Here’s what marketers need to know about recent updates rolled out by Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat aimed at improving the user experience.
Social media’s biggest players are the best platforms because of the high value they hold for marketers and users. For users, it’s simple: what are our friends using, which is the most fun and/or useful, and which is the easiest to use? For marketers, it’s two-fold: what is our target audience using? But equally important is: how can we effectively use the social media platform to engage with that audience and gain its trust?
All of the most successful social media platforms have undergone updates to better address the above questions – especially those surrounding the user experience and “usefulness” of the channel – and that has allowed those social networks to grow and thrive.
Most recently, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat have rolled out some fairly major updates to improve the user experience and increase the attentiveness of their users. Here’s what marketers need to know.
1. Snapchat’s New Chat 2.0
While the three platforms’ updates vary in significance, Snapchat’s update appears to be the one with the greatest effect.
The update, which Snapchat wrote about on its blog, focused a lot on the updated chat feature, Chat 2.0. It allows users to live-video chat within the Snapchat app, like FaceTime within Snapchat. If the other user isn’t in the app when you are, you can still send a text or audio message until they do open the app.
It’s a cool feature that makes Snapchat that much more useful to its users, adding another element to the platform as a true tool for communicating, not just sharing pictures with expiration dates.
The bigger story within the update, for marketers specifically, is the new Auto-Advance Stories feature, which automatically moves onto the next Story in your queue when one finishes. Previously, you had to manually select each user’s Story to view it. This will definitely translate into increased engagement for all users, publishers and viewers alike. The new feature also allows users to move to the next Snap or Story with a quick tap or swipe, respectively, or just a pull down to exit.
Since the recent update, Snapchat’s growth has continued, with daily video views now reaching 10 billion per day. In February 2016, it was generating 8 billion per day. Now with more than 100 million users, it is expected that average user time per day will also increase from the 25-to-30 minutes daily level. This is proof that Snapchat’s updates are working, making the platform even more valuable, thanks to continued attention-grabbing of its users.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much hard data yet as to how much additional value this brings to your Snapchat marketing efforts, but the increased engagement is evident even to my own individual account. Before the update, I rarely had more than 100 views per snap. Now, every snap I publish hits the 100-view mark. For big brands with 10 times the audience size, similar results should be expected on a larger scale.
2. Instagram’s New Feed
In an app update in March 2016, a move aimed at increasing engagement, Instagram vowed to update the way it shows users’ photo feeds. Instead of showing media in chronological order, as it always has, the feed now attempts to deliver the most relevant and interesting content to each specific user, regardless of how much time has passed or where the user is located.
“To improve your experience, your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most,” Instagram wrote in its official blog.
The obvious goal here is increased interest and, in turn, engagement by “optimizing your feed,” similar to the way parent company Facebook optimizes its feed.
“The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post,” the announcement said.
This has caused a huge increase in users and brands telling their followers to “Turn on Notifications” so that no post goes unseen. If a user turns on notifications, all media shared by that user will positively show up in their feed.
While this could certainly have the intended effect and increase engagement on the platform, some users aren’t crazy about the update and have spoken out again it — even going as far as starting a petition. More than 250,000 people have already signed it.
But we’re still using Instagram, and so are many of the petitioners.
3. Twitter’s New Timeline
In a similar move that tries to predict what’s most interesting and relevant to users, Twitter also executed an update. For Twitter, it’s about offering the choice: keep the default setting for the order of tweets on your timeline, or go for the Twitter-optimized timeline by changing settings to “Show me the best Tweets first.”
The plan is similar to Instagram’s update ideology: keep users more interested with content, and engagement will follow.
Less than a month later, Twitter launched an update that allows users to send tweets within direct messages. (Honestly, I’m surprised this is just now happening!)While users typically don’t like change, especially on the social platforms they use on a daily basis, in the long run, the payoff should be worth it – for average users, marketers, and the social platforms themselves.
While users typically don’t like change, especially on the social platforms they use on a daily basis, in the long run, the payoff should be worth it – for average users, marketers, and the social platforms themselves.