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Welcome to this week’s edition of Spark Bites! Over the last few days we’ve seen some exciting announcements from our favorite social networks. “Back To The Basics” seems to be the theme of choice for app redesigns and makeovers. Read on to find out more!


    • Facebook is facing some flak over its major News Feed overhaul that separates user-posts from the Explore section comprising publisher content. Publishers and businesses have reported a significant drop in engagement and traffic numbers, and to top it all off, the new algorithm inadvertently enables fake news by prioritizing user-generated content over legitimate publisher-generated news. Because this is a test phase, we can expect algorithm tweaks and improvements going forward which will hopefully resolve some of these issues. That said, paid social will undoubtedly become even more valuable for publishers and brands in the year ahead.


    • Facebook announced that it plans to drastically simplify Messenger in the coming months. The app currently packs in numerous features like Stories, AR Camera, Discover, etc., which overshadow its core purpose of being a hassle-free chat platform. The head of Facebook Messenger said that the intention is to focus more on messaging than accessorial features. It looks like the social network’s new year resolution was to streamline its platforms!


    • Facebook is testing (at a very small scale) a new feature called “Watch Party,” which lets multiple users view the same video at the same time, even if its not live. The company stated that live videos see six times more engagement than other videos only because multiple users view them together. The feature is designed as a separate area within Facebook groups which members can click in to. The social network’s primary goal, seemingly, is to get users to interact more with each other while in the app.


  • Facebook has officially launched its Community Boost program, which aims to help small businesses grow and job-seekers gain digital skills. This is currently a 30-city initiative in the U.S., and the program will dispatch Facebook teams to train employees on social media skills and assist businesses with customer acquisition. Pretty cool!



    • As is already the norm on other messaging platforms, Instagram is launching a “Show Activity Status” option, which displays when a user was last active. Similar to WhatsApp, this is an opt-in feature and can only be seen in the app’s Direct Messaging window.


    • Instagram is testing a new text-only Story feature called “Type.” The tool will enable users to post messages as stories without having to post a picture or video. A variety of options for font size, color and backdrops will also be available. This is just the latest adaptation of one of Snapchat’s features!


    • Instagram is testing another feature which will send users a notification when a screenshot of their story is captured. The first time a user takes a screenshot, the app serves a pop-up alert saying, “The next time you take a screenshot of a story, the person who posted it will be notified.” Screenshot notifications were already enabled for Direct Messages so it was only a matter of time before Instagram introduced them to Stories too.


  • Instagram seems to be on a Story-makeover mission. The app is also partnering with Giphy to introduce a GIF library for Stories. Users will be able to search and browse GIFs from the Giphy database and post them to their Story picture or video.



    • Twitter released data from comScore which shows that marketers can use the social network to reach viewers more effectively when they’re watching live sports on TV. The research noted Twitter as the only social network that sees increased traffic during live sports. Twitter ads also received up to a 42% engagement increase during games! Brands, take note.


  • Under heat from lawmakers over political content, Twitter has decided to alert users who may have viewed Russian-linked posts. The social network said it is “working to identify and inform individually the users” who have encountered accounts connected to the Internet Research Agency.



  • In a strategic move, Snapchat is introducing deep-linking to app-install ads. This means app developers can deep-link their Snapchat ads, thereby leading users to re-engage with specific sections of their app. This could turn into a significant advertising opportunity for businesses such as retailers and game developers.



  • LinkedIn launched its first integrated marketing campaign taglined “In It Together.” Spanning over a variety of marketing platforms, including a TV spot during the Golden Globes, the campaign is intended to shake off the company’s “white collar” stereotype. The spot featured messaging that was very different from LinkedIn’s norm. It featured professionals in niche fields such as mixed martial arts in order to change users’ perceptions of LinkedIn as a strictly corporate, “white collar” platform. We think it’s a commendable effort by the network to expand its audience segment.


This week’s social media news has given ample food for thought for digital marketers and opened up new doors for paid strategies. Are you as excited as we are? Contact us to share your thoughts or browse through our work that demonstrates effective social strategy!


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