Five New (Pre-Christmas) Social Platform Features Updates You Need to Know About

The major social platforms are still releasing new tests & updates, with the arrival of FB’s new Messenger group video chats, live-streaming direct from tweets & the ability to save posts on Instagram. Of course, not all of those updates are major, not everyone will have an impact on your plan. But then again, impact is relative – what is minor to you & your business could be huge to someone else.

As part of our ongoing effort to help you with the best coverage of the latest social media news & EverLesson, we feel it is important to cover all of these updates and tests – but sometimes they are not worthy of a their own individual post.

So to keep you up to date on these smaller changes & features, here is a rundown of five upcoming or “in test mode” features that are being trialed by some of the major platforms – starting with FB, which is trying out an… interesting new selection.

1. FB Testing Multi-Colored Status Updates

I do not really know what to make of this one. FB’s testing out a new option that enables users to put a background color on their text updates.

The selection has been spotted online by several users and has been confirmed by FB – those who have access to the element will see the colored text on updates, but in regions where it is not available, you will not see them at all, so they are not going to be taking over your timeline.

The logic behind why they should do this makes some sense within the context of the reported decline in personal sharing. This is reportedly why shorter FB updates are now appearing in huge text, it makes them stand out and prompts more engagement – FB, after all, relies on people sharing personal updates to fuel their ever-learning data banks.

But I cannot imagine this will be a popular option.

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe adding a splash of color to the backgrounds of your otherwise bland FB updates will boost interest and activity – and it will be optional either way, you will not have to put a color down for your post.

There is no word yet as to whether the test will be expanded.

2. Twitter trying out New ‘Retweet’ icon

As you see, the new layout sees the removal of the current reply, retweet & ‘send privately’ icons and replaces them with a quotation bubble & ‘share’ button.

While they do look different, the functionality remains the same – the speech bubble is the ‘reply’, while the ‘share’ icon brings up a list of options, including the current ‘Retweet’ & ‘Quote Tweet’ selections, along with ‘Send by Direct Message’ & ‘Share tweet’. So the same tools are available, they are just formatted differently.

Why could Twitter look to adjust this?

The process does make it a little easier to reveal tweets to other platforms, which might help spread the word about specific tweets across other networks, and promote Twitter content. The other reason, as speculated by Mac Rumors, can be that the share icon is more universally recognized, so it can be seen as another way to simplify the product.

The new selection is part of a small test at the moment.

3. Instagram Updates Post Layout

Instagram has showed a minor change to the layout of posts that will make sponsored content look a little more natural.

As explained by Instagram:

“Starting today, you will see a new look on the header of Instagram posts. In the new design, whole content will move to the left-hand side of the header to streamline the design & make it more noticeable. For advertisements, the Sponsored label will appear under the profile name. There will be a new menu icon on the right side, that when clicked, will activate hide or learn options for ads & a menu of sharing options for organic posts.”

For comparison, here is the old and new layouts side-by-side:

When you click on the 3 dots on the top right on sponsored content, you get a new menu with 2 options.

The adjustment makes sponsored posts standout less, keeping them more in tune with the other content on the platform, though the blue call to action buttons are still prominent.

Note too how Instagram is making more use of the blank space, with the camera & message options now added to the top bar & the new save posts icon also now included.

It is a small change, but a relevant one, particularly for those looking to use all available selections to maximize their content performance.

4. Personalizing Pinterest

Over on the Pinterest Engineering blog, platform engineer Andrew Liu has showed how Pinterest “overhauled the new user experience for people outside the U.S., making it more personalized that has increased new user activation and retention by 5-10 %”.

And while it is not a functional update, as such, it is interesting to note how Pinterest is tailoring their platform to local interests & behaviors – for example:

“From previous A or B experiments, we know Pinners are much more likely to save Pins in their language, so for candidate topics, we show content that’s locally relevant.” 

It is not necessarily revolutionary, but it is good info to have for brands looking to maximize their Pinterest presence – especially those who operate in multiple nations or who are trying to achieve international markets.

This is relevant when you consider that Pinterest is seeing important growth outside the US, with more than half of their 160 million monthly active users now coming from non-US markets.

5. FB Letting Users Block Ads by Topic

And the last pre-Christmas update of note comes from FB, with a new option being tested that would enable users to block ads by topic.

Users have had some control over the advertisements they see via the Ad Preferences section, but the listings available have been based on individual subjects of interest.

As you can see, all the listed interests relate to individual topics which I have apparently engaged with on the platform. The new selection, as shown above, would enable you to black out entire subjects, with ‘alcohol’ & ‘parenting’ currently the only two available. The impetus behind this is that there’re certain subjects which users may find painful to see.

As explained by Mark Rabkin, VP of Core Ads at FB (to AdAge):

“For families that experience the loss of a child, for instance, to continue to see ads about parenting & new baby stuff, that can be really upsetting.”

It is not hard to imagine such a tool could be helpful, but that it could be extended to gambling or other adult content, things that a user can have engaged with in the past but may feel uncomfortable about.

Of course, FB will need to tread carefully – restricting the reach of advertisements is obviously disincentive for the affected advertisers – but the tool makes sense & could work to boost the on-platform experience of many people.