5 New Features On The Top Social Networks - Fall 2016 Edition

 
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The world of social media moves so fast, it feels like we have to do one of these posts every other month. And it’s a great thing both for social marketers and for businesses leveraging the platforms.

Some of these updates are fairly minor, but they’re all handy in their own right. Each user or business will utilize them or benefit from them differently so it’s definitely worth exploring them to see if there’s anything in it for you and your brand.

Let’s get into it.

1. Instagram Live Video

In a not-so-surprising move, Instagram added a Facebook and Periscope-esque live video component to the platform with one major difference - the live videos disappear once they end. The introduction of their Stories feature was a bold move against Snapchat, so adding the Live function definitely puts them (almost) ahead of the game.

Unlike Facebook Live, Instagram Live is aimed at the younger users - as is immediately evident from the promo video - who tend to hang out on live video platforms with their friends rather than attempt to broadcast to the widest possible network. Users will receive a notification that an account they follow has gone live (though apparently not all accounts), but if they fail to tune in during the broadcast, they’ll miss the whole thing as the videos aren’t saved for later viewing.

Brands could easily leverage this feature at functions and events where they’d like to bring their followers with them but the content isn’t important enough to refer back to, which allows them the flexibility to keep the broadcasts raw and personal. We’ll keep tabs on it to see how it performs in the coming months.

2. Instagram Stories Individual Messaging

If you thought that blatantly taking the ‘disappearing content’ concept from Snapchat was a cold move, Instagram just took it further by mimicking their individual messaging functionality. Instead of only being able to add disappearing videos or images to your Story, users can now send messages to specific recipients or even predetermined groups (somewhat like iMessage or Whatsapp).

Just like Snapchat, users can replay the message/video once and will receive a notification if someone takes a screenshot. After playing with it this past week, we noticed that the UX/UI is a little confusing and will definitely take some getting used to. The personal messages are now stored in a shared inbox with regular Instagram direct messages, appearing above the threads in a circle just like Stories does on the main feed. To get to the inbox, there’s now a paper plane icon on the top right of the news feed, and to get back to the feed you need to tap the ‘Instagram’ icon in the top middle of the screen, which took us a bit of messing around to figure out.

UI aside, this is a great move for the platform and Instagram are even looking into incorporating live video into individual messaging. The only remaining features are the face masks and geofilters and they will have totally eclipsed Snapchat. It’s going to be interesting to see what the fastest growing social network will do in response to Instagram’s latest play.

3. Find Wi-Fi Networks on Facebook

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As is evidenced by the constant stream of notifications, Facebook have really been focusing on their Live function. The main issue they’re having is that going live is a real data drainer, and wi-fi isn’t always available.

Enter their new Find Wi-Fi search function. Accessible to a restricted number of users (at this point) via the Options menu on the mobile app, it brings up a map with known wi-fi zones so users can head right on over and get live ASAP.

This is a handy function regardless of their motivations; who doesn’t want to be able to connect to wi-fi at any given time? Hopefully this will be rolled out to all users sooner than later.

4. Messenger Bots Get Smarter

By now we all should be aware of the introduction of Facebook Messenger Bots, however the uptake has been much slower than The Social Network expected. Essentially, they’re experimenting with Artificial Intelligence and people are only gradually warming up to it.

A couple new features they recently introduced include real time advice - for example, Thanksgiving recipe ideas from major supermarkets and food networks - and even a super creative colour matching function from Sephora that allows users to upload an image and they suggest the closest colours in their range.

Being that this is only the early stage of Messenger AI, the functions will improve, users will begin to appreciate it and eventually, rely on them for simple daily tasks. The future looks bright, folks.

5. Real-Time Foot Traffic via Google

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Although Google isn’t a social network, we figured this was a creepily cool new feature and was worth talking about. We all know that Google basically is stalking our lives to make it easier, and this is taking it to the next level.

Last year, they introduced a foot traffic function for retail and other physical businesses, but they’ve now added a real-time element which tells you how busy a place is right now.

They haven’t released how they gather this data, but it’s likely some sort of combination of smartphone location services, Google Maps, third party services and even Pokemon GO. It’s more intrusive than one would want but, hey, if it saves you a trip to a cafe with no sitting room then chalk it up as a win.

 

Are all of these updates too much to manage? Let us take care of it.