Social Media Roundup: January

The first month of 2017 has been as busy as ever for social media, with countless new developments springing up across multiple channels. But never fear, we’ve put together a roundup of the most important ones to keep you in the loop.

This new year has begun as the last one ended, with Instagram announcing a whole host of expansions to its service. After all of its recent improvements to Stories, Instagram boasts over 150 million daily users of this feature and are now capitalising on this by introducing ads. There’s a clear opportunity here for businesses to take advantage of on an engaging, sound-on video advertising format, which is hard to find when advertising through other platforms. These ads are soon to roll out in the UK, and although they will only be optimised for reach to begin with, Instagram has promised the expansion of this to a greater range of objectives in the coming months.

Businesses will also be pleased to know that Instagram is now showing basic insights (reach, impressions, replies and exits) to report back on Stories, helping to optimise content for what is becoming an increasingly important component of Instagram. To capitalise on this even further, Facebook has announced the trial of its identical story-based feature (the inventively named Facebook Stories), so expect even more developments moving forwards.

Furthermore, if live video wasn’t already impossible to escape, Instagram is now offering its own service… but with a twist. Following a live stream these videos won’t be archived – so once the broadcast has finished, this content is gone. This adds a more spontaneous avenue for those businesses interested in live video, and this range of channels to broadcast on allows greater refinement of live content dependent on the audience.

Elsewhere, news has emerged that Facebook has begun to test mid-roll ads – advertisements that take place during a video. Advertisers have been desperate for a way to capitalise on the captive audiences in engaging video content, but Facebook has been reluctant to introduce pre-roll ads so far. Mid-roll may be the method that suits the company best; however any disruption of videos may generate negative sentiment among users, so we’ll be eagerly watching to see how this test turns out.

Facebook has also announced its Journalism project, an attempt to improve ties between the news industry and the social network in the wake of the controversy over the prevalence of ‘fake news’ on the website. The new features arising from this range from storytelling formats (like presenting collections of stories at once) to tools that allow users to subscribe to publications directly from Facebook. Although limited to the news world at the moment, these features could give an idea of what could eventually be rolled out to more pages in future.

Finally, perhaps symbolic of the New Year, January has seen Twitter starting afresh with certain areas of its service. Firstly, Twitter is consolidating Moments, search, trending hashtags and live video into a new Explore tab – although not a huge change, this reveals the company’s diminishing focus on the Moments tab, which has not seen the success that many had hoped. Additionally, Twitter is removing the “buy” button, a feature used to drive sales in certain tweets, which puts an end to Twitter functioning as a sales channel for those ecommerce-focused brands using it. This reinforces Twitter’s increasing spotlight on customer relations offerings, leaving Facebook and Pinterest (and soon Instagram) as options for those brands who wish to use social media as a sales channel. Twitter clearly has an eye on repositioning itself, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on any further developments it decides to make…