Recent social media updates you need to keep an eye on
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Social media manager may be one of the most thankless jobs in marketing.
In addition to being a marketer, customer service rep, and eCommerce generalist, you also have to stay on top of the changes to the platforms: Which seem to come every day!
In fact, the world of social media is always changing. The trick to staying on top of social media is to watch for the changes that look less like tweaks and more like big friggin’ deals.
Here’s just some of what’s come down the pike over the past couple of weeks.
Facebook shutting down live shopping, placing new emphasis on Reels
“If you want to reach and engage people through video, try experimenting with Reels and Reels ads on Facebook and Instagram,” Facebook said in a recent company blog post.
In other words, give up those long-form, live-streaming ambitions on the Facebook platform.
It’s not often that a platform as big as Facebook (and its 2.9 billion monthly users) decides to wipe out an entire shopping medium in one fell swoop. But that’s what’s happening now—or, more accurately, by October 1.
Facebook live streaming dates back to 2018. For a while, it seemed things were going smoothly. Last year, Facebook even debuted Live Shopping for Creators. The feature made things easier on Facebook-bound influencers, who were otherwise stuck sending viewers to other platforms.
Why does Facebook believe long-form video is no longer worth it? We don’t know. Their own Live Shopping page states that from pre-pandemic until now, stats show, livestream purchases went up by 76%.
In other words, social media platforms can pull the plug out from under creators—even when things seem to be going well.
How to level up your marketing: Diversify! Facebook’s sudden shift is a reminder that if you live by the platform, you can also die by the platform.
Last year, when Facebook went down temporarily, it highlighted just how quickly a platform can pull the plug. As Christopher Tompkins wrote for Forbes in the wake of that event:
“A full digital marketing effort should incorporate email marketing, long-form content and digital advertising into the mix. By branching out, you’re both giving yourself new routes in case of emergencies as well as new routes in general to reach customers who don’t cross over with any of your other approaches.”
If you’re still on Facebook, consider diverting to shoppable video. “Shoppable video will be what drives U.S. consumption, not livestreaming in and of itself,” writes Chris Walton for Forbes. “So it is therefore reasonable to conclude that Facebook and TikTok have both made the right choice and are appropriately skating to where the puck is headed.”
Snapchat invests in augmented reality (AR) for fashion retail
Last year, Snapchat introduced its “Dress Up” element. “Dress Up” uses augmented reality so you can have the feeling of trying on clothes at home.
Snapchat recently got into greater detail about how this will work. One clue? They’re rolling out “Dress Up Stickers.” Add a sticker to your Snap frame, tap to learn more, try it on, and purchase—all of these options should eventually be within a few taps of each other.
We know how popular AR is with Snapchat users, who already use it at a rate of 72%. But if Snapchat continues to merge shopping with its AR, expect ecommerce to get a lot more competitive.
It may not be far off until you start hearing customers complain, “What? I can’t try out this hat virtually at home?”
How to level up your marketing: Embrace Snapchat stickers! But if your audience isn’t quite as VR or AR-savvy, don’t worry. This Snapchat guide (see: page 43) offers a handy way for you to embrace Snapchat stickers in the offline world.
The long and short of it:
- Create “snapcode stickers” for specific Snapchat-enabled products
- Print your snapcode stickers to hand out at events
- Post about them in your new Snapchat stories
- Offer discounts for people who try it for the first time
Twitter testing hashtags in communities
Twitter communities have been a convenient way to curate followings and niche-specific content on your social media account. But there’s always been a glaring feature missing: hashtags.
Good news on that front. Twitter’s testing out community-exclusive hashtags. This will push popular topics to the top of community pages and then create a subdivision with hashtags specific to the communities you already know and love.
How to level up your marketing: This might seem like a small change, but keep in mind what Twitter is trying to do here. Communities have only been around a little while, but they remain Twitter’s primary attempt to compete with community-focused websites like Reddit and Facebook Groups.
Don’t have a community? Join one now, explore the upcoming hashtag features, and start making a name for yourself within a specific niche. Use Twitter’s 2022-released search feature to spot some communities in your niche—then fully expect Twitter to continue to roll out new features to boost community engagement.
TikTok flirting with the idea of no links in bios
Simoni Tse made some noise recently when she noticed some users on TikTok have been unable to post links directly into their TikTok user bios.
Tse reached out directly to TikTok about the issue, and TikTok confirmed they are indeed currently “testing (these) features within the product page.”
Or, in this case, an anti-feature: preventing users from being able to post their ecommerce links when people want to find them.
While this experiment doesn’t “necessarily mean [the feature] will ever roll out fully,” as TikTok apparently responded to Tse’s post, but it’s something to keep an eye on.
In the meantime, Simoni Tse posted a handy workaround on Twitter which involves:
- Changing your username to “Link in Bio”
- Saving the video description for product details
- Pinning a comment to the top so everyone can see the “Link in Bio” prompt
One word of warning about this.
Stats for the efficacy of links in bios can be hard to come by, but when Agora Pulse ran an experiment on Instagram bio links, it found something interesting.
Their reach went down by more than one-third when they asked people to click the link in their bio. As the post at Agora Pulse noted, some users noticed this decline in reach on their own, and data appeared to verify it.
Given TikTok is testing out no links in the bio at all, it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine the same thing going on here.
How to level up your marketing: Be careful with this one. Start thinking about new ways to encourage people to visit your website, but be wary about “workarounds” that could get you potentially docked by your favorite platform.
It might not hurt to review your TikTok-native selling strategies, either, since that’s what most platforms generally look to encourage with these policies. If you can’t direct enough people to your website, ask yourself how you can get them to purchase via TikTok directly.
Instagram rolling back its TikTok-style full-screen feed
If you didn’t notice, Instagram has been doing its version of How Do You Do, Fellow Kids for a while. Instagram went full-screen, TikTok-style, but even a limited rollout soon prompted a petition on Change.org.
But buried in the news was another announced change worth noting. Instagram/Meta are also planning on showing fewer recommendations to users. According to Mark Zuckerberg, these recommendations account for about 15% of what users see on Facebook—and the numbers are even higher on Instagram.
Their goal is apparently to reduce recommended posts and accounts as Instagram works on personalization features.
How to level up your marketing: Rely less on wide-reaching engagement to boost your “recommended profile” visits and start thinking about how to grow on Instagram in 2023 and beyond.
If Zuck really is planning on shrinking recommendations features on Facebook and Instagram in the next few years, that leaves you looking for other options. Get back to Instagram outreach basics because Instagram won’t be doing the outreach for you.
One of those basics is employing user-generated content. Brain Peters of Buffer grew an account 400% in six months with a UGC outreach program. Peters would reach out to people behind remarkable photos and offer to tag them in exchange for highlighting them at the company profile page.
The result? Photographers, excited to be highlighted, would send their audience over to the Buffer page as well.
As Zuckerberg is hinting, by 2023, you won’t be able to rely on Instagram to do this for you. Get ready.
TikTok adding a new search function: highlighting keywords in comments
Like the limited test in which some users can’t post their links in their bios, TikTok has apparently rolled out another new function on a limited basis. A keyword search can now land you in the comments of TikTok posts.
“There’s already talk about TikTok acting as a search engine for Gen Z,” writes TechCrunch. “The new feature would position the app as an even bigger threat to Google”
It was, after all, only last month that a Google executive admitted the popularity of TikTok and Instagram was eating into their market share.
“In our studies, something like almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search,” said Senior Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan. “They go to TikTok or Instagram.”
Don’t be surprised to see if this test—still in early rollout phases—eventually gets full approval from TikTok.
How to level up your marketing: Start encouraging users to talk about specific keywords for which you want to place! Get specific about these keywords in your CTAs.
Ask your followers for their insights, launch the occasional contest for the best response, and always reply to responses to encourage further engagement down the line. The more users you have generating keyword-rich content in your comments, the better.
LinkedIn rolling out clickable link stickers to add to your posts
Noticing a trend here? Everyone’s rolling out stickers these days—LinkedIn is no exception. It plans on adding link stickers you can add to images in LinkedIn posts. These stickers will be clickable, letting you highlight boxes like “subscribe to my newsletter” or “sign up to my new webinar.”
Thus far, LinkedIn is only rolling out the stickers creation feature for the mobile app. The good news is you don’t have to be on the mobile app to see or interact with the stickers. Desktop, mobile, wherever—those pictures will become clickable.
How to level up your marketing: Embrace the stickers. And if you’re not focusing your creator efforts on LinkedIn, maybe now’s the time.
Lindsey Gamble, Associate Director of Influencer Innovation at Mavrck, recently poo-pooed TikTok’s limited removal of links in bios by saying marketers should focus on the platforms that want more clickability.
“A surprising move,” Gamble said, “given that most social media platforms are currently expanding ways for users to link out to external websites.” He highlighted Instagram’s Linked Stickers and LinkedIn’s new clickable link stickers as places creators can turn to drive more engagement.
What’s noise, and what’s not?
A lot’s been happening in social media recently, but not all of it is going to be earth-shattering. Recent trends—like Facebook getting away from long-form video—highlight why social media diversification is key.
- Watch the creator-friendly platforms. TikTok may not have pulled the rug out from under creators just yet, but they’re dipping their toes in the waters. Meanwhile, LinkedIn is expanding its offerings.
- Spot the opportunities. While everyone else is worried about stickers and links, consider the possibilities of Snapchat’s increased emphasis on VR and AR—especially as it relates to selling fashion goods online.
- Create organic engagement. TikTok’s comment search and Instagram’s crackdown on “recommended” promotions highlight how important it is to reach out to other users, get each other talking, and build communities that help get your social media accounts noticed.