4 New Changes to the Biggest Social Networks (and Why You Should Care)

Changes at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat

Here’s a roundup of recent changes to the services offered by four of the biggest social networks…and why you and your clients should pay attention.

1. Instagram Fights Vine with Looping Videos

One of the most endearing aspects of Vine is the fact that its videos repeat, so a user has to watch them at least once whether he/she wants to or not.

Now Instagram has launched the same sort of feature in order to, as The Verge put it this morning, “please advertisers” concerned about measurable results for both paid and organic placements.

This change raises another issue: the content must now be created with the 15-second loop in mind. Here, for example, is the first part of a “12-part microseries” created for Gap by ad agency Wieden+Kennedy and launched today:

2. Twitter “Syndicates” Sponsored Content

Twitter, like Instagram, had to convince its partners and paid advertisers to spend money on promotional initiatives…so it announced plans to “syndicate” sponsored tweets so that they appear in places other than users’ Twitter feeds.

In the case of the Flipboard app, paid placements would look like all other content. Here’s an image:

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The real appeal here is that these “syndicated” posts could theoretically appear on any comparable reading app like Pulse, Pocket, or Feedly.

The new feature might not make Twitter profitable, but it will get promotions in front of more eyeballs.

3. Facebook Moves into the Location Game

Last week, the big blue giant announced an attempt to take on location-based social companies like Yelp and Foursquare (does anyone still use Foursquare?) with Place Tips, a service designed to let users know more about wherever they happen to be. Here’s the video from the company blog:

The service would be more aggressive than Yelp in providing information about nearby businesses without the usual map search.

Here’s why you should care: the service, if it grows more popular, will distribute material shared by both a user’s friends and the businesses in question — so it could theoretically make Facebook engagement even more valuable for clients.

Would you rather read your friend’s opinion of a nearby restaurant or the collected reviews of strangers? The latter would require a few more taps…

4. Snapchat Launches…a Sitcom?!

Snapchat is trying very, very hard to get serious about sponsored content; the company recently hired some real-life journalistslaunched the “Discover” tab to feature sponsored stuff from media outlets like National Geographic, and premiered the first of what it would like to be a new staple: original micro-series.

We literally can’t feature “Literally Can’t Even” (starring Steven Spielberg’s daughter Sasha) since it disappears almost as quickly as everything else on Snapchat, but here’s an overview via Newsy Tech on YouTube:

The critical reception has been unanimous: it’s a dud. The Next Web, under the URL “ugh, Snapchat,” writes that the series “contains every cliche the writers could have thought of.” Other blogs have called it “literally the worst” and used variations on the show’s own title to tell readers how terrible it is.

So while we may need to start taking Snapchat more seriously, the network has some work to do in terms of content quality.

What other recent social media updates have we noticed?