What’s New in Social? Platforms Are Raising the Bar on Personalization

There’s never been a more exciting time to be a marketer. Social media platforms are constantly changing in new and exciting ways, allowing us to connect with our audience on a whole new level. However, with the adoption of social platforms in people’s everyday lives, buyer expectations are concurrently changing. The lines are merging as users, who are interacting with friends and family around the clock, naturally expect brands to react in a similar fashion.

With 2.3 billion active users, according to We Are Social, social platforms offer brands a way to meet these expectations and build relationships that feel more like friendships and less so like transactions. After all, the core of social media is “social,” which represents interactions within the community, NOT a platform for simply pitching products. Buyers are looking to their social communities for purchasing advice and recommendations. And with over 80% of buyers doing their own research online before purchasing, as reported by Retailing Today, the stakes have never been higher for brands to find a way to engage buyers to hook them and keep them coming back for more.

Let’s take a look at how four social media platforms are stepping up their personalization capabilities and gamifying their platforms to stay relevant in the ever-changing social landscape:

1. Twitter: #Stickers and Video Length

Last week, Twitter announced the launch of “stickers,” which incorporate a selection of emoji, props, and accessories in a library that you can “stick” on your photos to make them more fun and engaging. You can resize, rotate, and place them anywhere on your photos, making it a unique way to personalize them. The most interesting aspect of this new integration is that after the photo with the sticker is posted, the sticker itself becomes searchable, essentially becoming a visual hashtag. Tapping on the sticker in a tweet will elicit the same functionality as tapping on a hashtag within the platform, taking you to a new timeline where you can peruse how people from all over the world are incorporating the stickers into their photos.

As if that’s not enough to get you engaged, Twitter also announced important changes to their video options. You can now post videos up to 140 seconds long (up from 30 seconds). And with their new ‘Watch Mode,’ the platform will highlight an option to watch similar content to boost on-platform video consumption.

By incorporating these new features, Twitter is opening the door for brands to further engage their audiences in new and interesting ways. With the addition of stickers, brands have a new medium to create the personalized, fun content they’ve previously had to hire digital graphic artists to produce. Making the emojis searchable also gives social media marketers a new way to gauge brand perception and sentiment when monitoring conversations, which means we’ll have new insights into what emotions or (emoticons) are most associated with brand channels. With longer videos, marketers can tell a broader story, opening the door to further brand awareness and engagement. As a social media manager, these are very big wins in my book!

2. Snapchat: Acquisition of Seene

In my opinion, Snapchat is by far one of the most engaging platforms to create personalized content, with capabilities that allow users (and brands) to add multiple filters to each photo or video. You can add emojis, text, and stickers, view and share links, and share multiple photos at once. You can even add text and stickers while on video calls. What’s next on the horizon? Earlier this month, TechCrunch reported that Snapchat acquired the 3D photo app maker Seene (also known as Obvious Engineering). One of the coolest features they offer is that you can scan your face in a matter of seconds and create a 3D selfie. As they state, “Most augmented reality apps use your phone’s camera to recognize a 2D image (a QR code for instance) and inject a 3D object on your phone display. Seene can go a step further as it can inject 3D objects around real life things.”

But what does that mean for us, as marketers? This feature allows everyday users (including marketers) to tell stories in ways they’ve never been able to before. How could Snapchat incorporate this into their current platform? I foresee a future where photos and videos will become an interactive journey that every person with a mobile device can take. Brands will be able to bring their products to life, incorporating movement, animations, and graphics—all at the touch of a button. Want to replace your head with a 3-D elephant? You’ll be able to. Want to create a quick photo journey where you can touch an object on the screen and have it respond in a certain way (perhaps for a step-by-step product tutorial)? Easily done. This will open the door to engagement rates, the likes of which we’ve never seen. Take a look at the example below of how this new technology enables digital content to interact with physical objects. When this feature is made widely available, the possibilities are endless for how brands and users will be able to create unique, personalized content.

3. Facebook: Canvas and Slideshow

Recently at Cannes, Facebook announced updates to their storytelling tool Canvas that incorporates a tilt and pan feature on photos and videos, providing a holistic, interactive experience to users. Also, they also announced a new tool called Slideshow, which prompts you to create a slideshow if you’ve taken five or more photos within 24 hours and allows you to add both photos and videos, music, and themed filters to it. Essentially, users can create a short story of what they’ve been up to in the last 24 hours. Sound familiar? This seems like Facebook’s answer to the ever-looming threat Snapchat is presenting.

With these new features, marketers can tell their stories in a more visual, connected way. While marketers could previously only post one photo, now, you’ll have the ability to post several photos at the same time to stream together a story, telling a more continuous story and encouraging your audience to interact with your content longer.

4. Pinterest: Interactive Shopping

Pinterest just announced a series of new tools, which they’re looking to launch in the next few months, that aim to personalize the shopping experience on their mobile app. These tools will give users the ability to take a photo of an object (think of that amazing hotel you stayed at in Maui), and Pinterest will essentially aggregate a list of recommendations, taking into consideration the style and features within the photo.

Talk about the ultimate personalization experience! These new updates will give your buyers all of the information they want at their fingertips. With a quick snap of a photo, the research is done for them, and an algorithm will show them exactly what they’re looking for. For marketers, I can see this becoming an important channel for search optimization, similar to Google. You’ll want to make sure your keywords and descriptions are relevant to what your audience is looking for.

But, Pinterest didn’t stop there! As the company stated on its engineering blog, “Since an image can contain dozens of objects, we wanted to make it as simple as possible to start a discovery experience from any of them.” If there are multiple objects in your photo, you can easily tap a visual search icon (located at the top of the pin), expanding dots on all of the individual items within the pin to display further information about the individual products. Then, just click purchase and you’re on your way to looking like a million bucks! Think about the infinite possibilities for product placement. Brands will now be able to place multiple products in one, simple post.

Pinterest gif

These changes are just a few of the many changes we’ll continue to see as social media platforms evolve to improve the user experience, for both buyers and brands. I’m excited to see what’s in store for the future!

Which of these new features will you consider adopting for your brand? Share your thoughts in the comments below!