A social media round up – August 2020

The world may feel slower than usual right now, but advances in social media are coming thick and fast! Time spent on devices and social media is at an all-time high due to COVID-19. As such, the social giants are trying to keep up with consumer demand – all competing to make their platform the ‘go-to’. Over the last few weeks and months we have seen the introduction of lots of exciting new features and improvements, read on for our run down of the very latest goings-on in social media!

TikTok

It wouldn’t be right to publish a blog on social media without first talking about TikTok. The video-sharing social media app has come under fire recently for security concerns, with India being the first country in the world to permanently ban the app. Indonesia actually banned the app back in 2018, but it was lifted only eight days after TikTok pledged to censor inappropriate content in Indonesia. 

With India having banned the app, America may be the next to follow suit with the Trump administration looking into the security threat posed by a number of Chinese apps – including TikTok. 

One tech-giant aiming to cash in on TikTok’s issues is Microsoft. They have recently confirmed acquisition talks, noting that “Microsoft would ensure that all private data of TikTok’s American users is transferred to and remains in the United States.” This acquisition would mean that TikTok would belong to an American company and no longer pose a security threat to the US – essentially meaning the app may survive. 

A contender that aims to take TikTok’s space as the new video-sharing platform is Byte. An American-owned app, Byte was only released five months ago for users to download. Led by Dom Hofmann – the creator of Vine, Byte allows users to create 15-second looping videos to share with their friends and followers. The jury is still out on whether Byte will successfully take TikTok’s place, but it’s definitely one to watch for this year…

Another contender is Triller. Triller is also a social video app that allows users to share videos to music and easily edit them. Triller shot to number one in the app store in 50 countries at the beginning of August, including the US, Australia, France, UK and Italy. Watch this space to see which of the two contenders take TikTok’s crown.

Facebook

It’s not just TikTok who has come under scrutiny recently. Facebook has been the subject of a boycott from advertisers over its failure to remove content containing false information and hate speech from the platform. The ‘Stop Hate for Profit’ campaign led several prominent brands to reduce or completely cut their ad spend on Facebook. This will have caused a dip for the platform, as its primary source of revenue comes from advertisers. Some of the key brands to pull their budget from Facebook are Starbucks, Disney, Adidas, Coca Cola and Unilever to name a few… 

Pressure on the platform has seen Facebook announce that it will be looking into its algorithm and examining whether there is a racial bias present on the platform. This is just one of the pledges it has made to ensure the platform is a safe space for all, after the boycott earlier this month. “While we’re always working to create a more equitable experience, we are setting up additional efforts to continue this progress,” said Instagram’s vice president of product Vishal Shah. Will they make sufficient changes to address the issues raised? Only time will tell. 

Twitch

Over the past year, Twitch has proved its prowess as a leading networking platform – a key place to watch gaming live-streams and live sports content online. Twitch has been owned by Amazon since 2014, and it’s clear to see that Amazon is pushing for dominance in the online sports industry, with the recent introduction of a ‘Sports’ category launching on Twitch. 

Showing games from prestigious football teams such as Arsenal and Juventus, alongside the existing sports content already on the platform such as Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), National Basketball Championship (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL) and Rugby Football League (RFL), Twitch is clearly looking to branch out from its offerings of e-sports and gaming into the world of more traditional, mainstream sports. With total site visits increasing by 29.88% in the last six months, and web traffic from the UK increasing by 102.5%, you can expect to see a lot more from this streaming platform in the future. 

Snapchat 

The Gen Z photo-sharing app rose to fame in 2011, and by 2012  the number of Snapchat images being sent per second was 25! Now with the likes of TikTok to compete with, Snapchat is dwindling in popularity amongst young people, however for the 13-18year old demographic, it remains the third most popular social media app after Instagram and YouTube. 

In a bid to retain users and ensure a positive experience and good mental health among its young users, Snapchat has recently announced the introduction of a meditation feature on the platform in collaboration with mindfulness app, Headspace. This meditation tool is part of a series of new micro-versions of full apps that exist within Snapchat called ‘Snapchat Minis’.

The collaboration with Headspace allows users to engage in a guided meditation with their friends, directly from the chat screen. According to tech company, Mashable, once a user clicks into a session, there are six three-to-four minute meditations to choose from: “Just Breathe,” “Get out of a funk,” “Kick the panic,” “Be nice to you,” “Pressure to succeed,” and “Me time.”

Alongside this, Snapchat has also announced ‘brand profiles’, which are a place for Snapchatters to engage with their favourite brands on the platform. Currently, this feature is in Beta mode, but when properly launched, brand profiles will provide a home for brands on the app, allowing them to post content highlights and commerce stories for users to view, as well as visual tools such as AR lenses. 

Unsurprisingly, the introduction of brand profiles also opens up the opportunity for shopping to occur in-platform, which Snapchat has announced will be possible and powered by Shopify. We’re intrigued to see how introducing in-platform purchasing opportunities could give platforms like Instagram a run for their money.  

Twitter

Making it easier than ever to direct-message people, Twitter has just rolled out a new interface for direct messaging on web. The update will allow you to send and receive DM’s without leaving your timeline – similar to how Facebook and LinkedIn currently offer direct messaging on their platforms. This is to ensure a smoother browsing experience while using your timeline, meaning you don’t have to jump back and forth between your DM’s and timeline to have a conversation with fellow users.

Unfortunately, this interface update, which had been in the pipeline since April was somewhat overshadowed. On the day it was announced, Twitter was the victim of one of the biggest hacks the platform had ever seen. A massive Bitcoin scam took over verified accounts from some of the highest-profile celebrities, brands and politicians present on the platform. Obama, Joe Biden, Apple, Kanye West and Elon Musk were just a few of the unlucky targets. 

One of the most confusing and complex security breaches the platform has ever seen, the hack scammed Twitter users out of $120,000 worth of Bitcoin and is now being investigated by the FBI, with lawmakers in the US pushing Twitter for transparency surrounding the incident. For now, though, it remains unknown how the hackers carried off the scam, however, a statement from Twitter explained the following: “We detected what we believe to be a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools.”

Pinterest

Pinterest, a platform we hear about a lot less than the other social giants, has made a significant change to its algorithm recently. It will be introducing a real-time ranking system for its home feed called ‘controllable distribution’.

Currently, the Pinterest algorithm works by serving users with pins that are similar to those they have already interacted with or engaged with. This works to ensure the users see pins that they are likely to be interested in, however, it can prevent them from seeing content of varied types that they may like, but just haven’t engaged with in the past e.g. video content. 

The algorithm update is designed to show a greater variety of content types on the home feed. This is where ‘controllable distribution’ comes in. The old algorithm working on a prediction model is still in place, then after that algorithm comes the new controllable distribution – to diversify the types of content being shown.  This should mean that the content being served is still that most likely to be clicked on by users, just in more formats than before. If you’re a Pinterest user, keep an eye out to see if the content on your feed changes.

Instagram

Instagram is known for regularly rolling out new and exciting features and updates to the platform, in order to stay ahead of the competition and retain its existing audience. Some updates have taken a little getting used to, such as IGTV, but we are incredibly excited about its most recent feature. Instagram has launched its very own version of TikTok, known as ‘Reels’. Like TikTok, Reels allows users to share short-form video content. Users can create and edit their videos on Instagram and share them with their friends and followers, with potential for users to be discovered on the explore page. Videos will be 15 seconds max, set to music and shared via stories or as a feed post.

This is a very well-timed launch for Instagram, with TikTok under scrutiny from governments across the globe who are questioning the security of the app. Have you updated your app in order to use Reels yet? We’re loving it so far!

If you’re looking to improve your brand awareness on social and build a presence across all the social channels we’ve mentioned, please get in touch. We’re simply a phone call away. Arrange a conversation today.

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