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Keeping Up With All the Updates: August

August has been quite the exciting month. With the world tuning into the Olympics, debating what made the pools turn green, marveling at the accomplishments of Michael Phelps or stunned to see the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dressed up as Super Mario at the closing ceremonies, some of you might have missed what happened in the social world. So in case you were too taken with the sporting events, I’ve got all your updates from this month.

#HASHTAG

If you’re hashtag obsessed, there’s an app called Magnify that will make your life easier. The way it works is simple – Magnify offers you different categories such as travel, fitness, lifestyle, etc. and under each theme there is a repository of relevant and popular hashtags. This is a definite time saver for social media users and brands. As anyone who has ever dealt with Instagram knows, hashtags make the content more effective and searchable. It increases exposure and reach, which in turn leads to an increase in followers. Moreover, the app offers scheduling services for your Instagram posts, a service not yet popularized but crucial in the social media world. As of now, it is only available on Android, but I cannot wait until it rolls out across all operating systems.

TWEET TWEET

Twitter had introduced a new ad format, called ‘Instant Unlock Card’. Basically, advertisers will tweet a teaser of something and ask for you to retweet to unlock the full message. It’s an excellent way for brands to drive engagement and get exposure by tapping into their users. However, this could have the potential to drive other users away, as they begin to see their timelines inundated with brand related retweets. The ‘Unlock Card’ could also backfire on the brand, if it isn’t executed well. Say a fan actually retweets and shares to unlock something they thought was interesting and are disappointed with the result. This can negatively affect brand perception. However, if a brand uses this tool successfully, it could also lead to it becoming part of the trending hashtags list that all Twitter users see on the left side of their homepage, whether they are fans or not. This will definitely lead to higher exposure, reach, and fan base to the brand page.

Pepsi-Promoted stickers

In other Twitter news, the company launched promoted stickers for brands to advertise themselves on the platform, piloting the new offering with Pepsi. The Pepsi activation allows you to take a picture and then edit it with all the stickers offered. At the moment, it feels very similar to Snapchat, however, as more brands opt into the new offering, it could evolve. I look forward to seeing how companies leverage the new service to connect with consumers in an already cluttered environment.

THE DIVERSIFICATION OF FACEBOOK

Facebook seems to be venturing into the e-commerce world by helping brands make sales through their pages. The Shop section will allow brands to offer either goods or services. Customers are then directed through Messenger to complete the action. At the moment, it’s aimed at small businesses who deal with clients on a one-on-one basis. It is an excellent way to facilitate transactions between businesses and customers and many newly emerged brands that do not have websites can benefit from this feature. This could eventually replace payment websites such as PayPal, eliminating the need for a middleman. It would be worth keeping an eye out on how Facebook plans to extend the service.

On another note, the social giant wants to disable ad-blockers on its platform. As all Facebook users know, we see a steady stream of ads daily as it is their biggest revenue driver. Therefore, brands who are investing in ads do not want to see that money go to waste by a simple ad-blocker. It makes sense then that Facebook is updating its ad tools so that a user can remove themselves from specific customer lists. Facebook has altered its technology to prevent ad-blockers to work on their website, both mobile and desktop, keeping both brands and users happy. If you’re interested in reading more on the subject, check out our in-depth take on ad blockers and how they affect consumers and advertisers.

VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR

Video is currently a star in social media and platforms are constantly trying to find a new way to incorporate it. Microsoft just bought a live streaming service called Beam that competes with the likes of Twitch and YouTube gaming. How is it different? Although Beam also focuses on live streaming games, it has the added benefit of being faster and having low-latency videos. LinkedIn, which was recently acquired by Microsoft, has also joined the game by introducing native videos to its platform. Even Instagram is embracing video more fully. It recently started testing a “Channel” section in its explore tab that offers a list of videos cataloged into categories. This was discovered on an Android phone running Marshmallow 6.0.1; no other software has been able to spot the channels yet. Instagram’s recent release of Stories put itself in direct conflict with Snapchat and it seems that with the Channel option it may be targeting a new competitor – YouTube. Bloggers, influencers and “YouTube” stars, can now switch to Instagram and host their own channel on that social platform instead. So with all the major social platforms embracing video in all formats, it will be interesting to see who comes out on top of the video game.

That’s pretty much a wrap for this month. I hope this post has helped update you on all the latest developments in the world of social. If you have any questions, just get in touch and stay tuned for next month’s updates.