If there’s one thing we know for sure about social media, it’s that it never slows down. The pace of new features, updates, and tech can be relentless, making it tough to keep up—especially when you’re trying to keep tabs on about a dozen things at once. Miss a week, or even a few days’ worth of news, and you can end up feeling hopelessly behind.
October was full of updates, big and small—that’s why we’ve compiled a handy list of the social media news you need to know, featuring some of the most significant announcements from all of your favourite networks from the past month.
Twitter launched Moments, a new tab featuring curated Twitter content chosen by human editors. Moments aims to be “the best of Twitter in an instant,” corralling content unique to Twitter in an easy-to-find place so that all users can see it, regardless of who they follow. The tab will feature curated content such as influential conversations, cultural memes, and live coverage of events. Moments, designated by a lightning bolt icon, is currently available to U.S. Twitter users only. Twitter began testing Promoted Moments, featuring content authored by select brands, two weeks after the new feature’s initial release.
— Twitter (@twitter) October 6, 2015
Publish and Curate
Several years ago Twitter pioneered the concept of embedded social media posts. This month they took that concept one step further by introducing a new ecosystem of publishing tools that will allow users to find, group, and embed Twitter content. It’s the same system Twitter uses to curate its new Moments stream and it’s now available to other publishers. The tools, called Curate and Publish, enable publishers to search Tweets and organize them into Collections in order to create a highly visual and easily embeddable grid of content that emphasizes photos and videos. Both background and text colors are customizable for a seamless look upon embed.
Twitter rolled out its brand new poll feature to all users this month. Twitter Polls, a previously experimental feature, allows users to get the public’s opinion on any topic they like. Previously, users who wanted to create polls had to tweet a question and track replies by tallying hashtag use or asking followers to favourite or Retweet the Tweet in order to indicate their response. Twitter Polls simplifies the process by allowing users to simply ask a question, compose two possible responses, and let the results roll in. Each poll will remain live for 24 hours. Users’ individual responses to polls are private.
On October 26, Twitter unveiled Brand Hub, a new addition to the platform’s suite of analytics tools designed to provide real-time insights for brand marketers. Brand Hub includes several new analytics options. TrueVoice is a new metric that indicates a brand’s share of conversation in comparison to their top five competitors, displayed as a percentage in real-time. Other metrics have been upgraded with more actionable data. The new audience view provides brands with aggregate data about the people talking about their brand, including details such as gender, location, income levels, occupation types, and other demographic data. The new conversation details report shows businesses how people are discussing their brand on Twitter, with details such as impressions over time, how many Tweets have mentioned the brand, and the top phrases mentioned in conjunction with the brand.
Facebook debuted Reactions—a new extension of the Like button that allows users to respond to posts with one of seven emoji. So far available only to users in Ireland and Spain, this feature has the potential to grow into a key feature. Reactions include the now ubiquitous Like along with Love, Haha, Yay, Wow, Sad, and Angry. Facebook has not yet indicated when this update will roll out to users worldwide, but it will certainly be an important update to keep an eye on—particularly for social media marketers.
Notifications for targeted attacks
Facebook announced in a note on the Facebook Security page that they would notify users if they believe that the user’s account had been “targeted or compromised by an attacker suspected of working on behalf of a nation-state.” Facebook already takes steps to secure accounts that are believed to be compromised, but as of October 16 they will display an additional warning to the user if there’s a strong suspicion that an attack could be government-sponsored. Alex Stamos, chief security officer at Facebook, wrote in the note: “We do this because these types of attacks tend to be more advanced and dangerous than others.”
Facebook launched Search FYI, a new and improved search function that now includes all public posts so that users can tap into larger conversations as well as keep up with friends. Search FYI focuses on timely, personalized search suggestions, which highlight things happening right now so that users can follow events as they unfold. Search results are organized in order to clearly convey what people are saying about a given topic. Search FYI includes pull-to-refresh, the ability to search relevant public posts alongside those from friends, and the ability to easily join public conversations. The press release notes that “this feature is a first step,” so we’ll likely be seeing more search-related updates from Facebook in the future.
Updated Notifications Tab
Facebook started gradually rolling out an expanded, more personalized notifications tab for the Facebook app to iPhone and Android users in the U.S. at the end of October. Now, alongside notifications, users can see friends’ milestones (such as birthdays and life events), sports scores and TV show reminders (based on the Pages they’ve liked), and upcoming events that they’ve joined. Users also have the option to add additional info tailored for them based on where they are, such as local events, popular news in their location, weather updates (such as current conditions and severe weather alerts), movies playing in nearby theatres, and a list of places to eat nearby (including links to each place’s Facebook Page and reviews). Users can customize what they see in their notifications tab by tapping the arrow to the right of each card or selecting “Add More Cards” at the bottom of the tab. The location-based features require users to to enable Location History in the Facebook app.
David Marcus, vice president of messaging products at Facebook, announced the roll-out of Message Requests for Messenger in a post on October 28. This change, which he described as a “foundational development,” removed the little-known “Other” inbox that was only accessible from the web and has instead split incoming communications between Messenger and Requests, both of which will show up in the Facebook Messenger app. Marcus wrote: “The rule is pretty simple: If you’re friends on Facebook, if you have each other’s contact info in your phone and have these synced, or if you have an existing open thread, the new messages from that sender will be routed to your inbox. Everything else will now be a message request, minus spam attempts that we will continue to ruthlessly combat.” All someone needs to contact another Facebook user is their name, regardless of whether they’re friends and users can now accept or ignore new requests without the requestor knowing whether or not they’ve read their message.
The popular photo-sharing app celebrated its fifth birthday this month (has it been five years of Insta-goodness already?). Shortly after, on October 22, Instagram announced Boomerang a brand new, standalone video app. Boomerang allows users to shoot a sequence of images that are stitched together into a short GIF-style video that plays forward and backward in a loop. The mini-videos can be shot in portrait or landscape mode, automatically save to camera roll, and can be shared to Instagram. Boomerang joins Instagram’s growing lineup of standalone apps alongside Hyperlapse and Layout.
In response to its growing popularity worldwide, Pinterest has made some location-based updates to their search functions. Pinterest Search results are now customized by both language and country to “help international Pinners find local Pins that are more familiar and relevant to them.” Rui Jiang, engineering manager at Pinterest, explained the new feature in an announcement blog post: “So now if someone in German searches for cake-baking ideas, they’ll find all the best local Pins about baking, frosting, and decorating cakes—and both the Pin descriptions and the sites the Pins link to will be in German.”
YouTube announced YouTube Red, an ad-free, paid streaming version of the popular video-sharing site. For $9.99 a month, members can watch YouTube content sans ads, save content to watch later offline, and play videos in the background. YouTube Red went live in the U.S. on October 28. Early next year, YouTube plans to begin debuting original series and movies “from some of YouTube’s biggest creators.” The video-streaming giant also announced new YouTube Music and Gaming apps.
LinkedIn introduced revamped LinkedIn Groups, including a brand new LinkedIn Groups iOS app. In order to foster interaction within a trusted space, conversations in new Groups are only visible to group members. Updated Groups also now include the ability to add images to posts, the ability to mention other group members, suggested groups, and access to industry conversations on the go with the app.
Posts shared by employees are reshared at a rate of 24 times that of brand posts. Our new employee advocacy solution, Hootsuite Amplify, gives brands the opportunity to access this often untapped resource and increase their reach significantly. With Amplify, companies manage a centralized channel where they can easily share content with employees and empower them to boost those messages by pushing them out to their own social media networks.
On October 27, we unveiled the new freemium version of Hootsuite Campaigns. There are now Free, Pro, and Enterprise options for Campaigns, allowing all of our users access to these awesome tools for building and managing social media campaigns, right from their Hootsuite dashboard. The Free version of Campaigns gives users the opportunity to utilize two of our most powerful lead-generation campaigns: Signup and Sweepstakes. Signup mobilizes fans to register for newsletters, promotions, and exclusive offers while Sweepstakes gives fans the chance to win a prize from the brand on social media.
This month we rolled out an exciting new feature that’s been at the top of many customer request lists: custom thumbnail images for link previews. Hootsuite users can now upload their own thumbnail images, customize the title, and write their own description when sharing links to Facebook and LinkedIn. For users who like to schedule posts, they can now use this feature to schedule a link to a blog post or article that has not yet been published and override the lack of image that normally accompanies that action. To use the new feature, select a Facebook or LinkedIn profile, compose your message, and add a link. Then, within the link area, click the camera icon to replace the image and select the desired image from your computer. Then you can send or schedule your custom thumbnail link post as usual. This feature works for Facebook Profiles, Pages, and Groups as well as LinkedIn Profiles, Groups, and Company Pages.
LinkedIn Image Posting
This month we also added the ability to upload and publish images to LinkedIn Company Pages. Image posts typically receive greater engagement than those without, so this update will allow users to harness the power of great visuals on LinkedIn. To share an image to a LinkedIn Company Page, simply select the profile, attach an image, add your text and, if desired, shortened URL, then send or schedule for later. Note that the image will not populate within your Hootsuite “Company Updates” stream, but it will appear in your published post on LinkedIn. Image posts on LinkedIn must include some text.
With its iOS 9.1 update for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, Apple released a wave of 184 new emoji, including the much-anticipated taco, unicorn, and middle finger emoji. The update also included what’s being described as an “eye in speech bubble” emoji, which was the subject of some speculation during the developer preview. Wired wrote a piece that solved the mystery of the emoji’s meaning with the revelation that the emoji is connected to the Ad Council’s new anti-bullying campaign “I Am A Witness.” The idea is for kids to use the symbol to make a statement against bullying and show support for its victims. You can see all of the new emoji catalogued on Emojipedia.
Because social is constantly evolving, we’re going to publish a handy roundup of social media news each month to ensure that you never miss a beat. Watch out for our November 2015 roundup at the end of next month.