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Social Media Cheat Sheet 4.0: A Marketer’s Guide to Today’s Platforms

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With Q4 underway, we’re taking a look back at the past quarter to see what changes took place in the social landscape, and how platform growth, earnings and revenue over the past few weeks could affect the space in the future.

While Facebook surpassed its Q3 projected growth and YouTube contributed heavily to a successful quarter for Google, other platforms did not fare so well. One commonality that has remained consistent across all social platforms is the fact that all platforms have rolled out significant updates in the last quarter.

The social landscape changes on a near daily basis, making it difficult for marketers to stay ahead of trends and updates affecting their strategies in the space. With that in mind, we’ve updated our previous Social Media Cheat Sheet to provide marketers with a top-level overview of what’s changed, what’s stayed the same, and what we can expect in the future.

What’s stayed the same

Video-based content continues to be a priority
Platforms are pinpointing opportunities to monetize video content at scale, with updates intended to expand upon current video offerings and make it easier for brands to surface video-based content to consumers. These updates include Twitter Amplify, which allows advertisers to run ads against quality content from publishers and/or content creators; Instagram’s recent rollout of 30-second ads for marketers; and Snapchat’s Sponsored Discovery channel.

A continued emphasis on improved, relevant user experiences
Pinterest’s new customized search, which surfaces content based on user location, and Facebook’s new controls that allow users to select which friends and Page content is surfaced at the top of their feeds, are both efforts to customize the user experience. But that’s not the only way platforms are ensuring content is relevant to specific consumers. Instagram has leveraged user behavior trends as the driving force behind its Instagram Direct and new Landscape/Portrait image orientation updates – both being data-driven responses to how users are naturally using the platform.

Noteworthy developments

Curated experiences intended to increase time spent and content consumed on platform
A trend that’s continuing into Q4, platforms are putting an emphasis on curated content streams that serve to keep users consuming content on the platforms for longer – a critical move in an increasingly cluttered social space. Such updates include Twitter Moments, which allows partners, users, and brands to curate breaking news and stories, and Snapchat’s Branded Live Stories, which surfaces relevant content in a similarly curated, hyper-relevant feed.

An emphasis on conversion-based ad offerings
Platforms are working to refine their selection of ad offerings by providing new ways for brands to optimize against specific objectives. Facebook recently updated its definition of cost-per-click to include only website clicks, allowing marketers to more easily optimize for conversion off-site. Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram have all opted to roll out ad products that streamline the path to purchase, such as Twitter’s Buy Now Card and Pinterest’s Buyable Pins functionalities.

Streamlined 1:1 communication making customer service easier
Private messages have long been a customer service tool for marketers in social allowing consumers to connect with brands on a 1:1 level. Updates in Q3 made this type of communication easier, with Twitter removing its 140-character limit within Direct Messages, Facebook providing the option to directly message users who have commented on public posts, and Instagram rolling out additions to Instagram Direct for in-thread messaging and long-form private communication.

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We hope this Social Media Cheat Sheet of the “who’s who” and “what’s what” of social media today will be helpful to marketers in determining and evolving their strategies in the social media landscape.

Cover photo via Pinterest.