Give Thanks for These Social Media Updates in 2016

Social media rapidly changes. One minute you’re the new “it” platform and the next you’re gone (RIP Vine). However, with these rapid changes come some pretty cool updates, ideas, and happenings. As Thanksgiving is upon us and the end of 2016 nears, it’s the perfect time to reflect on my favorite social media announcements from the year.

Facebook

Facebook celebrated the News Feed’s 10th birthday in September of this year. This made me realize how far Facebook has grown since its inception. I remember logging-on as a college junior way back in 2004 before there was a News Feed or prolific advertising. There were some blurry pictures taken with a digital camera and that’s about it. Now, I can fire up my iPhone and record live to the whole world, which brings me to…

Facebook Live

On April 6, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook Live was available to everyone. Since then, Facebook announced that it’s a video-first company in its 2016 Q2 earnings report and shared that the number of people going Live on Facebook has grown by 4x since May in their 2016 Q3 earnings report. Video is here to stay and brands and agencies need to think about it strategically.

At any given time, friends and brands alike are sharing where they are and what they’re doing. To me, live video represents to a way to connect with others in a deeper way. Like with anything live, there are glitches and things that could go awry, but there’s something personal about it. For brands, it’s a way to open up and give a sneak behind the curtain.

Facebook Reactions

After years of clamoring for a dislike button (because who wants to “like” a post about a friend being sick or unemployed), Facebook finally rolled out Reactions in early 2016 after announcing it in late 2015. Love, Haha, Wow, Angry and Sad all joined the Like as a way to express yourself.

For brands, this allows for richer, broader engagement. I’ve seen really interesting posts (like this one from Dolphin Browser) where brands are using reactions to cast a vote or share an opinion. Reactions pair perfectly with Facebook Live, too. People can comment and leave their reactions to what’s being broadcast in real-time for an interactive experience.

Sure you may get an “angry” for a new product or company announcement, but at least you’ll know what the community is thinking!

Instagram

Instagram celebrated its 6th birthday on October 6, and the platform is maturing to keep pace with other social networks and building better tools for businesses. In fact, two of my favorite Instagram updates this year simply made my job easier.

Account Switching

The first is Account Switching. When you’re managing multiple accounts, it gets a little annoying having to log-in and out on your phone several times a day to publish an Instagram post (after you’ve emailed yourself the image and copy and saved that). So when Instagram announced in February that you could easily switch between multiple accounts on Instagram, a lot of social media managers did a little happy dance. Now, all you have to do is tap the username at the top of the profile you want to switch between accounts after you set them up in your profile settings.

Pro tip: double-check to make sure you’ve tapped the right account before you publish.

Business Profiles

Stats and analytics are a social media managers best friend (and sometimes worst enemy). When Instagram announced Business Profiles, it was exciting news. Without paying for a social media tool (like Simply Measured) or being an advertiser, it was difficult for brands to get a handle on impressions and engagement.

It’s easy to convert to a business profile, too. Just need to connect the brand’s Facebook page with the Instagram account. Then you can see the reach, impressions, and engagement of your posts. You can also get a better look into who your followers are with a gender breakdown, age breakdown, and when they’re looking at Instagram.

All of these insights allow you to see what’s working, what’s not and create your Instagram strategy accordingly.

Next step I want to see: Ability to customize date ranges more and view analytics from your desktop!

Instagram Stories

One of the biggest things to hit Instagram this year was Instagram Stories, which launched in August as an answer to the growing popularity of Snapchat.

Instagram Stories let users post photos and videos that vanish after 24 hours and appear at the top of your feed. You can also doll them up with text and doodles.

For brands, Instagram Stories are another way to reach their community and provide interesting content. From influencer takeovers to behind-the-scenes access to teasing announcements, Instagram Stories are a (literal) here today, gone tomorrow way to get a message across in a fun and engaging way.

As I was finishing up this post, Instagram dropped another announcement on new ways to “share in the moment.” They announced that soon we’ll be able to broadcast live video on Instagram Stories and disappearing photos and videos for groups and friends in Instagram Direct.

Want to make your Instagram Stories super sweet? This article from CNET breaks it all down for you with “how-to” instructions and tips and get inspiration from Simply Measured on what creative brands are doing.

Twitter

Twitter has had quite the year. Executives are leaving, it might be sold, it shut down Vine, and then there are all of the issues with trolls and bullying. However, people still look to Twitter for breaking news, customer service, and connecting with celebrities.

Verified Accounts Application Process

So how do you know if that’s really Kim Kardashian? She has a little blue badge and white checkmark next to her name saying she’s verified and that’s really her. Many journalists, celebs and brands have that coveted icon but until July, there wasn’t a way to apply for it.

Now there is an application process that allows brands and people to apply for verified status. For me, this is a more open and straightforward way to get accounts I work on a verified status. It’s a bit of a status symbol but it also legitimizes that you are who you say you are and connect with a broader audience.

Relaxed Character Count

140 characters isn’t a lot of room to get your message across. When media attachments like GIFs, polls, and images, count towards your limit, there’s even less rom. So when Twitter released new changes in September, copywriters rejoiced. No longer would adding an image to your tweet count against your limit. They also announced a bunch of other updates like being able to quote RT yourself and starting a tweet with the @ symbol (goodbye, .@dancinkristy52). Get a full rundown here.

While brevity may be the soul of wit, it’s nice to get have a little wiggle room and to make the most out of our 140 characters. Now if links ever don’t count towards the 140, I’ll really be cheering.

The Bottom Line

2016 has been a doozy of year. From changes big and small, social media continues to mature and explore new technology. I’d like to give a big shout out to all of the developers, programmers, engineers, etc. who have kept me on my toes and make my job easier, more interesting, and more challenging in one swoop.

I think next year at this time we’ll be talking about the expansion of AI and VR into our everyday lives. I look forward to seeing all of the changes, developments and innovation that will hit social media in 2017. Until then, Happy Thanksgiving (and don’t forget to share your holidays on social media or it doesn’t count)!

Do you have any favorite social media news or updates from 2016? Share them below as a comment!

Kristy Beagle

Kristy Beagle

Kristy holds a B.A. in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations from Xavier University. At S2, Kristy is an Account Executive, which includes content creation, publishing, reporting and everything in between. Outside of work, you can find Kristy cheering for her Musketeers, Reds, and Bengals while hanging out with her husband and schnauzer!