Well, well, well… What a year it has been, especially on social media.
As we cast our minds back to January of 2016, some news stories and updates seem like a distant memory, showing just how far social has come in the past twelve months. We’ve picked our selection of the biggest social media stories from each month for you. Do you have a favourite story from 2016? Let us know in the comments below!
WhatsApp scraps its charges and hints business features
In January, WhatsApp announced that it will be removing its 69p-a-year charge, making the app completely free! While many immediately jumped to the conclusion that this meant adverts would be on the way, WhatsApp has promised it will continue to offer its service ad-free. Read more here.
Facebook launches Reaction buttons
February saw Facebook roll out five new Reaction buttons: ‘Love’, ‘Angry’, ‘Sad’, ‘Haha’ and ‘Wow’ – which are designed to give users greater control over their expressiveness on the social media platform. The ‘dislike’ button which has long been requested by users, however, was left out as the company regarded it as too negative. Read more here.
Snapchat launches its first major app update
Snapchat truly is the gift that keeps on giving: the company rolled out Snapchat 2.0, with live video and audio chats, in addition to the hundreds of stickers it added to the platform which Snapchatters can use when messaging. Refresh Snapchat and you will get a handy tutorial on how everything works, for example, typing the word ‘Love’ and tapping the smiley icon will bring up a corresponding sticker pack. Read more here.
A new dawn of chatbots is here
In April, we saw a tidal wave of innovation across the social media and messaging app landscape in the form of chatbots. From Microsoft’s Tay, to the launch of the Facebook chatbot store, to Skype’s, Kik’s and Slack’s own moves. Chatbots are essentially A.I. software that talks to users, helps us to book meetings, find info on products, or some are just for the banter. This space is hotting up and looks to be the new innovation battleground of 2016.
Snapchat ups it monetising game, introducing shoppable ads
In May, Snapchat updated its features left, right and centre in a bid to monetise the platform. The company introduced 10-second call-to-action ads which allow viewers to swipe up to access additional information about the products. More importantly, users won’t need to leave the platform to complete their purchase. More on this here.
Facebook moves to promote friend content over brands
June saw Facebook announce that it tweaked its news feed ranking, so that more content from friends appears on the social network, over and above content from brands. What this will likely mean is that brands will continue having to engage with authentic voices to be heard, and of course brands will need to pay to advertise and boost content on the social network if they want to guarantee visibility to their target audience. Facebook has the full update here.
Pokemon Go puts Augmented Reality on the map, hoisting Nintendo’s along with it
Pokemon Go launched in July which exploded in popularity and took the world by storm. At one point, the augmented reality game had more daily users than Twitter, Snapchat and even Tinder – and this led to an enormous jump in market value for Nintendo, more than doubling the company’s value to £32 billion upon launching (although this fell after Nintendo admitted that it won’t profit greatly from the game). Read more on the Battenhall blog here.
Instagram rolls out Stories, Business Profiles and zoom
In August, Instagram wowed us with the launch of Stories. It allows users to post unlimited images or videos, which are only visible for 24 hours, and can feature text or drawings on them. Instagram rampaged to compete with Snapchat not only with Stories, but also by rolling out Business Profiles. Instagram is seemingly a step ahead of Snapchat for now, but will it succeed in attracting Snapchat users? Read more here and here.
Twitter’s new, longer tweets have arrived along with read receipts on Direct Messages
Behold, Twitter’s longer tweets have arrived! Now you can say much more on the microblogging platform as media attachments including images, GIFs, videos and polls no longer count towards its 140-character limit. In addition, the company has also added read receipts for Direct Messages – and tested out replies that will exclude usernames of the people you are responding to. More on The Verge here.
WhatsApp adds new Snapchat-esque camera features
In October, WhatsApp launched a string of new editing features last month to allow users to draw on pictures, add emojis, stickers and even take the perfect selfie with a front flash camera option. According to the company’s blog, these changes are simply providing new ways to customise and enhance photos and videos that are shared with friends and family around the world. It’s a big step for the messaging platform which has a reputation for being simple, clean and SMS-like. Read more here.
YouTube gives creators more control over comments
YouTube launched new tools for video creators to crack down on hate speech and abuse in their comment sections. The tools are geared towards helping encourage positive interaction in the comments section and will allow creators to pin comments and send out hearts to acknowledge positive comments – much like Twitter and Facebook. Mashable has more information here.
Facebook Messenger launches 6-screen group video chat with selfie masks
In December, Facebook Messenger rolled out its own split-screen Group Video Chat feature, hosting up to six users at a time. 50 users are able to join in and listen in, join via voice or be on camera. Similar to Snapchat’s selfie masks, the Facebook giant allows users to add on a mask whilst on a call. Read more about it here.
So, whats next?
Who knows what 2017 will bring. An increase in AR and VR? Even more crossover from each platform as they mimic each other’s feature and functionality? We can’t tell you right now – but to be sure you’re one of the first to know what’s happening with everything social, make sure you’re part of our daily WhatsApp Broadcast! Just pop into the app, add our number ‘07762 533 602’, and send a message to us saying ‘Join’! Or if email is more your thing, sign up to our the Battenhall Monthly roundup.
Happy Holidays from everyone here at Battenhall!