Another month is upon us, the birds are starting to sing, and some of us are wearing more hats to hide our need for a proper haircut. With COVID-19 continuing to shape our day-to-day lives, more platforms are adjusting their offerings in support of their users and small businesses during this time, in addition to their ongoing advertising offerings.
Here are the latest features and product launches from Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat and Twitter.
Social Media Updates
In it’s latest and biggest move into eCommerce yet, Facebook has announced the launch of Shops, a new way for small businesses to build online stores on both Facebook and Instagram.
The new eCommerce feature will enable business owners to create a “shop” section on their Facebook or Instagram page where they can build a catalog of products and services that users can browse, save, share and purchase. Facebook Shops will be powered by third-party services like Shopify, BigCommerce and Woo to help facilitate the process.
Given that small businesses continue to feel the growing economic impact of COVID-19, this feature is particularly valuable as they maneuver shifting their business online. That’s also because Shops are free to create and can be integrated across Facebook’s apps. Once you set your shop, you can access it on your Facebook page and Instagram profile, as well as from Stories and ads.
In an effort to maximize the shopping experience online, Shops will also incorporate AI and augmented reality technology. For example, a clothing store can personalize their storefront to show products most relevant to the visitor, like men’s shorts or women’s tops. Visitors will also be able to use AR to virtually “try on” items like sunglasses and makeup, similar to last year’s Instagram AR shopping feature.
And just like an in-person encounter with a salesperson at a physical store, visitors can get in contact with a business by messaging them through WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct to ask questions or track deliveries.
Facebook is also investing in new features across their apps that will be integrated with Facebook Shops, including Instagram Shop, Live shopping features and loyalty programs. Shops will begin rolling out on Facebook today to businesses in the United States who sell with Instagram Shopping, a Facebook Page Shop or both. For more information on Facebook Shops, visit Facebook’s announcement here.
COVID-19 Resources: Supporting Small Businesses
In the past month, Facebook revealed a host of other updates related to COVID-19, starting with #SupportSmallBusiness hashtag that helps small businesses gain exposure and drive more traffic to their website. For an even larger exposure to a broader Facebook audience, creators can now also use “in support of” tag to promote local businesses to their fans.
Facebook is also helping people find essential products and services by connecting them with local businesses through Business Nearby. This feature will allow users to access their neighbourhood shops and buy products or order food from them through third-party apps, enabling more virtual foot traffic as they move their brick-and-mortar stores online to remain open.
Messenger Rooms in Groups and Events
Last month we shared Facebook’s Messenger Rooms and now, the platform is adding the video chat feature within groups and events, which the social network calls “a new way to spend time with friends, family and fellow group members.” Users can host up to 50 people from their Facebook Groups and Events, providing a more intimate way of connecting with filters, games and screen-sharing.
New Ad Placement Controls
In an effort to enable advertisers to better control where their ads appear within in-stream placements, Facebook is introducing a new set of brand safety controls.
Facebook outlined the new initiatives as follows:
- Publisher whitelists for Audience Network, which will allow advertisers to choose which third-party publisher apps to run ads on
- Content whitelists offer video whitelisting for advertisers working with third-party providers like Integral Ad Science, OpenSlate and Zefr, allowing the partners to “dynamically review and customize suitable videos for in-stream campaigns on Facebook.”
- Delivery reports provide impression data at the publisher and content levels, which creates more transparency into which specific pieces of content the ads were embedded in
- Live stream exclusions allow advertisers to opt-out of the test of in-stream ads in live streams from vetted partners. Previously, this was offered at the campaign level and is now offered at the ad account level.
These tools are now available in the Brand Safety Controls interface in Business Manager.
Support Small Business sticker
It’s no surprise that businesses have been hit especially hard during COVID-19 and Instagram has been at the forefront of offering new and innovative ways to help these businesses from Gift Cards to food ordering and fundraising tools. And now, anyone can support their favourite local joint by using Instagram’s latest Support Small Businesses sticker.
Launched on May 11th, users can use the sticker to shout-out and directly mention any business on their Story. The Support Small Business sticker shows thumbnail images of the latest three posts from the profile, highlighting a preview of their feed.
In addition to the exposure received from the shout-out, the sticker provides an incentive for businesses to keep their profile in top shape as their most recent posts will always be on display through this feature. If you’re a small business, this could be a good time for you to consider the advantages of having a feed displayed in a three-frame preview and re-think your content strategy accordingly!
“Shop now” button
Tik Tok is testing a new ‘shop now’ button that links users directly to an advertiser’s eCommerce website from influencer videos. The revenue will be split between Tik Tok and the influencer with some reports suggesting a 20/80 split (80% in Tik Tok’s favour).
This feature plays a part in Tik Tok’s overall focus on building their performance advertising initiatives, putting the app on the same playing field as other platforms in terms of direct response ads.
Still in its early stages of development, The CTA button is currently only available to select advertisers and influencers.
New AR ad format
In light of Tik Tok catching up with its competitor social media platforms, the video app is now working on launching a new augmented reality ad format, similar to Instagram and Snapchat. The AR ads will allow users to integrate visual effects that interact with their physical environment. The ads will be clickable and will feature music as the user takes the video with plans to launch the product globally in the third quarter of 2020.
It will be interesting to see how the new ad product will perform and compete against Snapchat’s Sponsored Lens and AR Lenses as well as Instagram’s AR filters, even though the latter is not an ad product yet.
Aside from the in-depth posts, job updates and industry news, LinkedIn users can now share their thoughts with their community through LinkedIn Polls, providing another way to increase engagement and gather feedback on the platform.
Polls can be shared on your feed or with a specific group, with the option to keep the poll running up to 2 weeks. Other duration options include 1 day, 3 days or 1 week.
This feature presents a unique opportunity for users to spark a conversation with new and old connections alike and can be helpful when shared on specific groups, depending on the quality of engagement and membership.
As per LinkedIn:
“By targeting specific Groups with your poll, you can get even more relevant insights – for example, if you are in a Group for marketers, you could ask about the group member’s favorite tool for email marketing management.”
Despite the feature’s availability on other social platforms like Twitter and Instagram, what makes LinkedIn different is the platform’s userbase whose response to the polls can add extra value to LinkedIn’s offerings.
New partnership with Shopify
With the surge of people going to Pinterest to upgrade their WFH wardrobe, kitchen utensils or gardening tools, the platform is now helping its users adjust to the “new normal” by updating its Shopify integration to streamline the creation of Shoppable Product Pins. Shopify users can now turn product catalog into shoppable pins with just a few clicks.
For Shopify merchants, Pinterest reports that this means “easy set up and access to distribution across Pinterest with or without ads, as well as reporting and results tracking to maximize reach.”
Launched just over a week ago, this initiative also presents a similar momentum to Facebook and Instagram’s efforts to boost online sales for small businesses.
New ad offering: First Commercial
Snapchat announced a new way for brands to advertise on the platform called ‘First Commercial,’ which will allow advertisers to buy the first commercial users see on Snapchat Shows. The offering will help Snapchat maximize the potential of its original content offering, which has seen more than double the views in the past year.
If you’re not familiar with Shows on Snapchat, the app hosts new original shows from some of the most prominent storytellers in the world, most recently featuring a debut from the beloved Will Smith on his new “Will from Home” show.
Snapchat noted that with increased audience reach and interest, First Commercial will help brands boost their reach and connection with users, delivering a premium ad spot more targeted towards high-end brands.
Vertical Video Conversion Tool
In addition to First Commercial, Snapchat is also launching a new Vertical Video Conversion Tool in Snap Publisher, which allows advertisers to convert horizontal videos into a vertical format. While it’s helpful to create platform-specific content, this tool will come in handy for users looking to convert their existing content into a format that’s native to the platform’s presentation.
Labels and warning message added to misleading information related to COVID-19
In an effort to limit the spread of harmful and misleading content, Twitter is introducing new labels like “Get the facts about COVID-19” to alert users about potentially misleading COVID-19 information.
These labels will link to a Twitter-curated page or external trusted sources that contain additional information about the claims made within the Tweet.
Twitter is also looking to add more intrusive warnings on especially harmful content, which seems to be more effective in reducing the spread of misinformation on the platform.
For more information, please visit Twitter here.
- Instagram: “Support Small Business” sticker
- Facebook: #SupportSmallBusiness, “in support of” tag, Business Nearby, Messenger Rooms in Groups and Events, new ad placement controls
- Tik Tok: “Shop now” button, new AR ad format
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn Polls
- Pinterest: New partnership with Shopify
- Snapchat: First Commercial (new ad offering), vertical video conversion tool
- Twitter: Labels and warning messages on misleading COVID-19 content
Tune in next month for another round of social media updates!
If you are looking to improve your social media results or have questions regarding the latest platform updates, we’d love to chat!