Best Added Social Media Features in 2016

This past year was filled with Trump tweets, PokemonGo, the Zika virus, Harambe memes, protest hashtags, celebrity deaths, and unprecedented violence. It may, in fact, go down as one of the worst years in recent human history… But… There is a silver lining, it was a great year for the advancement of social media!

Social media platforms continue to evolve, sinking their claws deeper into the average user, and making the online media experience impossible to look away from.

It’s important to keep informed about social media trends and application updates in order to better reach your target audiences. As a commercial user, these functions are meant to help your business reach its full potential for advertisements and also increase brand awareness. This year was an exciting year for social media as 2016’s app updates have been colossal!

1. The Story Function
This past August, Instagram copied Snapchat’s “story” function. The story feature on Snap was originally introduced in October of 2013, and three years later, Instagram announced their version of a “Story” as well. With almost identical functionality, sans filters, Instagram has not entirely thwarted Snapchat’s growth. In a recent poll, we found that an overwhelming amount of  Snapchat users do not use Instagram’s story function, and will continue not using it regardless of any additional features added to it. With no seeming ability to usurp the Story King, Snapchat is seemingly here to stay. Nice try Instagram. The story function on both apps are great sources of entertainment for users, but also a perfect platform for businesses to connect with their audiences on a personal and human level.

2. App Advertisement Options 
Advertising options for brands like Instagram and Pinterest, plus added options like the slideshow ads from Facebook catapulted 2016 social media advertising into a category of its own. With free membership, it’s obvious that apps like Facebook and Instagram are dependent on advertisers for income, but creating an easier way for more businesses to promote their brand was an exceptional step in eCommerce for social media. Instagram’s new “Business” profile option is an added bonus, with a “contact” button for email.

3. Organic Audience Optimization
In the same breath as additional advertising options, in the beginning of 2016, Facebook added Organic Audience Optimization. You can target demographics that are more likely to engage with your posts. The possibilities of audience targeting are endless for advertisers. Restrictions or preferred audience options can be implements on any post and can help the publisher identify what audience their content has performed best in, thus knowing where to focus their next advertisements.

4. The “Live” Feature
While the “live” feature on Facebook was introduced in April of this year, most every day users do not typically utilize it. However, celebrities, entrepreneurs, and a variety of brands have implemented the “live” video stream where their followers are able to watch and interact simultaneously with the live stream.  Twitter’s acquisition of Periscope happened in January of this year, but just recently released the live stream update to its users. Twitter is set to live stream the Golden Globes carpet pre-show January 8, 2017. The live stream for Facebook and now Twitter has far reaching implications way past the online social media realm, and now teetering the line of live television entertainment broadcasts and news. The possibilities are endless with this function, and personally, I’m excited to see how this feature flourishes in 2017 for both Twitter and Facebook (mostly Twitter).

5. The Emoji Reaction 
Facebook finally gave us a hate button!!! Well, sort of. After years, Facebook finally acknowledged that “like” is absolutely not always the proper sentiment for every occasion (i.e. obituaries, bad news, break ups, or hospital visits….), and implemented the five emoji reactions within the “Like” feature. We can now express emotion! The release of Facebook’s emoji reactions gave us five additional options to “Like” that include; “love”, “haha”, “wow”, “sad”, and “angry”.  Zuckerberg, you haven’t forsaken us yet!!!

Trying to implement these updates and additional features could inspire new ideas to help increase, improve, and engage with your online following. Alas, these updated features are not the only changes you should be exploring and implementing into your marketing plans. Social media has cemented its feet into the lives of the average smart phone wielding user, and a host of new developments are on its way in 2017, so buckle up! It’s very obvious 2016 will not be the last year of huge social media advancements. Bring it on 2017!