In the strange world that is social media, things change very often and very fast. It’s practically a full time job just keeping up with all the new developments, tweaks, additions and updates. So we put together a list of our favourite and most notable recent changes to some of the biggest social networks that you use for your brand.
1. Twitter’s 140 Character Exemptions
Both the key differentiator and key annoyance factor for Twitter is their unique 140 character limit, but after months of discussions and PR blasts, they’re finally cutting the following elements from counting towards the limit:
Media attachments (images and videos)
You can now also retweet yourself - which sounds odd but it’ll likely come in handy once we all get used to it - and tweets that begin with an @name will appear in your regular timeline (some astute folks would have noticed that users place a period in front of the @name in order for it to appear in their regular feed rather than the Tweets & Replies page).
This is a great and welcome change, as many users and brands could use those extra characters for links and slightly more in-depth content. And let’s face it, it made no sense that all those things counted towards the character limit anyway. Well done, Twitter.
2. Instagram Customized Comment Filters
Fans of artists like Beyoncé and Kanye West have been known to use creative ways to use emojis to either promote their idols or berate their idols’ enemies. Instagram has now rolled out a way to curb bullying in the comments via a customized filter that allows brands and users to block comments from their feed containing certain keywords (or even emojis). This is especially useful for brands wanting to eliminate spammers and negative posts from their images, with the only major downside being that it may be possible to block regular positive comments if the chosen keywords are more than just curse words.
Another cool addition Instagram is about to implement is a personalized comment section similar to Facebook, where users see comments from their friends (or followers in this case) at the top rather than just the two latest comments.
3. Instagram Profile ‘Follows You’
We’ve been discussing the possibility of this happening in our office for some time now, and it’s finally come to fruition. In a move that replicates Twitter, all Instagram profiles will have a ‘Follows You’ icon next to their name if, in fact, they follow you; and if they don’t follow you, it will remain blank. As nice as the ignorance was, it’s definitely beneficial for users and brands to know when a particular profile is following them, especially for events like Instagram-based contests when users are required to follow as part of the entry process. Profile creeping just got that much harder.
* Edit: This feature seems to have disappeared in the days since we wrote this piece, for better or for worse. Who knows, it may come back.
4. Instagram Stories Mute, Save & Coloured Text
Instagram Stories has been trending positively in its short time as part of the platform, and recently they introduced three cool new features. The first is the ability to mute the story of individual users. You may have noticed that your Stories feed gets clogged with people you don’t really want to see, so you can now ‘mute’ their story which pushes them to the back of the line and you won’t really ever see them unless you go through literally every story, which is fairly unlikely.
The second is the ability to automatically save all of the images and videos from your Stories to your phone, something that Snapchat doesn’t currently offer (only a manual save via Memories, and even then, it’s an annoying process). This may run up the memory on your phone pretty fast, but you can always just delete the ones you don’t want after the fact. Either way, it should save brands and users time if you often use your Stories content for other platforms.
And lastly, you can now choose a colour for the text overlays you place on your Stories. This is the least revolutionary of the new additions, but certainly a necessary one.
5. Snapchat Memories Video Length
This is more of a workaround than a brand new feature, but users can now upload longer videos to Memories and then create a Story using the longer videos, which Snapchat automatically breaks up into 10 second clips. It’s definitely a sign that Snapchat may be moving towards longer form content rather than strictly sticking with the 10 second pieces, which suggests that this may be a direction the network is considering.
The only downside is the white borders which appear around any content not produced directly from within the app, which in our opinion takes away from the overall aesthetic of the Story.
As a bonus, here are some new rumoured changes that we're looking forward to seeing on some of the networks:
Instagram Stories finally bringing in Geofilters, Lenses and Overlays which seems more and more likely due to Facebook’s purchase of MSQRD;
A directory to search for users on Snapchat;
More developed Ad Targeting on Snapchat;
Twitter’s new apps that live stream direct to your TV.