April was another busy month both for social media providers, trending topics and content. We saw Kanye West tweeting controversial messages and Peppa Pig getting blocked on a popular Chinese video app, as the cartoon character is becoming a subversive ‘gangster’ icon. There were also many more changes and events but here are 5 key ones we think you should know about.
Yes you read that correctly, Twitter stopped working and users were unable to launch new posts and many people (including ourselves) started to panic. The issue showed just how dependent society has become on social media for news, business and personal updates. Whilst it might be a sad statement that many people are so dependent on social networks, it’s now just become a fact of life.
Whether you like social media or not, as with many other things it has its positives and negatives, and the positives mean that it’s a vital part of our society. When something happens in the world, social media is one of the first places to find out information (wrongly or rightly) it is a great source for users to find out information quickly and 24/7.
The popular pub chain shocked everyone when it removed itself from social media. The brand informed it’s followers they would only be releasing information on their website and in it’s printed magazine. The move was due to the brand being concerned that managers were being distracted from the main job of customer service and the chairman said they felt social media was not helping the business.
In 2018 there are 3.196 billion social media users worldwide, so for Wetherspoons to give up on the marketing channel it does seem like a strange choice. The brand has stated that social media wasn’t a high priority for them, but with all of their competitors and audience being online, why wouldn’t they be too? On the other hand, the chances of an established brand like Wetherspoons, with a strong high-street presence, losing customers for not having a social media presence are very slim, but it could be an issue for others if they follow suit.
You can now improve your bios using @’s and #’s that are actually clickable, great for brand awareness. Previously you could only have one clickable link in your bio, but the new feature enables brands and individuals to connect profiles, which is great for brand association.
Instagram has also decided to give Apple a run for their money by introducing the Focus Portrait mode its users can now use on the app. Portrait mode was originally a big feature of Apple’s iPhone X that enabled users to focus on a subject in their pictures, distorting the background to keep the audience’s attention on the main focal point. Now Instagram’s feature is pretty similar, the only difference being that it can only be used with a face and not an object, BUT Instagram allows users to use the feature in videos too, unlike Apple.
Controversially, WhatsApp is banning under 16s in the EU from using its platform. The new rule will be rolled out ahead of the new privacy regulations coming into play later on in May. The decision has been met with mixed reviews with many calling for other social platforms to enforce stricter use-age policies and others stating just how important the messaging platform is for their children to communicate with their friends about topics such as homework. It will be interesting to see how the platform enforces the age limit as we imagine it will be just asking users to state they are at least 16 – which is an easy get around for many.
This is great news but unfortunately, the features are just for US users at the moment, though it’s getting us excited nonetheless. One of the features being trialled is the ‘about this article’ icon which helps users identify shared stories which are ‘fake news’. This is great for users to find out the information they actually want to see and to ensure it’s true. Another feature is the downvote button test, sadly not the ‘unlike’ feature that many have been requesting, but it does enable users to rate comments on posts for how useful they are, again ensuring users are only seeing the quality content they want to see.
Moving slightly into May, we also saw Facebook accidentally leaked their hate speech test feature which looks like it will enable users to mark posts as hateful, probably in the hopes that the content can be removed quickly from the site.
All of these features show how Facebook is looking to make its user experience more enjoyable, and it’s not surprising that these features are quickly being tested after the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
In May we expect more changes and social media scandals to come about, we even made predictions at the beginning of the year for what changes could happen, see them here.