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.
Messenger Gets Redesign
Facebook Messenger is getting a facelift to make it simpler. The current version of Messenger has become pretty bloated with extensions, nine tabs and a slew of capabilities.
The new Messenger will have three tabs: chat, discover and people. Chat will be used to start and have conversations, discover is where messenger bots and games will live and people will serve as a contact list. All of this is happening without any features being removed from the platform. In fact, new features like a new dark mode are being added.
It’s going to be interesting to see how people embrace the changes being made to Messenger. After all, it sits at 1.3 billion users, which is quite a few to please with such a big update.
The stakes are huge. As more and more social behavior moves from open social network to more closed, messaging communities, Facebook needs Messenger to be a success. That means avoiding product bloat, which Messenger was in danger of doing.
Piper Jaffray Reveals New Stats on Teens
Piper Jaffray released its latest “Taking Stock With Teens” survey, and as always, those youngsters are full of interesting insights.
First of all, Instagram is the most popular social app in terms of usage with 85% of teens reporting using Instagram once a month versus 84% using Snapchat. Snapchat, however, is the most liked with 46% saying its their favorite platform followed by Instagram with 32%. Facebook continues to decline with 36% of them using Facebook once per month compared to 45% earlier this year. Also, only 5% consider Facebook to be their favorite platform.
Other interesting findings included Amazon being their favorite website, and Netflix is the primary channel in which they consume video. This is counter to the common narrative that YouTube and low-production content eats up teen attention. Another counter narrative from the survey is 83% of teens anticipate buying a current generation console or already own one. This is counter to the narrative that consoles are on the decline.
This survey is just another illustration of how quickly consumer behavior patterns are changing. Things that were once accepted as common knowledge are proving themselves to be untrue.
Facebook Working on TikTok Competitor
Facebook has its sights set on emulating another app that’s popular with teens—TikTok. Facebook’s Project Lasso aims to follow TikTok’s lead by offering a full-screen app experience that lets users record music videos of themselves singing along and lip-sync songs.
TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, and it’s one of Apple’s most downloaded apps. It’s especially popular with teens.
Project Lasso wouldn’t be Facebook’s first effort to jump into the lip syncing app space. It launched Lip Sync Live in a few markets earlier this year, and now the feature is fully rolled out as a Facebook Live Integration. The feature allows users to lip sync to music on their Live content.
Lasso would be part of a larger effort by Facebook to court teens. Clearly, its main app is no longer the place teens want to be online, so Facebook sees the need to create an ecosystem of apps that will attract a younger crowd. Instagram is certainly one piece of that, but Facebook clearly doesn’t want to put all of its hopes on the photo-sharing service.
Twitter’s Loss in Users Pays Off
Twitter reported its Q3 earnings, and the headline was Twitter saw its biggest drop ever for the quarter. And yet, the news wasn’t bad.
Twitter did indeed see a drop of 9 million monthly active users, but that loss in users was attributed to what Twitter called “conversational health” and part of Twitter’s larger effort to make the platform less toxic. Daily active users are up 9%, showing that cleaning up the platform may actually be brining users back to the platform more often.
Revenue was also good with $758 million. This is Twitter’s fourth consecutive profitable quarter.
There’s a good chance Twitter will see declines in users for at least another quarter, which is why Twitter is directing investors to pay closer attention to daily active user numbers. Twitter has a pretty good story to tell when that is the focus, and Twitter’s recent investment in making the platform healthier appears to be having a positive effect.
Snapchat Loses Users but Sells More Ads
Snapchat ad sales are finally taking off as the company was able to bring in $298 million in revenue, an increase in 43% over last year. And it’s expecting the next quarter to be even better.
User numbers aren’t so hot. It now has 186 million, which is down from 188 million in the previous quarter, which was down from 191 million the quarter before that. Much of that loss of users is attributed to Snapchat’s botched app redesign, but CEO Evan Spiegel pointed more specifically to its Android app. Android users saw the largest decline, and Snapchat acknowledged that a redesigned Android experience is necessary. Still, nothing is ready to launch as of yet, and no clear timeline was given.
It’s also possible that the influx of advertising has driven users away. Now that Snapchat allows advertising via a self-serve automated ad platform, quality in ads has gone down.
It’s impossible to say just what is holding Snapchat back, but figuring out its Android app would be a huge deal for the platform. Right now it’s leaving a significant number of mobile users on the table.
News Quick Hits
Facebook’s testing a new ad format that features two brands, side-by-side. The ads generate dynamically in a Collection style format. Right now, the test is limited to small group of advertisers who agreed to participate in the test. Why would advertisers want to appear side-by-side with other brands? Savings. The ads will likely feature lower CPMs, while solving another problem for Facebook—a shortage in ad inventory.
Facebook is currently evaluating the acquisition of a cyber-security company. No front-runner has been confirmed as an acquisition target, but given recent data breaches and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, an acquisition of such a firm would make sense.
Reddit and Patreon are partnering up to give Reddit creators’ revenue opportunities within their communities. The partnership will allow Redditors to to give followers special perks for paying to be part of an insider’s club of sorts.
Facebook’s revealing more information on how political ad spending is being put to use on its platform. The social network revealed the biggest political ad spenders on its platform, as well as Instagram. The information revealed exactly how much candidates and special interest groups were spending. All of the information is being shared in a weekly Ad Archive Report.
Helios & Matheson Analytics, the owner of MoviePass hopes to offload MoviePass in an effort to restore its reputation. The plan is to separate “movie-related assets from the rest of our company,” according to Helios & Matheson’s CEO. Now, we’ll see if MoviePass is able to survive on its own accord.
BuzzFeed has uncovered an “ad fraud scheme involving 125 Android apps and sites…” The system worked by analyzing behavior of app users and then creating bots to mimic those users. Then ads were served to bots presented as human beings.
Facebook’s looking to MySpace with one of its latest features in testing. The feature allows users to add songs to their Facebook profiles. It’s still up in the air whether the songs will appear in a new “music” section or just at the top of a user profile. Either way, people who visit the profile will be able to listen to at least part of the song and learn more about the artist. That’s not the only music feature Facebook may be getting. Users of Facebook Stories will now be able to take advantage of the music sticker that’s been available on Instagram for some time. This allows them to add music to their Stories.
WhatsApp is adding stickers. Users will be able to send stickers back-and-forth with friends as well as gain access to sticker packs. A new API from WhatsApp will allow third-party designers to add stickers to the platform.
Alphabet reported its Q3 earnings, and stock shares fell 4% afterward. While it reported better-than-expected profits, it missed revenue projections. This may be because of Amazon, which also reported earnings. It appears Amazon is eating into Google’s ad business with offerings of its own.