This Week in Social is a weekly digest of some of the biggest stories in social media marketing news. These stories are the show notes for the Brave Ad World Podcast. Each story is discussed at a deeper level on the podcast.
WhatsApp Launches Disappearing Photos and Videos
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Facebook’s copying a Snapchat feature. This latest copy-and-paste from Snapchat to a Facebook property is related to WhatsApp, one of Facebook’s messaging platforms.
WhatsApp now offers the ability to post photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. The shared photos and videos can be edited with text, emojis and drawings and can then be shared with all contacts, which will be a welcome addition for the platform's more than one billion users.
Facebook has shown time and time again that it is ready and eager to copy Snapchat feature-for-feature, and it’s done so across all of its platforms from Facebook to Instagram to Messenger and to, now, WhatsApp. The move appears to be paying off for Facebook properties, which have continued to grow and have led Snapchat growth to flatten. Snap Inc. cited this as a potential concern in its IPO filing earlier this month. This concern should be closely watched by marketers as they evaluate where their dollars and investments in time are devoted.
Instagram Launches Albums
Well, the rumors were true.
Instagram is now letting users share as many as ten photos and videos in a single post. The content is displayed in a swipeable carousel, resembling carousel ads that have been available to brands since 2015. Those carousel ads were limited to six photos on Instagram before this feature, but those also have been increased to ten.
The posts containing more than one photo or video will have a blue dot at the bottom to show users that there’s more to see than just the one introductory photo. The feature is available via a “select multiple” icon on the upload screen. From there, users can add filters These multi-photo albums can only include one caption.
This feature certainly comes with benefits. The first being, your followers won’t have to endure a vacation-filled extravaganza of photos dominating their feeds. The second being users won’t feel as much pressure to choose the best photo from a recent experience. But that’s also where this feature starts to point to a different direction for Instagram.
The feed has been a curated list of the best photos from the individuals you follow, while Instagram Stories was meant for in-the-moment sharing. This has the potential to turn Instagram into a much less curated experience, and that’s a problem because that’s Instagram’s point of difference. This update pushes Instagram into the same territory as Facebook.
It’s starting to feel like Instagram chasing Snapchat in copying its features has led it to lose some of its own purpose. It’s important for Instagram to innovate and introduce new features, but when those new features start to run counter to Instagram’s core offering, it could run into trouble. That’s up to its users to decide.
Facebook Introducing Commercial Breaks Into Video Content
Plans by Facebook to rollout mid-roll video ads have been made public recently, and now, it appears they’re ready for primetime.
Facebook is rolling out three types of ads:
- In-stream video ads for publisher websites
- Ad break for Facebook Live videos within the Facebook app
- Ad breaks for publisher videos on Facebook
Video ads will only run on Pages’ content that has at least 2,000 followers, and Pages must have 300 viewers per video to be eligible for Facebook Live ad breaks. The ad breaks are 20 seconds long and come after the viewer has watched at least four minutes. From there, additional ad breaks can occur in five-minute intervals for the rest of the video.
The ads displayed will come in through Facebook’s Audience Network, and Facebook will split revenue with video creators. That split will depend on if the ad runs on a Facebook property or on a publisher website.
The move comes at a time when Facebook is working to ramp up its partners that are creating original content for the platform. Facebook’s been talking to organizations like MLB and A&E in an effort to garner more high-quality content.
This move is certainly welcomed by publishers as it opens the door for more revenue from their frienemy, Facebook. More revenue means attracting more talent and producing higher quality content, which seems to be Facebook’s big focus, especially when taking into account both who its looking to partner with and where it plans to distribute that content lie.
Facebook’s looking at major studios and partners for production, and it recently made moves to look at distribution of that content outside of its core apps and web properties. It now has a set-top box app, which could set Facebook up to be a source for lean-back destination viewing.
News Quick Hits
- Snap Inc. is now selling its Spectacles online at Spectacles.com for $130. Previously, they were exclusively sold in Snapbot vending machines. Spectacles are camera-equipped sunglasses that allow users to capture 10-second video clips from their points of view. Footage is then synced with a mobile device where it can be shared.
- Amazon has lowered its free shipping minimum to $35, down from $49. The move appears to be in response to Walmart, which is offering free two-day shipping for orders of at lest $35.
- YouTube has announced that it will offer independent audits of campaigns, which are accredited by the Media Ratings Council, to evaluate when ads were served and viewed. These adults will also validate internet traffic. The audited ads will include those run on YouTube as well as partner inventory. The move comes at a time in which advertisers have expressed growing concern in ad verification, particularly when it comes to video.
- Twitter has updated its customer service tools to allow brands to display avatars and names of actual employees in direct message conversations, even though the customer is interacting with the brand’s overarching Twitter account. The goal is to show users they’re connecting with an actual human. Twitter cited research that personalized experiences with a human connection create “significant benefits for businesses.”
- Users of Facebook’s website may notice an updated set of emoji designs. The updated emojis started rolling out in September 2016, and now Facebook is finishing the process. These emojis are currently only available on the website with no firm timetable on when they will rollout to the Facebook mobile app as well as other apps part of the Facebook suite of platforms.
- Facebook’s now giving users the ability to add one of 200 national flags to their profile pictures. The small flags appear in the upper corner of profile photos. The feature is available through the Facebook mobile app and through the Frames page on desktop.
- Google Allo, Google’s messenger platform, is getting a desktop version. The app will be a web app for Google Chrome. Up until now, Allo has been limited to mobile devices.