It has been another hectic week in the tumultuous world of social media, so, sit back and let the Connect team break down the latest social media news on your behalf!

Facebook's 'See First' feature

Facebook asks users to prioritise friends

The content that currently appears at the top of your News Feed on Facebook is generally identified and the subsequently surfaced to you via one of Facebook’s many complex algorithms.

‘See First’, which is currently available to a handful of select users, will now reverse this and allow users to prioritise their friendships and receive  content based upon these selections.

Facebook said of the new feature: “We are always exploring new ways to improve the Facebook experience, and are currently running a small test of a feature that lets you indicate that you’d like to see posts from a specific person or liked page at the top of your News Feed.”

To activate the new ‘See First’ feature, simply visit a friend’s profile page that you would like to see/hear more of, select ‘See First’ and Facebook will then ensure that their posts appear at the very top of your News Feed – allowing you to declutter your feed and source the content you wish to read, rather than the content Facebook feels you may do.

Instagram's 'Explore' tab

Instagram ramps up real-time visual discovery

Late last month, Instagram revealed a new approach to search and exploration that may finally enable the photo-sharing platform to effectively place the spotlight on news and information as it is happening in the ‘real world’.

Instagram’s new ‘Explore’ sub-section, a “real-time visual pulse”, can be located within the Instagram app by tapping the magnifying glass to the left of the focal ‘Capture’ tab.

Offering three exciting news ways to source visual content, Instagram will now highlight trending places, events and news items, curated visual collections and trending hashtags across its app in a manner in which CEO, Kevin Systrom believes is “an experience more effective than TV.”

This concept of a real-time visual stream has been in the pipeline since Instagram’s inception, but had been placed on hold until the network became a permanent part of the social landscape. Instagram now hopes to go toe-to-toe with Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat in order to become the go-to destination for those looking to find the latest news and information.

Twitter's dedicated product pages

Twitter rolls out dedicated product pages

Every month, millions of users tweet about the things that they love, products they buy, places they visit, books they’re reading or trips they’re currently planning. However, it can be difficult for brands to locate and engage with the most relevant tweets, images and videos about products and places when users are looking for them.

To combat this, Twitter is preparing to launch two new tools that should make it easier for both brands and users to discover rich and relevant content about products and places on Twitter.

The first experience is a new way to surface and organise relevant tweets about products and places on dedicated product pages. These product pages will feature rich images and video surrounding the product, alongside information such as the product’s description, price, and an option to purchase, book or visit a third-party website for more information.

In addition to these dedicated product pages, Twitter is also beginning to test new ways for users and brands to create and share Twitter collections of products and places. Users will soon be able to browse rich collections from influencers they care about and receive more information about the products or places they find interesting.

Twitter is expected to test more new experiences in the coming months, allowing the network to produce the most personalised and relevant information for users across the board.

Pinterest's advanced search

Pinterest boosts feature set ahead of e-commerce push

At present, Pinterest is generally regarded as the pivotal visual social network, but the company is looking to shake off that image. It now wants users to think of the platform as being a visual haven for the user, rather than a platform focused on surfacing content from friends and acquaintances.

With this shift in approach, intelligent search is fundamental to finding the things you’re interested in, and Pinterest is actively honing in on this area to help users discover new friendships, fresh brands and products that they may not have heard of previously.

Amongst the updates, are; faster type-ahead results, pins and boards, a new button to refine searches by pins, pinners, boards, and your own pins, which should make it easier for users to find what they’re looking for, trending searches will be displayed to convey what other users are currently searching for (US only, at present), verified accounts and incremental improvements to object recognition and real-time related pin recommendations.

This wave of new features comes shortly after the social network announced ‘Buyable Pins’ that will now allow users to shop for products and services directly on the Pinterest platform and help take Pinterest to the next social level.

Snapchat's brand talks

Snapchat bids for publishing glory

Snapchat could soon be morphing into an informed news brand as the social-sharing app continues to engage in comprehensive talks with brands, publishers and agencies and recruit journalists to report newsworthy events.

Speaking in conversation with Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Joanna Coles at the Cannes Lions Festival, Snapchat CEO, Evan Spiegel said that Snapchat has been having internal discussions about how it can “become competent” at covering news as it looks to offer its users a more engaging experience compared to that of the linear TV news broadcast.

“(Covering news) was something that was really scary for us at the beginning, because we did feel a huge sense of responsibility. We started talking internally about what we needed to do in order to become competent at covering events that didn’t necessarily have a pre-determined outcome or narrative structure that we were immediately familiar with. That’s why we’ve hired journalists to start learning how to cover newsworthy events because that’s something we want to be good at.”

Spiegel is also confident that Snapchat’s ability to pull together thousands of crowdsourced perspectives of an event is more powerful an offering than traditional broadcasting. “It has a depth of experience that you can’t get with other linear forms of broadcast,” he added.

As brands continue to flock to incorporate Snapchat into their ongoing marketing mix, Spiegel made it clear that whilst social activity is important for brands, they shouldn’t blur the lines between engagement and bombardment. Snapchat is working closely with brands to ensure that brand involvement is approached with caution and rolled out to users without intrusively disrupting the traditional Snapchat user experience.

“This comes back to the beginning of social networks that tried to build products for people, and then jammed brands in there,” Spiegel said. “If all these products have been built for people to express themselves and connect then a brand should act like a person so it can connect to other people.

“The biggest difference we found is that brands really try to maintain the same identity and message for a long period of time but they tend to change how they express that. But people change every day, so if you’re building a product for a brand it has to be fundamentally different than a person.”


Google pledges support to quality content with News Lab

Over the years, Google has created many technologies and platforms that have crucially engaged the media. As the media landscape and technology continues to evolve, Google believes it can create a more informed world where technology and journalists can effortlessly work together.

An effort within Google to encourage innovation at the intersection of technology and media has arrived in the shape of ‘News Lab’. Google’s mission is to collaborate with journalists and entrepreneurs to help build the future of media across the globe. The company hopes to tackle this in three ways: though ensuring tools are made available to journalists around the world (and that newsrooms know how to use them); by getting helpful Google data sets in the hands of journalists everywhere; and through programs designed to build on some of the biggest opportunities that exist in the media industry today.

Google’s mission statement perfectly sums up the importance of a relationship between quality content, expert journalism and modern technology: “At its best, news communicates truth to power, keeps societies free and open, and leads to more informed decision-making by people and leaders. In the past decade, better technology and an open Internet have led to a revolution in how news is created, distributed, and consumed. And given Google’s mission to ensure quality information is accessible and useful everywhere, we want to help ensure that innovation in news leads to a more informed, more democratic world.”

Google’s News Lab is a global effort, with teams being assembled in the US, UK, France and Germany at launch.


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