Photo courtesy of Adi Goldstein

What’s New in Social Media // November 2018

Hello and welcome to your monthly dose of social media goodness. In this blog we look at how Twitter and Instagram are trying to encourage more positive conversations on their platforms… a noble enterprise, but will these new features be effective? We also look at how Facebook is changing the Pixel to ensure it remains useful, and recap on why you really should be making use of it to retarget your customers.

Twitter and Instagram encourage positivity and discourage negativity

Over the past year much has been made of the negative impact of social media. From studies suggesting increased levels of loneliness among social media users, to concerns over how our data is being used, many platforms are feeling under pressure. This month Twitter and Instagram have been exploring options to counteract this.

Twitter encourages positivity

A colourful, positive Twitter

First up, Twitter. Often seen as a home to trolls, it suffers from bad behaviour perhaps more than other social media platforms. Twitter is currently testing ‘positive conversation starters’. These would give people a question to respond to such as ‘Who is the most inspirational person in your life?’ or ‘Who was the last person to make you laugh?’.

The idea is to start a conversation off on a positive track and help people build connections. It’s not a million miles from Facebook’s therapist-like ‘What’s on your mind?’ This could, of course, lead to paid-for options which could see us fed sponsored conversation starters such as ‘How great are Pringles?’ and ‘What is your favourite KFC dish?”

To me, this feels as cringeworthy as being asked to come to a dinner party in fancy dress armed with ‘an interesting fact about yourself’. But, who knows, maybe others will find it less patronising.

Twitter is also testing a ‘colour coded conversations’ feature which would show Tweets in different colours depending on whether they’re from someone you follow or not. This could help people filter out the noise and make it easier to follow conversations that are more personal or interesting.

Twitter is looking at introducing status indicators that would show who is online or offline, and possibly what they’re up to at that moment. It is also considering putting a reply button beneath each Tweet, making it more obvious to people how they can join specific conversations.

These moves all seek to promote more immediate public chat-style conversations rather than static Tweet-scrolling. However, it’s debatable whether these will lead to more positive interactions on the platform.

Only time will tell.

Instagram Kindness FilterInstagram’s new anti-bullying tool and ‘kindness’ filter

On the flip side Instagram is focusing efforts on decreasing negativity and bullying on its platform. It is using Machine Learning (ML) to search out images, posts or comments containing bullying content. It will then report them to a human Community Operations Team for further action. It will be able to do this in real time, for example during live broadcasts.

Machine Learning uses statistical analytics to constantly improve the way technology processes and deciphers information. Over time this system will fine-tune itself to become better at understanding the intent behind the words and images people use.

Instagram is seen as quite an intimate place to inhabit, where young people often post quite personal things. This new feature looks to be an important step forward in reducing the bullying on the platform, but also poses some ethical considerations. Why should a machine limit our right to free speech? Who determines which words or phrases are incendiary? Will this censorship simply push negativity onto other platforms?

In partnership with teen author, dancer and actor Maddie Ziegler, Instagram has also launched a new ‘kindness’ camera effect. This fills the selfie screen with hearts and people can tag a friend that they want to support. While being a positive step, could this lead to some people feeling left out?

As a lot of these features are just being tested it’s difficult to provide advice on what to do differently. We’ll keep you posted on when these new features go live and discuss again then.

An important update to Facebook’s Pixel

Have you ever viewed an item on a website but not decided to purchase? Then spotted adverts popping up on your social media feed for the same item, perhaps priced slightly cheaper? Have you ever clicked buy? Well, then you’ve been re-marketed to by The Facebook Pixel.

Facebook Pixel is an important string to any social media marketers’ bow. The Pixel is essentially a piece of code that sits on your website that tracks people who visit. It then allows you to target them with adverts on Facebook. We use it regularly to market our social media training courses to people who’ve visited our website. As they’ve already shown an interest they’re much more likely to convert, particularly after some gentle nudging.

The problem…

Have you ever visited a website and seen a banner saying that you have to ‘accept a cookie’ before you can view the website? (If you haven’t then you probably haven’t been online in the last year… welcome back by the way!)

Due to new GDPR rules website browsers such as Safari have been looking at blocking third party cookies (i.e. cookies created and owned by someone other than the website owner). This is beginning to affect the performance of the Facebook Pixel as it means that marketers are not able to capture details of those who have visited the site.

The solution…

To counteract this Facebook has adapted its Pixel to be a ‘1st party’ cookie. What this means is that the Pixel itself will sit on the same domain as the website it reports on and therefore won’t be blocked. This is great news for us marketers as it’ll allow us to continue to retarget website visitors with relevant adverts.

This will also improve the experience of customers by delivering them more targeted and useful adverts. It could also serve tailored discounts based on their buying history.

Check your Facebook Pixel

I want this. How do I enable this feature?

If you’ve already got the Facebook Pixel set up this change should happen automatically. You can check this by going into you Facebook Ads Manager, clicking on the Pixel tab and checking your settings. Click on Cookie Settings and check whether it’s set to 1st or 3rd party cookies. For marketers 1st party is the better setting. However, if your site handles highly confidential information such as medical records it’s probably best to remain on 3rd party cookies.

If you haven’t considered advertising through Facebook or setting up the Facebook Pixel you can find out all about it at our next Facebook Advertising course.

That’s all from us for this month but if you just can’t wait for more, why not check back through some of our previous blogs for handy tips and advice on how to make the most of the latest social media features and grow your business using social.