This Week in the Social Sphere: No. 5

Social media news continues at a frantic pace as we feverishly sprint towards a new decade. Saying goodbye to 2019 means opening the door for what’s just ahead in 2020. We’ve got you covered with the latest edition of the Social Sphere. 

This week, Instagram covers all its bases while dodging disturbing hacks and Pinterest makes a major play towards diversifying its hiring process. Facebook has a new payment system and WhatsApp is making a push to support small businesses. Let’s get into it. 

Instagram Rolls Out Hiding “Like” Counts in the U.S.

Following rounds of testing in seven countries outside the States, Instagram this week began hiding “likes” in the US. This broad shift for the company represents an actionable step towards combating mental health issues as they relate to social media. Instagram is also depressuring its platform in hopes to restore greater creativity. The goal is to remove societal pressures from the photo-sharing app and make it exciting again. And while certain celebrities and influencers have spoken against hiding likes, many have come to Instagram’s aid, championing them for uplifting people as opposed to their bottom line.

Instagram Test its TikTok Competitor “Reels” in Brazil

As TikTok persists in its exponential growth, Instagram is reacting to their success with the launch of “Reels.” A built-in IG Stories feature, Reels will allow users to create short videos themed to music. Facebook’s expansive music library will soundtrack the new feature, which is currently being tested in Brazil – an extremely active market that often parallels certain US behavioral traits. IG will also comb through thousands of Reels and feature the “Top Reels” in its “Explore” page to enhance the apps discoverability metrics.

Twitter VP Shares List of Possible 2020 Features

Twitter is expanding its usability in the coming months by addressing concerns users have had for years. Dantley Davis, Twitter’s VP of Design & Research, recently shared his top five new features for 2020. These features highlight a “remove me from this conversation” option, a “don’t allow RT of this tweet” function, and even methods for users to control who can and cannot @ them. Davis also alluded to a long-rumored feature that will enable users to select specific audiences for their tweets.

Facebook Introduces Facebook Pay

Facebook tosses its name into the ever-competitive payment system space with Facebook Pay. Available across Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Facebook, the system is designed to facilitate payment transactions across each platform. Users will have the ability to send money to friends, pay for goods and services, and also donate to charities and/or fundraisers. The company said that “Facebook Pay will begin rolling out on Facebook and Messenger this week in the US for fundraisers, in-game purchases, event tickets, person-to-person payments.” This one’s worth clicking above to find out more.

WhatsApp Debuts Catalogs for Small Businesses

The WhatsApp Business today introduces its Catalogs feature for small businesses. In an effort to simplify the tedious nature of communicating with small businesses on WhatsApp, Catalogs acts as a mobile storefront so businesses can showcase goods and services that users can more easily discover. Businesses will be able to detail their full “catalog” of products which allows a more professional outlook for the brand and a more engaging experience for customers. WhatsApp Business app users can access the Catalog feature on both Android and iPhone in Brazil, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, the U.K., and the U.S.

Pinterest Diversifies its Hiring Process

Pinterest believes its brand can’t truly be effective unless its employees reflect the world they aim to serve. Doubling down on that claim, this week – after signing the landmark “friend of the court” Amicus Brief this summer to reinforce protections for its LGBTQ employees – Pinterest revealed that they scored 100% on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index. The company has fostered an environment overflowing with diversity and inclusion, and they continue to build a product that welcomes expression from all gender identities.

TikTok Expands With Developer Program and SDK

TikTok is partnering with third-party video creators and editing apps for an all-new developer program. This program will offer tools to aspiring and current third-party app developers and allow them access to TikTok’s creative assets as well as let the develops push content through TikTok directly. The first phase of this new program is a TikTok SDK, which will let users edit videos and publish them on their app and TikTok. 

Bots Are Causing Instagram Story Views to Spike

Have you noticed an increase in your IG Stories views? Views not by followers you know, but users you don’t know and have no idea how they found your profile? This bot-driven phenomenon is called Masslooking – a paid service for users who want the appearance of viewing thousands of IG stories to increase engagement on their own page. This is the world we live in, folks! These accounts tend to be high-profile and their goal is to have you take an interest in them simply because they’ve taken a similar interest in you. Instagram is working to combat this growing trend by cracking down on masslooking service providers.

Google Debuts New Local Ads Options and Map Listings for the Holidays

Ahead of the holidays, Google rolls out new local ad options and map listings for local businesses. The company stated that “you’ll be able to feature your locations as users get directions to a destination.” Google also states that users tap on location pins millions of times per week, and this feature will allow you to optimize relationships with potential consumers in your area. Brands will also be able to update local inventory ads allowing them to show “pick up today” locations and soon a “pick up later” option where inventory can be sent to a location near you.

Pinterest Details Top Trends for November 2019

Pinterest is providing users with the knowledge to grow engagement each month with the top trends on its platform. For November, they’ve identified eye makeup as a key trend. Searches for seemingly niche topics like rhinestone eye makeup is up 550% from last year. Soup is also trending as fall is now in full swing. So images of soothing soup bowls and recipes are very on-trend at the moment. Check out all the others in the link above. 

That’s it for this week’s episode of the Social Sphere. Stay tuned each week for the latest and greatest in social media news.

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