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What’s New in Social Media? (November)

Every month we present the biggest new developments in the world of social media so you can stay the cutting-edge of the industry.

1. Twitter Launches ‘Fleets’

2020 has undoubtedly been the year of stories. It was only a matter of time until Twitter joined Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest in having their own version of stories. 

Twitter Fleets officially launched worldwide last week. Although the name looks to differentiate it from its rival platforms, Fleets has all the standard stories features. A 24-hr time frame, the ability to customise with text and effects and only visible to your followers.

Twitter says Fleets is for sharing ‘momentary thoughts’ that would otherwise remain as draft tweets. In many ways, this is what Twitter is already about – short, snappy bites of content. This new feature looks to enhance the audio-visual qualities of Twitter, no doubt inspired by the popularity of TikTok and IG Stories. 

We’ll be keeping a close eye on Fleets. Twitter has never had the ‘playful’ nature of rivals such as Instagram, focusing more on breaking news stories over creative content. It’s too early to say whether Fleets will be ‘one stories feature too many’ or another valuable tool for social media marketers.

Check out our blog piece on the rise of stories if you’d like to learn how this format took over the world.

2. Instagram Tweaks the Homepage

Love it or loathe it, it’s here to stay. This month Instagram users opened the app to find the entire homepage has been modified:

‘Reels’ and ‘Shopping’ have replaced the ‘Create’ and ‘Notifications’ buttons, which have been moved to the top right next to ‘Messages’. The Camera button has been removed.

It’s not difficult to see what the motivation was behind these changes. Instagram are making Reels front and center. IG Shopping has also been provided its own interface, presented as a shoppable news feed.

We wrote about Reels a short while back. Instagram’s TikTok clone has been steadily growing in popularity and this move will only boost it further. Many social media developments in 2020 have revolved around ‘social commerce’. It’s viewed as the next big revenue stream for platforms. TikTok recently announced a partnership with Shopify. Instagram has responded by making Reels and IG Shopping more accessible. Both are competing for the same demographics. This rivalry will only intensify as time goes on.

Personally, we feel the new UI is cluttered. Instagram is trying to replicate the success of WeChat in China – a one-stop app for everything from entertainment to shopping. But Instagram will struggle to make this a reality without a complete overhaul of the app, which would receive fierce backlash from fans.

3. Snapchat Introduces Spotlight

Snapchat has struggled to stay culturally relevant in recent years. Instagram Stories and TikTok would not be the worldwide phenomena they are today if it wasn’t for the original innovators of the Stories format. Now the tables have turned, and it’s Snapchat who is taking inspiration from them.

Yesterday, Snapchat launched a new function called ‘Spotlight’ – a dedicated place within the app that lets users watch short, vertical videos in a feed that’s remarkably similar to TikTok:

Spotlight features videos from both public and private accounts (if you choose to). It’s accessible via a new fifth button at the bottom of Snapchat’s UI:

Like Instagram, Snapchat are trying to claw back users’ attention from TikTok by prominently displaying their Spotlight in the app. As a result, social media is starting to look homogeneous. Now that every major platform has Stories, will they all produce their own TikTok clones? It’s a question of whether this style of content will be suitable for Twitter or LinkedIn, both of which have an older user base.

As for Snapchat, it feels like they’re clutching at straws, adopting rival platforms’ most popular features to prevent users jumping ship. Nevertheless it’s still an extremely popular service and should be considered in your paid social strategy if you’re already familiar with Stories Ads.

4. New Google Branding

Last month Google rebranded Google Suite, which includes Gmail, Docs, Meet and Sheets, to Google Workshop. This is part of their ongoing effort to compete with Microsoft Office as an all-in-one suite for your virtual office needs.

More recently, Google Workshop’s logos have undergone a visual overhaul – much to the distaste of users:

One main criticism is that the logos are extremely similar, making it hard to immediately know which service you’re clicking on. The Gmail logo in particular has bore most of the brunt, as it no longer resembles an envelope. This could be an attempt by Google to ‘modernise’ the iconography of email. Much like the floppy disk, the envelope harks back to a time before the internet. A time that is not relatable to younger users.

While we don’t think Google’s new logos are perfect, we can appreciate how they’ve attempted to invigorate dying iconography and promote cohesion across their suite of apps.

5. Rupert Grint Becomes The Fastest IG User to 1 Million Followers

It was only two months ago that we announced Sir David Attenborough had broken the world record. Now, that record has been bested by Rupert Grint. The Harry Potter star acquired 1 million followers in just over 4 hours, beating Sir Attenborough by 45 minutes.

Rupert’s first post, introducing his new-born daughter, achieved a staggering 3.2 million likes and 110k comments:

A lesson to be learned from this is the power of community. The Harry Potter franchise has become one of the most beloved in the world, with countless Facebook groups, Instagram pages and fan-made websites dedicated to the wizarding world.Whilst we don’t expect you to achieve a million followers in 4 hours, you should be using your brand personality to attract and create a loyal fanbase.

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