The long-awaited premiere of the final season of Game of Thrones finally aired Sunday. Before you leave this page, know there are no spoilers in this blog piece. I haven’t had time to watch the episode, partially because I forgot my sister’s HBO Go password, but also because there have been big changes in the social media world to focus on.
Much like the White Walkers, these changes to social media platforms snuck up on us silently. However, they have significant consequences for the marketing world. And much like the Night King with his ice dragon (still can’t get over that), these changes could devastate your social media strategy.
Here are the social media changes that have occurred so far in 2019 and what they mean for marketing:
Last year, Facebook released its Story feature which is a lot like Instagram Stories. Users can either post content to the newsfeed or as a separate story, the main difference being other users control how fast they scroll (vertically) through their newsfeed. Stories, on the other hand, automatically transition to the next post after a set time.
The stories feature has been incredibly popular on Instagram (500 million daily users) and is slowly catching on with Facebook users (300 million daily users). In response, Facebook is now working out the kinks to integrate swipeable stories within newsfeeds. This means, as a user goes vertically through their newsfeed, they could switch to swiping horizontally through stories.
For marketers, the major change here will be Facebook ads. Currently, ads on newsfeeds aren’t full screen. Plus if sponsored posts have audio, users have to slow their scrolling to hear the content. But when users switch from the newsfeed to stories, they would become full screen and automatically play audio. The format could also create more opportunities for ads to be seen, both in the feed and as a story.
LinkedIn Photo Changes
Always late to the party, LinkedIn users can now tag others in photos and add stickers to their visual content. Exciting stuff. But the big change for marketers, at least, is now users can add alt text to the photos they post on LinkedIn.
Alt text makes your visual content more accessible, but it also plays a huge part in how social media content ranks in searches — both in Google and within the platform. Taking advantage of alt text and including relevant keywords will get your LinkedIn content in front of more eyes.
Currently, you can only add or view alt text via the desktop version of LinkedIn. But if you want to add alt text to your content, click “Add alt text” in the lower-left corner of the pop-up box after selecting the photo you want to share. You then have 120 characters of alt text description to add.
Twitter Ends Growth Hack Sneak
While I’m not a fan of the tactic, many marketers swore by a “growth hack” to increase followers. Basically, you follow hundreds, even thousands of people in a short time, see who follows you back, and then unfollow everyone. Assuming most people won’t notice or care that you’ve unfollowed them, they continue to be one of your followers, keeping your numbers up.
Earlier this month, Twitter limited the number of accounts you can follow in one day to 400 in order to end this tactic. If you were using this growth hack, as Twitter said in a tweet, you’ll be just fine. After all, any followers you got using this method were not high quality and probably never engaged with your content.
Facebook’s ‘Why Am I Seeing This’
As marketers, we’ve been interested in all the ins and outs of how the Facebook algorithm works for years. The more we know about how the platform chooses posts to put on newsfeeds, the better we can cater content to improve reach. But most users do not understand why certain posts appear on their newsfeed
After Facebook’s security breach last year, many users began to wonder how much of their information and social media activity was being used to impact the ads and posts they saw. Users can access the feature, which doesn’t always work, by clicking on the dropdown box at the top right of an ad, then selecting “Why am I seeing this?”
Marketers need to understand that this added level of transparency could both help and hurt your strategy. If you’re casting a wide net and trying to get your ads in front of as many people as possible, users could see the “Why am I seeing this” explanation and decide that’s not a good enough reason to see the ad. They can then block all your future ads, and it’s too early to know how that can impact the way Facebook shares your content. On the other hand, getting the extra information can show users that your product or service is truly a good match for their needs and interests. This could increase the chance of a conversion from the ad.
It can seem like a full-time job keeping up with all the changes to social media. But if you’re not up-to-date, your marketing strategy can’t be as effective. Keep up with progress so you can make the right marketing decisions for your brand.