During the peak of Q1 came a slew of new updates to social media and digital marketing. In February, Instagram rolled out several new features that users and marketers alike will appreciate. From the ability to automatically publish scheduled Instagram posts via third-party apps, to the testing of a “repost” option in Instagram Stories, the platform is making strides to keep audiences engaged.
Feeling the pressure of its largest competitor, Snapchat is hoping to make a comeback. The social app is openly trying to lure advertisers back to the platform with free ad credits, not to mention appealing to influencers with new, built-in Snap analytics. As the social platforms battle it out, Google is taking a note from the popularity of the social “Story” format, introducing social-inspired features like Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Stories and AMP for Email.
Continue reading to catch up on all of the industry news you may have missed in February.
In a long-awaited update to the social app, Instagram will now let businesses schedule posts to publish automatically on the platform. The new update means that brands won’t have to go through the former process of getting an alert on their phones and manually posting. Many third-party scheduling programs including Hootsuite and Sprout Social have already updated their platforms to support the automatic publishing. While this option is currently only available to Business profiles on the app, it is expected to roll out to personal accounts next year.
Facebook users have spotted the social network testing a “downvote” button, where users can “downvote” comments they don’t like. This feature has been widely available in online forums and websites like Reddit; however, it’s the first of its kind for Facebook, where CEO Mark Zuckerberg has historically insisted that the platform will never introduce a “dislike” button. While not an outright “dislike” button, the “downvote” option is expected help to keep spammy or offensive comments at bay.
Instagram is testing a new option for longer advertisements within its Story section, allowing certain brands to include as many as three consecutive images or videos in a single ad, as compared to the standard one. Brands including California Pizza Kitchen, Netflix, and Paramount are currently testing the longer ad formats, which are being dubbed “carousel ads for Instagram Stories.” The expanded ad format will allow brands to better tell stories and come up with more creative ads, but Instagram hasn’t released information on when or if the option will become available to the public.
Pinterest is introducing several new options to help individuals and brands alike better organize their boards and pins for better presentation. With the new features, users can archive old Pinterest boards, so they will remain available and visible to the user, but not public. By archiving a board, Pinterest will also alter its pin recommendations in a user’s main feed. For instance, if a user archives a wedding board, the platform will stop recommending wedding-related pins. Additionally, users will soon be able to rearrange sections within their boards, as well as pins within a board.
A long-requested option to be able to share another account’s posts may soon be coming to Instagram, but not necessarily as expected. While Twitter and Facebook have given users the option to easily share others’ posts, Instagram has never had a native “repost” or “regram” feature to share photos from other accounts on users’ profiles. Now, the social app has been spotted testing the option for users to “repost” another account’s image or video, but the shared post will only be available in their Instagram Stories and will disappear after 24 hours, as a typical Story does. Users will be notified if someone “reposts” their post and will also have the ability to disable this option to prevent unwanted shares.
In an effort to win back influencers it’s lost to Instagram, Snapchat has introduced an analytics tool that details a variety of audience insights. The metrics are designed to help influencers better market themselves to big brands, which in turn will help bring more sponsored Stories back to the social app. The new analytics will only be available to influencers who are verified as part of Snapchat’s Official Stories program or who have large audiences initially, but it is expected to roll out to all profiles in the future.
Your brand isn’t the only one watching its competitors closely. Snapchat has reportedly reached out to advertisers who are spending money with its biggest competitor, Instagram, and offering them free advertising credits to give Snapchat a try. In particular, Snapchat is focusing on brands that are purchasing vertical video ads on Instagram, as they’re well-suited for advertising on its own app. Sources indicate that Snapchat is offering “several hundred dollars” worth of free ad credits to advertisers who complete an online application and provide proof of purchasing Instagram ads during the last three months.
Following reports that Facebook advertising had a major impact on the 2016 United States Presidential Election, the social network announced that it will be implementing stronger restrictions for election-related ads. The new measures will require advertisers who are attempting to purchase certain ads related to US elections to enter a verification code delivered by certified US mail to ensure the advertiser is located within the country. The verification won’t apply to ads focusing on general political issues and will only be required for ads that mention specific candidates.
Google Introduces Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for “Stories” and Email
Taking a cue from Snapchat and Instagram, Google has released new “Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Stories,” a visual content format designed to provide publishers with new storytelling options online. Google said that the new format is an easy way for publishers to present content in a new way, specifically on the mobile web, though the format will also work on desktop. AMP Stories will allow publishers to incorporate photos and videos with easy-to-read text that offers a more compelling format for consumption on mobile devices.
Google also announced that AMP will be coming to email soon, delivering a new way for developers to leverage the fast-loading, mobile-friendly AMP framework within their email marketing. The option will allow emails to support interactive options, such as scheduling an appointment through a lead form directly within an email. The AMP for email option is currently only available for preview access through the Gmail Developer Preview but is expected to roll out with full support in Gmail later this year.
On February 15th, Google rolled out an update to its Chrome browser that will stop showing users ads that do not meet quality standards adopted by the Coalition for Better Ads. The standards largely focus on advertisements that disrupt users, such as pop-up ads, autoplay video ads with sound, large sticky ads and full-page count-down ads. User aversion to these disrupting ads has resulted in a large adaption of ad blockers, ultimately hurting all ad formats. Google hopes the move will result in a better ad experience online for users and result in fewer people using ad blockers.
What did you think of our February roundup? Let us know in the comments below!