As the year comes to a close, we wanted to take some time and reflect on the largest digital marketing and social media developments we saw this past year. The top developments of 2019 included updates across social media, advertising, and Amazon, as well as privacy breaches and improvements in Google search algorithms.
Social Media Updates
Throughout 2019, Instagram kept hinting that the platform might permanently remove the likes feature and even began testing the update in different countries. As of November, the platform confirmed they would begin testing the removal of the feature in the United States. While this may not affect everyday users, influencers who use the platform for brand partnerships will have to provide brands with their engagement levels. Similarly, Facebook began testing the removal of total likes from the platform.
Throughout the year, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn also introduced new updates that simplified the posting process. Facebook’s Creator Studio allows Instagram business accounts to draft and schedule posts. Twitter’s Drag to Re-Order allows users to re-arrange photos used in posts. LinkedInLive allows users to share live videos with their audience.
Advertising Made Simpler
LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Facebook all introduced new updates that help improve the advertising process. LinkedIn introduced three new updates in early July. By early October, the platform also improved targeting options by introducing three new targeting tools.
Similarly, Snapchat introduced a new streamlined advertising process. The platform actually introduced two new advertisement creation processes, Instant Create and Dynamic Ads. Instant Create does exactly what the name implies; advertisers can select objectives and target audiences directly through the platform. Dynamic Ads provides template options that brands can choose from. Lastly, Facebook limited the amount of advertisements a page can run in an effort to improve overall performance.
Removing total likes on Instagram wasn’t the only update for influencers this year. Brands who utilize the platform for sponsored posts are now able to boost posts by influencers, increasing their total audience reach.
Amazon Takes Control
In early July, it was revealed that Amazon would force smaller businesses, those with less than $10 million in yearly revenue, to switch to Seller Central selling. With this option, sellers can sell directly to consumers and have control over pricing. In addition, Amazon introduced its latest selling feature, Sold by Amazon (SBA). Brands enrolled in Fulfilled by Amazon have the option to enroll in SBA, and once enrolled, Amazon will regularly update and control pricing. While SBA may seem beneficial in the short-run, long-term use could prove to be costly.
Private Isn’t So Private Anymore
In early March, it was discovered that Facebook users’ passwords were stored in plain sight and could be accessed by the company’s engineers. This news broke after Facebook’s security breach in 2018, upsetting users once again. Later in the year, Instagram users found that their ‘private’ posts could still be viewed and shared publicly. With just a simple manipulation of a post’s URL, private posts and stories can be easily shared without the users’ knowledge.
Google’s Search Algorithm, BERT
Towards the end of October, Google introduced its latest search algorithm, Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT). According to one article, Google says, “Bert helps better understand the nuances and context of words in searches and better match those queries with more relevant results.” As the update continues to roll out, be sure to review your search results to make sure your brand is getting the most out of this update.