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Archive for the ‘The week in social’ Category

The week in social: Twitter Safety Center, Flipboard funding, and Sysomos buys Expion

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Facebook announces creative video ad highlights

As video becomes an increasingly important platform for Facebook, especially video ads, the company is moving to highlight the best in class creative efforts from marketers. This includes highlighting Facebook best practices, such as focusing on the story-telling aspect of a video, being cognizant of the short time for each video, and investing in proper production, among other items. Starting from June and to be featured in future months, Facebook IQ will highlight top video ad examples for marketers to see and learn from.

More information on Facebook.com.


Twitter removing backgrounds for users

Many Twitter users reported that their customized background images no longer appear on their profile pages on web. Confirmed by Twitter, the backgrounds were officially removed from home and notification timelines on Monday and replaced with a plain light blue color that many users have been complaining about. A spokesperson for Twitter confirmed to Mashable earlier last week, “We’re removing background images from the home and notifications timelines on web for all users,”. Although the change actually started at the end of last year when profiles were redesigned, it was only slowly rolled out and more users recently discovered the change.


Read more on Mashable.


Facebook unveils secret video options for publishers

Facebook introduced a new video upload option similar to YouTube’s unlisted videos, called secret videos. This allows the video only to be viewed if a user has the direct URL or if the uploader embeds the video onto a website or another digital property. The video will not show up on the respective Page’s feed or on Facebook in general. In addition, several new customization options are available, including restricting audiences by age and gender, customizing the video with chosen thumbnails, categorizing the video by an interest category, and more.


Read more on The Next Web.


Sysomos buys Expion

Sysomos, a social listening tool company purchased Expion, a company that specializes in content optimization and social media management. With the combination of their companies, they will provide analytics to over 1,500 companies. As part of a general expansion, Sysomos stated that it will expand to 500 employees by the end of the year, with offices in ten cities around the world. The companies hope that with their large data processing capacity and capabilities with content management they will be able to provide a better customer experience.

More information on Social Times.


Periscope use slightly higher than Meerkat

In a study done by GlobalWebIndex of almost 50 thousand web users for Q2 2015, it was found that approximately 1% of them had used Periscope, and 0.9% of them had used Meerkat in the last month. When this is broken down by age category however, there are stark differences that lean in favor of either network. For example, 19% of the 0.9% on Meerkat is within the 16-24 age range, while 32% of the 1% for Periscope are in that range, arguably one of the most important categories.


Read more on GlobalWebIndex.


Pinterest introduces integration button for iOS

Pinterest unveiled a new feature for iOS that allows users to take content that is shared to them via their iOS device and pin it directly to a board to let them read later. In order to enable this feature, users have to choose to send/save a piece of content, and then enable Pinterest as one of the send options to save it automatically to a board. Pinterest explained how the options work through a blog post with an animated GIF to make it easy to explain to users. Android and web users have other options available to them that are also highlighted on the same blog post from the company.

More information on Pinterest Blog.


Facebook continues to lead for social log-ins

According to new data from Gigya, an identity management company, Facebook is still the dominant company in terms of social log-in, an option for users to log-in to services utilizing already existing credentials from social networks or other digital services. However the report also indicates that other services are growing in influence. While Facebook has a generally strong hold globally, it lost 5% of its share in both Africa and the Middle East. Amazon and PayPal are increasing in log-in services specifically for when it comes to purchases, likely as they are more associated with online buying in comparison to Facebook.


Read more on Social Times.


Twitter launches Safety Center

To help combat the problem it has with trolls on its service, Twitter is rolling out a new Safety Center, aimed at providing resources to users to help them not only deal with trolls, but also educate overall users on policies about abuse and trolling. Most of the content is not said to be new, according to Mashable, and provides somewhat obvious tips for how to stay safe on the service. The major complaint is that the Safety Center itself doesn’t do much to actual stop trolling.

More information on Mashable.


Flipboard confirms new round of funding

Earlier this week, Flipboard announced it secured an additional $50 million in funding from partner JP Morgan as a sole investor. While the company did not provide a valuation for this round of funding, the company is likely valued at between $800 million and $1.32 billion. At the time of the announcement, the company also released figures on usage, citing that there are 72 million monthly active users, the majority of which use the service on mobile. In terms of new users, Flipboard registers anywhere from 150,000 to 200,000 per day.

More information on TechCrunch.


Google updates the YouTube mobile app with new tabs

New updates have been made to the YouTube mobile app to help navigate its services more easily. The tabs, for Subscriptions, Account, and Home, are currently available on Android devices, and will be out soon for iOS, although the timeline is not officially confirmed. In addition to the tabs, which offer familiar functionality, new features for videos are also available, such as editing a piece of footage, tinting images using filters, adding music, and uploading through the app. More updates are coming soon according to YouTube in the form of improvements to the app experience.


Read more on The Next Web.

The week in social: Snapchat Discover, parents on social, and Moneypenny

Monday, July 20th, 2015

News habits of social media users

Users of social media in majority see their network of choice as a source of news, according to research from the Pew Research Center, in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. For both Facebook and Twitter, 63% of users see their network as a source of news, while 59% of Twitter users consider it a source of breaking news, while on Facebook that number is only 31%, potentially due to the real-time chronological order of the general Twitter feed. These number are up considerably from 2013, where only 52% on Twitter and 47% on Facebook used the networks for news.


Read more on Journalism.org.


Facebook testing virtual shopping assistant for Messenger

Facebook has been moving towards making its standalone Messenger app a destination for mobile online shopping, and its latest move aims to make that transition even easier for users. It is rumored that Facebook is developing a digital assistant similar to Siri with the function primarily being helping users shop online through the app, versus being built for productivity. The virtual assistant connects to real people to help get shopping done, and is currently being referred to as “Moneypenny”, a reference to James Bond.

More information on The Information.


Facebook testing an insights button for Page posts

Facebook is quietly testing a new function to help get Page administrators more direct access to Page insights by adding a “View Insights” button to Page posts. The data gives a top-line view of performance for the post in question, showing how many people have been reached, a comparison against the average, and the total number of post clicks, or engagements. Although deeper analytics can be gathered by searching for the specific post within the page insights, the new function is likely meant to provide a quick summary.


Read more on Social Times.


Social log-in increases in the US and UK

In a report from Gigya, social log-in is shown to have increased in usage in the last three years in both the United States, and the United Kingdom. The percentage is higher in the United States, with 88% of users having utilized social log-in, with the United Kingdom at 66%. Since the last study completed in 2012, usage has increased in the United States by over 1/3, at 35%. Users have cited comments reasons for social log-in use, specifically not wanting to fill out additional online registration forms, and not wanting to create and then have to remember additional log-in information.


Read more on Gigya.com.


Gamers are more active on Twitter and Reddit

A new study from ShareThis has uncovered that Gamers are generally more active on social media than other users, with 27% of gamers sharing video content related to their games on social networks, and sharing an average of three gaming related stories per week across networks. The study additionally showed that gamers are influential among their peers, with 68% of gamers on social networks clicking on something posted by a user with a similar profile. Lastly, gamers are seen to use Twitter three times more, and Reddit two times more than the average social sharers.


Read more on ShareThis.


Facebook testing a Watch Later button for videos

As Facebook moves to compete with other social networks for video views from users, it is consistently testing and adding new features to the service. The latest is the ability to click a button that appears on the top right of a video to watch later, with the videos going into the “Saved” folder, where a collection of stories and content that the user saves is stored, including link posts, which is already an available feature as of last July. There is no official word yet from Facebook on when or if saved videos will be rolled out to the wider audience.

More information on TechCrunch.


Yik Yak messaging service adding photos for posts

Yik Yak, the privacy-minded anonymous social network, announced earlier this week that users would now be allowed to add photos to their posts. Photos on posts is the largest feature addition to the service in approximately a year, and it was previously tested with a number of communities on the network before being officially announced. In order to prevent an influx of spam from the use of this feature as well as general bots, mobile device verification will be required before new users can sign up and post. The company has also stated through an official blog post that additional photo features will be coming soon.

More information on Social Times.


Mothers are the more engaged parents on social media

In a combination study between University of Michigan’s School of Information and the Pew Research Center, it was found that the majority of parents (75%) use social media, with mothers being the most heavily engaged. Additionally, it was found that the percentage among each parenting group differed, with 81% of mothers total being on social media, with only 66% of fathers. 79% of the parents that do use social media say that they find useful information across their networks, and 81% of the same group attempt to respond to good news that is shared online on social.


Read more on Pew Internet.


Twitter releases data dashboard to help users track third-party access

In an effort to provide more transparency to its users, Twitter has just released a new data dashboard that allows users to track the activity of their log-ins to see when they logged in, from what device, and to what applications they have given access to their Twitter account for various purposes. The dashboard also links directly to any apps that are currently linked to a user’s Twitter account for easy capability to disallow access.

More information on TechCrunch.


Snapchat redesigns stories section

Earlier this week, Snapchat updated its stories feature on the iOS app to prioritize content from its publishing partners to show Discover and Live Stories above stories from contacts and friends. Partners for Snapchat include companies like VICE, ESPN, and Yahoo. This is likely a follow up to Evan Spiegel’s unveiling of Snapchat’s new ads approach at Cannes. Snapchat is currently valued at $16 billion, and is increasing the ways in which advertisers connect with its large audience.

More information on Mashable.

The week in social: Twitter birthdays, Messenger GIFs, & Meerkat Library

Monday, July 13th, 2015

Facebook redesigns Support inbox

Last week, Facebook quietly changed the design of its Support inbox to match other tweaks being made around the site. The new design features an introduction that provides bullets on what the inbox is best used for, with a feed of communications between Support and the user underneath. To the right, Help Center and Community Standards content are featured, with a search function and links to popular articles.


Read more on Social Times.


Facebook adds new apps for GIFs in Messenger

Facebook Messenger recently released a series of GIF apps from third-parties to use and spice up conversations. They are currently testing GIF buttons, which allow users to find and send images in only two taps, making the process much easier. The button skims trending GIFs from Giphy and Riffsy, the companies that produced apps for Messenger.

More information on TechCrunch.


Users can now add birthdays to Twitter profiles

To keep followers more engaged, users can now add their birth date to their Twitter profile. Adding a birth date is completely optional and users are able to select who views it. The birth year is separate from the settings of the month and day, allowing users to expose as much or as little as they wish. Twitter will also use the new feature to show more relevant content and advertisements.

More information on Twitter Blog.


Twitter debuts video app download ads

Twitter is allowing advertisers to drive app installs directly from promoted videos. Statistics show that two-thirds of app installs for gaming companies come from video ads as opposed to still photos. This will now allow app install advertisers to optimize their bids according to install, paying by app click, which will ideally save money against social engagements on ads and achieve greater ROI.


Read more on Twitter Blog.


Facebook updates the design of its Friends icon

Facebook tweaked its friend’s icon that carried controversial symbolism. A designer at Facebook headquarters first noticed the icon and felt obliged to take action. It is speculated that the previous design was not done with ill intention, but rather a lack of consideration. The women was positioned slightly behind the man, shorter, and with a chip in her shoulder. The new icon shows the man and woman at the same height and intends to display a perspective of gender equality.


Read more on Medium.com.


Facebook redefines cost per click for advertising options

Facebook redefined cost per click to benefit advertisers and their objectives. Currently CPC accounts for any click within an ad unit. This could be a like, comment, share, a click to a website, or to “continue reading.” With the new update, CPC will only account for clicks related to certain ad objectives. This includes clicks to another website, a call to action, to install an app, and clicks to view a video on another site. The update will provide more precise measurements for advertisers and how they are bidding so they can reach their campaign goals.

More information on Facebook Business News.


Facebook debuts updated controls for the News Feed

Facebook released new tools with features to make the social media experience more personal. One feature allows users to select friend pages they want to see first on their New Feeds. The tools will also suggest Pages to connect to based on previous Pages users have liked. The last feature will contain a list of top people, Pages, and groups the user has seen in the News Feed over the past week. There will be an option to unfollow any friend or page or choose to re-follow someone they may have unfollowed in the past.

More information on Facebook News Room.


Meerkat adds additional interactive features

Updates from Meerkat will make the broadcasting experience more interactive. Broadcasters can now invite viewers to take over their stream for up to sixty seconds. Users simply tap a viewer’s profile and invite them to their stream. The broadcast becomes more intimate and encourages shared experiences. Another update connects Meerkat with Facebook and notifies users when a friend or page they have liked joins the network. The final update includes a Meerkat Library that saves streams to every user’s personal history and allows them to choose which to share with their followers.


Read more on Medium.com.


Instagram will soon support high resolution photo upload

Previously, Instagram allowed users to upload photos only in a maximum resolution of 640 x 640 pixels, but now the Android and iOS apps will allow uploads in 1080 x 1080 resolution, confirmed to CNET by an Instagram spokesperson this past Monday. There are still some unknown details, as the update will roll out progressively to all users. There was previously a rumor of the increasing upload resolution uncovered when analysis of the apps source code saw a reference to “1080px”.

More information on CNET.


Facebook testing new pop out video feature

Some users on Facebook have reported seeing a new feature in the video player that allows them to pop a video out of the News Feed to watch in a separate window. The feature exists as a button on the video player itself next to the full-screen and HD buttons. There is no official word on this from Facebook on if or when this would roll out to all users.


Read more on Social Times.

The week in social: Facebook logo, Meerkat embedded, and Bing linking

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Facebook updates photo upload features

Uploading photos on Facebook just got more interesting with new editing abilities. The new photo uploader will allow for added text in any color, filers, and the use of Facebook’s stickers. This may seem familiar to users of multiple social networks, as Snapchat has similar editing effects. The new tools are said to allow for people to be more creative as they share moments with family and friends.


Read more on TechCrunch.


Instagram awards winners of iconic photo recreations

Instagram announced the winners of their Iconic Photo Contest. Participants were asked to reinvent classic photos from the past and add the tag #RecreatedClassics. Photos were judged on originality, creativity, and inspiration. Three winners were chosen and all will receive a limited edition Leica camera to continue nurturing their passion for photography.

More information on Instagram Blog.


Atmospheir relaunches on iPhone

The days of business cards for networking may be in the past as the app Atmospheir launched its redesign and relaunch for the iPhone. While tangible cards are often lost or shoved in the back of a desk drawer, the app acts as an address book and makes sharing information easier between users. It automatically updates as contact information changes. Each card contains only what the user wants from email, phone, address, education, birthdays, work titles, and websites. Users can add links to over 20 social media sites, broadening the ability to connect and communicate with others. Outside of shared information, users can send text messages, voice, photo, GIF, location or video messages to their contacts. The app will be available for Android later this year.


Read more on Atmospheir.com.


Facebook to launch redesigned Comments plugin

As announced on Facebook Media earlier this week, a new comments plugin will be available shortly. It will have a new layout, better spam control, and additional changes on the comments front end. With a cleaner design, the plugin will be more compatible for more sites and will be optimized for mobile. Users don’t have the option whether to update, as it will be done automatically cross-platform.


Read more on Facebook Media.


Facebook updates News Feed algorithm

With an ever-changing algorithm, Facebook has tweaked the News Feed once again. Research showed that although people don’t always want to like or comment on a post, they may still be interested. Now the feed will account for the amount of time people spend on a story relative to other content in their feed. It will calculate videos that are played and articles that are opened as well as whether a person turns the volume up or makes the video full screen. The goal, according to Facebook, is show people more of what they want to see and less of what they don’t.

Read more on Facebook Newsroom.


Facebook changes video advertising constraints

As video advertising on Facebook has become increasingly popular, advertisers were concerned with the effectiveness of their ads as users scroll past them without absorbing the information in many cases. They were unhappy with Facebook’s policy to pay for advertising space, even when it was ineffective. Facebook argued that its ads provide value to advertisers the second they are displayed, even without sounds, however the company has agreed to the “10-second option” after receiving feedback from advertising partners. This means that unless a user views a video ad for at least 10 seconds, the advertisers does not have to pay for it. This will potentially ensure more effective brand messaging from the advertiser.

More information on Wall Street Journal.


Facebook Pages see increase in Likes

Based on research from Locowise, it was found that Pages saw organic growth in Likes of 0.2% this past May. This is compared with 1.95 percent on Instagram. In addition, of pages measured for May, there was 8.34% reach of each post by number of total Likes, and engagement of 6.61% per post of all users that were reached. Videos were also the content most seen by users who Liked Pages, at nearly 12% with links and photos coming in afterwards.


Read more on Social Times.


Facebook slightly updates logo

A change so small that many users may not have noticed, Facebook updated its logo earlier this week. The logo remains mostly the same, with white text and a blue background as users are familiar with, but the text itself is now slightly thinner, and the “a” has an updated look to it. Previously, the logo was using the “Klavika” font, but now it is using a custom font, according to the company.


Read more on Mashable.


Bing partners with Facebook to expand App Linking

App Linking on Facebook, a measure introduced to provide deep app linking as a cross platform standard, was announced to be expanded with a partnership with Bing on the Facebook Developer’s blog. What this means is that users who are searching on Bing on mobile devices can click on results that would normally take more than one action on another specific mobile app and be sent straight to the respective page. For example, if a user searches for the Instagram page of a particular user, they can bring up that page on the Instagram mobile app directly, instead of opening just the main app, and then searching again for the page they want.


Read more on Facebook Developers Blog.


Meerkat debuts embeddable video player

As Meerkat continues to battle with similar live-streaming social app Periscope, it has now debuted an embeddable player, so that Meerkat streams can be viewed on other digital platforms. The announcement came as Meerkat is partnering with Discovery Channel to stream content related to the upcoming Shark Week, starting July 5th. Meerkat users can also see content in the app itself, by following @SharkWeek. Meerkat is using partnerships and a public API to encourage more use of its app as it battles competitor Periscope.

More information on TechCrunch.

The week in social: FB video insights, Instagram Explore, and Meerkat points

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Instagram updates the Explore page with new features

Earlier this week, Instagram announced two brand new features via its blog, the recreation of its Explore tab on the mobile app, and an improved search function. The Explore tab now allows users to easily look at popular hashtagged photos, as well as popular locations. The top of the Explore tab will feature periodically rotating top collections for users to explore. The search feature has been improved such that users can search for not only hashtags and other user accounts, but specific locations so they can see photos that were taken at a particular place. The updated features are available on both iOS and Android with version 7.0.


Read more on Instagram Blog.


Facebook Messenger no longer requires a Facebook account

For users in the United States, Canada, Peru, and Venezuela, Facebook is allowing Messenger sign-up without having a Facebook account, in order to make the process more seamless for new users. When signing up after downloading the mobile app, all users have to provide is their mobile phone number, a photo, and their name. A News Room post on Facebook goes on the explain that there are additional benefits of signing up with a full Facebook account, such as being able to message Facebook friends straight from the start, but this is likely a move to help make Facebook Messenger a default messaging choice for mobile users in a crowded space.


Read more on Facebook Newsroom.


Facebook launches Celebrate Pride tool with rainbow photo filter

After the ruling by the Supreme Court in the United States legalizing gay marriage, Facebook introduced a tool to help celebrate the ruling, that allows users to click a single button to place a transparent rainbow filter across their profile photos. Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg announced the tool, which allows users to preview their photo first before making it the default. As the ruling was top news across traditional as well as social media outlets, many brand and news outlet logos also changed their logos to feature a Rainbow pattern, separate from what Facebook offers to individual users.


Read more on Forbes.


Facebook users can now set expiration dates for videos

Previously only an option for status posts, Facebook now allows Page admins to set expiration dates for natively uploaded videos. Although there was no large announcement made, Facebook updated the related Help entry on its site that defined how the new feature would work. In order to set an expiration date, the user simply has to click the button beneath “Schedule Publish Date” to turn on expiration, and select the date to decide when it is taken offline. Reasons for admins to want videos to expire could be due to a limited length for a particular campaign, or alternately a seasonal message that would not be relevant after a set period of time.


Read more on Social Times.


Snapchat launches native ad format

Earlier this week at Cannes, CEO of Snapchat, Evan Spiegel, released a video that explains the benefits of Snapchat’s ad model, the vertical video view, or V3 as it is being called. Utilizing this native ad format, Snapchat is under pressure to make money off of its over 100 million registered users, with benefits being that it takes up the entire screen, much like a typical Snap, whereas Facebook and YouTube ads only take up the part of the app screen where the video is being viewed, often times not the full screen by default. The Ads section of the Snapchat website further backs up benefits of advertising on the platform, with user data broken down by age, video view stats, and more.


Read more on TechCrunch.


Users can now search for and add links to posts right within the Facebook iOS app

A new option that is available on Facebook for iOS, users can now search for links to accompany their status updates straight within the app, instead of searching for content on an outside web browser. In order to utilize the new feature, users only have to click the paperclip icon when creating a new status update, and typing the subject of the story will link them to possible content that matches what they are trying to highlight.


Read more on Facebook Engineering Blog.


Facebook ads video tab to insights page

As videos are becoming a larger portion of what marketers are using as tools on Facebook, the service is now offering a tab specific to video analytics on its Page insights. Data displayed on the tab includes video views at the Page level, top videos by date range specified, and metrics from videos shared by other Pages. It is likely that the analytics provided here will expand through user demand or testing by Facebook. In the coming weeks, the tab features will be available globally on Facebook, and also through the Insights API.

More information on Facebook Media Blog.


Users can now watch Periscope replays online

A common complaint for users of mobile live-streaming apps as of late has been the inability to watch streams after they’ve ended. This was solved for Periscope users to an extent with the ability to watch streams for up to 24 hours after they aired through the Android and iOS apps, but the functionality is now being extended to the web. With web replays, users only have to click a link to a stream from a post online, and the stream will open up in a new browser tab to be watched from the start. It is speculated that the 24 hour limit for replays will be removed as more influencers and entertainment personalities are developing presences on the network.

More information on The Verge.


Facebook providing badges for Page admins who respond quickly

Some Page admin users on Facebook are discovering that they have received badges for being able to respond to user comments quickly. For admins that respond to 90 percent of messages or more in under five minutes each over the course of a week, they will receive the badge for display. Response Rate and Response Time are indicators that are only being shown on some Pages however, so it is likely that Facebook is quietly testing this feature for now.


Read more on Social Times.


Meerkat updates rewards and points system

As a method of rewarding engagement and encouraging use of its platform, Meerkat, the other popular live-streaming mobile app, developed a leader-board and a points system, but it is now expanding this offering. Users who engage with upcoming streams and participate when content goes live will gain additional points within the system as additional incentive. Meerkat was prompted to make the announcement as users have noticed their Meerkat scores changing even while they were not actually streaming. An official blog post from the company states that interaction between people is the most important part of the experience, and that users should be rewarded for that.

More information on Medium.

The week in social: Doodle Draw, Dick Costolo, and Ello on iOS

Monday, June 15th, 2015

Over 8000 photos are uploaded on Snapchat every second

As one of the most popular up and coming social networks, Snapchat users send a wealth of photos to each other everyday. The actual number of content uploaded by users on the network has been unclear however until earlier this week, when PhotoWorld.com released stats around images shared by popular social and messaging networks. According to the data, Snapchat users are sharing an average of 8,796 photos every second. WhatsApp follows closely behind with 8,102 per second, and Facebook comes in third with 810 per second.


Read more on Photo World.


Facebook Messenger on Android hits 1 billion downloads

Facebook Messenger, the increasingly popular stand-alone app from Facebook, has just reached a new milestone with Android users, with 1 billion total downloads. The only other company to reach this number on the Google Play Store is Google itself (with various application such as YouTube), showing just how much of an impact the messaging service has for mobile users. Recently to hitting this milestone, Facebook updated the app with a host of new location based services, including enhancing the location-sharing functionality.

More information on TechCrunch.


Ello planning to launch an iOS application

A minimalist social network for those who dislike advertisements, Ello launched in 2014 to much fan-fare, however its popularity faded over time. Now, in an attempt to reach a wider audience, the company announced it would be launching a new mobile app specifically for iOS, on June 18th. It remains to be seen if the new update will spur additional interest, as it is suspected that the service has a dwindling user-base.


Read more on Social Times.


Duncan Hines is the top CPG brand on Facebook in the United States

According to research from Socialbakers, a social media analytics company, Duncan Hines is the top CPG brand on Facebook for all of the United States, as a function of total interactions on Page content. When looking at other parameters, such as total number of fans, brands such as Coca-Cola come out on top, with over 12.5 million. Simply Orange is also a surprise winner of most interactions on content per 1,000 fans. Lastly, Duncan Hines again won with the most interactions for a single Facebook post, with the leading number of 255,094. Data for this report was aggregated since the start of 2015.


Read more on Socialbakers.


Facebook Messenger debuts games with Doodle Draw

Facebook has just released its first game for the standalone mobile messaging app, Facebook Messenger, called Doodle Draw. The game functions as a virtual version of Pictionary, where a user draws an image, and the other user has to guess what that image is. There is speculation that Doodle Draw is the first attempt by Facebook to see if third party apps built into the main experience will take off and be seen as a positive addition, or pave the way for a host of spam and unwanted content in the user experience. During Facebook’s yearly developers conference (F8), Mark Zuckerberg pointed out that Facebook Messenger is one of the most important apps in its family, as well as one of the most quickly growing.

More information on Inquisitr.


Instagram redesigns website with new layout for user profiles

Instagram last week debuted a new design for both its desktop and mobile web experience that includes larger thumbnail images and a new look for profile pictures. The new design places an emphasis on the images themselves, and reduces the number of images per row to three, from an original five. The cover photo collage that was previously featured on web user profiles has also been removed. The layout of user profiles will extend to hashtag search results as well, and should now be visible to all users as it rolled out slowly over the course of the last week.


Read more on The Verge.


Spotify reaches new milestone with 20 million streaming subscribers

Spotify hit a major milestone last week when it reached 20 million paying subscribers to its music streaming service. Within the first five and a half years of it being in business, the service reached 10 million paying users, and doubled that amount in just one year more after gaining additional mainstream popularity. In addition, total active usage on the platform is at a larger 75 million. In a blog post announcing the news, Spotify also cited that over $3 billion USD had been paid out to artists as royalties for the licensing of their music. Due to the increase in subscriber numbers, payouts to artists have also increased, potentially making Spotify an even more popular source for artists to put their music on.


Read more on Spotify Blog.


Facebook and Shopify expand partnership for beta-test of Buy Now button

A small number of businesses have been testing the “Buy Now” call to action button with Facebook advertisements, but that test is set to expand as the partnership between Shopify and Facebook develops further. United States based Shopify merchants will be set to test the button as part of an expanded beta, and other selected businesses will be invited in to test the ad unit feature. Interested merchants can also apply to be part of the test, as the companies are seeking to understand the performance across a number of different business types.


Read more on Social Times.


Dick Costolo is replaced by Jack Dorsey as interim Twitter CEO

As the climax to conversations that started with Twitter’s board of directors as early as late last year, the decision has been made that Dick Costolo will step down as the company’s Chief Executive Officer. Jack Dorsey, co-founder of the company, will take the role of interim CEO, at a time while he is also the Chief Executive of Square Inc. The search committee for a new CEO will not include Dorsey, however the search will be under heavy scrutiny form the tech industry and investors as the company searches for new ways to monetize and grow revenue.

More information on Wall Street Journal.


Twitter to remove 140 character limit for direct messages

Announced by the Twitter staff on the official community website, Sachin Agarwal, product manager of direct messages said that the character limit on direct messages of 140 characters would be lifted come July. Agarwal goes on to recommend that app developers and other users of the Twitter API review new API additions, and update app user interfaces to account for the new change. This is likely a welcome addition for users, as direct messages tend to be more private in nature, and users would be willing to receive longer form messages in these cases.

More information on Twitter Community.

The week in social: Buyable Pins, Instagram ads and Facebook Lite

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Pinterest introduces Buyable Pins

Pinterest debuted the new Buyable Pin feature, which now gives users the ability to click a ‘buy’ button on a pin to purchase a product using a credit card or Apple Pay. Rich pins will be indicated with a blue price, meaning you can buy it straight from Pinterest. Users can also filter by price, size or color. At the moment there are no additional fees nor do merchants pay commission; however, there may be plans to charge retailers with fees as the feature gains traction. iPhone and iPad users can expect to see the button in late June.


Read more on Pinterest Blog.


Microsoft acquires 6Wunderkinder

In an effort to provide users with even more methods of productivity, Microsoft announced its acquisition of 6Wunderkinder, maker of the to-do list app Wunderlist. The purchase comes just a few months after Microsoft’s acquisition of email app creator, Acompli, and calendar app maker, Sunrise. Within 5 years, Wunderlist has grown to over 13 million users, totaling over 1 billion to-dos.

Read more on The Verge.


Instagram opens advertising to all marketers

Instagram users can now expect to see more ads within their feed as the photo-sharing app is giving all advertisers access to its coveted ad space. Similar to Facebook, targeting options will include age, location, interest, gender and more. Instagram will also begin testing ads that allow users to click a “buy” link for a direct purchase or to install an app. Instagram’s current ad options already allow users to click through to a website upon viewing the ad.


Read more on New York Times.


Tumblr now lets users search for GIFs

Last week Tumblr introduced its new GIF search feature allowing users to find specific GIFs within the platform. When posting content, users will be provided with an option to search for a GIF pertaining to a specific genre or emotion. This alleviates the trouble users have finding GIFs and makes the search much simpler for the popular image format. As a result of this new feature, those who originally posted the GIF will not only be credited but also notified when their GIF has been used.


Read more on Wired.


Millennials look to Facebook for political news

According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, it found that the majority of millennials (approximately 61 percent) obtain political news from Facebook at least once a week. For millennials Facebook trumps local TV as their preferred news source. The poll shows the increasing reliance upon Facebook as a media outlet and further supports the recent rollout of Facebook’s Instant Articles feature as a way to keep consumers within Facebook’s social perimeters.

Read more on Mashable.


Facebook launches Facebook Lite

In its push to on-board users in emerging markets, Facebook is launching Facebook Lite, a stripped down version of the app specifically for Android devices. The low-resolution app will be able to operate on slower networks or outdated phones while consuming less data. One way Facebook decreased data usage with the app is by requiring images to be tapped in order to load in full-resolution. Facebook Lite will be available to users in Asia, parts of Latin America, Africa and Europe.


Read more on Facebook Newsroom.


Facebook Messenger now enables map sharing

Facebook Messenger rolled out its newest feature, which enables users to share their location via maps. Users can click the “More” section within the app to send their exact location to a friend. Users will maintain control over what is shared, allowing information to remain private if they prefer. This is seen as an extension of the check-in feature on the core Facebook app, and also competes with other services such as Google Maps that allows users to send pins to contacts.


Read more on AdWeek.


YouTube launches music insights

YouTube launched its new Music Insights tool as part of Google’s YouTube For Artists initiative. The tool aims to show artists where they can plan their tours or concerts by seeing where they have the highest following. Artists will be able to learn which songs are most popular among their fans. Additionally, Music Insights will aggregate video views, including fan-uploaded videos, as a way for artists to better market themselves to record labels or radio stations. Though YouTube isn’t the only service to offer music insights, its intention is to become an artist’s go-to platform for analytics.

Read more on TechCrunch.


Line releases new app allowing 200 person calls

Mobile messaging service Line released Popcorn Buzz, its new group calling app for Android. Popcorn Buzz lets users talk with up to 200 people on an audio call simultaneously. To initiate a call users can send a group call URL via email, text or social network allowing other contacts to instantly join the call. Green dots on a user profile will indicate which user is speaking. Line also plans to release this feature to iPhone as well as add more features such as group video chat.


Read more on The Next Web.


Swarm allows users to direct message friends of friends

Earlier this week, Swarm announced that users can now direct message friends of friends via its app. The announcement comes after receiving attention of the release of direct messaging with current connections this past March. For users this means they will be able to direct message people with whom they have friends in common, as a method of potentially extending their networks. Users will then be notified and given the option to accept or block the person.

Read more on TechCrunch.


YouTube trusted for product reviews

With countless YouTube videos featuring product reviews and how-to tutorials, it’s no surprise that the video network is a powerful resource for its viewers. BuzzMyVideos and OnePoll surveyed 500 YouTube viewers ages 16-45 in the U.K., and discovered more than 25 percent of participants use online videos to learn about products. A majority of the participants said they were more likely to buy a product featured in a positive online review while 42 percent said YouTube is the most trustworthy source of product reviews.

Read more on AdWeek.

The week in social: Outcast, Twitter insights, and Facebook GIFs

Monday, June 1st, 2015

New live-streaming app Outcast launches for iOS

In an effort to pull together aspects of some of the most popular mobile-focused social networks, Eldar Tuvey has launched Outcast for Apple’s iOS. The basic premise of the application is to do live broadcasting in 15 second bursts, combining ideas of services like Meerkat and Periscope, but limiting the length of content to be distributed in one shot, similar to how Vine, Snapchat, and Instagram video work. In an interesting twist against most other social networks, users can “like” or “dislike” a particular post, something not really seen on Facebook, Instagram, and other networks. Users have to have an account to interact with content, but anyone can view posts. The app does not encourage social interaction, in that users can not follow each other, and content viewed can be filtered only by the overall network stream, and popular posts.


Read more on Social Times.


AMBER Alerts on Facebook are now available in Canada

Earlier this week, Mark Zuckerberg announced that AMBER Alerts that are presently available only in the US on Facebook, would be coming to Canada. AMBER Alerts are the notification system that is in place to help find children when they go missing, with messaging hitting multiple types of media and news distribution services. The same feature of the alerts in the United States will apply in Canada, with the alert highlighting a photo and other information about the child. Users will see these alerts on the screen when they log into Facebook, where previously the system required a manual opt-in, potentially lessening the amount of people who saw each alert.


Read more on The Next Web.


Instagram sending users email highlights to showcase best content

In an attempt to possibly lure back inactive users, or highlight the best-in-class content the network’s users produce, some Instagram users are reporting seeing email highlights. The updates include content from users that the account holders follow, provided in the same order as they appear on the app feed, with newest at the top. Based on user reports, there is currently no way to unsubscribe from the service. There has been no official announcement about the change, so it remains to be seen if this will be rolled out to a wider group of users in the near future.

More information on Mashable.


Instagram users also active on many other social networks

Based on research from Global Web Index, users who are active on Instagram are generally also active on half of the top ten other social networks, with almost all active Instagram users also being users of Facebook. Additionally, the top other apps used by active Instagram users were WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, both owned by Facebook. The other top social applications that Instagram users commonly use come as no surprise, and include Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and more. The data is based off of Q3 and Q4 of 2014, based on Instagram users between the ages of 16 and 64.


Read more on Social Times.


Facebook is testing adding restaurant reviews to search

Facebook has partnered with a number of publishers that provide restaurant reviews for locations when users run a search for a place to eat. New York Magazine, and the San Francisco Chronicle are among the partners, and the intent is to provide higher quality content aligned to what a user is searching for. The critical reviews of the restaurants will be displayed in the feed of results next to other results for the business including news, a page listing if it exists, and more. An overview of the review will appear in the result listing, and users can click through for the entire review.


Read more on Mashable.


Periscope launches for Android devices

While its competitor Meerkat launched its service for Android much earlier, Periscope, the native Twitter live-streaming social network has just been launched for Android as of earlier this week. Devices running Android KitKat 4.4 and higher are able to use the service, and users can download it directly from the Google Play store.


Read more on Twitter Blog.


Facebook updates its payments feature on the Messenger app

Facebook has announced changes to the way its payments service works on the Messenger app for all users. Previously, where users could click on a dollar sign option to start a peer to peer payment, now clicking this button hyperlinks all dollar signs in the message stream, and the sender confirms before an actual amount of money is sent to a user. The hyperlinking of dollar amounts is the same as it is for addresses, websites, and phone numbers. The service has also been made more seamless as users can pay a user in a group conversation without having to open up a separate conversation with that single user. In terms of geography, the payments service was previously limited to cities such as Seattle, Portland, and Austin, and is now available in New York City. The payments service faces competition from incumbents such as PayPal and Venmo.


Read more on CNet.


Instagram to bring carousel ads to new international markets

Starting on Monday, June 1st, Instagram will be bringing its new format of carousel ads to several new international markets; the UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, and Brazil. Instagram’s carousel ads work by having users swipe to the side to see more images horizontally from a similar brand, as opposed to the way the normal feed works by scrolling vertically through content posted from users. The advantage of this type of ad is said to be that it gives brands and businesses the ability to tell a story through multiple images, and advertisers can feature a link to a website on the images.

More information on PR Week.


Facebook testing new menu display options

Taking a cue from the social network Path, Facebook is testing a new option to display its menus for posting content on its mobile app. Previously on the bottom bar of the app, users would see a shortcut to the stand-alone Messenger app, but now some are seeing a “post” button, which when tapped, quickly opens up an array of sub-options, like checking-in, uploading a photo, or uploading a video. Not all users have access to the feature, and there is no confirmation on whether or not it will see wider adoption, although Facebook did officially confirm the test.


Read more on TechCrunch.


Facebook officially rolls out GIF support

While many are considering Facebook to be late to the party for its latest update, the company is finally adding official limited support for the upload of .gif format image files, or animated GIFs as they are more commonly known. Previously, there were a few workarounds for getting a GIF to work on Facebook, including using a 3rd party service called Giphy, but now GIFs uploaded from many other sites will work as well. In order to use this new feature, users just have to copy the link from where a GIF image is hosted and paste it into their status, where the image will then appear in-line in the Facebook feed. The feature will not work with direct image file uploads to Facebook.

More information on The Verge.


Pinterest introduces Ambassadors

As a way of putting faces to the popular pin-sharing social network, Pinterest has introduced its first batch of ambassadors, personalities sponsored by the network that create specific types of content. Based on a recent blog post from the company, the ambassadors will be holding meetups and demos, in an effort to help people learn how to use the network in more creative ways. The first set of ambassadors hail from the United States, and there is no indication of other things to come, but each of the individuals presented on the website are from different locations with unique interests.

More information on Pinterest Blog.


Twitter debuts audience insights dashboard

Twitter has introduced a new dashboard for account holders that will allow them to learn more details about the users following them, and those engaging with their organic tweets. Called Audience Insights, the new service provides details such as demographics, interests, lifestyle choices, and purchasing behavior. The dashboard is currently available to all Twitter Analytics users and Twitter Ads users, and the service is available in the US, with plans to roll it out further in the near future. To protect user data, all information is aggregated and remains private, with data being combined from Twitter and its Marketing Platform Partners.


Read more on Twitter Blog.

Week In Social: Reddit trolls, Spotify Now, and Pinterest Cinematic Pins

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

Spotify expands service to include podcasts, videos, and radio for runners

Last week, Spotify announced new ways it plans to deliver personalized audio and video experiences, through an expanded offering called Spotify Now. First are the video and podcast features, where users can now access video series and podcasts directly through their account, from top broadcasters and content creators. Spotify is also featuring a more personalized playlist function that is tuned to your listening habits, including the time of day you are listening as well as what you have listened to in the past. Finally, for avid runners, Spotify can now detect your running pace and create a station based on that data to help you keep momentum on your run.

Read more on Spotify Business Blog.


Facebook updates Events

Facebook is rolling out seven new Events features over the next year. Events will now be featured more prominently in a user’s news feed. Additionally, after a person RSVPs to an event in their news feed, a “related events” feature will show up to let a user know other events they may be interested in. Users will be able to share an event using Facebook messenger and will be able to invite non-Facebook friends too. For small private parties where a head count is vital, you will soon be able to see which of the invitees have viewed your Facebook event, along with getting a receipt notification. Facebook continues to explore the idea of having a stand alone Facebook Events app, but it remains to be seen when or if this will happen.

Read more on Mashable.


Reddit cleans up trolls

Reddit has re-defined their harassment policy to help battle trolls on their site. Surveyed Reddit users said they are much less likely to recommend the site to friends because of harassment. Reddit has made their policy as clear as possible, stating that “Systematic and/or continued actions to torment or demean someone in a way that would make a reasonable person [1] conclude that Reddit is not a safe platform to express their ideas or participate in the conversation, or [2] fear for their safety or the safety of those around them.” A user only has to email Reddit staff and Reddit will investigate and summarily ban a user if need be.

Read more on Social Times.


Pew research study shows more public mistrust online

The Pew Research Center’s latest study highlights the public has very little trust that their personal information is protected. 69% of Americans believe that the government is not capable of keeping their personal data safe. Additionally, 50% of the people surveyed believed that online advertisers who place ads on websites you visit should not be able to save records or archive any of behavioral data for any length of time. Another 44% believed that online video services should not retain records of activity. Lastly, only 9% feel like they have control over what is being collected and 13% believe they have no control at all.

Read more on TechCrunch.


Pinterest debuts Cinematic Pins

Pinterest has launched video ads – which it’s calling Cinematic Pins. The feature will show a moving pin when a user is scrolling through their feed. As soon as they stop scrolling the pin stops moving, then if the user clicks the pin, it will animate once again. Pinterest general manager of monetization Tim Kendall explains Pinterest’s approach: “Our view is that auto-play is interruptive. Our new mobile ad format gives brands the ability to tell their story with motion. But critically important, it keeps users in control of the motion.” Pinterest also plans to provide better audience targeting for promoted pins in an attempt to entice more advertisers onto the platform.

Read more on Mashable.


Facebook testing response rate metrics

Recently Facebook admins have been noticing a new metric on their side bar when they look at their main Page. In addition to providing Page Likes and post reach, there is now a response rate and response time metric. These stats provide a more granular view at the engagement around a Page’s content, and could potentially be used by brands to determine the parameters around posting. It remains to be seen if this will be rolled out to a larger user base, as Facebook has a tendency to test changes for a small group of users.


Read more on Social Times.


Socialbakers launches Instagram analytics and more

Earlier this week, Socialbakers made several key announcements about its service. One of the key parts of this announcement is newly announced analytics for Instagram. Socialbakers is also providing a deeper Facebook insights and ads integration. The new insights for Facebook include the evolution and distribution of interactions, filter effectiveness, follower growth, top content, promoted post detection, and social video analysis. Socialbakers have also updated the Executive Dashboard of their product with features including redesigned PDF reports, promoted posts strategy chart, charts on Socialbakers Builder labels, searchable user lists, searchable dropdown report lists, and a Socialbakers wish-list. Lastly, the update included the announcement of analytics for Sina Weibo. Analytics available on Sina Weibo include fan acquisition and behavior, content, engagement, customer care, ad effectiveness, and market trends.

Read more on Socialbakers Business Blog.


Facebook updates Messenger app

Facebook has just released a new feature for Messenger. Now, if a person you don’t know or a Facebook friend you have never talked to on Facebook messages you, it will provide information in the chat window to let you better identify who you are talking to. Facebook has stated they will only use the information that a person allows to be seen, so the new feature will not violate any privacy settings. Additionally, this will not affect the ‘Other’ folder in the messenger inbox, just help place who the people are in that inbox.


Read more on TechCrunch.


LinkedIn adds more robust analytics for post analysis

Originally LinkedIn was limited to brand and business Page analytics, but now they have added new features to aid users in seeing the analytics related to specific posts from users. Amongst these new data points are demographics on readers, industry breakdowns, job titles, locations and traffic sources. For each metric there will be a top four category that will show with a percentage. Right now there are only analytics for posts that have been made within the last 6 months.

Read more on Social Times.


Microsoft developing cloud-based OneClip

Microsoft is currently working on a cloud based clipboard called OneClip that allows users to copy anything, from any device onto a cloud and be able to access it on another cloud-connected device, similar to the functionality of how copy & paste works on a local device. Once launched the service will work with all Windows platforms, as well as devices running iOS and Android.


Read more on The Verge.

The week in social: Tango, Bleep, and Percolate

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Carousel format now available on Facebook mobile app ads

Based on the success of the carousel ad format that Facebook recently introduced for advertisers which has driven 30-50% lower cost per conversion on average and 20-30% lower cost per click on average, the format is being extended to mobile app ads. The new format of the ad, when clicked, will bring a user to the application store where they can download the advertised app. The advertisements work by showing not just one image of an ad in the news feed, but several that the user can scroll through to get different pieces of information and imagery.


Read more on Facebook Business Blog.


Local ads on Facebook can now feature a “call now” CTA

Facebook is adding two more options to the list of CTA options on local awareness ads, a “call now” and “get directions”, as a method of helping small businesses expand their reach and give their customers and prospects direct ways to interact with their businesses. The button for “call now” appears on the bottom right corner of an ad in the news feed which when clicked, will use the smart-device to automatically make a phone call to the business. The “get directions” button works the same way, opening the natively programmed navigation app to help guide the use to the business location.

More information on Business News Daily.


Nearly 2 billion interactions occur on Facebook for Mother’s Day 2015

This past Mother’s Day generated more interactions on Facebook than the last Super Bowl, the NCAA championship, and the last Olympics combined, according to the company. There were a total of 1.8 billion interactions (social actions including likes, comments, and shares), completed by 229 million users. The United States led in terms of interactions, but top countries also included India, the Philippines, Turkey, and Canada. The US counted for approximately 1 billion of the interactions.

Read more on Adweek.


Pinterest and Tumblr are the fasting growing social networks of the last year

In the last year, both Pinterest and Tumblr have seen incredible growth as social networks as a function of active usage, with Pinterest rising by 97% and Tumblr rising by 94%. Other social networks, including Twitter, YouTube, and Google+ experienced ranging increases of 7-13%. This is in stark contrast to Facebook, which experienced a decline of 8%. It is speculated that this could be due to saturation for the social network, and the cropping up of other specialist social networks. Specific behaviors have also migrated to these other networks, with photo uploads increasingly happening on networks such as Instagram.


Read more on Global Web Index.


Tango updated to feature social shopping integration

With 300 million registered users, Tango is an already successful mobile messaging application, and it has recently been updated to feature new social shopping integration. In a collaboration between Tango, Walmart and AliExpress, the companies now allow social shopping of a catalog of million of products, with suggested curated based on the preferences of the user. Item collections can be created and shared with contacts, friends and family, with the ability to purchase items from the aforementioned retailers. There are plans to expand the service to additional retailers in the near future, as well as further regions outside of the US.

More information on Recode.net.


More than half of Facebook users visit multiple times per day

A new study conducted by GlobalWebIndex shows that 54% of Facebook users are on the site more than once per day. The statistic is in stark contrast to other such networks like Twitter and Instagram, where are 30% and 28% respectively. The contrast is even greater with networks such as Pinterest, with only 15%. The infographic study goes on to say that less than 8% of Facebook’s total audience accesses the service less than once per week. The research was based on a user survey rather than tracking usage or gathering statistics from networks themselves, so it is based on the recollection of those users surveyed, a strong indication of their intent to use.


Read more on Global Web Index.


Facebook debuts instant articles

Facebook has created a new tool for content publishers to share interactive content through Facebook. Instant Articles, which debuted earlier this week, the crux of the new feature is that articles uploaded with this tool will load much faster than a shared article on Facebook, which has historically taken 8 seconds or more. In addition to this, instant articles will provide additional features such as the ability to zoom in on photos by tilting the smart-device, and videos included in articles will auto-play, much like they do on the news feed. Additional interactive features will highlight the articles, in an attempt to make the user experience richer than clicking offsite to another article.


More information on Facebook Media Blog.


LinkedIn changes and updates its developer program

In an effort to improve its user experience, LinkedIn has introduced major sweeping changes to its developers program as of earlier this week. The change log was detailed back in February but have only started recently rolling out, and among the inclusions are allowing users to represent their LinkedIn profile online using the API, allowing users to post certifications straight to their profiles, enabling companies to share professional content to LinkedIn with the company API, and more. Users are encouraged to reference LinkedIn API troubleshooting tips for any problems with the new updates.

More information on Adweek.


Percolate raises $40M in series C funding

Percolate, a marketing startup focused on providing social media tools across a variety of functions, has just closed on its next round of funding, a total of $40M USD. President James Gross of the company said that while the tools are still a major function of what the company, the business has expanded to become more of a “system of record” for marketers. The system is now meant to help marketers across all functions of their business, and Percolate states that the average Fortune 500 business is using 50 different software to manage the marketing process. The company’s customer base has grown by approximately 200 percent in the last year, and their next round of funding was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Read more on TechCrunch.


BitTorrent encrypted messaging app Bleep adds new features

Bleep, an encrypted P2P (peer to peer) messaging app build by the popular file-sharing service BitTorrent, has just moved on from its alpha phase where it currently has 200,000 users across different platforms. The next phase of its development sees an iOS version that has just launched, that will also come with a “Whisper” mode, where messages are deleted after 25 seconds no matter what, and cannot be saved through any method, including taking a screenshot of the device screen. In recent years, BitTorrent has moved away from its reputation of being strictly a file-share service to introduce other products such as Bundles, Sync, and Maelstrom.


Read more on TechCrunch.