Social Web Recap 07.05.18
My weekly annotated summary of significant social web platform developments from the previous week, with links and carping marginalia as needed . . . Posted every Monday morning or thereabouts.
Chart of the Week
The chart above is a snapshot of Snapchat's earnings in the first quarter of 2018. You don't need to be a financial analyst to recognized that users and advertisers are truly pissed at the messaging app's redesign. Global revenues have cratered and earnings per share saw a loss of $0.17. (See CEO Evan Spiegel's comments below.)
This could well be a dedicated Facebook update given all the announcements made last week at , or coinciding with, Facebook’s annual developer conference (F8). Here is a list of the major announcements (except those affecting Instagram and Messenger which are handled individually below)
- Facebook is expanding its testing of upvote and downvote buttons on comments on public Page posts to New Zealand, after testing a downvote button only in the U.S. in February. Its safe to say we are likely to see some form of comment rating this year.
- An iOS and Android analytics app appealing to business users has been added to the Facebook app catalogue: “It touts the ability to ‘stay on top of your growth, engagement, and conversion efforts on the go. Easily view key metrics and reports, check automated insights, and receive notifications when changes occur.’
- A ‘Groups’ tab in Facebook will help users keep all their groups all in one place, and facilitate discovering new groups. As well, it has “added a ‘Watch Party’ feature that lets group members watch video together.” And included is a new Groups plugin that “admins and developers can add to their websites and emails that solicits people to join their Facebook group.” As an addendum, publishers are finding Facebook groups beneficial for "shaping editorial strategy, generating leads, audience research and to supplement email newsletters."
- It's already being called Tinder for old people, but Facebook has added a dating service to the main app. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says it has been designed with privacy in mind, completely optional and opt-in only and meant to encourage long-term relationships rather than hook-ups. We'll see :)
- Work is underway on something called 'Clear History, "a new privacy control that will let users manage and clear their browsing history on the social network, in a bid to give users more say over what kind of information advertisers see about them."
F8 also saw a bouquet of Instagram updates, the major ones being:
- A new way for users to post directly to Instagram Stories from other apps (initially Spotify and GoPro) directly to Stories, as the 'stories' (rather than news feed) format continues to become a more critical part of the Facebook ecosystem including Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger.
- Video chat will be accessible through Instagram Direct. "The coolest part is that you can minimize a video chat and continue to browse Instagram. Video chat will support up to four video feeds, split into quadrants as shown below."
- The app has unlocked "the ability for third parties to design unique, interactive camera experiences for their followers." Expect to see more creative face filters and AR effects.
- Explore has been redesigned so that the content is now organized into topic channels so that it is easier to view and, well, explore things that interest you.
After beefing up basic functioning of its chat app over the last year or so, Facebook is slimming it down. The Verge reports that “The bottom navigation has been simplified to three central tabs that focus on communication. Icons for the camera and video chat remain present at the upper right of the app, but everything looks much more streamlined. It looks like a chat app again.”
During a Facebook Marketplace purchase transaction, if a message about the transaction is received in another language Messenger’s M bot will now offer to translate it. “To start, translation features will be available in the United States for translating English to Spanish and vice versa. “
New augmented reality (AR) effects have also been added to Messenger which can be used both to “let users visualize products for sale as they might appear in their homes and as marketing tools that encourage people to share branded content with friends.”
Not to be outdone by its Facebook siblings (Instagram, Messenger and Facebook itself) WhatsApp is "getting several new changes including stickers and business-focused app features. . .The messaging platform will also be adding group video calls in the coming months."
This may be the most undisguised mea culpa yet from Snapchat's Evan Spiegel that its new design has been a complete failure, resulting in backsliding ad views, revenues and user numbers and singular user frustration. Here's what he had to say: "We learned that combining watching Stories and communicating with friends into the same place made it harder to optimize for both competing behaviors. We are currently rolling out an update to address this by sorting communication by recency and moving Stories from friends to the right side of the application, while maintaining the structural changes we have made around separating friends from creators and sorting friends’ Stories by relationships."
Not really a platform update, but video media outlet NowThis announced on Friday that it is launching 'NowBreaking', a breaking news channel produced exclusively for Snapchat Discover. As reported by Sara Fischer of Axios, " It will cover breaking news events with significant national or international impact, leveraging feeds from Snapchat's Snap Maps feature — as well as other local content partnerships — to bring audiences video of breaking events as they unfold in real-time or near real-time."