By now you’ve probably got sugar plums dancing in your head, but you should still be keeping up with the latest from social networks. For instance, did you know that Facebook opened up Live Video this month or that Twitter’s testing out non-chronological timelines?
With the holidays upon us and the new year fast approaching, December can be a hectic time. That’s why it’d be easy to miss some of the many new updates your favorite social networks have made this month.
While December has been a little quieter than most, there’s still plenty happening in the world of social media. We’ve rounded up all of the biggest social media news for the month into one big list that’ll ensure that you’re up to date when 2016 rolls around.
New photo options
On December 7, Twitter introduced two new photo options. Users on twitter.com now have the ability to uncrop images so “you can experience and present them as they were meant to be viewed. Twitter has also unveiled new larger, more dynamic multi-photo displays. Akarshan Kumar, product manager, explained: “While Twitter began as an all-text platform, rich media has become essential to the experience. Some of the best moments on Twitter are when you see the world through someone else’s eyes… This is why we’re constantly refining Twitter’s media experience.” The update follows the launch of Moments and autoplaying videos.
In December, Twitter began experimenting with non-chronological timelines, according to the Wall Street Journal. A Twitter spokeswoman told the WSJ: “This is an experiment. We’re continuing to explore ways to surface the best content for people using Twitter.” Some users began to see an algorithmic-driven news feed as early as December 6. WSJ also referred back to something CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey said back in July: “You will see us continue to question our reverse chronological timeline, and all the work it takes to build one be finding and following accounts.”
— André Silva (@meninodekc) December 6, 2015
Messages Page plugin
On December 2, Facebook introduced a messages Page plugin feature. The Page plugin was first launched earlier this year. This new feature makes it even easier for customers to interact with companies. Yugal Jindle wrote in the announcement blog post: “With its integration with the Page plugin, people can now easily message your business without ever leaving your website.This allows you to bring the conversations you have with people on Facebook to other places on the web and on mobile.”
Events Page plugin
On December 2, Facebook also introduced an events Page plugin feature. Yugal Jindle wrote: “With events in the Page plugin, people can now discover and interact with events from your Page, right on your website. For example, if you’re promoting an upcoming concert, you can create an event from your Page and feature it on your website, while managing the details from one place.” Key features of the new event feature include the ability to manage event details directly from the Facebook event (any updates will appear in the Page plugin), subscribe functionality (people can subscribe to events directly from the website), a more social aspect to a website’s events calendar (allowing website visitors to see which of their friends are going to the same event), and a localized experience (Jindle explained: “For events being organized in multiple cities, the most relevant event will be highlighted for a given person based on where he or she is located.”).
On December 3, Facebook began to test the ability for anyone to share live video on Facebook. The feature was previously limited to celebrities. Product managers Vadim Lavruski and Thai Tran wrote in the announcement blog post: “Live lets you show the people you care about what you’re seeing in real time—whether you’re visiting a new place, cooking your favorite recipe, or just want to share some thoughts. No matter where you are, Live lets you bring your friends and family right next to you to experience what’s happening together.” The test includes a “small percentage of people in the U.S. on iPhones.” Those who have the feature will see a “Live Video” option when they go to make a status update. Live video will save to Timeline like any other video post.
In the same post as Live Video, Facebook introduced collages. The feature will group together photos and videos that were taken together into a “scrolling, moving collage.” Product managers Vadim Lavruski and Thai Tran explained: “When you tap on Photo, you’ll see recent moments from your camera roll organized into collages based on when and where you took them. You can edit your collage by adding, removing, or re-arranging the photos and videos that you want to include. When you’re done, you can add a title to the collage before sharing.” The new feature began rolling out to iPhone users on December 3. It will be available on Android early in 2016.
Mobile sharing changes
Facebook also began piloting a new design for mobile sharing. Product managers Vadim Lavruski and Thai Tran wrote that users can now “tap What’s on your mind? at the top of News Feed to see a drop down menu of all the different options” for sharing.” They added: “This will allow us to include new sharing features in the future.” The new design is being tested with “a few people on iPhone and Android.”
Buy Tickets button
At the beginning of December, Facebook introduced a Buy Tickets button on events created by Pages, according to BuzzFeed News. Users can now purchase tickets, available for pickup at Will Call windows, directly in Facebook. A Facebook spokeswoman told BuzzFeed News that the company has partnered with a small group of independent venues, artists, and event promoters in the San Francisco Bay area for the pilot. “Though Facebook will sell the tickets, it will hand off fulfillment to third parties, so all of the backend activities after the purchase will be completed outside of Facebook,” reported BuzzFeed News. “Facebook is not taking a cut of the ticket price.”
New Page communication tools
On December 8, Facebook introduced new tools for managing communication on Pages. Facebook has changed the response rate feature, which was previously available as a “Very responsive to messages” indicator, but only for Pages where 90 percent of messages were responded to within five minutes. The “new controls and more responsiveness levels” will allow Page managers to indicate how long it typically takes them to respond to messages, “so a wider range of businesses can encourage people to reach out to them through private messages.” Options include “within minutes,” “within an hour,” “within hours,” and “within a day.” Also, now Page response times will show up in Messenger threads when a user reaches out to a business, “so people know when to expect a response.” Facebook also added a new messaging status for Pages called “away.” The new status, which would be visible on a Page, allows admins to designate when they’re unavailable to respond to messages. The blog post explained: “For instance, if a Page turns of messaging at night, people will see that the Page is not responding to messages at that time and know not to expect a response right away. When this new feature is enabled, messages the Page receives do not count toward the Page’s response rate.” In addition, Facebook redesigned the Pages inbox. “Now when Page admins message people, they’ll see past interactions the person has has with the Page, as well as information the person shares publically on their profile, like their current city. Admins can also make notes about the person, like current orders, past customer service preferences, or any other relevant information.” Finally, Facebook has also built a tool under the new Activity tab to help admins monitor and respond to comments on their Page. Facebook began rolling out these new features globally in December and they will be available to every Page “in the coming months.”
Transportation on Messenger
On December 16, Facebook launched transportation on Messenger. The new feature gives users the ability to request a ride from a car service without leaving their conversation. The first partner for this new feature is Uber. Seth Rosenberg, product manager, explained: “From there you’ll receive updates on your driver’s status and notify your friends that you’ve called a ride. With the ability to request, track and pay for a ride in Messenger, we’re making transportation as simple as sending a message.” Facebook is currently testing this feature and it “will be available to select users in the locations where Uber operates in the United States. More countries and other transportation partners will be available soon.”
Holiday sharing Messenger features
Facebook added some new features for sharing during the holidays on December 17. Among them was Photo Magic, which we covered in our November news roundup. Director of product management Peter Martinazzi and product manager Lexy Franklin explained in a blog post: “Photo Magic will help you keep your promise to send the pictures you take without forgetting, or worse, leaving someone out.” Photo Magic recognizes users’ Facebook friends in their photos using the same technology as photo tag suggestions, and makes sharing those photos easier. Facebook also released features to customize Messenger conversations using color, emoji, and nicknames. During the holidays, when users send a Santa, Christmas tree, or snow-related sticker or emoji to a friend in Messenger, a flurry of snow will fall across their screen. “It’s just like being inside your own snow globe.” And finally, Facebook brought back the snow globe effect for Android users’ chat heads during the holidays. They’ll switch to confetti for New Year’s.
Acquired two new companies
On December 8, Pinterest announced that it had acquired two companies: mobile meme maker Pext and community-powered shopping app The Hunt. This brings the image bookmarking site’s acquisitions up to nine. A Pinterest spokesman told AdAge: “The teams on The Hunt and Pext include some of the best minds in mobile shopping, advertising and image indexing technologies. The talents and experiences from these companies will help us tackle significant areas in commerce and ads engineering.” A piece on re/code referred to the purchase as an “acqhire” saying that “Pext and The Hunt were acquired for the people who built them, not the companies themselves.” The post also added that “Both will shut down.” Pext’s homepage reads: “We started Pext because we strongly believed in image discovery. We are excited to continue this journey at Pinterest.”
Track buyable Pins
On December 18, Pinterest launched a new way for users to track buyable pins. Pinterest will now notify users when the price on a buyable Pin they’ve saved drops via in-app and email notifications. Users can go straight to the Pin and purchase the item directly in the app (Pinterest introduced buyable Pins back in June). Wonjun Jeong, software engineer, explained: “Say you’ve collected a bunch of gift ideas on your Holiday Shopping board. When that cashmere scarf for mom goes on sale, we’ll send you a notification so you can buy it right from the app.” He added: “Every day, there are over 1 million Pins with reduced prices, so you’re sure to find some good steals.”
New LinkedIn app
On December 1, LinkedIn released a newly redesigned version of their mobile app. Joff Redfern, VP of product, wrote in the announcement blog post: “We’ve not only rebuilt the new Flagship app from scratch but we have taken everything you love and more to develop a mobile experience that is more intuitive, smarter and dramatically simplifies your LinkedIn experience.” The app has been streamlined into “five core areas — Your Feed, Me, My Network, Messaging, and Search.” Additionally, the app includes messaging and 300 percent faster search functionality. The updated flagship app includes a new app launcher feature, which provides access to Pulse, Groups, Job Search, and other dedicated apps.
Lynda.com on Roku
LinkedIn made its education platform Lynda.com available on Roku. Now users can access Lynda.com’s 4,000 expert-led courses via their TV. Nur Duygun suggested in the LinkedIn announcement blog post: “Or use your TV as an extra screen, freeing up your laptop or desktop to actively work alongside our instructional videos.”
Tumblr made some updates to messaging this month. Now every post on the blogging platform features a new button: a paper airplane that allows users to send any post as a message. Messaging is also now available to all users.
Slack launched an app directory on December 15. The directory includes more than 160 apps that “can extend the capabilities of your Slack team.” The apps are “sorted into curated lists by category, popularity, and staff favorites.”
Do Not Disturb
On December 17, Slack introduced Do Not Disturb mode. The new feature gives users the ability to snooze notifications. When users enable Do Not Disturb mode, their status will be updated with the Do Not Disturb icon and they won’t receive any notifications. Users can also schedule regular Do Not Disturb hours. In case of emergency, users can push a notification through. The Slack blog explained: “So whether you need a few uninterrupted hours to attend to that mounting to-do list, plan to devote your entire evening to watching your kids’ living room rendition of ‘Annie,’ or conversely, are struck by a brilliant idea in the wee hours that you just have to share: Do Not Disturb is here, for helping maintain business as usual (and make room for the other stuff too).”