What’s in and what’s out can change in a matter of seconds when it comes to social media. Here’s my breakdown of the latest trends and those that are no more:
- Live Streaming: Kim Kardashian may have tried to break the internet. Surprisingly, a much less provocative subject, Meerkat, has done just that without even lifting a finger. Meerkat is not risqué. It did not have to expose itself to gain popularity. Rather, it is a fast growing app that live streams videos from your phone. Just two weeks into its launch, Meerkat has captured the attention of early adopters and marketers, thanks to its ability to both live stream videos and integrate with Twitter to provide an engaged audience to watch said videos. And, that’s where the story starts to get juicy. While Meerkat had a head start through its unofficial Twitter integration, Twitter was off making its own plans for live streaming capabilities. On Friday, March 13, Twitter officially announced the acquisition of Periscope, a live-streaming app still in beta, and a potential competitor to Meerkat. Shortly after making its announcement, Twitter cut off Meerkat’s ability to pull information from the platform’s social graph. Is Meerkat mad? Surprisingly, no. The CEO is grateful for Twitter because it gave Meerkat the jumpstart it needed.
- Increasing the Relevance of Ads: From niche targeting to more accurate retail retargeting, platforms like Facebook and Twitter are continuing to explore new features to make ads more relevant and improve their user experience. When it comes to niche targeting, both Twitter and Facebook offer custom or tailored audiences using first party data. Twitter also recently introduced partner audiences, which provides a new way for advertisers to reach new and potential customers using third party audience lists from its marketing platform partners Acxiom and Datalogix. Facebook, on the other hand, already provides similar behavioral and interest targeting, and is trying to move beyond third party audience lists by introducing topic data. Topic data will basically allow brands to crawl through posts and identify keywords and phrases to help them better understand customer sentiment and feedback related to their products. In addition, Facebook is also working to improve user experience for retail retargeting by eliminating retargeting ads to consumers who have already purchased the product. This capability will soon become available thanks to Facebook’s recent acquisition of The Find.
- Social Video Growth: A study released last week by video marketing firm Ooyala reported that mobile video consumption has grown rapidly over the past three years, up 16x from what it was in 2011. And that’s no surprise given the rapid improvements that all social platforms are putting into their video units. Here are just a few of the most recent video enhancements:
- YouTube recently added support for 360-degree videos, making its platform more relevant for the expanding market of VR headset owners. This will be of specific relevance for sports and lifestyle brands that want to make their content more interactive for VR users.
- Snapchat will soon expand its prowess as one of the largest mobile media platforms with the introduction of live sports broadcasts within the “Our Story” feature on its app. The first live broadcasts will begin with the NCAA Final Four tournament, but will likely expand to other sporting events in the near future.
- Twitter is in the process of exploring and introducing its new autoplay video ad placement. Twitter’s autoplay offering is a significant change from Facebook’s due to the fact that brands will have only six seconds of autoplay pre-roll to entice users, and then they will have to click to view the entire video. This also enables marketers to see if their gaining more quality viewers, as the end user will have to engage with the video to view it in its entirety.
- Multi-image ads: Just about every major social platform currently offers or is planning to offer a multi-image ad feature. Twitter was one of the first platforms to offer this option, allowing users to upload up to four photos per tweet. Facebook was next to the game with its multi-product and dynamic product ads. Dynamic product ads are the real stand out feature for Facebook, because they can work with both single and multi-product ads to dynamically retarget products to recent retail website or app visitors. Instagram and Pinterest are the newest platforms to throw their hat in the ring. News hit last month that Pinterest is planning a new multi-ad feature that would provide advertisers with the ability to include multiple photos within a single promoted pin as a “multi-pin carousel.” Instagram followed shortly after with their announcement of a carousel ad feature that will allow brands to include up to four images within a single ad, and most notably, a link to the brand’s website of choice. This is the first time that Instagram has allowed brands to link from their platform to external sites within a post.
- Refining the Second Screen Experience: A recent study by Nielsen says that at least 15% of TV viewers enjoy TV more “when social media is involved.” Therefore, it should not have been a surprise when Mashable broke the news of Twitter’s latest TV experiment – TV timelines. Created exclusively for mobile, Twitter’s TV timelines aim to create a unique second screen experience by creating show-specific streams that surface media and tweets directly related to the show a given user is tweeting about. As a result, it is easier for the user to track all of the conversation around a specific show, while cutting out any additional noise within their feed.
- Reddit may no longer be the front page of the internet: Who decides what’s viral and what’s not? The answer used to be easy – Reddit. Now, Tumblr is giving Reddit a run for its money. In fact, Tumblr is now the number one source of information for Buzzfeed – a news outlet that has made its name as a leader in viral media. Tumblr’s rise began shortly after it introduced a new dashboard back in December that made it easier to uncover the site’s most popular content. Tumblr also has a leg up on Reddit in terms of visual appeal, and its ability to capture the attention of a much younger user base. Tumblr is also now cited as one of the fastest growing platforms for memes – perhaps one of the biggest signs that it is an incubator for viral content.
- The End of Ello? Ello made quite a splash when it came on to the social scene in 2014. Proudly referring to itself as the anti-Facebook, Ello was hoping to inspire a social revolution by banning ads from its platform. Some speculated that Ello was already forgotten by early 2015, when it launched a new video and music platform. That forgotten feeling may resonate even more now that Ello was a no-show at its own SXSW panel in Austin, Texas earlier this week. Is this a sign of the end of Ello? I’ll let you decide.
- YouTube as a Video Strategy: Say goodbye to the simple sharing of YouTube links. The rise of native social video now requires a sound video strategy and YouTube is no longer the only player. In fact, a strong video strategy will look beyond YouTube and evaluate other native social platforms for video sharing. I think that “The Buzzer,” a FOX sports show, put it best – Twitter is for in-the-moment videos, Facebook is for second-day videos and YouTube is for evergreen appeal. The ease of simply copying and pasting a YouTube link to Twitter and Facebook are now gone, and the new native social video units offer larger real estate and auto play in a user’s feed. Find out more from our recent blog post about the five reasons why native social video works.
- A Divided Google+: The fate of Google+ has long been debated within social media circles, and it looks like Google has finally decided to discuss it out in the open. The simple fact is that Google+ will be no more. But, what is perhaps more intriguing is that Google+ is not simply going away, instead it will be splitting into two new Google platforms called Photos and Streams. Given this news, insiders have speculated on Google’s next move and how they will differentiate themselves. It is likely that they will invest in better photo editing and sharing technology for the new Photo platform. And, when it comes to Streams, Google will likely focus on more niche communities and topic discussions.