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2016: What’s new for the major social networks?

Live, self-serve geofilters, face swap. We know it can be hard to keep up with all the practical developments in social media, and it’s been a busy one so far in 2016, so we’ve done the hard work for you. Read on for your 15 minute digest of what’s new for Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn YouTube and Tumblr…


  1. Live: First introduced last August but made available to everyone in January, this is Facebook’s new live streaming feature. An icon now appears under your status update – look for the upper body with a double halo. Similar to Periscope, but in your News Feed, you write a short description and start filming. It’ll tell you how many people are watching and their comments. For the minute (as ever it’s about to change), you can only film via the mobile app (i.e. your phone) so production values are lower, as are costs. More importantly Facebook are promoting it hard whilst they try and capture this new market, so all your followers/fans will get a notification (or at least those who look at their notifications during that period of time, and to a max of 3 in a day). Why is this significant? it’s the first time brands have been able to activate their page fans organically for several years. But don’t expect that to last forever…

  2. Reactions: When a Like just isn’t enough. Long-press (or hover on a computer) the familiar thumbs to get access to five additional animated emojis – “love,” “haha,” “wow,” “sad,” and “angry”. Why these? They’re the sentiments people use most often.

  3. Canvas: Facebook’s mobile ad format that’s also been called “Instant Articles for brands.” The aim is to give advertisers a more immersive way to reach people without them leaving the platform. So when you click on an ad connected to Canvas, it opens full-screen inside of Facebook, rather than loading a mobile website. Currently being use in Ted and Bernie’s political campaigns in the US elections.


  1. GIF: We LOVE a GIF (just look at our Twitter) so imagine our excitement when we saw Twitter had launched a GIF keyboard. The new feature lets you search a library of GIFs (Twitter has teamed up with Riffsy and Giphy) by keyword, reaction or category.

  2. Curated timelines: As of February Twitter introduced its algorithmic timeline, which means the tweets at the top of your timeline are now sorted based on relevancy, rather than chronology. What does ‘relevancy’ mean? In the words of Twitter: “We choose them based on accounts you interact with most, Tweets you engage with, and much more.”

  3. DM links: Twitter has been looking at how it can help brands improve its customer service through the platform. Now you can insert a deep link that a customer can click to start an immediate private conversation.

  4. Post service feedback: Linked to the above, Twitter is rolling out customer feedback with selected brands, which allows just that. After an interaction, customers can privately share their opinions on the service. More on both here.


  1. View counts: Views are now displayed below videos – previously you could only judge performance on hearts and comments. A view begins at 3 seconds and it only gets counted once regardless of the number of loops someone watches.

  2. Account switching: A relief for anyone who manages more than one account, you can now toggle between than rather than logging in and and out to switch.

  3. Extending the ad platform: The maximum length of videos has been extended to 60 seconds. Testament to the growth is commercial success, Instagram announced in February that it has 200,000 monthly active advertisers (versus a few hundred in June 2015). It has said three quarters of these are outside of the US.


  1. Groups: They’ve had a revamp. LinkedIn want to improve the quality of content shared (less spam/self-promotion) and overall user experience. You can only access them via a dedicated app and there are no more open groups. They’re either standard (request to join or invite-only) or unlisted (invite to join only and not findable in search). You can no longer search by name, member or keyword either. Essentially it significantly limited people using groups for prospecting and lead generation.

  2. LinkedIn Referrals: A platform introduced last year which aims to make it easier for employees to recommend their first-degree LinkedIn connections for open positions at their firms. You have your own ”LinkedIn Referrals” site and it automatically tells employees which of their first-degree connections are matches for a job. They can send matches links to the job openings via email or InMail. It costs between $10-12 a year per employee who uses the service.

  3. LinkedIn Account Targeting: Marketers can now run targeted ad campaigns to 30,000 companies at once (previously it was 100 and a very manual process). Advertisers present a list of companies they’d like to reach, which LinkedIn cross-references against the 8 million businesses in its network. Targeting can be further refined to reach profiles based on job function or seniority.


  1. Acquired BandPage: Bandpage is a startup which helps artists profile themselves and sell concert tickets and merchandise. This accelerates their shared goal of helping musicians everywhere thrive.

  2. Blurring tool: Has something awkward spoilt that otherwise perfect video? Never fear, YouTube has a custom blurring tool for that. Just draw a box around the offending item and  it will stay blurred as it moves around the video.

  3. YouTube Connect: It seems everyone is getting in on the live streaming act, and Google’s efforts are likely to be up next.


  1. Self-serve geofilters: An additional revenue stream for Snapchat, you can create and distribute your own custom geofilters in a specific area for an allotted time. Approval takes about a day and pricing starts at $5.

  2. Nielsen ad ratings: Measurement is on the horizon. Advertisers have demanded better performance data for months and in February it announced a partnership with Nielsen so brands (who promo videos on Live Stories or Discover) will be able to view campaign performance through Nielsen Ad Ratings.

  3. Live story web embed: The Oscars marked the first time you could see snaps outside of the app. Snapchat updated its website with Live Story online, making snaps much easier to share (and the platform more accessible). It’s not clear how the web player will be used going forward but expect more.

  4. Lenses: A range of filters which you can apply to your (or someone else’s) face. The selection is updated daily, and include rainbows, dogs and the hugely popular Face Swap. You access them by taking a selfie and then tap and hold your face until a mesh appears. You’ll then see several lensesto select from.


  1. Instant messaging (replies are back): Fan Mail has been replaced with instant messaging, a much welcomed addition to the platform. You can text messages to others, or share posts via the paper plane button.

  2. GIFs: As of the end of last year, Tumblr launched its own GIF maker, using videos or a burst of photos.


  1. Interactive pins: Recipe and Movie pins have become much more data rich – including ingredients, cooking times and servings, and new information like rating, cast members and reviews.

  2. Image search: When using the mobile app, you can now click a particular part of a pin and Pinterest will search its archives for similar image. It will help strengthen its search function and offering to advertisers – as they’ll have more information on what people are looking at.


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