April has been yet another fascinating month for social media with Instagram Stories topping 200 million daily users, a spotlight shone on a new Twitter alternative and Facebook announcing features that could be straight out of Black Mirror… we’ve rounded up the biggest stories of the month below.
Firstly, Facebook have announced a new mobile-exclusive ad format – Collection. These ads feature a video and a selection of products beneath it, allowing brands to tell a story then showcase relevant products for users to browse without leaving the app. This new ad format will be extremely useful for retail companies, enabling the discovery of new products alongside more brand-focused messaging within the space of a single advert.
In Messenger news, Group Payments have been rolled out to US users of the app. Although it has long been possible to send money to an individual via the app, this new feature allows users to split payments from multiple parties all within the app.
This development within the app indicates Facebook’s increasing investment in its capabilities for dealing with payments, and businesses will need to consider how they can take advantage of this focus as in-app payments surely spread to other areas of the platform.
Finally, in what some people will surely characterise as a step into social media’s dystopian future, Facebook have launched Spaces, “a new VR app where you hang out with friends as if you were in the same room.”
As odd as the description may sound, the dawn of VR heralds new possibilities for businesses, and although it’s difficult to see what form they will take at the moment, with Facebook planning to invest $3bn in VR over the next decade, this will surely be where opportunities will soon present themselves.
In a fairly unique advertising opportunity, Twitter is now offering Custom Hearts on Periscope videos, allowing users to post campaign-specific logos and icons during broadcasts. Although this could mostly be seen as a novelty with no real effect on video effectiveness, for large campaigns this may present a new way of generating awareness, or improving sentiment towards a campaign.
— Fast & Furious (@FastFurious) April 8, 2017
Additionally, Twitter has announced the introduction of mid-roll ads, allowing companies to advertise on a new area of video content, one that could be seen as more captive than pre-roll varieties as users are already invested in the video by this point.
Video is a priority for Twitter’s future, and it claims that its “videos are 2x more memorable when compared to the same ads on ‘other premium sites’” – meaning a large focus will remain on developing new video and advertising opportunities going forwards.
Instagram Stories has reached over 200 million daily users – surpassing Snapchat’s Stories feature – with 100 million of these coming in the last 6 months. To rub salt into the wounds, Instagram is now lifting more of Snapchat’s features like the ability to add stickers and pin text to Stories. As Instagram’s growth is showing no signs of slowing down, it is clear that it will play an increasingly important role in the content & advertising strategies of companies on social media.
Finally, for those looking for a new short-form platform to escape Twitter’s hold over the format, Mastodon may be the answer. This new network’s de-centralised system and 500-character limit sufficiently set it apart from other offerings, with users able to set up their own ‘instances’ of the network. Although this platform isn’t particularly friendly to businesses at the moment (no ads or tracking are currently allowed), it has been clear in the past that these guidelines can often change as networks grow in size. So, if users begin to migrate away from Twitter in large numbers, this might be another network for businesses to keep an eye on.
by Helen Hargreave