Welcome to the monthly round up of social media news and updates, especially geared towards what small businesses need to know.
October! It’s my favourite non-summer month of the year, and it contains two special dates: namely my birthday and Social Quirk’s! There’s also the excitement of Woking Means Business tomorrow, where I’ll be running the social media all day.
Anyway, on to business, here’s your social media news roundup…
Facebook – new look for Profiles and Business Pages on mobile; new Page Messaging tools; Facebook Notes refresh; 360 Video; Facebook Dislike Button
Twitter – rumours of increasing 140-character limit; reduced Twitter share info; sell directly on Twitter
LinkedIn – new Messaging interface; Cortana integration
Google – new Google My Business navigation; new Google logo
Instagram – threads and shares added to Instagram Direct; Ads opened to all businesses everywhere through Facebook Power Editor
Miscellaneous – Snapchat adds Lenses and sells extra Replays; YouTube added to Klout
Some biggish changes on Facebook this month! Chances are if you use Facebook on your phone regularly you’ll have spotted some changes to how your profile looks on a mobile device: the design looks a bit sleeker, your profile picture’s been centred (ruining your carefully aligned cover photo) and you can add a short mobile-only bio and up to five featured photos. As a member of the Myspace generation, I was somewhat sad when the Facebook about section was relegated to a subpage on a subpage, but I’m still pondering what to put in my 101 character bio.
Facebook are also testing some cool features for your profile photo. Watch this space for looping Profile Videos (a la Snapchat), and temporary profile pictures that revert back to your normal one at a pre-set time.
It’s not just personal profiles that have had a lick of paint – Business Pages have seen a mobile revamp. Now different businesses can set themselves apart on social media. Retail outlets can add the new Shop Section, and professional services can showcase their offerings in the Services Section. New Sections should be added in the future if neither of these suit your business.
The navigation has been tweaked, and Call To Action buttons are bigger and bolder, and this is a design shift that seems to be coming to desktop too – I’ve spotted it on a few pages. We recommend taking this opportunity to have a Facebook Page revamp!
Messenger for Business is also seeing improvements. It’s now easy for you to take the conversation to a private space, such as to resolve a customer complaint. Just tap the new Message button next to Like and Reply to open up a Messenger tab that’s linked to the original comment. And business pages who consistently reply to 90% of messages with a median response time of five minutes will get a shiny “Very responsive to messages” badge high up on their page.
Other new features include a new “Send Message” CTA available for Local Awareness Ads, saved responses to common questions and improved Messenger inbox controls.
Now, do you remember Facebook Notes? It was sort of a mini-blogging platform that was reasonably popular when Facebook was first gaining popularity, but gradually sunk into obscurity like the Facebook Poke (which, by the way, still exists!). Now Notes are back, and seem to be on track to take on LinkedIn Publishing Platform… but with an everyday blogger feel to them. New imagery and a modern look means that blogging on Facebook could be on its way back.
Probably a bit too futuristic for most small businesses, but 360 Video is here. Rather than being stuck with whatever the cameraman felt like pointing his camera at, you can rotate and swivel for a full 360° view – check out the new Star Wars advert for an example. From my perspective they’re a bit juddery and blocky, and I’m fairly sure I missed all the exciting parts of the trailer (either that or it’s the most boring trailer ever), but that means the only way is up!
And finally… it’s been rumoured, it’s been denied, it’s been begged for for a long time… Mark Z has announced that the dislike button is on its way! I’m not a fan of the negative connotations, and by the sounds of it neither is Zuckerberg, but I’m excited about this draft of what the Emote Button (as I’m going to call it) may look like!
Twitter is causing some waves this month. After relaxing the 140 character limit in DMs last month, there are now rumours that Twitter is planning on breaking out of its character limit for tweets as well. Considered by pretty much everyone to be its defining feature, what would it mean if Twitter did lose the limit? A wider user-base perhaps, but at the expense of its more hardcore users. However nothing has been confirmed yet – it could just mean more tweaks to what is counted in the character count, like the recently added “Retweet with Comment” feature, or an easy way to link to a long-form blog.
Another reckless move by Twitter is to remove Share counts from Tweet buttons. This news has been snuck in along with a redesign to the buttons (which admittedly do look awesome). A side effect of this is that third-party access to share statistics will also be curtailed. There’s quite a bit of outrage in the social media community about this, as it could be paving the way towards an analytics-restricted future.
The controversy seems set to continue, as Jack Dorsey has been announced permanent CEO.
In slightly better news, Twitter is introducing a Buy Now CTA button in tweets meaning you can now sell directly on Twitter. Something of a silver lining for retailers…
Finally, something vaguely exciting from LinkedIn – they’ve revamped their messaging platform. Is it exciting and groundbreaking…?!? No. It’s a messaging platform that’s just about on-par with Facebook Messenger a year ago. It has stickers, emojis and gifs. Honestly, it jars a little with the rest of uber-professional LinkedIn. But at least it’s better than it was.
The second piece of vaguely interesting stuff from LinkedIn is their integration with Cortana. To be honest, I think a Microsoft or Google takeover is the only thing that could salvage LinkedIn from stagnancy (have I mentioned I’m not a big LinkedIn fan?). Anyway, Cortana will now give you LinkedIn data about your upcoming meetings, which is kind of cool.
Google My Business navigation has had a makeover! It’s not terribly exciting!
However, Google itself had a redesign, which I have to say I’m a big fan of.
Instagram has spent this month making some improvements to Instagram Direct, it’s private messenger system. Originally just a way to send a single photo to a friend or group, the redesign is very Messenger-esque (which makes sense seeing as Instagram is owned by Facebook), with threads, named groups, emojis and insta-selfies. You can also now share a photo in your feed to a Direct conversation, meaning that comment feeds will lose some of the “@username”-only comments that make up about 40% of all comments on the site.
And Instagram has finally rolled out its ads, worldwide, to businesses of every size, and you can even manage them through Facebook’s Power Editor!
Snapchat is doing some random stuff – press and hold on your face to activate Lenses, real-time special effects that you can send as videos and Snaps. It looks like these Lenses will soon form part of the monetisation plan for Snapchat, with brands able to offer sponsored Lenses.
We’re also seeing some other monetisation from Snapchat – you can now purchase Replays (over and above your current limit of one per day) at $0.99 for 3 Replays.
Finally, Klout has added Youtube as one of its Scoring accounts, meaning that your engagement on that channel will add to your Klout score.
Well that’s that! I love the new Facebook mobile designs, am infuriated by Twitter, and both LinkedIn and Google continue to disappoint somewhat. Instagram is shaping up to be a key player and any visual small business that isn’t on it yet, should be. But overall it’s been a quiet month – let’s see what October has in store!
What do you think about the updates this month? Let us know in the comments below.
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