Big changes in social media start with small app updates. New content discovery is the focus of the latest round of updates rolling out to Facebook, Snapchat and Pinterest, with Twitter struggling to maintain its relevance. These new social media updates could impact your business and content performance in 2018.
How content marketers can use Facebook Explore Feed
As Facebook organic reach for brand pages continues to dwindle, all is not lost for brands on the goliath of social media.
With the introduction of Facebook’s new Explore Feed, users can see and discover posts from their favorite brands and public figures. Like Facebook’s main News Feed, the Explore Feed is algorithm-based and displays posts based on a user’s individual interests and behavior.
The Explore algorithm creates opportunities for the brands that Facebook determines a user may enjoy based on previous user experiences (page likes, post likes, shares, comments, URL clicks, etc). Explore is explicitly viral, exposing users to second- and third-level connections that they’ve already made with related brand pages and public figure posts.
Explore Feed will also provide new organic and paid content discovery opportunities for brands. However, Explore isn’t going to automatically pull in existing Facebook advertisements to this new feed, so having a solid organic sharing strategy for Facebook is paramount to getting extra exposure in Explore.
Right now the Explore Feed is somewhat hidden and not easily discoverable by an everyday user. Having your brand’s current organic sharing strategy will help your company hit the ground running if and when Explore takes off and gets featured more heavily on Facebook for desktop or mobile. Although unlikely in the near future, a major Facebook redesign isn’t out of the question (there have been tests in six countries for a friends- and family-only feed, as well as a business page feed). Facebook is looking to continue its dominance in social media, and staying on top of potential changes will ensure your brand remains relevant.
Extending the value of Twitter with 280 characters
Twitter recently announced a major change: double tweet length from 140 to 280 characters. For brands, 280 character-tweets present an opportunity to use Twitter as a personality showcase, allowing your company to tell customer stories and avoiding using Twitter as just a place to dump links back to your website.
So is Twitter doubling its tweet length a big deal right now? Probably not, unless you’re tweeting in languages other than English: Some languages take way more characters to form sentences, so sometimes the 140 character limit was prohibitive internationally. Chinese and Japanese characters pack way more punch than some German phrases. And although most Twitter users did not feel hampered by the 140 character limit, double tweet length may just be the gas Twitter needs to grow the channel in 2018.
Long form content still tends to do well. Use the extra tweet length to experiment beyond headlines to entice users from around the web. With double tweet length, your Twitter content has an opportunity to appear in Google searches and live longer than just the moment. So, get creative with your tweets and consider using Twitter more artfully for your business.
The next wave of shoppable pins: Pinterest Pincodes
There’s nothing like a rebrand of existing technology to get people excited. Pinterest is taking a fresh approach on old tech with its new Pincodes—essentially QR Codes 2.0.
Imagine walking into your favorite retail store armed with an existing Pinterest board and checking off the list of items by simply scanning the Pincode on product packaging. Wedding registries, product packaging and viral videos could all benefit from the Pincode. Similar to Facebook’s new Explore Feed, Pincodes are all about discovery and being “inspired by what you’re looking at in the real world.” By allowing users to create Pincodes for their profiles and boards, Pinterest will continue to dominate the visual app space.
So what are they? Pincodes link your brand's Pinterest content to wherever your audience may give their attention offline. Current examples include Nordstroms' Pincodes of curated gifts under $100 or Real Simple magazine using Pincodes in their December issue to share exclusive digital content from their Pinterest boards.
For brands marketing to Gen Z: Snapchat redesign
Snapchat is betting big on discovery for its latest—and largest to date—app redesign. Instead of one feed that displays stories from friends mixed with branded content, Snapchat is splitting into two distinct feeds: one for Friends and one for Discovery. After all, as Snapchap co-founder Evan Spiegel puts it: “Your friends aren’t content, they’re relationships.”
Swiping right in the app, Snapchat’s Friends feed will display friends algorithmically based on how much you interact and watch their content. It will also give brands an opportunity to display a quick photo or branded video that appears at the end of a friend's story.
Swiping left displays Snapchat Discover. Content from influencers and brands populate your feed based on what Snapchat’s algorithms determine you'll find most interesting. Discover is personalized and presents opportunities for brands to pay to be some of the first content seen. By splitting the Discover feed into it’s own section, Snapchat in essence is creating a new channel for users to explore.
Instead of seeing branded and sponsored content as a skippable sidenote when checking out friend stories on Snapchat, users will navigate to the Discover tab intentionally to watch branded content for longer periods of time. Like Instagram and Facebook Explore, Snapchat is betting that branded content will be seen and shared by more users when they explicitly search out new experiences and content.
What do these new social media options mean for marketing in 2018?
As more digital and social media opportunities present themselves, how does a savvy marketer prioritize what’s a fit for their brand?
Our advice is to start small by experimenting with existing content. You may have an awesome white paper snippet that would now work well as a long Tweet or tweetstorm. Or a collection of customer stories might make a great Pinterest board with a link to a Pincode that's displayed in your lobby. Keep publishing organic content on Facebook to potentially get included in the Explore Feed.
Show the human side of your business with a Snapchat Story. Start with one post a day, test, see what works. All of these changes are free for now, so get out there and experience them.
At the end of the day, social media is just word of mouth hopped up on steroids. Humans connecting with humans, sharing emotional stories that either inform or entertain. Branded content is all about providing value to your audience, and storytelling and empathy remain the keys to successful content creation.
How that content gets shared and presented in the ever-shifting digital landscape is something none of us can control, but being a good human providing value to other humans is a skillset we can all continue to improve upon.
Read next: Why Always-On Organic Social Media Strategy Still Matters