Guest post by Kirstie Smith, Social Circles

Social never sleeps. But was 2018 the busiest year to date for new social media innovations?

2018 was the year we lost trust in Facebook (thanks to the Cambridge Analytica scandal), shopping from anywhere became ubiquitous, and every platform joined the ‘story’ bandwagon (even LinkedIn!)… oh, an we had a little thing called GDPR* to contend with.

*don’t worry this is the only time GDPR is mentioned in this blog.

I’ve taken a look back at some of the key changes in the social sphere over the last year and created a (non-exhaustive) list of some of the key updates to be aware of.

Even though consumers lost confidence in Facebook due to Cambridge Analytica and a raft of negative press, it continues to the most popular social media network worldwide.

What changed in social media in 2018?

1. Facebook turned down the reach dial (again)

As a way to ensure users we’re engaging in ‘meaningful conversations’, Facebook has pretty much now reduced all the organic reach for business pages.

2. Instagram launched IGTV

15 seconds is not long enough… so Instagram gave us up to 10 mins with the launch of IGTV. Will it be the new go-to for vertical long-form video? Early signs point to no.

3. Facebook groups got a facelift

With the authorisation of the Group admin, Business pages will be able to join Groups on Facebook (the last safe place for users!). Groups also introduced analytics, badges for active users and Watch parties.

4. Facebook launched (more) new advert formats and placements

Facebook’s struggling with a diminishing ad inventory (basically running out of room to show ads in the newsfeed) so this year introduced video mid-roll ads, messenger ads, story ads (see below) and adverts in the Marketplace platform. Also testing survey ad formats, as well as allowing square images in their single image ad formats.

5. Instagram launched ‘Close Friends’ feature

You can now segment your Instagram following and share your stories with a pre-selected list of close friends. Yay!

6. Hello new Instagram shoppable features

Instagram has added shopping products to stories, the feature was previously only available through feed posts. The app has also introduced a new way to save products to a new ‘shopping’ collection.

7. LinkedIn created dynamic adverts formats

LinkedIn launched a new type of advert which dynamically pull in users name, job title and profile picture in to single image ad formats.

8. 3D GIFs and images appeared on Facebook

3D GIFS are new, they look cool and you can learn how to make them here. Facebook alson announced the launch of 3D photos, which allows you to post images taken in Portrait mode on your iPhone to your feed to create 3D images.

9. Facebook Portal came along

Facebook launched its first physical product, letting users connect with messenger, share content and will display photos and notifications when video call is not in use, and give you birthday reminders. The product also has Alexa built in. Prices start at $199 and no, I’m not an affiliate.

10. Twitter had a clear out

Twitter stopped allowing people to retweet and like from multiple accounts and generally had a big clear up of its user experience. Also, see ya later bots.

11. Twitter also updated a range of features

A number of updates launched (or rumoured to be launching) on Twitter with:

  • Data saver feature. When using it, videos won’t autoplay and images load in lower quality.
  • Users can now choose whether they want to see tweets in chronological order or not.
  • Twitter’s been experimenting with an up or down vote system, where users can vote for the types of content they’d like to see.

12. LinkedIn launched groups AGAIN

LinkedIn is relaunching its ‘groups’ feature by re-including it to its main app after pulling the standalone app in February of this year. The idea behind the stand-alone app was that users would be able to dedicate more time to posting, reading and generally interacting with the groups they were part of if they were in their own app… but perhaps they didn’t :-/

13. Instagram nametags appeared

Instagram steals Snapchats nametag feature. But will anyone use it?

14. New Snapchat lenses for all

Snapchat have introduced gaming AR lenses and more recently, voice-controlled AR lenses. They allow users to say basic English words such as “ok”, “hi”, “wow, “love” and that prompts an animated AR lens to begin. The channel also introduced lens stories, which allows users to go through an archive collection and see which lenses have been released and used previously.

15. Facebook Stories advert formats

Facebook recently invited its Marketing Partners to begin making way for the new feature and opening Stories ads up to its clients. The platform will be encouraging more page owners to create stories to help make this feature a success.   

16. YouTube launched stories

YouTube launched their own story feature for creators with 10,000+ subscribers – the feature allows users to add text, music, filters, stickers, etc. Stories are available for 7 days and have comments to keep the conversational element.

17. LinkedIn also launched stories

LinkedIn has launched a stories feature called Student Voices. The clue’s in the name but the stories – which will be visible for seven days as opposed to one – are currently only available to university students in America.

18. Facebook enter the world of TV with Watch

The video-on-demand service, Facebook Watch launched globally in August. It was revealed that Facebook are expected to spend between $1-2 billion dollars on content deals for Watch over the next year alone. Content creators are to be paid 55% of earnings (so say the BBC) but to make money on videos the minimum criteria have been put in place.  

  • Creators must have 3 minutes videos
  • 10,000 Facebook followers
  • Have more than 30,000 viewers who stayed for more than one minute when watching the content over the past two months

19. Social audio all-round

Twitter is now allowing users to live stream using audio only along with LinkedIn audio messaging and Snapchat voice-controlled lenses.

20. Social media usage tracking

Facebook and Instagram have introduced a new ‘your activity’ feature, allowing users to view their average time spent on the platforms and set reminders to let them know when they’ve reached their self-managed limit.

Wow, that’s a lot to take in. But it’s ok… we know the only constant in social media marketing industry is change!

Strategies will always need to adapt and evolve based on new innovation and customer trends. Are you up to date?

You can stay in touch with what’s happening on social media and/or by attending our monthly Social Circle events, held in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham.

Stay in touch and out about the next event here:

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About Kirstie and Social Circle

Social Circle is a collection of digital marketing and social media enthusiasts offering consultancy, training and running networking events.

Kirstie has 8 years’ experience working in Social Media and Digital Marketing as a practitioner at two innovative agencies. More recently she has become a lecturer on the BA (Hons) Digital Marketing and the Future Media: Pro MA / MSc courses at Birmingham City University, encouraging the development of the next wave of passionate creatives and teaching them about the joys of digital marketing.

Kirstie has extensive experience in B2C markets and currently works for clients in the fashion lifestyle, automotive, leisure, hospitality and food sectors. Her work focuses on driving revenue through co-ordinated social media and digital strategy, consultancy and training.