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.
Snap Releases Desktop Camera App
Snap is embracing its position as a camera company. It just released a new app for Mac and Windows that brings Snapchat’s lens technology to desktop experiences.
The free app allows desktop users to access Snap’s library of lenses, including those created by the Lens Creator community and then share their creations via YouTube, Skype, Google Hangouts and other platforms. You do not need to be a Snapchat user to make use of the app.
To take this effort a step further, Snap is partnering with Twitch. Twitch users will be a able to use the Snap Camera while streaming on the platform, and new lenses can be unlocked by scanning Snapcodes that appear in Twitch broadcasts. To launch the effort, Snap is launching lenses for League of Legends, PlayerUknown’s Battlegrounds, World of Warcraft and Overwatch.
Outside of Spectacles, Snap hasn’t done too much to be a “camera company” outside of its core app, but that may be changing with this app launch. Snap seems to be embracing the idea that its technology can live everywhere and can be decoupled from the core Snapchat app. That’s a pretty exciting proposition for other platforms. After all, Snap is the leader when it comes to AR overlays, so bringing that technology to more platforms could make a lot of experiences more enjoyable for users. Twitch is a perfect platform to kick this effort off.
Twitter May Remove Like Button
As part of its efforts to clean up the platform, Twitter will likely be removing the heart-shaped ‘like’ function “soon,” according to reports from the Telegraph. Twitter has not confirmed the action, but it has released a statement saying that it is “rethinking everything about service,” which “includes the like button."
Twitter’s leader Jack Dorsey has said that he is not a supporter of the like button because it incentivizes people to create content people will simply like instead of contributing to a healthy conversation.
Twitter has a lot of challenges on its plate, so its difficult to see how the removal of the ‘like’ button will help in its quest to make the conversation on the platform healthier. Twitter’s more drastic moves, such as the mass removal of accounts, has made the platform less toxic.
It’s interesting to see what type of engagement Twitter wants to encourage. Dorsey clearly wants people to talk and share more on the platform, but one of the reasons people talk and share is to get feedback. That includes passive feedback such as likes and active feedback that includes retweets and replies. Removing ‘likes’ removes one of the lowest barrier ways for people to engage. So, while this may be a step in the right direction for Twitter to improve the platform, it feels like a drop in the bucket compared to what Twitter could be doing.
Facebook’s Q3 Earnings Point to Focus on Stories
The News Feed will be taking a back seat for Facebook following its Q3 earnings report. The social network reported a 33% year-over-year increase in ad sales, which sounds great. It’s a drop, however, from the 49% increase it reported a year ago.
Now, Facebook plans to do more to generate revenue from Stories, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted don’t make as much money as feed ads currently do. He also admits that shifting from News Feed revenue to Stories ad revenue will be a slow transition, so investors should expect slower growth than they’ve been accustomed to.
To be fair, while ads within Stories have been active on Instagram for some time, Facebook only started advertising within Facebook Stories last month.
Stories are a bet for Facebook born out of necessity. The ephemeral nature of Stories creates a much less toxic social environment than what’s in the News Feed, and it encourages what Facebook says it wants—to encourage connections between friends and family.
That being said, Stories have not seen the adoption on Facebook nearly as much as they have on Instagram. It’s going to be a tough road for Facebook to ween users off of the News Feed and get them onto Stories. The News Feed is Facebook, for better or for worse.
It’s a struggle to see how much time users will want to spend on a feature within Facebook that they’re already getting on Instagram. If Facebook’s going to focus on the same feature on different platforms, Facebook may start cannibalizing its properties by making users choose one platform over the other, instead of adopting two or three.
News Quick Hits
Tinder’s getting into the programmatic ad business thanks to a partnership with Google. Tinder will start selling ads using Google’s ad server to manage and measure campaigns. This will allow brands to buy ads on the ad server programmatically or via private marketplaces. Tinder’s testing things right now, as it will be evaluating how ad frequency impacts its users, but if all goes well, the plan is to roll out programmatic advertising by the end of this year.
Snapchat’s launched 26 new premium video series in the UK. The effort is an expansion of the platform's Snapchat Shows product, which is made up of premium shows, including serialized content. With Snapchat Shows, users can subscribe to original series from the likes of VICE, The Guardian, Manchester City and others.
The UK is imposing a digital service tax on domestic revenue of what British chancellor Philip Hammond referred to as “established tech giants.” In other words, it’s going after Facebook, Google and Amazon. The argument is that these companies are absorbing huge amounts of the global economy, so making them pay keeps some of that revenue in the UK. It’s also part of Europe’s overall efforts to curb these companies, which have been met with increased skepticism over recent years as they’ve conflicted with EU regulators when it comes to privacy and competition.
Uber has launched Ride Pass, a new subscription based service that offers users discounted rides and protection from surge pricing. For $14.99 to $24.99 per month, depending on market, users can subscribe to the service. Uber estimates riders will save 15 - 20% on their rides. The service is similar to Lyft’s All-Access Pass, which offers 30 rides per month for a monthly fee.
Apple announced new hardware this week. This includes a new iPad Pro that boasts slimmer sides, faster processors, a better camera and Face ID. It also removed the home button and headphone jack. Apple also announced a new MacBook Air that offers retina display.
Twitter’s 280 character limit has been around for a year now, but the habit of short-form tweets hasn’t been shaken. The average tweet length is 33 characters, and over 3% of tweets are over 190 characters. Users have also grown a bit more polite by using “please” and “thank you” more often. Abbreviations have seen a decline as users have opted to say things like “great” instead of “gr8."
Twitter’s spam reporting tool is getting more sophisticated. Now, users can do more than just flag tweets. Users can now provide more granular details on why the tweet is being reported. They can also report fake accounts or accounts they believe to be bots.