There’s no quiet year in social media updates and 2017 wasn’t an exception. All the big social platforms had a busy year, either trying to recover from past losses or gearing up for new directions that will help them grow.
The domination of Instagram Stories and the ability to follow hashtags
Instagram Stories may have been launched in 2016, but 2017 was the year that they skyrocketed Instagram’s popularity. Instagram introduced several additions through the year to make Stories more engaging, including:
- New filters and stickers
- New fonts
- Stories Highlights
- Stories Archives
The last two of them can improve the lifespan of your brand’s Instagram Stories and it can be a great addition to your new campaigns.
What makes Instagram Stories special is that it feels that the right feature found the right platform. An engaging feature was introduced in a platform with a growing momentum and it managed to leave Snapchat behind and become one of the most trending social platforms of 2017. As of October, Instagram had 300 million daily active Stories users, up from 200 million in April.
Another useful addition on Instagram was the option to follow hashtags. This allows brands to focus more on the use of hashtags as part of their campaigns, encouraging people to follow their news or their latest campaigns. Moreover, it can also help brands with social monitoring, keeping an eye on their competitors or the user-generated content they want to track.
Facebook has decided to introduce its own Stories, without being yet anywhere near Instagram’s success. At first, it introduced Facebook Stories and Messenger Day, two different types of ephemeral content. While these two weren’t particularly popular during the year, they have been merged into one simple feature named Stories.
What makes it interesting is the fact that you can also post Stories on Pages, Groups, or Event Pages, exploring all the different uses you could benefit from the ephemeral content.
Instagram introduces a “paid partnerships” tag
Influencer marketing won’t be the same anymore after Instagram’s decision to promote transparency over branded content.
As more partnerships take place on Instagram, the idea is to help the community understand when there’s a collaboration between a person and a brand.
This strengthens the relationship between brands and the community, while it should serve as a good experiment on how the audience interacts when a paid partnership is clearly mentioned.
Twitter expands its limit to 280 characters and introduces “Threads”
Twitter has finally decided to make our lives easier by doubling its number of allowed characters.
Brands can now improve their creativity on their tweets and great examples have already showed up.
Although there has been a conversation whether this feature alters Twitter’s initial brand identity, it can be a useful change when trying to tell a story through your tweets.
If you still feel that 280 characters are not enough to tell a story, you can benefit from Twitter’s new “Threads”. Tweetstorms, or else a series of tweets on one topic, are not new. Twitter decided to make their marking easier though by allowing you to create one tweet after another through the same posting.
This way, you can respond to a breaking story, tell your campaign’s message, or start a conversation by making it clear how tweets are linked together.
Budget advertising with Twitter Promote Mode
SMBs don’t have to worry anymore about the reach of their tweets and when they need to promote them. Twitter introduced a “Promote Mode”, a new subscription service that helps businesses promote their tweets for $99/month.
This is a quick and budget-friendly solution to activate an advertising mode for your Twitter presence to grow your audience and improve the engagement.
Snapchat brought Sponsored Filters right before the big redesign
Snapchat became popular among other reasons for the fun filters and it now turned them into an ad format. Brands are now able to create their own animated filters to promote their campaign in a fun and engaging way.
The most important topic of the year though for Snapchat was the decision to redesign its app to split social from media. Or else, Snapchat announced the decision to keep friends and publishers on different swipes, keeping conversations on the left swipe and the Discover section to the right.
Although the visual design hasn’t significantly changed, the app tried to eliminate the confusion between personal and professional use. It’s now clearer than ever how private communication is different than media consumption. This way it aims to maintain its popularity in two different directions, allowing people to decide how they’ll use the app.
LinkedIn launches Website Demographics, native video and improved lead gen forms
LinkedIn introduced Website Demographics, a new tool to help B2B companies and marketers understand their visitors and their professional traits. The free reporting tool is helping in the personalization of the campaigns, helping marketers create the right content for the right audience.
An interesting idea was LinkedIn’s decision to focus on native video. Users are now able to post their videos of up to 30 seconds as on other platforms, talking about professional topics in a new format. This can help with the platform’s engagement, while it taps into the general trend of video content.
Moreover, LinkedIn has seen great success with its Lead Gen Forms. They quickly became a popular ad format as a way to capture email addresses through useful content. LinkedIn wanted to improve these forms even more by introducing custom questions, lead gen forms for Sponsored InMail and also lead generation for Dynamic ads. All these additions aim to lower the cost per lead, while they facilitate the customization of each form.
For example, a lead generation form through Sponsored InMail can reduce the required number of steps for a prospect to fill out a form and it was LinkedIn’s decision to benefit from the average open rate of 40% for the Sponsored InMails to focus more on lead generation.
Pinterest improves its visual search
Pinterest has become a growing visual search, aiming to blend the power of visual content with actionable steps for ecommerce brands. Thus, as it currently counts more than 300 million visual searches every month, it decided to introduce three new features to make visual search even more effective:
- Lens Your Look
- Shop the Look
- Responsive Visual Search
Lens You Look makes it easier to combine existing photos with the visual search to find the perfect match. Shop the Look helps brands and people benefit from ‘shoppable’ images, while Responsive Visual Search facilitates mobile searches with a simple pinch to zoom in objects within pins bringing new results.
Youtube launches its own stories and helps advertisers with new tools
Youtube has decided to create its own version of stories, naming them Reels. The new Youtube Reels introduce a new video format to the popular video platform, encouraging creators to explore all the varying uses of videos that last up to 30 seconds. The big difference is that Reels are not disappearing after 24 hours, which means that the format is the same, with Youtube not feeling the need to dive into ephemeral content.
A great addition in 2017 for Youtube was the series of tools that help advertisers appeal to their audience in a more personalized way.
- Custom Affinity Audiences: This tool helps marketers reach people based on their searches. Intent-based searches improve ad relevance for brands, increasing their effectiveness.
- Director Mix: Youtube helps brands create numerous different personalized versions of their creatives, assisting them in saving time while creating personalized content.
- Video Ads Sequencing: This tool makes it easier to create a sequence in storytelling to help brands benefit from stories as part of their ads.
- Matched Panel Analysis: Nielsen MPA helps marketers measure the attention earned from each campaign to examine the best-performing ones both for online and offline sales.
What can we learn from these?
2017 offered many interesting updates in social media. Not all them will be successful in the long term, but they’re all worth our time in testing what works better for a brand.
It becomes evident that every social platform moves in a different direction, aiming to come up with new features that will maintain their popularity.
The best lesson to learn is that social media marketing should be evaluated at least once a year. All these updates require from marketers to stay constantly up-to-date. A successful social media marketing strategy understands the best ways to use each social network while marketers are aware that they cannot afford to stay behind if they want to beat their competitors.