Here’s an update on recent social media platform changes that you might have missed (some of them are sneaky). I’ve rounded up notable changes from both December and January to catch you up. Worth the read – I promise!

Keep an eye on a new app that's trending: TikTok (no, not the Ke$ha song)

  • In 2017, this app acquired its U.S.-based rival Musical.ly. Because of this, TikTok was pegged as a “lip-syncing” app, but a closer comparison would be Vine, an app that users are still missing deeply (even though it died in 2016).
    • We have snagged a handle to check it out and will keep you updated! Read more here.

Instagram:

  • Fun fact: Facebook has recently reported that Instagram Stories, its most successful Stories option to date, is now being used by half a BILLION people, every day.
  • ICYMI: Alternative text is now available! Automatic alt text, driven by AI, will be added to your photos by Instagram, but you can (and should) also edit this, adding custom alt text. 
  • Still no in-app re-gramming of content from other users, but you can now publish feed posts simultaneously to different accounts by toggling them on the composer screen.
    • However: This goes against Instagram’s original goal (and our best practice) of keeping content “original,” so we recommend only using this if your accounts have similar fan bases and themes (which is rare).
  • You can reply to and like comments from within the notification tab! (For us, they get buried, but it’s still neat.)
  • Our followers LOVE the question sticker and now you can add it in Live (which is a bit intimidating), but if you’re feeling bold enough to answer questions on the spot: go for it.
  • Instagram added countdown stickers to add some excitement to anticipated occasions. Anyone sharing or following will receive a reminder when the occasion arrives.
  • Instagram added a music feature that will allow friends to share songs or add soundtracks to stories. Users can now respond to the questions sticker with music and create videos with effects that will respond to the beat of a song. (Not clear whether this is available for brand pages yet. We don’t have it.)
  • Instagram added the ability to send voice messages up to minute long via Instagram Direct Messaging. (Voice messages are quickly becoming the preferred method of communication on messaging platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat.

Read more on all of this here and here. See screenshots as well for examples of these features.

Twitter:

  • Twitter now lets you choose between a chronological or algorithmic timelineThe new “Sparkle” feed button has been rolled out to all iOS users, allowing you to choose which tweets you see first. The button has been placed where the “compose tweet” button used to be.
  • Twitter now allows you to select to see certain users’ tweets less as well. Select “show less often” to implement this feature.
  • Many of you have asked about how to become verified on Twitter. Reminder: the Twitter verification process is on hold (still), as they attempt to figure out a way to address confusion around what it means to be verified.

Facebook:

  • Facebook rolled out 3D photos, which makes portrait-mode images look much more realistic. Simply upload a portrait-mode photo and let Facebook do the rest!
  • Facebook is planning to integrate the backend for messaging on WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram, which have a combined 3.8 billion active users every month. The services will continue to operate as stand-alone apps, but their underlying technical infrastructure will be unified, allowing users to communicate across the platforms for the first time.
  • Heads up: Facebook has been building LOL, a special feed of funny videos and GIF-like clips. It’s divided into categories like “For You”, “Animals”, “Fails”, “Pranks” and more with content pulled from News Feed posts by top meme Pages on Facebook. LOL is currently in a private testing phase so stay tuned.

YouTube:

  • Following user complaints and recent controversy, YouTube has updated its recommendation algorithm to stop the spread of questionable videos. They also recently banned challenges that were causing harm and even death in some cases. The new algorithm will no longer recommend videos that are conspiracy theories or scams, false or misleading content, or encourage violent or dangerous behavior. 
  • YouTube wants in on the swiping. YouTube has just released a new option that enables iOS users to jump between videos on mobile by swiping to the side. You can swipe to the previous or next video and also get a short preview by partially dragging the side of the screen.

LinkedIn

  • You can add hashtags on LinkedIn now. Still unsure of the ROI, but we’re using them (sparingly).
  • LinkedIn is testing more changes that will emulate some of the features currently available on Facebook. These include reactions, GIFs, and stories.

Fairen Horner
Social Media Manager
Advancement | University Relations
540-231-2897 (office) | 540-315-2387 (mobile)
fairenc1@vt.edu