While looking back on your year in marketing usually means reflecting on Google algorithm updates or changes in the search industry, 2015 was all about social media. We not only saw a huge number of new features and changes to our favorite social channels, but many new social channels were introduced to help shake things up. Social media has consistently been growing in importance, but this upcoming year it’s about keeping up to date and utilizing the newest features to help connect with your audience and promote your brand.

Your first step is understanding which social updates were the most influential in the industry, but the more important step is being able to understand these developments and incorporate them into your social strategy. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy once you know what you’re looking for to create a plan of action for the upcoming year. The sooner, the better.

Consider the most significant social developments below:

New Twitter Like Button

Twitter announced in November that they were creating a “Like” button that features a new heart design and the old star icon, or “Favorites,” was going to be eliminated. The idea here was that the heart was universally known, and because not everything can be your favorite, the heart makes it more accepted to “heart” a lot of posts as opposed to having to “favorite” everything. In other words, favorite seemed like too strong a word, and the heart is simply more of a reaction. Most experts speculate that the change is a part of Twitter’s plan to earn more new users after several declining years. Below shows the old version with “favorite” stars first and then the new version with hearts.



How to take advantage:

As a small business there isn’t much you can do with this new development, but what you can do is pay attention to your Twitter Analytics. See if you’re getting more hearts than you did favorites. If so, it could potentially mean that Twitter’s logic is sound and people are more apt to react to something with the universally known heart as opposed to star something. If you have any similar features on your website, this could be a potential good test to see if you should then test a new design for your own engagement efforts.

Facebook Revamped Search

With this development, we saw a lot of new features and functionalities to the Facebook search function. Here’s what Brock Murray had to say at the time:

Facebook’s updated search feature is a direct strike against Twitter, as it facilitates an immediate global conversation about live events. While normally people log on to Twitter for quick and digestible soundbites about news and events, now people can easily search these same events on Facebook and dive historical and current views on the topic. However, I simply don’t see this as competition for Google. Google is prioritizing authority and trustworthiness in its search results, and Facebook’s massive archive of posts by the everyman simply can’t compete on that level, and never will.

The overall message of the revamped search is to allow users to see not only how friends talk about and react to news happening around the world, but also be able to see what others are saying about topics that are important to you specifically. The changes include:

  • Better search suggestions. When you go to search something, Facebook will now offer suggestions about popular stories.
  • Search results with public posts. You will also get relevant public posts and posts from your friends in search results about the story that is popular in the news at the time.
  • Find public conversations with search. You can now find public posts about a link or see popular quotes mentioned in posts found publicly around Facebook. Because certain links (popular news most likely) sometimes get widely shared on Facebook, the idea here is to get you involved in those conversations.

The update rolled out in October to iPhone, Android, and desktop users, so you’ll be able to see some of these search differences right away. Below is a screenshot that shows how it works from the official Facebook announcement:



How to take advantage:

Now that popular news topics will be popping up on search, as a business you can start to get involved in these conversations. You don’t want to discuss anything too controversial, so I would avoid politics and religion at all costs, but if there are interesting stories in the news that are trending on Facebook, try and tie back one of your Facebook posts to that news story. Start to join public conversations out there so that you can earn this extra visibility.

It may not be directly related to your company, but if you can find some connection or create a witty comment then that’s a great way to use this feature to really get your name out there and hopefully popping up when users click the search box on Facebook. Extra: If you can somehow be the news, even better.

Instagram and Pinterest Revenue Options

In what some may say is the biggest social development we saw this year (myself included), both Instagram and Pinterest added targeted advertisements that allowed users to Shop Now, Learn More, Sign Up, Contact, and more right there on their platforms. The addition of these buttons offers a huge opportunity for marketers looking to reach new heights with their advertising and represent what many are calling the social e-commerce revolution. Below is a screenshot from Instagram featured on AdWeek that shows how it works:


How to take advantage:

Social commerce was something that had already been introduced with social sites like Facebook and Twitter, but these two platforms are arguably even more influential because of the nature of the platforms. They both put a heavy focus on images, and Pinterest especially draws in an audience looking to discover new things (as opposed to Facebook and Twitter where connections may be more important).

To take advantage, think about your audience when you create your ads. Use these platforms to sell not just anything, but things that can be bought on the go or things that photograph well. So again, it’s nothing new here. It’s about understanding the platform and then jumping right in. You can visit here to learn how to get your ads incorporated into these new networks.

Twitter Polls

Twitter polls work exactly like they sound. This is a new feature that is completely free that allows you to poll your Twitter community about a question as a way to get instant public opinion. You are only allowed to offer two choices for people to answer so “Yes and No” questions are popular, but the sky is the limit. To get started, simply compose a tweet and then choose the Poll option on the screen. It then goes live on your Twitter feed for everyone to see. Below shows a screenshot of how you get started:


How to take advantage:

Consider asking your community questions about what content they would prefer to read. If you’re thinking of writing a series on a topic or creating a video and are between two subject matters, take a poll so you know you’re creating the content your audience wants to read. You can also use polls to get opinions on simple things regarding your product or service such as a color choice, what people care more about in terms of customer service, what topics people find most confusing, etc.

Extra: New Social Networks Focus on Live Streaming

While this may not be a new feature per se, it’s definitely a new development in the social media industry. While Facebook and Twitter still remain at the top of the social game, new social networks that put a focus on video popped up left and right this year, and they were incredibly successful. Periscope.tv is probably the most popular new platform we saw, followed by Blab.im and Meerkat.co. Below is a screenshot showing how Periscope works:


How to take advantage:

The takeaway here is the importance of video and connecting with your audience through video. Hopefully by now you have a YouTube strategy in place and are publishing video on your blog, so your next step is going to be getting started with this new generation of social networks. Sign up for accounts and then start to build a following and find your niche with these audiences. You can learn more about these video networks and how to create your own strategy.

Your Turn

As you may have guessed, this only scratches the surface when it comes to social media updates. These are some of the most popular, but for some businesses other updates may have been more pivotal. Are there any social media developments you would add to the list? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Amanda DiSilvestro

Amanda DiSilvestro

Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business online marketing advice ranging from Google Analytics tips to the latest platforms and tools available. Although she grew up in Illinois, you can find her writing for the nationally recognized Memphis-based SEO Company HigherVisibility and living in sunny San Diego.