March has seen the continuation of a number of recent trends in social media, with Twitter doubling down on live video and Facebook adding a new Stories feature. Here’s a rundown of the biggest developments of this month.
Firstly, in big news for Twitter users, it has been announced that the character limit for @usernames will no longer apply to replies, meaning responses can be the full 140 characters. Alongside this, the ability to choose which users to reply to in a group discussion has also been introduced. The benefits of longer replies for those businesses using Twitter as a customer service platform are clear, but the removal of @handle clutter will also facilitate locating and engaging in conversations for companies looking to build a community online.
We’re changing replies so that you have all 140 characters to express yourself.
— Twitter (@Twitter) 30 March 2017
Secondly, as previously mentioned, Twitter has committed even further to live video. It has announced that it is opening its live video API, letting large media companies broadcast on the platform using professional equipment, and allowing increasingly customisable ways of streaming live. We’ve mentioned previously the importance of adapting content strategy to suit this focus on live video, but increased advertising opportunities are also arising from this. For instance, Twitter has started to introduce pre-roll ads on Periscope videos, allowing advertisers to associate their message with specific broadcasters and creators in an environment that seems more spontaneous and hi-tech.
Finally, Twitter has announced that their Moments feature will now display analytics of performance, allowing creators to track how well their content is working on Twitter, with data on opens, likes and shares amongst others. Although Moments was relegated to the Explore feature last month, this development will help creators learn from their best-performing content and help craft more engaging Moments going forwards.
Introducing Moments analytics for all Twitter users on web. Just click on the down arrow to see how your favorite Moments are performing! pic.twitter.com/9YlyeEjJ6o
— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) 7 March 2017
Facebook has announced new developments to its Bots for Messenger feature, giving businesses the opportunity to harness the automated platform for detailed customer service responses or to encourage users into purchase decisions. An enhanced menu structure has been announced, which could help customers find products they’re looking for without leaving Facebook; or enable problem-solving conversations with bots. Although the feature didn’t really take off when first launched back in 2016, these developments could present a real opportunity for firms looking to improve customer service experience for users or drive purchase opportunities.
In other news, Facebook has rolled out split tests, allowing advertisers to split their campaigns into completely random and non-overlapping audiences, helping to determine which strategy is optimal for a campaign. With this feature, advertisers can discover which target audience, delivery method or placement is most efficient across 4 objectives:
- App installs
- Lead Generation
This is a first for Facebook, as previous A/B testing has run the risk of sharing audience members. Now, advertisers will be able to understand how different aspects of their ads affect campaign performance in a truly fair test.
Facebook has also started to roll out its tag showing disputed stories, which will appear beneath news stories that have been judged dubious by 3rd party fact-checkers. This could be a development to keep an eye on, as there is a possibility this could reduce user engagement on Facebook – visibly flagging items as disputed may reduce trust in the platform, meaning people may become less likely to share content in the future.
Facebook is flagging links to fake sites now, looks like: pic.twitter.com/N7xaWDkdYA
— Anna Merlan (@annamerlan) 3 March 2017
Facebook Stories was launched on mobile apps in March, a feature that works in the same way as the Stories features from other Facebook-owned apps (and Snapchat of course). As with Instagram Stories, this could present an opportunity for a new advertising environment if the feature shows promise… however, the continued emphasis on Story features has drawn derision and mockery from many parties and the feature has struggled to take off so far.
Microsoft Excel be like: Now with stories! pic.twitter.com/wYSNNdSiHv
— andrew furman (@furman) 21 March 2017
Facebook has a habit of making a success out of initially unpopular apps though (see: Messenger), so we’ll need to keep an eye on this.
Finally, Apple has announced a new app, Clips, looking to take advantage of social media’s current focus on the short-form video format. It differentiates itself from other apps through its inclusion of “Live Titles” – dynamic text which creates captions based on what is said aloud during a video. Although clearly aimed at personal experiences for the moment, it’s worth watching out for any future developments to see if this will fit in with a wider content strategy.
by Helen Hargreave