A new month and some new social media tools being tested and launched. We know it can be hard to cut through the plethora of weekly announcements to figure out exactly which social media changes are relevant to your business. Will a new Snapchat filter prove to be a game changer? Unlikely. Or will you have your Facebook account shut down if you only post competitions? Possibly. Well, fear not, we’re here to sort through the mess and give you an easily digestible account of what to look out for each month.
So, here we go…
Twitter will soon automatically crop preview versions of your photos
Have you ever posted a Tweet only for the most important part of the image to be cropped out in the preview? Well, Twitter has now used the power of machine learning to identify which parts of your pictures are most important and automatically adjust the crop to include them. This was born out of research using facial recognition technology to make sure people’s faces were included in the crops. However, researchers at Twitter discovered that a more eloquent solution was to crop using ‘saliency’ – in other words determining (through eye-tracking studies) which parts of pictures are of most interest to the audience – faces, cats, landscapes or otherwise. This new functionality is currently being rolled out to people using twitter.com, iOS and Android apps.
This is a great example of how machine learning, while not always necessarily revolutionary, is starting to make every day tasks easier and more effective. This is good news for those of you who post to Twitter regularly as it will make life easier. Regardless, it’s important to consider that only a vertical third of your image will be shown in preview mode, so you shouldn’t put important information (i.e. meme style text) at the top and bottom of an image, as the crop won’t be able to show both. Or you could get creative and use this functionality for a surprise reveal.
Facebook tests Messenger Broadcast feature
As we predicted in our recent blog, messaging and chat services are going to become increasingly important in 2018. One of the first signs of this is Facebook’s testing of a new functionality could allow businesses to send mass broadcast messages to any customers who have contacted them via Messenger in the past.
Businesses would be given a platform to build a welcome message that could include text, images and videos and send this out to previous contacts. They can also create template responses that the receiver can select from (i.e. “Tell me more about a particular service”, or “Please contact me another time”) in order to start the conversation. While not built on Chatbot technology this certainly has the feel of a chatbot interaction and could pave the way for this to become a more widely adopted communication medium.
How can I use this?
If this is rolled out more widely this could give you a new way of connecting with your Facebook followers. 54% of social media users prefer to engage with brands via messaging apps than by email or phone. 53% of mobile messaging app users say they’re more likely to buy from a business that they can contact via chat services.
These stats show that you could be missing out if you don’t start to familiarise yourself with these tools and try engaging with customers via Messenger on a small scale to develop your technique and style. It is important to be sympathetic to the platform, recognising that people are typically more protective of their personal chats than of social media accounts.
WhatsApp For Business launched
WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, has an enormous 1.3bn active monthly users worldwide. That’s nearly one in five people on the planet! Until recently, however, it was more or less a closed shop of businesses. After a year of testing, it has now launched WhatsApp for Business, available for free to Android users in the UK, US, Indonesia, Italy and Mexico. There’s no mention of an iOS version yet, but you’ve got to expect it will come along before too long.
WhatsApp for Business features:
- Business Profiles: Allowing you to build a profile to tell customers about what your business does, how and where they can get in touch or visit your store.
- Messaging Tools: You can now automate some messaging with smart tools that give quick replies to frequently asked questions, send greeting messages, and place holding messages that let customers know you’ll get back to them.
- Messaging Statistics: Simple metrics, such as the number of messages read, will be made available. This will let you see which content is connecting best with your customers.
- WhatsApp Web: You’ll be able to send and receive messages using WhatsApp Business on your desktop, so no need for long hours of phone fiddling.
- Account Type: Your customers will see you listed as a business account, and, over time, you’ll be able to apply for a ‘Confirmed Account’ by proving that your account phone number matches your business phone number. This will provide another level of verification for your customers.
How can I get involved?
Chat and messaging apps will become increasingly important throughout 2018. WhatsApp for Business is free to use, so worth exploring now. People who use mobile and social media frequently are very open to interacting with businesses in this way. It is also quite possible that WhatsApp will start to incorporate advertising through it’s new business platform, which could offer new ways of reaching new customers. The Facebook and WhatsApp platforms are becoming more closely aligned, with new integrations launched in 2018 allowing businesses to direct customers from Facebook to chat on WhatsApp. If you’re not already using WhatsApp this is an area ripe for exploration.
Try it out for yourself here: www.whatsapp.com/business
Vine 2: The return of the Vine
Once upon a time, Vine was a video hosting mobile app that allowed people to capture and post 6-second videos and then share them with fellow users, or via Twitter and Facebook. Vine was acquired by Twitter in 2012, hit 200 million subscribers in 2015 and was absorbed into the Twitter platform in 2016, effectively signalling the end of its short life.
Vine co-founder Dom Hoffman has recently hinted at a reboot of this popular platform, to be called – wait for it – Vine 2. This new company will be independent of Twitter. The app will be free on iOS and Android and feature a new, more user-friendly interface. Vine videos will now be 12 seconds long and people who use the app will now be able to promote and monetise their videos. Vine 2 will also have a ‘no name’ policy meaning that once you register a username, no one can take it from you. The new app is currently being beta tested and is due for release in March.
What does this mean for my business?
This ‘new’ platform has proven to be very successful in the past so it’s definitely one to keep tabs on. Make sure you register quickly when it’s launched in order to grab your preferred username. Vine was a nifty video capture tool which people got really creative with. Careers were made on the platform (see Zach King Vine’s Compilation). This could prove a new, quirky way of reaching new audiences. And it always pays to get in on the ground floor!
You can follow the latest Vine 2 updates here on Twitter.
If you’d like to book a free meeting to discuss how we might be able to help you implement any of these ideas or get you up to speed with social media marketing and advertising, give us a call on 07766 310317 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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