Throughout October, we have seen a range of developments in the world of social media. One of the most intriguing of these has been the addition of a series of features on Facebook which encourage the eliciting and sharing of recommendations. Now, when users ask for advice, a prominent request on the News Feed is shown, which lets friends know that users are looking for suggestions and respond accordingly.

Furthermore, Facebook is rolling out methods to book appointments, get quotes and even purchase items immediately through businesses’ pages. This feature may become vital for companies, as the buying process is streamlined and the entire purchase journey can now be made entirely through Facebook. These options are available due to partnerships with third party firms like Ticketmaster, so local businesses will need to be connected and integrated with the relevant company in order to profit from this opportunity.

As word of mouth is widely considered the most persuasive of advertising, these updates could become incredibly important for businesses. Consumers are much more likely to act on the advice of a friend, so local businesses should look into capitalising on any attention gained through these new features.

In video news, Facebook is improving its Live API service, allowing verified Pages to schedule live video events in a more engaging manner. Users are also given a reminder of these streams in advance, and can connect and interact with other viewers, helping to build a sense of community around the video provider. On a related note, Twitter is expanding its Periscope app, allowing users to stream from a greater range of devices, including professional cameras, apps and even virtual reality devices, providing the opportunity for more professional and polished content through live video.

These live video updates should reinforce the burgeoning importance of this platform for businesses, as they provide a novel way of interacting with users and customers on an increasingly personal level. Through streaming live events or providing behind the scenes access, businesses are able to give a more personal and inclusive experience. Live video could also be used for demonstrations and tutorials, allowing the promotion of products whilst providing unique and helpful information to consumers.

In Instagram news, the Stories feature is expanding to the explore tab. As mentioned in August, Instagram Stories has presented an opportunity for businesses to post more ‘authentic’ and live content, and according to Instagram over 100 million users use this tab every day to find content from creators that they are not currently following. This expansion of Stories presents an opportunity for businesses to widen the benefits of Stories to reach a whole new audience, and by providing well curated and engaging content on this platform, this could be a way to draw more users to their social media channels and hopefully through to being customers.

Finally, Vine – RIP. In the wake of a recent announcement that hundreds of layoffs were coming, Twitter has announced that it will be shutting Vine, the 6-second video app. Although it has proved an attractive platform for younger generations, Vine has struggled to keep its user base up when competing against the likes of Instagram and Snapchat, and Twitter has since shown greater interest in its integrated video and Periscope developments. For businesses, however, there will not be too much to mourn. Although Vine had some unique features, it was these very features that made it difficult to deliver engagement-driving content.