Social Spotlight: November

Social Spotlight returns with more social media goodness. November saw some exciting developments including Snapcash, Twitter Offers and Instagram caption editing. Both Twitter and Facebook had a lot going on this past month, which you’ll see reflected by the percentage of the real estate dedicated to them in this update. Here’s our recap, along with our point of view on it all:

Twitter introduces "Twitter Offers"

Twitter expanded its commerce products with “Twitter Offers” following the limited “Buy” Button rollout earlier this fall. Unlike the “Buy” Button, Twitter Offers doesn’t let users purchase directly from the Twitter feed. Instead, it lets consumers collect cash back rewards from brands and apply the discounts directly to their credit and debit card when paying with the same card in-store, thus eliminating the need to carry coupons around.

Our POV: Twitter wants to prove that the platform and its ad products affect offline purchase decisions. Businesses will be able to track when their Twitter ads worked and consumers purchased an item in the store.

Tumblr is the fastest growing social platform

Tumblr's number of active users has increased by 120% in the last six months. That spike in growth has put it at the top of the list of the fastest growing social platforms.

Our POV: If you’re looking to target young, tech-savvy, affluent consumers, Tumblr is a must for your brand. Start by creating a content strategy and learning from brands that are doing Tumblr right (check out DisneyAdidas and Coca Cola).

Facebook gives users more control over their News Feed

In addition to the existing hide and unlike features, Facebook has added feed controls to account settings so that users can select a limit on the number of posts they see from your page. In News Feed settings, users will now see a list of the most prominent Pages, Groups and people who have appeared in their feed over the past seven days.

Our POV: As we noted in a previous blog post about the future of user feeds, the consumer will continue to be the judge of how effective news feeds are, and it’s in the best interest of social media platforms to respond with the best experience possible. These new changes serve as a reminder that frequent posting and low-quality content can easily backfire.

Twitter CEO hints at topic-based timeline

Twitter CEO, Dick Costolo, wrote in an email that Twitter is considering giving users the ability to filter their feed by specific topics. In the meantime, a former Twitter developer has launched “Hash,” which organizes tweets around events and trending topics.

Our POV: While hashtags and Twitter Lists help savvy users organize their feeds, they’re too complicated for the average Twitter user. Twitter is doing everything it can to grow its user base and tap into new audiences ("Instant Timeline" and direct messaging improvements are some recent examples). Optimizing passive Twitter consumption is another opportunity to increase impressions for Twitter advertisers. After all, Twitter’s logged-out audience is about two to three times the size of its 284 million monthly active users.

Facebook is tweaking its feed to limit promotional posts

Facebook tweaked its News Feed algorithm yet again to target and hide organic posts that seem too promotional. After conducting several surveys, Facebook said that it wanted to improve the user experience by limiting promotional content that wasn't sponsored.

Our POV: Facebook is openly saying that if you want to reach your customers with a call-to-action, you need to buy an ad. Pages that post a lot of content aimed at persuading fans to enter a promotion, download an app or buy a product will have a more limited organic distribution starting in January 2015. If your content strategy was based around those goals, it’s time to revise.

Instagram adds people tab to Explore menu and allows users to edit captions

Instagram introduced two features to both its iOS and Android apps. First was a much-requested update: the ability to edit a media caption after an image is posted. The other was an additional tab on the Explore page for "People". This new tab shows a feed of people you know and may not know, allowing you to follow them quickly. It includes followers of your followers as well as celebrity accounts.

Our POV: The ability to edit captions has been a long running request by Instagram users and account admins for some time now. The added 'People' tab in Explorer could be used for sponsored profiles eventually. You get the sense that this feed will have profiles from brands as well as users who want you to follow them.

Facebook quietly launches the new places directory

With the new Places Directory, Facebook has added a feature that lets users search the best destinations in the world. Once you’ve searched a city you'll be shown the best it has to offer in restaurants, hotels, bars, schools, landmarks, theaters and more. Results are ranked by star rating and also offer reviews. The search utilizes the Facebook Places API and Graph Search.

Our POV: Unless Facebook promotes this feature further or turns it into a standalone app, we don’t see it as likely to be picked up by users nor as likely to present a challenge for Yelp and others. At this point, this feature is an interesting exploration tool for destination marketing organizations (DMOs). It also explains why Facebook was going after DMOs that had a generic destination name for their Facebook pages.

Twitter lets users search through every tweet ever sent

Twitter has a new search engine that will now allow searching any tweet sent since 2006. Spanning almost 9 years, this tweet catalogue contains some 500 billion documents. It can be accessed through the current search option in Twitter.

Our POV: This change represents an incredible opportunity from a research and marketing standpoint. The ability to go back and research reactions on Twitter during certain times of the year (i.e. holidays and national events) gives marketers and brands an opportunity to understand what to expect in the future. It’s also a very powerful tool for competitor and customer intelligence.

Snapchat partners with Square to introduce 'Snapcash'

Snapchat has enabled a feature that will allow users to send cash to each other within the Snapchat app. Users add their debit card within the app, which is then stored by Square. To access the feature you swipe into chat with a friend, type in a dollar sign and the amount, then send with the green button. The process is quick, and goes directly to your friend’s bank account given that they also are signed up for the feature.

Our POV: Given recent security concerns with Snapchat, it may take a while for users to adopt. However, expect this to continue to be the norm within social media apps and platforms. Last month, we highlighted how peer-to-peer money transfer was a necessary building block for social commerce within Facebook and Twitter. Snapchat has an increasingly strong hold on youth culture, and enabling those young consumers to engage with social commerce will certainly be a priority moving forward.

Google+ adds 'Mentions' to its web users

Google+ is currently rolling out a new feature for its web users that will show all posts that you’re mentioned in. A new 'Mention' tab is added to users’ home pages. This new feature is not currently available on the mobile app.

Our POV: Google+ is honing in on its core user base and offering them more options. The new mention option is an easy way for popular and busy users on the platform to respond and read all posts they are mentioned in quickly and efficiently. Community managers will like this option since it groups all of the mentions into one place, and they won't have to worry about accidentally deleting notifications. The fact that there is no mobile version of this feature right now does limit its overall usefulness.