For Zuckerberg-owned Facebook and Instagram, April was a month of big decisions. During the Facebook F8 developer conference, Mark Zuckerberg openly announced the direction in which the company is taking.
Although Facebook generated a lot of buzz last month, there are other social networks that announced exciting new updates and controversial decisions. Let’s jump in!
Facebook Gets a Facelift!
One of the main announcements from the F8 conference, and perhaps the most exciting was the redesign of Facebook’s home feed. Affecting both the mobile app and desktop site, the new version is the biggest change to Facebook’s design in 5 years.
For a while now people have been anticipating the announcement of Facebook’s shift to focus on private communities long before it was revealed at the conference. The redesign is a direct result of this shift, with Mark emphasising the need for privacy, and transforming the feed from a “social media town square” to a “social media living room”.
This updated interface places more focus on Groups – the more private aspect of Facebook – as opposed to public Pages. The community aspect is highlighted even further with the movement of the Events tab which now sits next to the Groups tab.
These updates and changes mark the transformation which Facebook has been eager to make, towards a “privacy-focused communications platform”, which could potentially see the News Feed scrapped altogether.
Chris Cox, a primary creator of the News Feed left the company last month, following Zuckerberg’s announcement of his new planned direction of the company… is this sending signals that the News Feed era is officially over?! What would this mean for small businesses using the platform to generate sales leads and increase brand awareness? What will be the new ways to advertise on the platform?
A Push for Communication
Despite the new intimacy-focused direction, Facebook is pushing you to communicate with people on the site and not just those you already know!
Connect with strangers with common interests, such as school or employer, with the Meet New Friends feature announced at F8, set to help you discover people in your communities to befriend.
Facebook Messenger Updates
Until Facebook go ahead with plans to integrate all it’s messaging platforms (WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram) they are working on improving the user experience for users and brands.
Also announced at the F8 conference, Facebook aims to make Messenger more accessible. Taking up less space on your phone, focus on chatting with people who you actually want to talk to… sounds great! The app will now highlight your “closest friends” and is planning to introduce video co-watching capabilities. In addition to this, Facebook is developing a desktop Facebook Messenger app for Microsoft and MacOS.
What does this update mean for brands? Well, Facebook is giving you more tools to convert in messenger. Below are a few of the new features waiting to be introduced:
- Lead generation templates for Messenger bots
- Booking appointment through Messenger
Although Facebook stated they want to focus on privacy, the new direction of the Messenger app is showing potential for increased commercial use by brands. The F8 conference also revealed to us that another messaging app, WhatsApp Business, will become a full-blown e-commerce platform, allowing brands to showcase product catalogues and accept payments in an app.
This can help brands to seem more genuine, as messaging with authentic human contact is often seen as a benefit with a large number of customers.
Earlier this year the “Hide replies” feature was discovered, giving the Tweets author the power to “hide” unwanted replies from themselves and others. Although not officially launched until June, you will still be able to see these Tweets through menu settings.
Twitter has been trying to better its ability to handle abuse on the platform, through improving its reporting features and making the process behind evaluating whether a Tweet breaks Twitter guidelines more transparent. During April they also implied that they will be focusing more attention on identifying abuse through technology. A blog post from the social networking site implied they are trying to deal with abusive Tweets before they’re even reported:
“The same technology we use to track spam, platform manipulation and other rule violations is helping us flag abusive Tweets to our team for review. With our focus on reviewing this type of content, we’ve also expanded our teams in key areas and geographies so we can stay ahead and work quickly to keep people safe. Reports give us valuable context and a strong signal that we should review content, but we’ve needed to do more and though still early on, this work is showing promise.”
Limiting the Number of Following Users
Following on from the banning several social media apps from the platform, Twitter is taking additional steps to prevent follow churn by limiting the number of users one can follow a day, from 1,000 to 400.
From their official Tweet, this has been implemented in order to fight spammers, who use a multitude of tactics to gain more followers. No longer will the manipulative tactics of mass following and unfollowing continue!
Some say 400 is still too many, but this will definitely be a blow to spam accounts who shed out 1,000 follows a day.
Possibly for the first time since starting this series, there is no Facebook scandal to report! Instead, Twitter has swooped in and snatched the scandal crown.
Despite an official notice stating Twitter will be stopping the verification process in 2017, it has continued to verify accounts of those who have personal connections with the company… how unfair!
However, Mashable discovered that over 10,000 users have been verified since the 2017 cut off date. Within the last four months both Tim and Marcia Dorsey, the parents of Twitter’s CEO received a blue check. In an official statement, Twitter confirmed that they have been verifying certain accounts, but didn’t reveal any specifics on how they decipher these accounts.
Goodbye Like Count!
For those using Instagram in Canada, no longer will you be able to see how many people liked pictures that appear your feed. Although the like count will continue to affect the algorithm on how Instagram ranks posts in your feed, you’ll only be able to see who liked the post as opposed to how many people liked the post in total.
Note, this only relates to other users posts in your timeline, you’ll still see the like count for your own posts.
Although many have expressed their frustrations about the new feature, the social networking site says this is part of a wider effort to reduce the negative impact on mental health social media can have. Also announced at the F8 conference, Instagram wants users to post more authentic content, and to focus on “the videos and photos they share, not how many likes they get”, and by doing so, battle any low self-esteem issues users can feel when they view curated images and videos on the platform.
Instagram is also taking steps towards battling bullying on the platform, including testing:
- A new “nudge” feature which warns users before they comment something abusive.
- An “Away Mode” allowing users to take a break from the app when needed.
- A “Manage Interactions” feature allowing users to customise the way specific users interact with their profile. For example, if you don’t wish to block a user completely, but don’t want them commenting on your posts, you can prevent them from doing so with this feature.
All of these features are still in testing, but if they can successfully reduce the negative effect on mental health, no doubt they will be rolled out worldwide. Removing the like count could potentially have an impact on Instagram marketing, as some influencers rely on this metric to motivate paid collaborations with brands.
An Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch:
“We understand that this is important for many creators, and while this test is in exploratory stages, we are thinking through ways for them to communicate value to their brand partners.”
New Donations Sticker
Back in our February roundup, we noted the potential feature to donate through Instagram, which has now been introduced.
The new Donations sticker allows users to donate money to non-profit organisations that they would like to support. If you use it, you can view how much money you’ve raised by swiping up on that story, and the full amount of what you see there is donated to the nonprofit of your choice. Currently only available in the US, Instagram is working to release this feature in more countries.
New Post Reactions
With the aim of boosting engagement, LinkedIn introduces new post reactions!
According to LinkedIn, the feature was introduced as per user requests. When designing the reactions, LinkedIn took into account: “what people are already talking about to better understand what feedback they wanted to express and receive.”
Not only will this make LinkedIn more fun to use, but this update could also help you to understand how your posts are perceived on a deeper level due to the response they leave. However, it has not been announced whether specific reactions will impact the feed’s algorithm. Reactions are starting to roll out slowly and will be available to all members globally in the coming months on both the mobile app and website.
That’s a wrap on all the social media updates from April! Will you miss the like count? What do you think about LinkedIn reactions? Leave us a comment below!