YouTube is changing how it previews videos on its home tab by making all videos silently autoplay by default.

The new “Autoplay on Home,” as it is being called, is expected to roll out to all mobile users on iOS and Android devices within the coming weeks.

If you are a subscriber to YouTube Premium, you may already be familiar with the feature. YouTube has given its premium subscribers access to the feature for the past six months.

As the company explains in the announcement, the change was made based on user feedback. Many have been clamoring for a way to better preview videos before clicking, especially as many thumbnail images may be misleading.

“Previewing videos helps you make more informed decisions about whether you want to watch a video, leading to longer engagement with videos you choose to watch!”

While the videos will have the audio turned off by default, captions will be shown when they are available. If you have created any of the more than 2 billion videos on YouTube without captions, this will add even more motivation to create transcripts for your videos.

Thumbnail images will still be shown for a short time when users are scrolling through their feed, meaning thumbnails will still be a powerful way to grab attention or entice users to watch videos. However, the autoplay feature will prevent uploaders from sharing videos with misleading or false preview thumbnails.

If you are worried about your data usage or simply don’t like autoplay videos, Google is giving you a few options. Within the settings menu, you can turn off autoplaying videos or set autoplay to only activate when you are connected to WiFi.

When Twitter announced it was doubling the length limit for tweets from 140 to 280 characters, there was a lot of speculation about how it would affect the platform. Now, a year later, we finally have hard data about the effects of the new character limit, and some of the findings are surprising.

Tweets Are Not Getting Longer

Despite the extra space to say your piece, the majority of Twitter users haven’t actually taken advantage of the extra length. In fact, the average length of English language tweets has actually decreased by one character to 33 characters per tweet.

Additionally, Twitter says only 12% of English tweets are longer than the previous 140 character limit, and just 1% hit the newer 280 character limit.

Twitter Users Are Becoming More Polite

Twitter may have a reputation for rude and hateful users, but the increased tweet length may actually be subtly making the platform a nicer place to be. Twitter’s statistics indicate that users have begun using more polite phrases since the change.

Specifically, the company’s data shows that 54% more tweets include the word “please” and 22% more tweets use “thank you” since the change.

Fewer abbreviations

Another interesting shift is that the increased character limit has led to users fully writing out words instead of using abbreviations. Usage of “gr8” has dropped 36%, while “great” is up 32%. Similarly, usage of “b4” is down 13% while “before” has risen 70%.

What this means for you

The biggest takeaway is that the new character limit hasn’t drastically altered Twitter. Short thoughts are still the norm, while longer tweets are still regularly broken up into “tweetstorms” to help segment them for easier reading or dramatic flair.

What has changed is the actual content of the discussions. Writing has become more natural and user engagement is rising. These are all positive results for the social platform who has struggled in recent years to retain its identity and bring more depth to the conversations on its platform.

Twitter is trying to bring back the good old days when you could explore your feed chronologically.

The social platform announced it has changed how the option to “Show the best Tweets first” function, removing the “In case you missed it” and recommended Tweets from people users aren’t following.

By stripping all this away, it leaves users with a pure, reverse-chronological feed from people they are following.

“We’ve learned that when showing the best Tweets first, people find Twitter more relevant and useful. However, we’ve heard feedback from people who at times prefer to see the most recent Tweets,” reads the company’s statement. “Our goal with the timeline is to balance showing you the most recent Tweets with the best Tweets you’re likely to care about, but we don’t always get this balance right.”

Since the release of the default algorithmic feed in early 2016, many users have been relying on workarounds to access their feed in a chronological way. Unfortunately for those users, Twitter has recently been limiting the amount of access available to third-party developers, restricting the possibility for plug-ins or automated tools for accessing a chronological timeline.

That led to the past few days when things reached something of a boiling point. A trick to get the algorithmic feed from user Emma Kinema went viral with more than 15,000 retweets and almost 40,000 likes.

While Twitter says it has been working on this update for some time, the tweet helped underscore the demand for a simple way to access a chronological feed without all the “curated” content that Twitter had been including.

The change to how the “Show best Tweets first” option works is a temporary solution according to the company, which maintains that many users still prefer the algorithmic feed. In the meantime, it is working on a more accessible way to easily switch back and forth between “Tweets that are most relevant for you and a timeline of the latest Tweets.”

The company says it will launch within a few weeks.

in a year full of scandals and congressional inquiries, people appear to be changing how they use Facebook.

A new study from Pew Research Center shows that a huge portion of users has taken steps to reduce their usage and increase their privacy within the past year.

Interestingly, the findings show that users are specifically ditching the Facebook mobile app, with more than a quarter of US adults deleting the app on their phone. Even more have gone on a trial separation by taking a break from the platform entirely.

Among the findings of the study are several notable discoveries, including:

  • 54% of users have adjusted their privacy settings
  • 42% have taken a break from checking Facebook for several weeks or longer
  • 26% have deleted the Facebook app from their phone
  • 74% have done at least one of the above

These numbers on their own are very concerning for Facebook, but they become even more illuminating when broken down by age group. The survey shows that young Facebook users are widely stepping away from the platform or restricting their privacy.

Among users aged 18-29, 44% have deleted the app, compared to just 12% of users over the age of 64. Similar shifts were found among those who have changed their privacy settings.

Notably, there was no significant difference between the ages of those who have taken a break from Facebook.

The survey was conducted between May 29th and June 11th this year, after news broke about Facebook’s involvement in the collection and selling data on millions of users by Cambridge Analytica.

While these trends are certainly eye-raising, it remains unclear exactly how Facebook’s scandals have actually affected the company. The company’s latest quarterly report indicates the average daily users in North America has remained steady throughout the year.

Facebook is running an extremely limited test letting just five publishers create and test responsive headlines, images, videos, and copy to see which versions of their posts perform better in real time.

The new tool allows the select few publishers to test up to four unique versions of any organic post, according to Digiday. It also allows these publishers to see data such as interactions and click-through rate, as well as predictions of these metrics as the ads roll out. This way, publishers can actively gauge which version of their content fares best.

While Facebook wasn’t willing to release specific data on the test yet, Facebook product manager Mollie Vandor said that more than half of the time, publishers wound up choosing a different version of the story than they had originally created.

The intention is to help boost organic performance for publishers in a time where organic reach and engagement continues to fall across the platform. According to BuzzFeed News, one of the publishers given access to the test, the tool does improve performance. However, it isn’t enough to mitigate Facebook’s ongoing demotion of organic reach.

“This comes as everyone’s traffic on Facebook has gone down a lot, so it’s good to be able to get the most out of our posts, but we’re still getting a lot less,” said BuzzFeed news deputy director, Fran Berkman.

As a Facebook rep told Marketing Land in a written statement:

Our goal with this test is to provide more visibility into how their organic content is performing on Facebook on a post by post basis. Also to enable publishers in the test to derive learnings and identify their own best practices over time. With this level of insight, publishers are better equipped to drive meaningful engagement around their content and have a stronger sense of control over how their content performs on Facebook.

Vandor echoed this sentiment, saying the tool “is a way to maximize how they pitch their content to people on Facebook.”

“Instead of us saying, ‘Here’s a list of universal best practices,’ we’re trying to give publishers the tools they can use to develop their own best practices.”

When asked if the tool would be available to other publishers and advertisers in the future, Vandor wouldn’t say anything decisively. She did, though, say the company is “actively exploring” expanding the tool to others once it is made easier and less resource-intensive to use.

Google Veterans

Google is releasing a new label for Google My Business listings highlighting when a business is owned or led by a veteran.

Sean O’Keefe, data scientist at Google and a former Staff Sergeant in the US Army announced the new attribute this week while also highlighting the millions of American businesses that are owned by veterans.

“More than 2.5 million businesses in the U.S. are majority-owned by veterans, and one way that I stay connected to the veteran community is by supporting those veteran-owned businesses. It’s something I can do all throughout my day, whether I’m grabbing a coffee or recommending a local restaurant to a friend.”

The tag is easily enabled and will highlight veteran-owned businesses in both Google Search listings and map results.

The label is similar in appearance and function to other attributes like “Has Wifi” or “Outdoor Seating.”

Currently, there is no verification process. All a veteran business owner has to do is follow a couple steps to enable the “Veteran-led” attribute for their own listing:

  • Sign into your Google My Business account
  • Select the location you are managing
  • Select “Info” from the menu
  • Find the “Attributes” section and select the Pencil icon
  • Search or select the “Veteran-led” attribute
  • Select “Apply”.

The new attribute is just one of many steps Google is taking to provide support for veterans, including curating search results for veterans looking for jobs and encouraging IT training. You can find out more about the initiative here.

For years, Facebook has made it easy to integrate your other social media accounts from across the web, by allowing users to cross-post content from one platform onto Facebook. For instance, Twitter users were able to share their Tweets on Facebook without ever leaving Twitter’s platform.

That all changed last week, however, when Facebook officially deprecated its Publish actions permissions from its API, effectively making it impossible for other social networks to include built-in cross-posting.

According to Facebook, this move affects approximately 60,000 apps – including some big hitters like Twitter.

Twitter’s support team confirmed the change, though they explain there are still other ways to share Tweets across the web:

Facebook announced it would be deprecating Publish action permissions back in April, saying a few categories of apps with long product life cycles would be given extra time to update their software.

Facebook confirmed to Marketing Land’s Amy Gesenhues it had rolled out the change last week. The company also stated Facebook users could still share content using Facebook’s Share dialogs.

Essentially, this boils down to Facebook staking its territory and trying to keep users within its platform as much as possible. Unfortunately, that means users and businesses who had been using Twitter’s integration to share content on both platforms at the same time will now have to go through more tedious methods.

At the same time Facebook removed the ability to automatically publish content to the site, the company says it also removed access to its API platform for hundreds of thousands of inactive apps. Both actions are part of a recent effort from Facebook to clean up its app landscape after recent controversies of what user information apps were able to access.

Hashtag YouTube

Hashtags are coming to YouTube. The video platform has begun displaying hashtags on videos to help users search and discover other videos on similar topics.

The hashtags appear on any video that has been optimized with the tags in web browsers and the YouTube Android app. So far, the hashtags are not being shown in the iOS app.

Up to three hashtags can be shown in blue text above videos’ titles and can be clicked on to open a search containing related videos.

Hashtags can be used to conduct manual searches for any video containing that hashtag, even if it is just in the video description. Hashtags can also be included in video titles.

There are a few restrictions on how hashtags can be used on YouTube, most of which are common sense. YouTube’s policies explicitly prohibit using hashtags to promote harassment or hate speech, as well as to mislead people about content.

Additionally, the platform discourages users from over-tagging their videos, which would be defined as using 15 or more tags on a single video.

Breaking these rules could lead to a variety of punishments depending on how severe the infraction is or whether someone has committed a previous offense. These could include having your hashtags be ignored, videos being removed from search results, or a video being removed from YouTube altogether.

For now, using hashtags to search provides pretty limited search results. But, I expect that will change as creators begin to optimize their channels.

 

Business owners can now see exactly what search terms people are using to find their Google My Business listings with Search Query Insights, giving you an opportunity to see where your listing is succeeding and what areas may need to be better optimized.

The search query information is being added to the Insights tab and includes the most common terms and search trends that helped people find your business.

In the help page for the new feature, Google suggested: “these queries should help you create better Posts with Google and even Ads to engage your customers.”

However, the data won’t be a comprehensive list of every search term that led to your listing. It will just contain the terms used most often.

“Search queries focus on the terms that your customers used to find your business on Local Search and Maps.”

Business owners or page managers can also filter the queries based on those used within the last week or the past 28 days.

The feature will be available to all Google My Business listings soon, but Google has not provided an estimate of how long the rollout will take. Currently, some are reporting seeing search query data in their Insights tab, while it is absent for others. I would expect most will have access to the information by the end of the week, if not sooner.

Instagram is betting big on long-form videos with a new video platform called “IGTV” which will show off videos up to an hour long. Until now, users were only allowed to upload videos up to one-minute-long, so this is a big upgrade for users.

While the feature is entirely accessible within Instagram’s app and web platform, Instagram is also launching a stand-alone app available on both iOS and Android devices today.

“We made it a dedicated app so you can tap on it and enjoy video without all the distraction,” CEO Kevin Systrom explained.

So far, indications are that Instagram “celebrities” will get most of the attention within the IGTV section on the Instagram app, but businesses can still get some use out of the ability to upload longer, more in-depth videos.

Businesses may also benefit from being able to curate their own Channels of content that users can subscribe to within IGTV. This way, they will be notified anytime you post a new video.

For now, Systrom said that IGTV is entirely-ad free, but it likely won’t last forever. Once it has established itself on Instagram’s platform, I’d expect ads to start appearing.

How to start your own IGTV Channel

Creating a channel is easy and can be done within the Instagram app.

Step 1: Tap the IGTV logo near the top-right corner of your Instagram home screen.

Step 2: Tap the gear icon on the bottom right of the screen.

Step 3: Select “Create Channel” at the bottom of the screen.

Step 4: After a brief introduction to IGTV, select “Next” on the following two screens. Then, tap “Create Channel.”

Step 5: Congratulations, your channel is officially active and you can start uploading videos to IGTV.