As Facebook moves its focus to the video market and new startups like 6Tribes enter the market, many social media channels are getting updates this summer to bring additional features for users as well as additional opportunities for advertisers. July has seen a number of announcements, summarised below.
Twitter removes background images
In an unannounced move, Twitter has decided to remove custom background images from its desktop site. Previously one could surf the Twittersphere with whatever vista, brand or hideous concoction in the background. However, the new clean white interface removes any distraction leaving you able to focus on your Twitter stream. But not all agree with this and think that it is all to do with advertising. The new white interface not only means more focus can be placed on adverts but also that clashing colour schemes will not distract users from the many adverts that now feature in a user’s stream.
Industry bloggers have also speculated that the background image could be used for takeover PPC advertising allowing brands to buy the background space of different user types to promote their products.
Twitter Cards show expanded content
Last week, Twitter announced that Twitter cards on the mobile app will show additional content to inform the reader about the article it links to. Users will still be limited to the standard 140 characters, but for those sites that have Twitter cards set up, it will show an additional window with the image – around 20 additional words and the destination url. Whilst this update gives Tweets more screen real estate, it also means that older Tweets are going to get lost faster than before.
Instagram adds search to its desktop experience
Until now, Instagram.com has been primarily a mobile experience. However, a recent update to Instagram sees the addition of a search bar and hashtag cloud that can be used to search Instagram feeds and users. Previous to this, users would use Iconosquare or Findgram to search hastags and view profiles online – this new update brings all that functionality to the main website.
According to Instagram, “the update is designed to provide a consistent user experience across desktop and mobile”. The company added that “in June alone, embedded Instagram posts generated more than 5.3 billion impressions, so it’s important for the platform to improve discoverability on desktop and give users more ways to find content”.
Overall, it is great to see social channels evolving to make content more shareable, though it does seem that with every ‘user-focused’ update there is always an advertising update alongside it.