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.
Twitter Refreshes Website Look and Feel
Twitter’s updated its desktop page to make it more consistent in look and feel with other devices. The rollout’s been in testing over the past few months.
Here’s what you can expect:
The Explore page has been added as a way to give users content that Twitter thinks they’ll be interested in.
Bookmarks and lists are available through left sidebar navigation.
Direct messages are getting a much more prominence and users can now see conversations and send messages at once.
Different themes like dark mode are available for users to switch between.
It’s also noteworthy that Moments has been shuffled under ‘More,’ which may mean the beginning of the end for the feature.
An update like this is interesting because it gives us perspective of what’s important to the platform and what it will be emphasizing in the future. Clearly, Twitter has two main focuses: engagement through the Explore feature and messaging through DMs. Those are going to be how Twitter keeps users on the platform and gives them reasons to come back. Both are efforts Instagram has excelled at that Twitter seems to be looking to emulate.
YouTube Courts Creators with New Monetization Options
Last week we talked about Facebook’s efforts to court video content creators, but the original content creator powerhouse, YouTube, hasn’t been sitting on the sidelines. YouTube introduced new monetization capabilities for creators at VidCon. The tools allow creators to reward fans who throw a little cash their way.
One new feature is Animated Super Stickers. These allow creator fans to purchase digital swag during live streams and Premiere videos that have been pre-recorded. They’ll range in price between $5.00 and $20.00. Channel Memberships have also been upgraded with new tiers. Any channel with 100,000 or more subscribers can have the ability to sell monthly memberships. Membership gives users access to exclusive content, and five different tiers will be available with different rewards. YouTube also added five partners to its merchandising program for creators. These partners allow creators to make and sell merchandise to their fans.
The creator arms race is in full swing as platforms from Twitch to Facebook to Snapchat to YouTube work to give creators more reasons to create content on their platforms versus going elsewhere. The real opportunity these platforms are focusing on is creating multiple revenue streams for creators beyond advertising. Advertising is table steaks. The real opportunity is letting these creators sell advocacy opportunities to their fans.
Facebook Gets a Gift from the FTC
Facebook’s share price actually jumped almost 2% when the FTC levied a $5 billion fine on the social network for privacy violations this week.
While the fine is the largest ever levied by the FTC, it doesn’t come with much teeth. Facebook does not have to change the way it collects or shares data. It will have to document decisions on data before it rolls out new products, and it will have to keep closer watch over how third-parties use user information. But beyond that Facebook will continue to operate as it has.
There was a lot of speculation that the FTC would issue little more than a slap on the wrist for Facebook, but this isn’t even that. Facebook’s primary concern going into this was that the FTC could fundamentally change how the social network could collect and monetize user data, which did not happen. While there has been growing concern around privacy practices in digital companies, that concern has not been met with much action.
They’re not completely out of the woods, however. Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon were before Congress this week defending their businesses. This suggests that there may be more questions and action in the future. The biggest concerns revolve largely around monopolistic practices and major tech companies using their size to squeeze out smaller competitors.
News Quick Hits
Google launched a new social networking app called Shoelace that lets users organize events and activities at the local level by first listing interests and then receiving recommendations of Loops, which are local activities that might be of interest. Users can create and RSVP to Loops. Shoelace launches on the heels of Google+ being shut down, and its ambitions seem much more grounded. Instead of trying to be everything, it’s trying to be specific. Even so, Google’s attempts at social networking have been unsuccessful to date, so Shoelace would definitely be an outlier if it took off.
Amazon held its annual Prime Day event this week, and one of the deals was one I definitely won’t be taking. Amazon offered to give users a $10 coupon in exchange for installing Amazon Assistant, a browser extension that gives users the ability to comparison shop online. Here’s the thing though. It collects information on the URLs users visit, portions of content viewed on a website and watches “all of your web movements,” according to Ghostery president Jeremy Tillman. Amazon says it won’t be collecting information from social networking sites, nor does it connect information to users’ Amazon accounts unless they actually interact with the Amazon Assistant extension.
Apple’s finally starting to think that podcasts might be a thing. The company has been reaching out to media companies to explore acquiring exclusive rights to certain podcasts as a way to fend off the likes of Stitcher and Spotify, which recently acquired podcast company Gimlet. Apple has been a reluctant follower to a medium it essentially invented. Most podcasts are still listened to in the Apple Podcast app, but its acquiesced its decade-long headstart on dominating the category to emerging players. Now, the sleeping giant appears to be waking up.
Facebook started selling its Libra cryptocurrency to Congress during a Senate hearing this week. Facebook’s blockchain lead David Marcus answered questions from Senators with concerns that a cryptocurrency would just expand Facebook’s power and allowing it would ignore Facebook’s previous privacy lapses. Marcus argued that Libra wasn’t just coming from Facebook; almost 30 other companies are behind it. He also reaffirmed a commitment that Libra will not go live until all regulatory concerns are taken care of. He also noted that Calibra—the body responsible for running Libra—will be run in Switzerland and will not share any financial information with Facebook.
Netflix released its quarterly earnings this week, and subscriber growth has slowed down in the midst of increasing subscription prices and new ad streaming competition. Despite all of this, Netflix committed to remain an ad-free platform, despite speculation over recent months that ads may be coming. However, after watching the last season of Stranger Things, I wouldn’t exactly call Netflix ad-free. That was product-placement-palooza.
Facebook will soon be updating creative restrictions for mobile News Feed ads. Soon, mobile News Feed ads will only show three lines of text. Previously, seven could be viewed. Users can still click to show more. Photos and videos will have a maximum aspect ratio of 4:5, compared to the previous maximum of 2:3. Advertisers will have to be tighter in their copy moving forward.