I have to admit: the gears have sort of fallen off for me this week. The weather has turned nasty and cold again (welcome to spring in Canada), and day-to-day work has been slow. Once you disengage your brain, it’s tough to get it back into gear. I’m sure a lot of you are feeling the same. Hopefully, you’re taking care of yourself - physically but also mentally - while the tiniest glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel begins to appear. There’s a bunch of stuff talk about, so let’s get to it.
The Big Stuff
There have been a lot of (convincing IMO) arguments that we should be treating the current situation as a moment of contemplation, a time to consider big resets a redefine what life looks like in the 21st century. Let’s face it: many of us are simply too busy to do anything beyond run from one to-do to the next. Now that the daily grind has become somewhat less grindy, some interesting behavioral shifts are taking place. Have you looked up a bread recipe yet?
Since this is a newsletter about social media, let’s talk about usage. In the last 40-odd days, the “media” side is down (ad spend), and the “social” side is way up (personal connections).
For the last 5+ years, users have passively consumed content much like a television episode. But, sprinkle a bit of self-isolation in the mix, and people have once again embraced the social aspects of digital connections. Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp have all seen video chatting jump by 50-70%!
It’s also worth noting that this isn’t a new trend, the current situation is just accelerating that process. As mentioned back in Vanity #9, “digital campfires” have been evolving for the past few years, as social media users are breaking off into smaller and smaller groups defined by their common interests and a desire to get away from the screaming maw of their newsfeeds.
While we all know life will return to “normal” eventually, it’s worth asking if we should reconsider what “normal” is. Maybe a more balanced approach to life takes work, family, friends, and health into account?
Have you seen a change in the way you use social media/apps in your daily routine? Chatting more in Facebook Groups? Video hangouts with friends? More calls with Mom? Let us know in the comments. For me, it’s been attending a weekly trivia night on Zoom with old friends in Toronto, Philidelphia, and New York. We haven’t been able to do this in years. Not because we lacked the ability, but like everyone else’s busy lives, we just never got around to it.
The Small Stuff
Instagram is rolling out “Support” stickers in the US and Canada now. These stickers are a way to streamline ordering directly through the app with small businesses. Fundraising stickers are coming next. Here are the instructions to get your business set up on IG for gift cards.
LinkedIn may be releasing poll posts soon, as well as a “presentation mode” to pull up a canvas of hashtag-related posts.
Snapchat will start displaying followers and play counts for partner programs like Snapchat Shows. Not a big deal in itself, but Snap has historically turned away from sharing account stats to users, a practice Instagram recently adopted.
Instagram live streams are now viewable on the web. For creators, this is a great way to monitor your live streams, as the larger format allows you to separate comments and live video in a far more readable way.
Continuing the 1:1 contact trend, Facebook has released an experimental app to use messenger on your Apple Watch. It’s only been spotted in Canada so far.
WhatsApp is also raising its group voice and video chat limit from 4 to 8 people.
A bit of a tie-in to an EU legal story in Vanity #5: a US court has ruled that professional creators (in this case photographers) can’t sue websites for using their images. Important note: the image in question was first shared on Instagram. A good bit of clarity for creators: when you share your work on IG, you have tacitly consented to sublicence that asset to be reused by anyone, anywhere in what I assume is a noncommercial capacity.
Instagram is developing “challenge” stickers a la Tik Tok. Users can issue challenges to tagged friends, and browse existing challenges to take part.
Facebook has added “Potential Reach” and the ability to search by IG handle to it’s Ad Library. Happy snooping, media buyers!
Instagram working on pinned comments. Useful for community managers!
This could be a big deal: Instagram is testing live simulcasting to Facebook. The ability to simulcast live streams to maximize your audience would not only be a big boon to smaller brands but the first time Facebook has “officially” opened itself to allowing Facebook as a multiplexing destination. Typically, multiplexing options like Restream.io haven’t been able to add Facebook as a destination when mixed with others, like Periscope or YouTube…
That would be in line with hints dropped by Instagram boss Adam Mosseri
Bit of a surprise move as Facebook backtracks on CBO rules. Facebook had made it clear it intended to move all campaign budget optimization to the campaign level, meaning spend would be managed across all ad sets automatically. Despite reports that the feature worked well, Facebook announced it would permanently revert to allowing users to set and control budgets at the ad set level.
Keep an eye on this: Australia will demand both Google and Facebook compensate media sources for the content shared on their platforms. Media outlets across the world have been decimated by the rise of social sharing, and the current pullback in advertising during the pandemic has made the situation at many smaller outlets dire. Expect to see more details of the compensation model from the government soon.
Ryan LaFlamme has worked in social media marketing and advertising for longer than the job had a title. He formed the independent social consultancy Hub and Spoke in 2016, and can be found hanging out on Twitter @ryanlaf Now accepting new clients and speaking engagements.