from discrimination.
3. Changes in the News Feed algorithm
Apart from Mark’s goal to make Facebook transparent – but not too transparent -, there’s also another one: to make the social media platform more like a “living room.” Therefore, we’re seeing the 2019 algorithm update that prioritises close friends.
Facebook knows how close you are with your friends (in fact, it knows much more). The social media network analyses what you have in common with the person and how you interact to determine whose posts you care about the most. Here’s what they have to say about the algorithm update:
“We look at the patterns that emerge from the results, some of which include being tagged in the same photos, continuously reacting and commenting on the same posts and checking-in at the same places — and then use these patterns to inform our algorithm. This direct feedback helps us better predict which friends people may want to hear from most.”
However, there’s also another update to the algorithm by prioritising certain Pages and Groups.
It turns out, even though people behind Facebook (or robots behind Facebook?) genuinely want you to feel surrounded by friends and relatives on the platform, they also don’t mind you seeing some Business Pages and Groups – as long as you’re truly interested in their information and will click on the links. That’s how Facebook puts it:
“Similar to the above update, we use these responses to identify signs that someone might find a link worth their time. We then combine these factors with information we have about the post, including the type of post, who it’s from and the engagement it’s received, to more accurately predict whether people are likely to find a link valuable.”
4. Video algorithm updated
Videos were not left unnoticed by Facebook. Since the beginning of May, three factors impact video rankings:
- Loyalty and intent: videos that people seek out and return to are prioritised.
- Video viewing duration: videos that capture the user’s attention for at least one minute are prioritised.
- Originality: unoriginal and repurposed content will be limited, as well as the content of the Pages involved in the sharing schemes.
- Length: longer (three minutes or more) videos are favoured.
5. New tools for businesses introduced
Recently Facebook announced new tools that are meant to simplify the management and promotion of businesses on Facebook:
- Automated Ads: automated Ads allow you to create a marketing plan for your business with little effort on your side. All you must do is answer a few questions about your business and your goals, and the tool will create up to six different versions of your ad, provide tailored audience suggestions, recommend a budget and send you timely notifications.
- Appointments management: this feature lets customers book a business service through Facebook and Instagram. You can also send appointment reminders, customise your business menu of services, display availability, and manage appointments from your business page. All your appointment can be synced up with your calendar or another appointment management tool.
- Video editing tools: Facebook videos also got a bunch of editing additions, like image and text overlays, new fonts, new stickers and templates for seasonal ads, etc.
While it doesn’t seem like a big thing, Facebook notifications used to play a significant role in user experience as well as in marketing practices. Businesses preferred Facebook Groups to Facebook pages, Live videos to recorded videos, and made other little tricks so that users would get notifications of their activity.
Now, however, things have changed. You can clear and mute all push notifications and choose if you want to see Notification Dots and for which categories.
6. Facebook cryptocurrency is announced
In June Facebook officially announced Calibra, a new Facebook subsidiary for financial services, and its first project Libra cryptocurrency along with a digital wallet. The announcement on the topic said that the aim is to enable money transfers for “almost anyone with a smartphone, as easily and instantly as a text message at a low to zero cost.” It also points out that Calibra is a separate entity from Facebook, which means that Facebook won’t have access to your financial data if you use Libra.
Yet, Facebook faces many challenges trying to become a part of the financial sector, and it’s too early to predict whether it will overcome them.
On Instagram, you can now turn a sponsored post of your influencer into an ad with a notation that says, “Paid partnership with XX.” This allows brands to set ad targeting for the posts of their influencers. The feature will require some setup for both the brand and the influencer. Other Instagram updates did not make our top list, but are worth looking at if your marketing around this platform specifically.
Twitter rolled out a new desktop design. It has more customisation options and is generally very different from what it used to be. You also get more options for themes and colour. Twitter ArtHouse also recently launched to give brands more access to creators and influencers.
In its quest against spammers, Twitter has limited the number of accounts a user can follow from 1,000 to 400 a day. Twitter claims that you will be fine with this change, and truth be told, unless spamming is your best marketing method, you will be.
LinkedIn decided to improve ad targeting and give their ads a fresh look. So, in 2019, they released some important updates:
1. Lookalike audiences
LinkedIn now combines your image of a customer persona with the data from LinkedIn to find your target audience. It finds people that are like the ones that have already shown an interest in your brand: for example, they’ve opened your website.
2. Interest targeting
LinkedIn interest targeting was introduced in January 2019, and it was recently updated to include Bing integration. Now the social network targets users based on “a combination of your audience’s professional interests on LinkedIn and the professional topics and content your audience engages through Microsoft’s Bing search engine, that respects member privacy.”
3. Audience templates
Templates provide any user with a selection of over 20 predefined B2B audiences. They include audience characteristics, such as member skills, job titles, groups and so on.
4. New post reactions
New post reactions didn’t come out of nowhere: according to LinkedIn, it is the kind of reactions people express often on the platform. The reactions are created to raise the overall engagement on LinkedIn and so that users could better understand the feedback to their posts.
5. Algorithm update
As of 2019, LinkedIn emphasised posts that trigger constructive dialogues rather than crazy sharing that often means that the post has gone viral. The algorithm also prioritises people you know and topics you care about.
Pinterest is probably the tamest social media platform out there: you don’t hear about data leaks, political scandals or Trump’s Pinterest tweets, because (luckily) they don’t exist. Yet, for many businesses, it’s the platform where the significant number of customers are coming from. Pinterest decided to improve customer experience.
New features are added to help the sellers reach and convert more customers. And here they are:
1. Shop a brand feature: beneath Product Pins, users can now view a new section with more products from that specific brand.
2. Personalised shopping recommendations.
3. Catalogue: brands can now upload their full catalogue to Pinterest and turn their products into shoppable Pins.
4. Shopping Ads: Brands can promote their products using Shopping Ads.
These were the most significant social media updates of 2019 so far. Hopefully, you will be able to adjust your strategy to these updates and even benefit from some of them.
Font: Social Media Today