Are You Ready for the Changes Coming to Social Media?

Apr 16, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 6.16.22 PMMaybe it’s spring cleaning. Virtually every major social network is changing its interface or functionality.

Twitter Becomes More Like Facebook

Twitter just announced that its profile pages will look a lot more like a Facebook page. Profiles will now have a large banner across the type, like Facebook, and will allow users to “pin” one tweet that visitors always see first — also like Facebook. The social site has also started showing photos and Vine videos in its timeline, so followers don’t have to click a link to see them. This makes Twitter more visual and … more like Facebook.

What this means for your organization: The banner photo gives you a great opportunity at branding, while the pinned tweet lets you decide what is most important to visitors, rather than being at the mercy of whatever you posted most recently. The emphasis on images and videos means you should add visual posts to your Twitter campaigns, as Facebook has already proven that photos get 53 percent more engagement than the average post. Twitter makes that easy, as yet another new feature lets you include up to four photos in one tweet!

Facebook May Let You Save Articles for Later

Facebook is testing a feature that will let users save any external link in their timelines to a special section of their profile, allowing them to visit the link later. A “Saved” button on the left, with the Events and Messages icons, will allow users to see all the links they’ve saved, much like a browser bookmark. Under the “Saved” heading, each link will get a headline, thumbnail image, the name of the user who originally posted the link, and a share button.

How your organization can use this new Facebook feature: A “save” feature may help users share more content, letting them come back to it later instead of feeling pressure to like, comment, or share right that moment. But will users actually return to the link and read it later? Even if they do, that raises more questions: Will Facebook track the saves? Will a user’s friends see that the user saved a link — or eventually clicked on it? How will you value a save compared to a share?

LinkedIn Eliminates “Products and Services” Tab

Every LinkedIn company page has three sections: Home, Products & Services, and Analytics — until today. LinkedIn is removing the Products & Services tab entirely. That means all product or service recommendations are going away, and all LinkedIn can suggest is to simply copy them and paste them into a document. The company now recommends featuring products and services on a Showcase page, which LinkedIn says are “designed for building long-term relationships with members who want to follow specific aspects of your business” and which organizations can use to highlight “a brand, business unit, or company initiative.”

What this means for your organization: Many marketers believe they’re losing some valuable engagement opportunities, and I agree. Organizations can no longer collect recommendations or create a strong link between a product on LinkedIn and their official websites. And a Showcase page requires more content, and more regularly updated content, than a static page that just lists product information. Then again, a Showcase page is perfect for something like employer branding, which never made sense in the Product & Services section. And the good news is that, unlike Careers tabs, Showcase pages are free.

More Changes to the Social Media Landscape

That’s what’s happening to the three biggest social sites, but others are changing as well. Pinterest has added a “Gifts” feed that shows only products that have purchase links attached them — indicating that Pinterest is serious about becoming a retail portal, which is good news for a lot of businesses.  Instagram recently let users share photos and videos with a select group of followers or even a single person. That means organizations can privately respond to questions or complaints posted by followers. Only a few weeks later, Vine added the same feature.

If you’re using social media for a marketing, branding, or recruiting campaign, make sure you’re ready for these new features and let me know if I’ve missed any.

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