5 Social Platform Updates You Need to Know About - Christmas Edition
Even in the final days leading into Christmas, the major social platforms are still squeezing out last-minute updates and features of note - or in Twitter's case, finding errors with their current systems.
As part of our ongoing effort to provide you with the best coverage of the latest social media news and insights, we feel it's important to cover all of these updates and tests.
So to ensure you're up to date with the latest happenings, here's a rundown of five important social notes heading into the holidays - starting with Twitter and its aforementioned problematic numbers.
1. Twitter metrics
As you're no doubt aware, Facebook's been under fire of late due to mistakes with their metrics, reporting several data errors within the last few months (here's a full list of the mistakes and impacts). Now, Twitter has also found some problems with the information they've been providing to advertisers - and similar to Facebook, these errors are isolated to a very specific segment of their network, but their net impact is likely larger than that of the inaccuracies themselves.
As reported by Business Insider, a bug in a recent version of Twitter's Android app inflated video ad metrics by as much as 35%. Twitter informed the affected advertisers as soon as they found the problem and they've issued refunds for campaigns that ran between November 7th and December 12th.
In isolation, the issue is relatively small, and they've resolved it quickly, but the timing of the report amplifies its significance.
For one, it comes on the back of Facebook's errors, which adds to the argument that social metrics can't be trusted and will raise questions in the minds of ad buyers considering increased investment in social.
The issue is also a bigger problem for Twitter specifically - as noted by TechCrunch, Twitter's putting a lot of hope on live video ads bringing in increased revenue and helping to turn the company around. Problems with their video metrics don't inspire confidence in the product.
As with Facebook's errors, the impact is relative - though it is worth noting that none of Facebook's problems thus far have lead to the issuing of refunds. Twitter's have, which is significant.
2. Games as Snapchat Lenses
Could games be the next battlefront for Snapchat and Facebook?
Working to stay ahead of the competition - with Facebook introducing more and more Snapchat-like options in their apps - Snapchat's released a new Christmas-themed Lens which is actually an interactive game you can play, and even compete against your friends with on high scores.
Called 'Santa's Helper' the game's triggered by activating the new elf looking Lens. Once opened, the game starts, with your face placed atop of the character's body. You then have to guide your elf down the sliding slope by tilting your device.
It's fairly basic game play, but you can imagine it'll be popular with people looking for a distraction over the holidays. It's also not highly refined - as you can see from the concentration on my face in the above screenshots, I had some trouble getting my elf to move in the direction I intended. But then again, I'm old in Snapchat terms, so maybe it's just not for me.
Last month, Facebook introduced a new games arcade for Messenger, noting that their initial test of games on Messenger - a simple basketball game - was played more than 1.2 billion times, well more than they'd expected. That underlines the potential of mobile, in-app games, and is no doubt what Snapchat's looking to tap into with this addition.
It also gives Snapchat another way to use Lenses, which could help them advance the option and keep users coming back to the app, despite similar tools now being provided on Facebook's platforms.
3. Twitter emoji on web
Emoji use has seen significant increase all across the web, but Twitter, in particular, has been working to make emoji more of a focus. This makes sense - Twitter communication is focused on shorter messaging, which lends itself to emoji use, while 82% of users access the platform via mobile device, which, again, is more aligned to emoji interaction (as a means of cutting down on excessive thumb-typing on tiny keypads).
And then, of course, there's user trends - over 110 billion emojis have been Tweeted since 2014.
In order to better facilitate this, Twitter's added a new shortcut to emoji from the tweet compose window on desktop.
It's a relatively minor update, but one which could prompt more emoji use - and given Twitter's push on sponsored emoji, even the ability to target ads to users based on the emojis they use, prompting increased use of those tiny cartoonish characters can only work in the platform's favor.
4. More Facebook auto-detect reminders
Back in September, Facebook started adding new auto-detect prompts in Messenger which use an AI system to 'read' the context of your message and offer options on actions you might want to take based on those engagements - for example, an in-stream option to make a payment to someone you owe money to.
This is a key area of development for Facebook, adding in smarter tools that simplify your interactions by providing direct links to related tools - they've also added such tools to their latest update to Messenger, with text detection now built into the new Messenger camera to offer emojis and graphics you might want to add based on the text you've entered.
Another, similar option was spotted on Facebook.com this week.
The Next Web's Matt Navarra has also noted another such reminder in his interactions, with Messenger prompting users to set reminders, again based on message context.
Such tools will become a much bigger deal in 2017 - Google has also built similar into their Pixel phones, with their messaging app Allo providing one-tap responses based on the context of your interaction, or even the content of a posted photo.
And while these are relatively small use-cases of such tech, the next evolution will be important because such tools will also be able to recommend businesses or products based on message context.
For example, lets say you want to go out to dinner - Google Allo, via Google Assistant, already enables you to conduct a search for restaurants nearby, in-stream.
But what if those systems understood your personal preferences and could automatically suggest places to go based on message context?
Instead of conducting a search, a prompt could come up in response to your 'let's get dinner some place?' message with an option to book into nearby restaurants aligned to your tastes. Restaurants would be very keen for their businesses to show up in those automated recommendations, right?
This is why Virtual Assistant Optimization could become another form of SEO - we'll explore this further in the new year, but worth noting where these increasing message context prompts could be headed.
5. Reactions display on articles
And the last update of note this week is Facebook's new reactions and engagement overlay on articles viewed within Facebook's in-app browser.
The new addition is aimed at prompting increased engagement on platform, as opposed to merely reading a link from Facebook. For example, if you're reading a post and you see that there are accompanying Facebook comments, you'll be more inclined to click over and see what people are saying - particularly if there's a heap of comments along with a heap of, say, angry Reactions. Why are people angry about this post? Click through and find out.
It's a fairly simple way to boost on-platform engagement, and a clever one at that.
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