Social Snapshot 2021

Are you aiming to increase your engagement and expand your reach? See a summary below of the latest news and updates in the world of social, including a rare glimpse of what Instagram’s algorithm likes to see. Discover news, including YouTube’s version of TikTok, LinkedIn’s Content Creators initiative and a new ‘game changing’ game company, Artie. Also, the very latest snapshot includes Facebook expanding its eCommerce, several of Twitter’s new features, a potential Freelance platform on LinkedIn, a round-up of Instagram’s latest developments and a new way to share a Clubhouse link.


Channel News

Facebook Rolls Out Shops to Businesses in the UK

Facebook's growing eCommerce push is set to see a significant expansion, with the company making its Facebook Shops option available to businesses in the UK and Canada, in addition to the US.


This comes about with analysts seeing online shopping behaviour being fast-tracked by five years as a result of the pandemic.


UK users can access their favourite brands from a new Shop bookmark on the Facebook menu bar and in the mobile app. Tools like Facebook Shops can offer an easier way to establish the online commerce process, as opposed to setting up their own dedicated web store, giving more opportunity for businesses to showcase their product offerings to audiences within the Facebook platform.


Twitter Announces Paid 'Super Follows'

 A new payment feature, called Super Follows, is on its way to the Twitter platform. This will allow Twitter users to charge followers and give them access to extra content. That could be bonus tweets, access to a community group, subscription to a newsletter, or a badge indicating your support. In a mock-up screenshot, Twitter showed an example where a user charges $4.99 per month to receive a series of perks. Twitter sees it as a way to let creators and publishers get paid directly by their fans, something that's already popular on other creator platforms such as Patreon.

There's no set date for when this feature will be coming to the platform. Twitter has so far only indicated that it's on the horizon.


Twitter Launches Live Test of Voice Recordings

Twitter has now officially launched a full live test of voice clips within direct messages to users in India, Brazil and Japan.


The process enables users to record an audio clip which can then be sent as a message. It's an extension of the audio recording option Twitter added to regular tweets last June, which launched with celebrities and high-profile users sending out voice clips. Since then, however, it appears to have died out to a degree, with fewer audio clips being submitted over time.


A key benefit of adding voice recordings is that it opens Twitter up to more people of varying capacity, and in this respect, audio tweets have definitely added more ways for vision-impaired users to engage with Tweet content.


LinkedIn's Developing a New Freelance Marketplace

LinkedIn is reportedly developing a new freelance marketplace platform which will enable businesses to find, connect with, and pay freelancers all on the platform.


This comes as a reflection of the current situation, with LinkedIn looking to play a key role in connecting users to opportunity in the gradual COVID-19 recovery and rising WFH shift, where businesses can employ people remotely. This could open up a range of new opportunities for freelancers, as well as boost LinkedIn's engagement, and add more advertising opportunities, by giving freelancers means to pay to promote their services on the marketplace.


ICYMI: A recap of the latest Instagram updates you need to know

February saw a wide range of updates on Instagram across stories and feed. Here's a quick recap:


  • Businesses and creators on Instagram now have access to a Professional Dashboard which includes Track Your Performance, Grow Your Business, and Stay Informed, providing a mix of analytics, tools, and insights
  • Instagram developers are testing reorienting stories into a vertical, rather than horizontal, feed. If implemented, instead of swiping left, viewers would swipe up to view the next story
  • Instagram is exploring removing the ability to share feed posts to stories. The option has been disabled in select markets where Instagram is testing differences in engagement
  • Those who wish to reconsider their deleted posts, or have had their content removed by hackers, now have the option to restore photos, videos, reels, IGTV videos, and stories within 30 days



ClubLink Offers a Better Clubhouse Link For Sharing on Social Media

ClubLink allows hosts to better promote their events by offering a more customized social media preview featuring a photo that includes the room name, who’s attending, the date and and even profile icons of the hosts themselves.


The tool was built by two Germany-based colleagues. Their resulting ClubLink tool is simple to use. You just paste in the Clubhouse event link on the ClubLink website, and it automatically generates the ClubLink you can use. It’s a similar process as to how URL shorteners like work.


Being able to publicise your rooms in advance is an important way to build a following on the audio-based social network, so likely many hosts will put this new tool to use.


Channel News

YouTube Shorts beta will launch in the US in March

YouTube is gearing up to launch a beta version of its TikTok competitor, Shorts, in the United States beginning in March. Their chief product officer Neal Mohan confirmed: "In the coming months, YouTube will be giving more creators access to Shorts in the United States. The YouTube team has seen success with Shorts in India, where the feature has existed for several months. Since December, the number of Indian channels using Shorts creation tools has more than tripled, and the YouTube Shorts player is now receiving more than 3.5 billion daily views globally,”

YouTube’s team is also expanding its “chapters” feature, which adds specific timestamps to videos. They’ll soon be automatically added to relevant videos that may require chapters. 


LinkedIn develops new programme to support Content Creators

LinkedIn is in the initial stages of launching their new initiative to support Content Creators. With content shared across the platform increasing up to 50% year-over-year, this new drive will likely lead to new ad opportunities and will enable brands to find relevant influencers to partner with for LinkedIn campaigns. 

Alongside the possibility of video and Stories ads, this could also mean that brands no longer need to rely on internal experts to build the profiles on the platform. Rather, brands will be able to partner with relevant Influencers in that specific niche, utilising their established presence and expertise on the platform to expand promotions.



Artie: a “game changer” for social platforms

An app-less games company, Artie, is changing up how we game on social with the first instance of instantly playable mobile games – no need to download extensions, make an account or access through third party websites. The games appear in the feed of any major platform and can be played immediately with just one tap. Artie’s games are also easy to share with friends and are cross-platform compatible. You can easily share a game that you found on Twitter with your friends on WhatsApp or Instagram. 

This is a revolutionary format as it makes mobile games more accessible and reaches a wider audience via social media. But most importantly, it reinforces the limitless potential of branded games by making them just as easy to integrate into the feed as a regular ad. Research has shown that consumers are at their most engaged and receptive when gaming and that in-game advertising is perceived less intrusive with higher and more positive brand-recall overall.

Instagram Tests New Stories Layout on Desktop

Instagram is testing out a new way to display Stories on the desktop version of the platform, designed to make it easier to scroll through various Stories on the bigger screen.

The new format presents Stories in a carousel, as opposed to a single-Story frame taking up the screen making it easier to flip through in a more dedicated, Stories-focused way.

Over time, Stories have become increasingly popular, even surpassing the regular news feed in terms of engagement. It seems likely that Instagram will put more focus on Stories over the main feed, at least as an option, which could eventually see the app open to Stories, like TikTok does with its full-screen feed of video clips, making it the key function of the app.


Instagram Reveals Its Algorithm's Preferred Posting Frequency

Instagram has privately shared information about the best post frequency to adhere to in order to maximise channel growth.​ The news came to light as a number of influencers revealed information to the public that was shared privately by Instagram to its top creators. ​

After seeing the best practice recommendations, many creators have said that the frequency is far too high to maintain. However, it offers an interesting view into what the algorithm favours, which other creators and brands can potentially make work for them.​

According to the creators, the social media giant recommended:​
* 3 in-feed posts a week (including in-feed Reels or IGTV posts)​
* 8 to 10 Stories a week (and at least 2 a day)​
* 4-7 Reels a week​
* 1-3 IGTV a week (including Instagram Live)​



TikTok Launches First LiDAR-Enabled AR Effect

AR effects are becoming increasingly popular on social and are expected to gain more momentum in 2021 as technology advances. TikTok has taken a step further with its AR tools, by adding a new LiDAR-enabled effect to ring in the new year. It's one of the first to use LiDAR, which has been built into the iPhone 12 Pro.

It features a New Year’s countdown, which explodes into confetti. The LiDAR scanner (which stands for 'light detection and ranging') is used to gather information of the environment so that the confetti can then realistically fall onto objects just like real life, so the glitter falls onto the couch, the floor and the person within the frame. 

This will eventually facilitate the creation of new AR tools which can better interact and respond to real-world cues and objects. Snapchat has already announced that it will be looking to incorporate LiDAR enabled effects into its Lens Studio.