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The Race towards Improved Functionality on Social

In all the updates that social platforms have been making over recent months, we have noticed a key focus on enhancing functionality. Facebook and Twitter specifically, seem interested in integrating search into the social experience. Who has won the battle? Only time will tell but until then, we explore what these developments mean to users and businesses.

FACEBOOK

On any given day, Facebook receives an average of 1.5 billion searches on their platform, and that’s a figure they continuously seek to improve. To achieve this goal, ‘Search FYI’ was introduced last October, indexing over two trillion public posts to help users find what they are looking for and keep them engaged on the platform. The new feature also includes an autocomplete of any search query, which showcases the latest news and trends.

How will this impact companies that utilize the platform? Though nothing has been announced yet, the change is likely to further boost highly engaging posts by returning them to the top of search results. This is a great opportunity for brands to reach new consumers, so long as their content is search friendly as well as social friendly. It will also become an important source of referral traffic from external websites.

Prior changes to the platform’s newsfeed algorithm have stopped promotional or selling content that is out of context from appearing in people’s timelines. The ‘Search FYI’ update now reinforces that rule as content must be engaging for Facebook to understand it is as current and relevant to show up in search results.

Furthermore, ‘Instant Articles’ are now available on the platform, meaning users no longer have to leave the app to view an article. While this improves the user’s experience, it also reduces the possibility of continuing on to read other posts on the external website, thereby retaining the user within the Facebook environment. With this in mind, brands – and especially content publishers who are focused on driving website traffic – will need to re-examine their strategies to creatively lure audiences to their websites.

TWITTER

Earlier this year, Twitter introduced Likes and Moments, something Facebook has had since 2009. With this update, it appears as though the platform is evolving to adopt a more mainstream language. Moments will allow users to find stories that matter with ease, particularly industry and breaking news stories as they occur.

However, changing the interface only affects the engagement of existing users, whereas altering the delivery of content will attract new growth. Changes to their algorithm have allowed Twitter to curate users’ timelines and customize their experiences, effectively providing the content that will engage them the most. Therefore, expect Twitter to continue making updates that appeal to mainstream audiences, focusing on providing the most suitable content to the right people, at the right time.

IN SUMMARY

A common area of focus among social platforms this year is improving their functionalities in order to keep users satisfied for longer. Facebook brought in its own video-hosting capabilities to help stem the flow of users to YouTube. Twitter is finding ways to help publishers and media outlets post content directly to their channel, thereby making the interface more recognizable. It will be very interesting to see how these trends play out in the remainder of the year. We will be keeping a close eye on all developments and sharing our take on what they mean to you, so stay tuned.

This post was co-authored by Khaled Sharrouf and Will Irwin from the Resolution MENA team.