The social media landscape is almost never passive. Change is the name of the game here. These changes come in the form of updates or upgrades. Keeping up with them is crucial if you want to use these platforms optimally. This, especially, applies to digital marketers hoping to harness the power of social networks to their advantage.

Some of the most popular (and hence, relevant) social media platforms include YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and LinkedIn. All of these have been instrumental in changing the way people are communicating and marketers are marketing by bringing something unique to the table. Knowing about them is, therefore, necessary if you want to flourish in digital marketing.

Few would disagree if I said that there’s a lot more to social media than meets the eye. There’s always an update being rolled out; sometimes silently, other times with great fanfare. If you’re having a hard time keeping pace, you’re not alone. And because you’re currently still reading this, it would be safe to assume that you want to use important social media features to further your interests.

In this post, we present to you the latest on popular social media platforms that rocked cyberspace this August.

YouTube. instagram. facebook.
twitter. snapchat. linkedin.

1. YouTube

YouTube

a. Backstage

YouTube is busy developing its latest offering called Backstage, a feature that will enable creators to share their photos, links, posts, and polls (apart from videos, of course) with their subscribers. Posts on the Backstage tab on users’ channels will be displayed in reverse chronological order. These posts will also feature in users’ feeds and notifications.

One of the coolest things about using Backstage will be that users will be able to post content from there to other social networks as well.

If all goes according to plan, YouTube will launch Backstage by the end of the year. The initial launch will have limited features and will apply only to a few selected YouTube accounts.

YouTube also plans to come up with a means to allow subscribers to reply to posts with not only comments, but also photos and videos.

If Backstage were to live up to its promises, it can be highly instrumental in remoulding the experiences derived from YouTube into something more pulsating. It could give a new lease of life to YouTube with its modern video and social networking features.

2. Instagram

Instagrama. Stories

Not very long ago, in one of its routine app update activities, Instagram quietly introduced a new feature called Stories. This feature is similar to the one offered by Snapchat, which is probably why there was no hype and hoopla surrounding the update.

Stories allows users to post multiple items in a day to their Instagram account, only for them to disappear from the feed after 24 hours. Unlike the traditional photo-sharing on Instagram, this feature is meant more for casual sharing.

Instagram Stories even allows users to doodle on their photos, which is another Snapchat-ish feature. It comes equipped with several editing tools that enable users to draw and/or add text to their photos.

Stories can be seen appearing in a bar-like format at the top of the Instagram feed, and can be seen only by the people who follow you. You can also use the privacy settings to allow only those people who you follow to see them.

So what’s so different about Stories that already not on Snapchat? Instagram Stories are easy to navigate with a simple tap. Also, users cannot comment publicly on your Stories, but can contact you only on private chat.

Videos definitely seem to be the way to go, with Instagram adding two important video features to the app’s camera. The first one allows users to zoom in and out while recording a video with a simple up or down swipe. While this feature may be a recent addition to Instagram, it has been around on Snapchat for over a year. This feature is available on both, iOS and Android.

There’s another feature in store for iOS users. Users can double-tap the screen to switch between their handsets’ front and back cameras during a video recording. So basically, users can use the front-facing (selfie) camera and the back camera to capture themselves and other things of interest in the same video clip.

b. Save Draft

How many times have you found yourself wanting to upload a photo to Instagram, but couldn’t save it to be posted at a later time? If you’ve lost count, you wouldn’t be alone in this. However, now you can do that!

To use the new ‘Save Drafts’ feature on Instagram, all you need to do is upload the photo and make all the edits you want to. Saving these edits is as easy as backtracking a few steps until you see the Cancel button. Press it and you get a pop-up that asks you if you want to save the image to drafts or discard the edits. You can make your choice here! If you save it, you will be able to publish it later with a simple tap.

If you’re worried re-entering about your edits, captions and local information, don’t. They will be there. Further, Instagram will also give you the option of editing your drafts, just in case you decide to add new edits and remove the old ones.

3. Facebook

Facebook

a. Lifestage

Facebook recently introduced an app called Lifestage in a hush-hush manner. The app is available for download for iPhone users across the U.S. However, the only limitation is that users need to be 21 years of age or (wait for it) younger.

The app is meant for use by adolescents who prefer posting video clips of their lives and watching those of their classmates. Users can make video clips wherein they can describe their likes, dislikes, dance styles, and other details about themselves. These clips can be viewed by other Lifestage users.

As a security and privacy measure, the app allows users to block and report older members from viewing their profiles. However, the app has been found to be concerning as far as the issue of the privacy of young adolescents and teens in concerned. There is also the possibility of personal information being stolen.

b. Facebook Is Going Vertical

Don’t say we didn’t tell you beforehand if you’re surprised to see vertical videos appear in Facebook news feeds on your mobile (another leaf from Snapchat’s book). That’s right, after supporting mainly square-ish videos, Facebook app will soon support vertical videos that fit into the rectangular view that smartphones offer.

This feature will make its way to the mobile app in September (most likely), and the clips will automatically appear vertically in the news feeds. The new addition is expected to be a runway hit among the current crop of the app users.

c. New Video Metrics

Facebook has been using a lot of video in its content format as it enables users to create content that is engaging. This brings up two important questions – how can publishers know who watches their videos and how can they interact with them? Enter video metrics as the perfect answer.

Facebook has launched new video metrics with the intent of helping such publishers. They can be found in Page Insights and Video Library and enable publishers figure out who their audiences are, how they’re engaging with Live video and how sharing contributes to video distribution.

Factors taken into account to achieve this include audience demographics (minutes viewed by age, gender and geographic location) and viewer engagement with Live video (how users engaged with a video during any Live video broadcast). Publishers can find this information easily for all videos in Page’s Video Insights.

d. Ad Blocking

Facebook recently released its own ad-blocker along with a blog post that describes how Facebook allows users to choose the ads they want to see. However, it has little information on the technicalities of blocking ad-blockers.

Facebook makes use of ad-blocking software developed by Eyeo. Eyeo announced on its website that it had implement the ad-blocker on Facebook and all users needed to do to put it into effect was update their software with the new code.

Andrew Bosworth, VP of product and business for Facebook, stated that the Adblock Plus software was not only blocking ads from a user’s newsfeed, but also eliminating posts from friends and family from the user as well. He added that unlike many other social networking sites, Facebook controls everything about the user experience on its platform, whether it is the servers or the content.

In an effort to give more control to users, Facebook will also add tools that will enable users to avoid ads from businesses who have added them to their customer list.

e. MSQRD Integration

If you have the most updated version of the Facebook app, you will notice that it has placed a selfies cam feed at the top of your timeline (in place of the Status button). This new feature also lets users apply filters to their photos using facial recognition technology from MSQRD. The feature isn’t available in all countries, though.

By introducing this new feature, it is clear that Facebook wants to catch their users young and encourage them to share more.

f. ‘Shop’ and ‘Services’

‘Shop’ and ‘Services’ are the two new sections that Facebook has introduced in emerging markets such as Thailand, Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Taiwan, Argentina, and India. This has been done in an effort to make the Facebook more useful for the millions of businesses on this platform. It will be extended to other brand pages and service providers in a few months from now.

The Shop section will enable businesses to showcase the details of the products on sale on their page. These products can be easily searched for and found by users. Once they see a product they like, they can leave a message for the seller.

The Service section is available for all professional service providers. Brands can mention the services they offer along with the price list on their pages. Interested users can contact them and book their services through this platform.

Through these features, Facebook aims to add more its bottom line by providing an opportunity to businesses to reach out to high-potential markets.

4. Twitter

Twitter

a. Message Button

For those who aren’t already aware, Twitter recently introduced a new Message button that enables visitors of your website to send you DMs (message you directly). So far, website visitors had to first find user profiles and then click to send messages. However, all that is now history.

Here’s how you can include the Twitter Message button in your website: simply log on to publish.twitter.com and scroll down to ‘Or browse your options below.’ Select ‘Twitter buttons’ and choose Message button. Enter your Twitter user name and ID, followed by the code to your website. And there you have it!

Businesses can rejoice as this new feature enables users to easily communicate with the brands of their choice. Also, it is easier to have private conversations with businesses this way. However, this feature works both ways. So, you too will have to accept DMs from all users, regardless of whether or not they follow you.

b. Live Streaming of Events

Over the last few months, Twitter Live Events such as eSports, Campus Insiders, and Bloomberg have gained a lot of popularity, which is why Twitter is now building a permanent page dedicated to hosting all live streaming of events.

In keeping with this, Twitter has been testing its video capabilities to make sure that it can scale adequately to accommodate maximum numbers of users in watching a live video simultaneously.

From the looks of it, Twitter seems to be set to make Live Events the nucleus of its future activities. If that really is the case, then having a dedicated page for it within the platform can prove to be a great idea.

5. Snapchat

Snapchat

a. GeoStickers

With other social media networks going the Snapchat way, the pressure’s on Snapchat to bring something more innovative and path-breaking to the table and differentiate itself. And Snapchat is doing just that. It recently added a new collection of stickers to its arsenal, and they’re called Geostickers.

As the name suggests, they are available based in your current location. Users can resize them and add them to their photos or send them in chats. Geostickers lets people create personalized self-reflective emojis that can be used as stickers in photos. It works by building on the Geofilters community and provides another platform for self-expression.

This comes close on the heels of the Bitmoji stickers that were introduced a few weeks ago, and have been an instant hit among Snapchat users.

Geostickers can be used by all users with geo services and are present in any of these 10 major world cities: Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Washington DC, Honolulu, London, Sydney, São Paulo, Paris, and Riyadh.

6. LinkedIn

Linkedin

a. Influencer Videos

In the continuing affinity of social networks towards videos, LinkedIn has jumped on to the bandwagon as well, with 30-second clips created by its Influencers. Fortunately or unfortunately, LinkedIn isn’t allowing all its users to create videos, but only an exclusive group of Influencers to create short clips on specific topics, which will be curated by LinkedIn.

LinkedIn will be giving Influencers a special iOS app, Record to create the videos. Videos made by specific Influencers will appear in the feeds of the users who follow them. From there on, users will be able to view the videos, comment on them, invite other users to join the conversation, and share the videos to their network. By doing so, users can engage better with the who’s who and current issues in their specific industry.

While some may say that LinkedIn has been slow in introducing the video format to its platform, it is good to see the social network add something new, relevant and useful for users to its kitty.

Conclusion

While using social media platforms may not be tough, the challenge lies in staying abreast of the latest updates and figuring out how to use them in the best way possible. The above pointers should help you fill in the gaps and enable you to make the most of the popular social networks.