What’s happening on social media in 2017?
19 April 2017
Like elves at Christmas, Facebook’s development team have been hard at work behind the scenes, and in a few short weeks have showered us with gifts of many updates that we’re not sure we really need. Here they are, anyway.
“Not Snapchat” stories
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Snapchat must be blushing from head to toe after Facebook released Messenger Day, an uncannily similar update to Snapchat Stories. It’s basically a video with fun stickers and filters that self-destructs after 24 hours. Also, no-one is calling it “Messenger Day”, they’re calling it “Stories”.
Despite it not being an entirely new feature, Facebook says it wants to put video at the centre of its messaging app. The company already added the update to Instagram back in August 2016, which clearly marks its intention to make video the number one visual stimulant across all platforms. Facebook’s Stan Chudnovsky, Head of Product for Messenger said this, over here.
“Millions of people around the world have already used Messenger Day to show what they’re doing, how they’re feeling and to invite friends to join them for activities — or just to chat.”
More on visuals, Facebook has also given us a new coloured status updates
In an attempt to get people connecting with their friends again, Facebook has introduced the coloured background for status updates.
Facebook has become so saturated with companies trying to get people’s attention, that the Facebook “let’s be friends” app of 2007 is all but dead and buried under a swathe of ads and news streams.
For a time, this colourful update was only available for Facebook mobile users, but then a month or so later it quietened the shout of outrage from desktop users and gave it to them too. It adds an eye-catching element to a text status in the same way colourful images do. There are eight colours and then the option of the original white to choose from. Some also have cool colour gradient options for that familiar Instagram filter feel. It’s not available for business pages, obviously.
How charitable are your friends?
You can find out with Facebook’s Fundraisers, a feature that lets you ask friends for charitable donations to good causes. They’ve tried this once before, but only for non-profits. However, with the distinct advantage of its users being able to leverage a cause with an existing friends network, it made sense to give access to anyone.
According to Facebook “Fundraisers lets people raise money for your non-profit on Facebook. Your supporters can set up a dedicated page to share their story, tell others about your mission and rally around your fundraising goal.”
Facebook has limited the reasons to ask for money to these six categories;
- Pet Medical
- Crisis Relief
- Personal Emergency
- Funeral and Loss
This is probably not the final line for making charitable donations through Facebook, though. They may just be testing the waters with these easily defined, important categories. Maybe in the future you and your muso friends will be able to finance the costs of getting your favourite indie band to play in your town. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Video auto-play with auto-sound
Facebook just made it harder to pass the time by mindlessly thumbing through your newsfeed in boring meetings. Users will soon be able to hear video sound fade in and out as they scroll past them. This is to get the attention of users, mostly by businesses using video for sales, and also to eliminate the need for people to stop, push play and read the subtitles. Who has the time?
“After testing sound on in News Feed and hearing positive feedback, we’re slowly bringing it to more people. With this update, sound fades in and out as you scroll through videos in News Feed, bringing those videos to life.” Says Facebook
These aren’t the only updates that Mark Zuckerberg has ordered to be released. Currently being tested are;
- Reactions coming to Messenger. There’ll be no further need to copy and paste your favourite emoji.
- A pop-up window on desktop for posts you’ve commented on - in case you forgot about that fight you started.
- A little rocket icon at the top of your feed which opens an Explore feature showing users popular content by selected publishers. Sort of like Instagram has.
Twitter’s web developers have been a little less busy
In fact, no one quite knows what Twitter developers are doing. Like most things, Twitter started with an egg. This week, they got rid of the egg and Twitter users clucked loudly about it and kept going back to see if a once sure-fire way to detect a fake account had returned. It hadn’t. Twitter replaced it with a design no one feels any particular affection for because it is unbelievably generic and bland.
Apparently that is Twitter’s intention. Before, people who wished to remain anonymous could do so and still be something. An egg. With this new avatar they are nothing, and Twitter hopes they will hate it and replace it with a picture of a troll themselves.
This is the method behind that madness, albeit one that is unlikely to be effective. It’s a useless tactic, because as ugly as the new avatar is, trolls are uglier and will therefore never fall for Twitter’s ploy to trick them into revealing themselves.
But at least now we can filter and mute them.
Earlier this year Twitter took steps to tackle abuse by giving users the option of muting certain phrases, as well as getting a guaranteed feedback on reports from Twitter regarding complaints of abuse.
“If you mute an account you do not follow and they start a conversation that mentions you, you will only receive notifications from those you do follow who reply in the conversation and mention you,” writes Twitter . “If you’d like to view all of your mentions, you can do so by searching your username.”
This didn’t come from Twitter’s own accord. It’s something users have been complaining about for years. Up until now, users who reported abuse had little way of knowing whether any action had been taken after their report. Users could have receipt of their reports confirmed via email, but they weren’t privy to updates.
"This change could come into effect if an account is repeatedly Tweeting without solicitation at non-followers or engaging in patterns of abusive behaviour that is in violation of the Twitter Rules," Ho wrote on Twitter's blog.
So, while the egg’s replacement is terrible, taking steps to curb online harassment certainly isn’t.
140 characters are now exactly that. And more
After a year of testing the update, finally, replies and images on Twitter don’t count as characters. All 140 characters are yours to use in whatever manner you please.
Why then, is no one cheering?
Well, because the update is horribly flawed and so the manner which pleases some people is to use it to spam others. Of course Twitter has rules about needlessly adding people’s handles to a comment chain.
But who listens to unenforceable rules? Not spammers.
Now when a user replies, the handles don’t form part of the tweet, they sit just above the line of characters. So, with the freedom to add as many people to a reply at once, mean friends and spammers are doing just that. This triggers a chain of notifications about comments to a thread you never wanted to be a part of.
Instagram is sliding ads between your Stories
Instagram has found an exciting new way to show you ads, and make them a bit of cash. Currently, if you start watching Stories, all of them will run one after the other. Instagram announced that it will now run ads, either full screen or video, between these Stories.
This doesn’t come as much of a surprise considering that last year Facebook admitted that they’re running out of ad space on Newsfeeds. So generating ad revenue through Instagram is the smartest move, considering 150 million people a day are using Stories. They’re currently rolling it out with just a handful of advertisers, but it won’t be long before everyone will be doing it.
And giving you multiple images
Instagram has also been slowly rolling out multiple image and video posts, and most users love it. Before, if you wanted to use multiple images or “carousel posts” you would either use the image carousel ads or use create a photo collage with the image app. Now you can create a single Instagram post with a slideshow of up to ten individually curated and perfectly filtered images. And you can tag your friends in individual pics.
Hopefully, rolling these out in the first quarter of 2017 means that their web development teams will slow down and spend time measuring their efficacy and ironing out issues. If not, we’ll be sure to give you an update.