One of the best things about covering social media and digital marketing is that there's always something new happening, some new update or feature being rolled-out to cover. But some of them are relatively small-scale so they're not necessarily worthy of their own, individual post - though they are still relevant and worth knowing for anyone working in the field.
To keep you up to date on these smaller changes and features, here's a rundown of five upcoming or "in-test mode" features that are currently being trialled on some of the major platforms - starting with Twitter, which is testing some new customer service focused options.
1. New Twitter Profile Display Options
Twitter's put a big emphasis on their customer service capacity in recent times, launching longer DMs, new analytics and tracking options and testing out profile improvements like product collection listings. In line with this, Twitter is also testing new on-profile presentation tools.
The first is a new responsive listing which alerts visitors as to when a business is most likely to be active on the platform.
This is similar to Facebook's response badges which indicate how active a brand is on the platform, though the focus is slightly different (time available as opposed to active interaction).
Twitter's response time badges may actually be more useful, in that they indicate when the brand is more likely to be available, as opposed to Facebook's badges which put increased onus on brands to respond to all messages whenever they're sent. Twitter's option benefits both the brand and their audience, as it helps provide a clearer understanding of what people can expect.
In addition to this, Twitter's also testing a 'Featured' tweets tab, which looks to be a highlight listing of the page's latest and most popular tweets, as well as an image gallery.
The page owner may actually be able to choose which tweets are featured (it's not 100% clear what the process is), providing another way for brands to showcase their key messages and make their Twitter presence more engaging. How beneficial that might be is debatable - most people would likely prefer to just see the latest tweets - however it's likely another way that Twitter's looking to use to simplify the platform. In the same way that Moments curates the best content to make it easier for non-Twitter users to showcase the most relevant tweets on a given subject, featured lists would enable brands to do similar, though on a smaller, more individually-focused scale.
Both of these features are in testing and there's no word as to when, or if, they might be rolled out more widely.
2. Twitter Sports Broadcasting
Back in April, Twitter announced that it had signed a deal with the NFL to live-stream Thursday Night Football games next season - which had everyone questioning what live sports coverage on Twitter might actually look like.
We may now have an answer - this week, Twitter has started live-streaming Wimbledon, giving tennis fans a taste of how an incorporated Twitter/live sport integration could work.
As you can see, the match is broadcast on the left, with official Twitter channels and referral broadcasters listed below, then there's a tweet stream on the right showcasing all the tweets using the #wimbledon hashtag. It's possible those tweets are being curated in real-time to avoid the stream being flooded with spam (which will no doubt become a bigger problem as more viewers become aware of the broadcast), but the layout itself is pretty much as you'd expect.
No doubt there'll be much more to it when Twitter's NFL coverage rolls around - the company has a lot riding on the success of the NFL deal, so you'd expect they'll be going all out - but with up to 70% of sports fans "second-screening" and interacting with another device while consuming sports content already, the basic mechanics of the pairing makes sense.
You can check out the Wimbledon stream for yourself here.
3. Facebook Video Downloads
Facebook's ongoing push into developing markets will see them trial a new system to enable users to download video content from the platform, starting from July 11th.
The download option will appear alongside the regular Like and Comment options, enabling users in areas with low connectivity to save video content while they're in a wi-fi or otherwise connected region, in order to view it later.
The feature's only being tested amongst a small group of users, and the wider application of such an option seems limited, but it'll help Facebook build their audience share in such markets, which is a big deal for the platform's future growth. As we've reported previously, India has potential non internet-connected audience of over 1.06 billion, a huge market for Facebook to tap into, if able.
In order to protect the rights of content creators (and as noted in the above note from Facebook), publishers will be able to opt out of the download feature and people will only be able to download original videos posted by users on personal accounts or from Pages.
4. Facebook Messenger Account Switching
Back in February, Facebook rolled out Messenger account switching on Android. Now they're bringing the same functionality to iOS.
The option will make it easier for business owners and/or those sharing a single device to easily navigate their Messenger activity and respond to relevant messages.
To use Messenger account switching on iOS, go to Profile, Switch Account, then press the plus sign to add a new profile.
5. Instagram Comment Moderation
And the last recent update of note is Instagram's new comment moderation tool for business pages.
It's a good option that will no doubt benefit many brand pages. Spam comments on Instagram have been on the rise as more people have signed up to the platform, and while there's no option to control which specific words or phrases are blocked, it still provides some way for brands to take additional control over the content that's presented to their audience.
Each of these updates obviously holds value within itself, but all are fairly specific - not game-changing in any way, but helpful all the same, and worth noting for anyone utilizing these platforms.