9 Exciting New Social Media Features & Updates in 2018

Great marketers innovate. Marketing trends evolve quickly and the best in the business understand that they need to evolve with them.

While it can be challenging to stay on top of the constant stream of updates on social media, it’s important to be aware of major changes so your brand does not fall behind. After all, what was once cutting edge can become standard and commonplace in the blink of an eye!

New features and updates on social media are being made on an almost monthly basis. To give you an idea of just how many changes have been implemented on Facebook, for example,  take a look at this deck from Hubspot, which details the incredible amount of developments made to the social network’s advertising platform since 2004!

If you can actively keep up with the latest trends and features on social media, you stand a good chance of making not only your audience but also your competitors stand up and take notice. Better still, you can keep your followers engaged in more exciting ways and ultimately, boost your brand awareness. Who doesn’t want to be known as the ‘One to Watch’?!

Still unsure which updates you should be aware of? We’ve picked our top nine new social media features and updates of 2018 that we recommend incorporating into your social media strategy asap!

## Instagram

Instagram Stories Highlights

Instagram Stories Highlights are a brilliant way to share even more about your brand directly on your Instagram profile. Unlike regular Instagram Stories that disappear after 24 hours, Instagram Stories Highlights are curated clips that you can group together and keep permanently on your profile (until you decide to delete them).

These highlights present an opportunity to showcase a wide variety of brand content that you want people to see first when they visit your profile. Express your brand’s personality, show off the latest products, offer memorable and valuable tutorials and even use them to promote your other social media platforms.

Take a look at our MarketTap Highlights on our Instagram profile to give you some ideas.

Note: The highlights will only appear when you visit the profile on your mobile, not via desktop.

Add Hashtags to Your Profile & Clickable Links to Other Profiles

One of our favourite Instagram updates in 2018 is the ability to add clickable hashtags and clickable links to your bio on Instagram. Now, when you type an @ or a # in your bio information, it will appear as a live link on your profile and give users the ability to click straight through to a feed of hashtags or another profile that you have connected to.

This is a particularly excellent way to promote a branded hashtag and encourage clicks. Once a user clicks on your branded tag, they can see a stream of great User Generated Content (UCG) your customers have been uploading too.

Instagram Tests Q&A Sticker

According to social media sources, Instagram is currently developing new stickers for its Stories and the next one expected to be available soon is a “Q&A” sticker. With this new feature, brands will be able to ask their followers a question and receive private responses in the form of direct messages. Users may also be able to customize the text and background colors for the Q&A stickers.

This could be fantastic for small businesses who want to conduct informal market research or get feedback on new products/offerings!

Facebook

Algorithm Updates

Following a pretty shaky start to 2018, Facebook is now shifting its focus to helping users find relevant content that allows them to have more meaningful social interactions. In short, Facebook is favouring content that encourages more engagement and less obvious branding.

So what can we do? Create posts that generate back-and-forth discussion among your audience. A great example would be sharing live commentary on a national event like the NBA playoffs, or commenting on local events that are relevant to your community.

Watch

This one is pretty exciting. If your brand is serious about video in 2018, consider experimenting with Watch, a platform for hosting TV-like shows on Facebook.

Advertisers currently have the option of running mid-roll ads during Watch shows, and Facebook has recently said that it will begin testing pre-roll ads for Watch as well. Brands are also thinking about how they can leverage Watch organically through creating original video content for the platform.

While creating ongoing video content is not exactly a small undertaking, both financially and creatively, the growth of social TV is one of the top trends for 2018. Even short, budget-friendly videos could help your brand connect with users, spark conversation, position your brand as a thought-leader and grow a tighter community.

Create Collaborative Stories in Groups and Events

Not one to get left behind, Facebook introduced Facebook Stories in 2017, not long after Instagram. Similar to its not-so-distant Instagram sibling, Facebook’s video and photo collections can be viewed up to two times and disappear after 24 hours.

While these videos are not available for Business Pages, this feature has recently been made available for groups and events. This means that people can post stories that are visible only to their groups or to specific event pages. These stories use a private hashtag and can be moderated by admins to make sure that content is appropriate and on brand.

If your brand uses Facebook Groups or Event pages, these collaborative Stories offer a really fun new way to engage with your audience. For example, if your brand is promoting an event on Facebook, you can build excitement by sharing insider, sneak peek clips before the day through your Stories.

You could also provide incentives (like prizes) to get people to share their experiences at an event. User-generated content from attendees can help build a sense of community and brand advocacy, while also giving you more information on your most engaged customers.

Twitter

Twitter’s Promote Mode is a great tool for small businesses, as it grows your influence on the platform by automatically amplifying your message to a larger engaged audience, for a flat monthly fee of $99. This simple feature allows small businesses and brands to now run automated ad campaigns and for users, the ads will appear the same as any other promoted tweet.

This always-on solution is particularly ideal if you don’t have, or can’t afford, a dedicated team to run your social ad campaigns.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has gone all in on video this year. The popular business-focused social network has expressed the belief that video is where the future of B2B marketing lies, arguing that “any go-forward B2B marketing strategy that doesn’t include a focus on video content is set to lose traction and stray off course”.

LinkedIn now offers businesses two outlets for using video on the platform: native video ad campaigns and the ability to include video within Company Pages.

These native video ads appear in the news feed as standalone, sponsored posts and auto-play on mute when in view, just like user-uploaded video on the platform. All of the same targeting options as text ads are available, which makes them a great option for B2B brands.

Additionally, businesses and publishers can now place video on their Company Pages. During the beta program, LinkedIn found that Company Page video was five times more likely to drive engagement than written content.

Snapchat

It’s no secret that Snapchat has been struggling to keep up with the big social media players this year, as users are more frequently opting to share Instagram Stories instead of Snaps. Nevertheless, the fun, millennial-focused platform is determined to not fall behind and is continuing to introduce innovative updates for users and advertisers alike.

Context Cards provide advertisers with a free new way to offer Snapchat users more information about the Lenses and Filters they see, as well as the brands or businesses sponsoring them.

When an advertiser adds a Context Card to its Lens or Filter, Snapchat users who view it in a Snap can swipe up to view a card that links to the advertiser’s website of choice. For example, if a Snapchat user swipes up on a Snap featuring a retail brand’s Lens, he or she could tap the Context Card to seamlessly open up the brand’s online store — without getting sent to a different app or web browser.

Essentially, Context Cards are a fun and easy way for brands to engage easily with an audience and drive users to act — at no additional cost.

Last month, Snapchat also fixed the biggest pain points of its Spectacles camera sunglasses with V2 which launched recently. You can find out more about that here.

In Conclusion

New technologies, features and updates mean that social media marketing is evolving at an even more rapid pace in 2018. However, social media marketing has also become far more competitive and commercially-saturated too. In order to stand out, your brand has to be nimble and stay on top of emerging trends. Keep your audience on its toes and show them something they haven’t seen before! Creative content and forward thinking is always a winning strategy.

NEED HELP WITH YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING?

Do you need help with your social media marketing strategy or advertising? Check out our services or get in touch with us for a thorough social media audit. We can take a look at your current social channels and your content to see where we can help you improve and adjust to get the most out of your content and start to see serious results!

Explore the Social Media Package or book a free call with one of our marketers to discover how you can achieve your 2018 social media goals.