Ahead of 2018, we compiled this cheat sheet of the latest and most important changes on the social platforms that you need to know.
2017 has been a chaotic year for digital media.
There has been upheaval across the major platforms as publishers, agencies, and brands alike had to navigate changes in audience trust, news feed algorithms, and an infiltration of politics into nearly every vertical.
Here’s a look at the latest features and changes to know ahead of 2018, along with developments in audience behavior.
Goodbye clickbait and engagement-bait: In Facebook’s fight against junk news, clickbait has been severely down-ranked in the newsfeed algorithm. Along with that, what’s called “engagement-bait” will also be demoted, which is low-quality content that goads users into liking, sharing, commenting, and tagging.
Instead, a new tactic has risen to prominence — what we call “emotion-bait”.
Publishers are seeing an impact by creating content that has strong emotional elements. We found a direct correlation between shares and Reactions on native content, and even through the use of emoji in headlines.
Facebook Watch: While it’s too early to tell how Facebook’s investment into long-form video will play out, we have noticed that in general, the top engaging videos are getting longer than they used to be.
There’s a little more wiggle room for telling stories, but it’s still key to grab viewers attention right away. That said, video posts are still driving more engagement on average than other formats.
Here’s a look at the top news publishers of Facebook video in November, and how their video engagements stacked up to total engagements:
Messenger: A lot has been going on with Facebook’s foray into building out Messenger. Facebook just launched Messenger Kids, where children will only be able to interact with pre-approved contacts.
Likewise, the app just opened up its AR studio, allowing creators to make their own augmented effects, much like Snapchat’s dancing hotdog.
Algorithm changes: Following an experiment where Facebook moved publisher content to a separate newsfeed tab, the mysterious ways of the algorithm have sparked much talk this year. We wrote about newsfeed tips from Facebook’s Lead of Newspapers here.
Metric changes: Facebook plans to implement new methodology next year, which will only count organic reach when a Page’s post appeared on a person’s screen.
(Also they’re trying to make the Poke, much like the word fetch, happen again.)
Instagram has become a huge opportunity for publishers and brands this year. As of September, the platform boasts 800 million users, and 25 million active business profiles.
Hashtags: Most recently, Instagram just announced the ability to follow hashtags like regular accounts. Check out our guide to top engaging captions on Instagram here, along with word count, emoji, mentions, and other tactics here.
Stories: Instagram Stories is where it’s at. With 200 million users, Stories has surpassed Snapchat in popularity. In addition to Live Stories replays, there’s also now the ability to archive Stories, meaning your hard work and creativity doesn’t necessarily disappear.
We took a look at some of the successful ways that publishers are using Stories here.
Video: Video has evolved to a fully-fledged format on the platform, one with a longer time limit. We analyzed the growth of video this year, along with the ideal length of Instagram video from a number of publishers.
Influencers: When we looked at influencers in July, we saw that sponsored posts were driving more than 19 million engagements weekly. There’s a huge opportunity for both publishers and brands pair up with influencers to reach new audiences.
Here’s a look at how many engagements a single influencer post drove vs. a brand’s average engagements per post on Instagram. Pretty notable!
(Plus keep your eyes ready for Direct, an Instagram messaging app that is in testing.)
We didn’t even look at LinkedIn for our 2017 cheat sheet, but the platform has become a serious contender in the content distribution game.
Just look at the rise in average LinkedIn shares of the past year.
While March was a strong month in particular (thanks to the Fearless Girl statue!), we can see that since August, the shares on top articles have remained consistently higher than before.
Native video: LinkedIn went in on the video game this year. Video tends to be a bit longer, and audiences are more receptive to more serious messages than on other platforms.
LinkedIn algorithm: When we examined the top stories on LinkedIn, we took a stab at unraveling its algorithm. The platform favors high-quality content, surfacing stories by those who are relevant authors. Timely and professional content is key.
Trends: What does that timely and professional content look like? From our analysis this year, there are a few trends that do well on LinkedIn — news developments about brands and corporations, innovations in tech, science, and medicine, sociological shifts in the workplace, and motivational stories.
Just don’t do “broetry”.
Twitter, like Facebook, has undergone scrutiny this year in the wake of political unrest. Despite this, the platform remains a go-to for current events and breaking news.
The news cycle still reigns: When we analyzed what was working on social media for PRovoke17, the articles that drove the most tweets tended to be articles around current events. For NewsWhip users, early signals from Twitter can be used to predict the stories that are going to go viral.
Tweetstorms: Twitter announced that it’s adding a tool to make it easy to thread tweets together, giving users more space to share their thoughts in “tweetstorms”.
280 characters: In its biggest change, Twitter upped its character limit from 140 to 280 characters. Early data shows that the longer tweets are a hit, driving more likes from users.
Bookmarks: A top request from users, bookmarking will allow users to save Tweets for later.
Pinterest is an underdog of social media engagements. The platform is a huge proponent of social buzz for a number of verticals.
When we analyzed four months of data for culinary-focused articles, we saw that Pinterest was driving nearly as many engagements as Facebook was. This is generally unprecedented — usually, Facebook takes the lion’s share. Check out our analysis of two years of Pinterest data here.
Visual search: Well-defined visuals will be key for those looking to reach Pinterest in 2018. With more than 300 million visual searches and 2 billion Pins as a result of that, Pinterest’s visual search technology should be at the forefront of both marketers and publishers’ minds.
Tapping into Messenger: Pinterest created a bot and chat extension to create a seamless experience for those sharing Pinterest content on Facebook Messenger.
Pincodes: The colorful QR codes, called Pincodes, will let users scan them to bring up whatever Pinterest board it links to.
Fun fact — just about 5 billion videos are watched on Youtube every day. While a little quieter than other platforms, there are still some Youtube features and changes to know.
Direct messaging: Youtube released an in-app messenger this summer, letting users share and discuss videos with one another in-app.
Algorithm: In the aftermath of some recent controversies, there may be changes coming to Youtube’s algorithm and the way it surfaces content.
Reels: Youtube is launching its own take on Snapchat and Instagram Stories, called Reels.
It’s Coke vs. Pepsi as Snapchat has battled the rising popularity of Instagram Stories this year. One bright side — due to Snapchat’s strict standards for content, fake news and propaganda weren’t able to get a foothold on the platform.
Redesign: Snapchat’s redesign has separated out media from social content, and users will be able to subscribe to the “Official Stories” of creators and publishers.
As Digiday mentions, this separation puts the pressure on content creators to make content that users will want to seek out.
Reddit remains the anarchal “front page of the internet”. While few publishers and brands dare experiment there, here’s what you should know.
Headlines count: More than 73 percent of Redditors don’t read the article they vote on. We’ve seen similar numbers for other platforms, but none so high as Reddit. The takeaway here is that headlines are invaluable. Here are our tips for crafting engaging headlines.
Native video: Reddit also took the plunge into native video content this year.
Crowdsourcing: As breaking down filter bubbles and building audience trust have become priorities this year, both publishers and brands have taken a renewed interest in Reddit. Here’s how the Washington Post has built a community on the platform.
As we go into 2018, it’s worth keeping an eye on other emerging platforms. Here are a few notes:
Musically continues to captivate the Gen Z crowd (and was acquired for $1 billion recently).
The walled gardens of messenger apps remain well, walled, but are still innovating. WhatsApp is adding business accounts, while Line will let users “unsend” messages. (Plus Tencent is going to take over the world).
Even dating apps like Bumble and Tinder are pushing to become more like social media platforms, with Bumble’s networking app.
Want to learn more about the trends on major platforms? Check out our social discovery platform, Spike, which can predict what’s going to go viral right now.