It’s a wrap on August, and everyone is still wondering what will come of the TikTok battle. For months we’ve wondered if it will get banned or bought and who would buy it.
The story advanced when Oracle came forward with a deal to become TikTok’s “trusted technology provider” and eliminate the security concerns associated with the platform. The deal positions TikTok as a U.S. headquartered company, though China’s ByteDance will remain its main stakeholder. We’ll be waiting to see whether the U.S. government signs off on the deal.
In the meantime, the world remains in upheaval over the upcoming election, BLM and the pandemic, forcing the social media realm to adjust and do so quickly.
Read on for the most noteworthy changes made by social media giants this month.
Consumers Rule Ad Preferences: This month, Facebook is making it easier for consumers to control the types of ads they see, who they’re from and what data they share with advertisers. The Ad Preferences page is nothing new, but changes to the page will make it easier to understand how these features work and how personal data interacts with them.
Group Admins and Brands Unite: A new feature allows Facebook group admins to make money by partnering brands and placing sponsored posts on group feeds. Admins will need to sell brands on the value and size of their group.
Events Move Online: The Events feature has officially changed to support online events and businesses in the face of COVID-19. Now, pages can host, promote and charge for an online event all in one place. To help small businesses, Facebook won’t be charging a service fee just yet, but this could mean big trouble for other ticketing services in the future.
Game Changers in Diversity: In response to social unrest, a new Diverse Business Labels feature allows Facebook businesses to label themselves as minority-owned. Businesses with this label need to be at least 51% owned, operated or controlled by the minority demographic. For consumers interested in supporting them, the label will differentiate businesses in the Nearby feature for easy finding.
The Voters Information Effort Grows: In August, a Voter Information Center launched on Facebook and Instagram. It informs users on voter registration, their voting options and allows them to sign up for poll work. Facebook had already begun to label all voting-related posts by officials and candidates. They’ve now expanded this effort to include voting-related posts by all users, with a link back to the information center.
A Long-Awaited Merger: Announced way back, the first real merging of Facebook’s and Instagram’s direct messaging platforms finally began to roll out in mid-August. The Instagram chat icon is replaced with the Messenger icon and all the fun benefits of Facebook Messenger are transferred over. The greatest shift will be the ability to chat with contacts on either platform in one place. This could mean more benefits to using Facebook Messenger for your business.
New Suggested Posts: Instagram has added a game-changing new feature. Now, when users have finished scrolling through the recent posts on their feed, they’ll see suggested posts. You can’t turn this feature off, but you can opt-out of seeing certain types of posts. While some posts will be organic suggestions, this is undoubtedly a new space for advertising.
IG Reels Is Here: Featured in our article on four TikTok alternatives to try, Instagram’s Reels has officially rolled out. Reels are 15-second clips set to music that you can share with your feed, stories, or direct messages. Reels made public will appear in the Instagram Explore tab, meaning another chance to gain new followers. Even though Reels is a new feature, you can look to TikTok for inspiration on how to get creative with it, and there are many Reels guides readily available.
Goodbye Bots: Instagram has officially updated its algorithms to spot fake accounts or bots through “potential inauthentic behavior” and other suspicious action. If your account gets flagged, you’ll need to verify your identity, and if you don’t, the account might get disabled.
A Win for Businesses: As of August, Instagram Checkout and Live Shopping are now available to U.S. businesses. Checkout lets users buy products right on the platform, while businesses can host product launches, and creators can tag products in posts for greater reach. Live Shopping provides the option to pin products for shopping whenever you go live.
Spread the Code: Instagram’s newest update includes the ability for users to create a QR code that any camera application can scan in order to open that user’s profile. This feature used to only work with the in-app camera. This is great for businesses who can get creative in placing their QR codes where new audiences will discover their profiles.
You’re Not Welcome Here: Twitter has begun to roll out an update that lets users control who can reply to their tweets. The options include everyone, only people you follow or only people you mention. Those blocked from replying can still view, like and retweet. The goal is to help people feel safer putting their thoughts out there. Businesses might consider using it as an opportunity to provide updates, interviews and panels without interruption.
Quote Tweets: The feature once known as the “retweet with comment” is now called a “quote tweet”. Soon, you’ll see it measured next to retweets. The goal is to make all the conversations people are having with a tweet easier to find. This could be a good thing for brands trying to build reach.
Expanding Content Reach: For those who don’t know, Snapchat has a Discover section with featured shows and content. It was experiencing a 40% YoY growth in the amount of time spent watching, and that was before the pandemic helped out. Snapchat is testing an update that allows users to share this content through links that will open in-app or on the web. This will expand impressions for content producers.
Joining the Voter Train: Snapchat announced this month that it will be rolling out a Mini in September that allows users to register to vote in-app, learn more about voting and complete a voter checklist. This is big news considering Snapchat’s popularity among the younger Gen Z and Millennial generations.
Battling TikTok: Snapchat is jumping on the bandwagon when it comes to offering a TikTok alternative. The app has partnered with multiple companies, including Warner Music Group, so that users will be able to add music to their snaps before or after recording them. Viewers will swipe up to view the song used. Right now, the feature is being tested in New Zealand and Australia.
New Analytics: Like many platforms, Youtube has experienced a spike in use but a decline in advertising sales since the pandemic started. Many YouTubers have seen as much as a 50% decline in their payout. The app has released several new tools in their Creator Studio dashboard, including a story insights tool, that will hopefully help YouTubers out.
Diversity in Shopping: As of August, Pinterest has expanded its inclusive skin tone search option to the UK, Canada, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. The app has also decided to expand the number of brands and product options available through it’s AR Try-On program as more consumers switch to online shopping.
We will continue to update this list as we learn about new updates on social media. Keep an eye out for our monthly roundups, and check out recent months in case you missed something.