Social Media News Roundup August 2021
As summer draws to a close, enjoy the last blast of sunshine alongside some juicy social media news from this August!
This month, Facebook Messenger reached its 10th birthday, bringing out new features to celebrate and connect users. It’s also been a big month in terms of Instagram news for marketers and creators. Information on how Instagram’s search algorithm works were released this month, including some great tips for ranking in Instagram search results, as well as the extension of the length of Instagram Reels from 30 to 60 seconds.
1. Facebook Messenger’s 10th Birthday Brings New Features
In another example of time absolutely flying by, Facebook Messenger has just turned 10 years old! In celebration of the platform’s birthday, they have released a whole host of new features and tools. These features include:
- Poll your friends with “Most Likely To” games,
- New AR effects,
- Birthday gifting using Facebook Pay,
- Birthday expression tools,
- A new way to share contacts,
- Sneak Peek: Customize your conversations with Word Effects, and more.
As Facebook quotes in their announcement, the SimpleTexting 2021 Marketing Report shows that 78% of consumers “say that checking, sending, and answering messages is the activity they do most on their smartphones throughout the day.” Facebook Messenger’s new features focus on the connection between users and helping users expressing themselves to family and friends via Facebook Messenger.
2. Instagram Outlines How Its Algorithm Works
Huge news for social media marketers and content creators! In a continued effort to be more transparent about how the platform works, Adam Mosseri (Head of Instagram) dropped another article breaking down how Instagram Search works. In the article, Mosseri delves into how Instagram ranks Search results, which factors contribute to users showing up in Search results, how Instagram keeps Search safe, and their future plans for improving the Search function.
Mosseri revealed that the most important signals the algorithm uses to rank Search results, in order of most to least important, are:
- The text you enter in the search bar,
- Your activity – accounts you follow, which posts you’ve engaged with, etc,
- Popularity signals, including the number of “clicks, likes, shares and follows for a particular account, hashtag or place.”
To boost your chances of showing up in more searches, make sure you choose a relevant and fitting username and profile name. Enhance your account by using relevant keywords and hashtags in your bio and post captions, as well as relevant locations (especially for small businesses).
One major reveal from this article is that hashtags are more effective and searchable when incorporated into the caption of a post, rather than in a comment. This has thrown a spanner in the works for social media marketers who have been putting hashtags in the first comments of their Instagram posts as a way to lengthen the caption character count and generally tidy things up a bit. So, if you’re Team First Comment, you may want to rethink your Instagram strategy.
The future for Instagram Search looks bright, with planned “improvements designed for inspiration and discovery,” allowing users to dive deeper into their interests. The Search function is currently more geared towards specific accounts or exploring hashtags that you enter. It appears that Instagram is aiming towards a more explorative experience, with algorithm improvements to pull relevant content for broad search terms. Make sure to include relevant keywords and hashtags within your post captions to future-proof your account for these Search improvements!
3. Instagram Reels Now 60 Seconds Long to Inspire More Creativity
Content creators rejoice! Instagram has now announced that Reels are being extended from 30 to 60 seconds.
This update has been in the pipeline for a while with Instagram experimenting and extending Reels from 15 to 30 seconds last September. With TikTok now enabling the upload of longer clips (up to 3 minutes), and YouTube Shorts bringing their offering in at 60 seconds, it was only a matter of time before Instagram jumped on this trend.
This update brings Reels in line with Instagram’s other offerings as feed videos can be up to 60 seconds long, whilst longer videos can be uploaded to Stories in 15-second snippets, and hour-long clips to IGTV when uploaded from the web. Whilst the extension of Reels now blurs the line with Instagram’s other offerings it enables users to create longer-form posts or repurpose clips they may have uploaded to other platforms more effectively.
Instagram will certainly be hoping to encourage more cross-posting of content from other platforms to flesh out its Reels offering. This will hopefully lead to more content creation on the platform but could come with a caveat: repetitive content experiences across platforms. More options are always welcome but as different social media platforms reach feature parity, they risk their content becoming repetitive. However, it will also inspire active creativity from influencers and brands that rely on the platform for promotion boosting engagement from Instagram users platform-wide. Only time will tell how this will impact the freshness of content across platforms, so watch this space!