After expanding its character limit for tweets a few years ago, Twitter is testing a new feature called Notes that lets users ditch character limits altogether.

The company confirmed testing the new feature in a tweet, along with a longer Note explaining everything Notes can do:

“Notes will give people the ability to go over 280 characters on Twitter in a single piece of content, with the inclusion of photos, videos, GIFs, and Tweets. Notes can be written, published, and shared on Twitter, and read all across the Internet.”

Unfortunately for most of us, the feature is initially being tested among a select number of writers in the US, UK, Canada, and Ghana. 

As the announcement explains:

“We’re excited for the moment when everyone can use Notes, but for now, our focus is on building it right. A large part of that is engaging with writers and building community.”

Notably, the feature does not appear to be replacing Twitter threads, at least for now:

“There are situations, however, where threads aren’t enough. From the rise of the screenshot announcement Tweet to the newsletter boom, a new reality became clear: people were writing long elsewhere, and then coming to Twitter to share their work and for the conversation surrounding all those words.”

In the announcement, Twitter also detailed a few unique features which will make Notes attractive to those looking to publish longer content:

  • Formatting: Formatting tools included bold, italic, and strikethrough text, as well as the ability to add links and create lists.
  • Include Media: Notes can include one GIF, one video, or up to four static images.
  • Embedded Tweets: Include traditional tweets in Notes by pasting a URL or from your bookmarked tweets.

TikTok is still considered a niche social media site by some, but the platform has grand ambitions to keep growing into an even bigger platform in the future. 

In TikTok’s first-ever company event, held as part of the 2022 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the company’s leadership spoke about the challenges facing the platform and their plans to overcome them.

Company leadership addressed a range of topics, including shopping across the platform, user safety, iOS 14’s impact on online advertising, and more. Let’s go over some of the highlights:

Advertising Updates

Though it has already amassed hundreds of thousands of advertisers, TikTok’s president of global operations solutions, Blake Chandlee says the company’s current goal is in the millions.

To do this, TikTok is expanding its advertising toolset and creating new features to help advertisers measure the quality of ads.

Managing director and global head of monetization product, strategy, and operation, Ray Cao, also addressed the impact of Apple’s iOS 14 on its advertising operations. 

This update made it difficult to target and track ads to many users as it gave users the option to block many forms of online tracking. However, Cao says the social network will overcome this by increasing the options for contextual ad targeting.

At the same time, TikTok is working to improve brand safety by better assessing what type of content an ad may be associated with. 

As Francis Stones, head of European brand safety explained, the company’s review process now analyzes sounds, text, emojis, and imagery to ensure brands do not become associated with something problematic.

TikTok Shopping Features

Along with these updates to TikTok’s advertising services, the platform is also continuing its efforts to develop its live shopping functionality.

Global head of business marketing, Sofia Hernandez explained that the new feature is being developed to allow brands to take advantage of user-created content quickly and easily, though further details were unavailable.

As TikTok grows into a major force on today’s internet, it is working to provide brands and advertisers with the types of features they have come to expect from social networks. While this is just a small look at the platform’s direction for the future, it shows that the newly popular social network intends to keep growing with its userbase.

Facebook is preparing for a major overhaul of its main feed to turn it into a “discovery engine” geared towards video content, based on a newly leaked internal memo.

The memo, written by Head of Facebook Tom Alison, was first sent to employees on April 27, though it was only recently obtained and published by The Verge. This suggests the changes to the main feed may be coming sooner rather than later, however, the memo does not give a date for the update to arrive.

What Is a Discovery Engine?

It may seem like corporate jargon, but the move towards being a ‘discovery engine’ indicates a major change in priorities for how Facebook’s main feed functions.

In general, the term ‘discovery engine’ simply refers to helping users find more interesting content from accounts or pages they are not connected to. What makes this such a big change is that Facebook has always focused on content shared by connections like friends and family.

This opens the door for Facebook to become more of a general content aggregator than the more personal social network it has always been.

Facebook’s Top Three Priorities

In the memo, Alison identifies three near-term priorities that the social network believes will help create a place where people can find and share engaging content. These are:

  • Make Reels successful.
  • Build world-class recommendations technology.
  • Unlock messaging-based sharing.

By focusing on these three goals, the platform aims to expand the ways people publish and share content with each other.

What Will The New Facebook Feed Look Like?

While the memo does not go into many specifics about what the new Facebook feed will look like, The Verge’s Alex Heath spoke with Alison to find out how he is envisioning the new feed experience:

“Here’s how the future Facebook app will work in practice: the main tab will become a mix of Stories and Reels at the top, followed by posts its discovery engine recommends from across both Facebook and Instagram. It’ll be a more visual, video-heavy experience with clearer prompts to direct message friends a post. To make messaging even more prominent, Facebook is working on placing a user’s Messenger inbox at the top right of the app, undoing the infamous decision to separate the two apps eight years ago.”

LinkedIn is making it easier to find and follow creators across the platform through a series of new updates announced this week.

The professional social network has been emphasizing its platform’s content publishing tools over the past few years. The goal is to make it easier for individual figures and brands to stand out on the platform by sharing interesting anecdotes, important professional updates, and motivational insights.

These updates continue that theme by opening new ways for those who don’t share connections on the site to discover your content and opt-in to see more of your content in their feed.

Here’s a breakdown of all the new ways users can find, follow, and share your content to increase your visibility on LinkedIn:

Follow Creators Directly from The Feed

When people who aren’t connected to your page see your content in their feed, they will now be able to immediately follow you through a small button in the top right of the post. Additionally, users may be shown a prompt below the post, providing a larger more noticeable call to follow you.

Follow Creators From LinkedIn Search Results

LinkedIn is going to start including creators who are tagged with relevant hashtags in search results for topics or ideas. Even better, the listings will include a small icon allowing users to immediately start following you.

Share Links To Your Profile

To make it easier to reach users on other platforms or sites, LinkedIn is working on a tool that will let you create a shareable link to your page. Anyone who clicks the link will then be taken to a prompt that will allow them to start following your posts on LinkedIn.

New Connections Requests Become Followers

Now, when a user sends a request to connect with your page, they will automatically be added to your followers – if they weren’t following you already.

Instagram is rolling out an update that expands its sensitive content filter in ways that may reduce how many people see some content.

Though the Sensitive Content Control was launched almost a year ago, in July 2021, the tool only influenced the type of content users saw in their Explore feed.

According to a new announcement, though, the newly updated version of this tool lets users control how much “sensitive content” they see across practically every section of Instagram including:

  • Search
  • Reels
  • Accounts You Might Follow
  • Hashtag Pages
  • In-Feed Recommendations
  • How Instagram is Controlling Sensitive Content

As the company explained, this does more than limit obviously inappropriate content, including graphic violence or illegal acts. It also covers “posts that don’t necessarily break our rules, but could potentially be upsetting to some people.”

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Content showing violence, including fighting between individuals
  • Sexually explicit or suggestive content, such as people in see-through or revealing clothing
  • Content promoting controversial or dangerous products such as tobacco, vaping, adult products, or pharmaceutical drugs
  • Content promoting or showing cosmetic procedures
  • Content or pages which sell products or services targeting health, including weight-loss supplements

Following the new update, users can select between three different levels of sensitive content moderation:

  • Less: Restricts sensitive content to the greatest amount
  • Standard: The default state for all users, which automatically limits some sensitive content
  • More: Users over the age of 18 can opt-in to see the widest range of content, including sensitive content which does not directly violate Instagram’s rules and guidelines.

Why This Matters

While most upstanding brands are normally unaffected by these types of updates, this could potentially have a much wider effect on companies or pages across a huge range of industries. 

The undefined nature of what constitutes “sensitive content” raises eyebrows, especially when it includes some content many users may not find controversial or objectionable. Additionally, users are having some content filtered out by default and must essentially opt out of this tool if they are of age. 

This creates the potential for Instagram to start limiting the reach of content from many companies who had previously found success using the platform to reach their audience. How large the impact of this is yet to be seen. If you see a significant drop in the number of people seeing your Instagram posts in the next few weeks though, you probably know why.

As social networks have grown into the central platforms most people use to find all sorts of information (including trends, news, and everything else), their feed algorithms have likewise grown in influence. They dictate what information you take in, what you buy, and how you see the world.

Due to this and the fact that the inner workings of these algorithms tend to be well-guarded secrets, these feed algorithms also tend to be surrounded with myths and misunderstandings. In attempting to reverse engineer these algorithms to better understand how to get the greatest reach, incorrect assumptions become accepted as fact which is allowed to spread without a clear explanation from the developers behind these feeds.

That’s why LinkedIn’s VP of Engineering, Sabry Tozin, is using a new blog and video series called “Mythbusting The Feed” to set the record straight on how the professional-focused social network surfaces content.

In the first set of videos, Tozin starts out addressing two questions:

  • “What kind of conversations are welcomed on LinkedIn?”
  • “What does it mean to be professional when it comes to content on LinkedIn?”

Here’s what he had to say.

What Kind of Conversations Are Preferred By LinkedIn’s Feed Algorithms?

While LinkedIn technically allows for posts about any topic, it is obvious that the feed algorithms prefer content that is authentic and relevant to other users. 

Since the platform is aimed at connecting professionals around the world, these discussions tend to be related to issues experienced by leaders and workers, such as the experience of switching to working from home, how you approach your career, or recent news from your business.

As Tovin says:

“We welcome all sorts of conversations on LinkedIn, but primarily we want to have conversations that people care about. Where the things they talk about, and the content they generate, are about things that are authentic to them, and resonate with them, but also make them feel like they’re connected to their communities.”

In the video, he also notes that LinkedIn sees a lot of activity around topics that may not be easy to discuss in person or at the office:

“Another thing we’ve seen is conversations that may be hard to talk about like mental health and wellbeing, other than productivity and how people think about working, but what that truly means to them.

We see LinkedIn as a place to have that conversation, and our technology teams are finding ways to enable that, to keep it safe, and for members to feel like this is a place where they can actually talk about everything that’s authentic to them.”

Does Content on LinkedIn Need To Be Strictly Professional?

As a social network targeted at professionals, there is an assumption that the platform’s algorithms will favor content that is formal, purely related to careers or industries, or strictly “professional”. 

Of course, this forgets that LinkedIn is a social network first and foremost. As such, it blurs the line between personal and professional, allowing you to celebrate personal growth which may only be tangentially related to your career. 

For example, it is not uncommon for content related to a range of personal milestones such as getting married, reaching a personal goal like weight loss, or overcoming an obstacle that may have been holding you back.

As the video explains:

“Think of LinkedIn as a place to have an authentic conversation and not limit it to one topic or another because so many of those things go hand in hand.”

More To Come

In the coming weeks, Sabry says he will discuss even more about how LinkedIn’s feed algorithms work and common myths about the algorithms including:

  • How the Algorithm Works and Personalizing The Feed
  • Content Distribution and How LinkedIn Works To Address Bias

Advertising has undergone a massive shift in recent years. Instead of the sleek, high-end style that many associates with ads, consumers (and a growing number of brands) are embracing a more lo-fi, “imperfect” approach to ads. According to new research from Meta, this is especially true when it comes to social media ads.

In a recent blog post, Meta suggests this is about more than a change in visual trends. It is a shift in cultural standards and expectations, or “culture codes.”

As the post explains, this is “being driven by something more fundamental, which is a shift we’re seeing away from perfection and polish, towards a culture that instead celebrates what’s unpolished and real.”

Though it is unclear just how long this shift has been happening, Meta first noticed it in a study of Instagram Stories ads conducted back in 2019. 

The results of this study showed that ads that used a less-polished style performed far better in tests for both ad recall and content views compared to those with a more refined appearance.

This is particularly true for younger audiences who tend to spend a lot of time on social media. In a recent study from consumer behavior analysts YPulse, up to 84% of young consumers reported “I like it when content from brands is not perfect” and  79% said they are “tired of seeing perfect images in advertising.”

With this in mind, the researchers at Meta dug deeper to identify 6 specific codes that brands should follow if they want to continue connecting with online audiences:

Include Real People Telling Real Stories

Including real people – especially your actual employees or customers – helps to give your message authenticity. This is crucial for getting through to today’s savvy audiences.

Use “The Language of the Platform”

Obviously, we aren’t referring to the actual language you or other users speak, such as English, Spanish, Afrikaans, etc. In this case, speaking the language of the platform is all about proving you are “one of us” to other users by taking part in the latest trends, such as participating in “challenges”, putting a new spin on a popular dance, or using the hottest filters.

This helps establish your brand’s relatability to your audience.

Establish Relationships with Creators and Influencers

No matter what your feelings are about social media influencers, there is no denying the impact they can have on social media audiences.

According to Meta, even adults aren’t immune to the reach of influencers, with 63% of adults between 18-34 saying they trust a popular creator’s view of a brand.

This is considerably more than those who reported trusting brands themselves.

The power of influencers really comes down to the fact that they have established a relationship with their viewers and have an incomparable reach. This helps build your own credibility with a whole new audience you might have never reached before.

Go Behind The Scenes

When users say they don’t want to see “perfection” in ads, they don’t necessarily mean they want low-quality or poorly made ads. They just want to know your message is based in reality. This is why viewers tend to respond strongly to brands who are willing to take them behind the curtain. 

Keep Your Video Lo-Fi

Today, it is easier than ever to get access to affordable editing and production tools that can make your ad look like a Hollywood movie. Don’t use them. Sticking with simpler, lo-fi editing and production techniques, such as the most popular editing apps for smartphones, keeps your ad feeling authentic and hand-crafted.

Use Humor to Connect With Audiences

Humor is consistently one of the most effective tools for getting audiences to lower their guard. It makes your brand more relatable and makes listeners want to hear what else you have to say. The obvious catch here is that brands must be careful because several brands have made tone-deaf jokes which missed the mark and hurt their reputation.

In a blog post from this week, LinkedIns Chief Product Officer Tomer Cohen shares updates about the latest improvements to the platform’s search engine, accessibility features, and the content brands can share in feeds. 

Though these updates might seem scattered or disconnected, they are all united by one theme. LinkedIn is making it easier for users to find relevant and useful content, especially from brands on the platform.

Updates to LinkedIn Search

LinkedIn is expanding its search results to include news, topics, trends, and more from connections and relevant content from creators related to your search.

As Cohen explains in the blog post:

“If you’re interested in a particular topic when you search for it you’ll see the latest insights, expert opinions, and other breaking news. From finding the right people, communities, companies, jobs, or content, you can now make progress on any professional goal by simply searching for the topic you have in mind.”

The biggest change coming from this is the introduction of content from people outside your network, though the networking platform promises to only include “relevant creators.”

Additionally, the search engine is being improved to make it easier to “re-discover” posts you’ve already seen in your feed. 

Now, you can find something you’ve seen before on your Feed by searching with just the creator’s name and keywords used in their post.

Share Reviews (If You’re a Service Provider)

Any business knows the power of reviews. Up to 95% of consumers look for reviews before making a purchase, according to some estimates. Reviews also make a greater impact than most other types of content because they are authentic.

This is why LinkedIn is making it possible for the 4 million service providers on the site to share recent reviews with other users.

In a similar vein, Cohen notes service providers can also hight examples of their work in the new Featured section of the page.

Customized Referral Links For Creators

To help entrepreneurs and creators boost their visibility, LinkedIn is introducing the ability to add a link to the top of a profile to make it easier to find out more about your business or upcoming events.

With this, you can direct people checking out your content to pages about your business, upcoming events or courses you are offering, or other pages for your products or services.

Though the feature is currently only accessible to those in creator mode, Cohen does note it will be rolled out more broadly soon.

Real-Time Captions for Audio Events

Audio events have been massively popular for LinkedIn, but there has been one glaring issue: they were completely inaccessible to those with hearing impairments, or those who weren’t in an environment that allowed for listening to content.

To fix this, the platform has made real-time captions available for English-language users. This way,  your audio events can be open and relevant for all.

To find out more, read the full blog post here.

Video ads are coming to TikTok’s search results if a recently spotted test is to be believed.

David Herrmann, president of Hermann Digital, pointed out the ads earlier this week in a tweet that shows a clip with a small “Sponsored” label at the top of TikTok search results.

Based on the location in the ad – above the “Others searched for” section, it seems safe to assume the ads will typically appear within the first few search results shown. 

Unfortunately, information about this ad test is extremely limited. According to Herrmann, the ads currently can’t be targeted by keyword, though he implies the ability to do so is coming soon. 

Instead, the best way to ensure your videos get shown as relevant ads in the current iteration is to create video “how-to’s” aimed at solving specific problems. 

“Make your ads solve problems, don’t just sell. Drive them to advertorial pages,” Hermann tweeted. “This is Pinterest 2.0, but better cause people buy.”

Another detail that is unclear is how brands might get access to this ad experiment. With no official word about the ads from TikTok, the assumption is that you must be a brand with an established presence on the app and have a managed advertising account.

Once running these ads, brands will receive a list of search terms driving clicks on their video ads, helping them generate more focused and better-targeted content and ads in the future.

The ads are obviously in an early form and will likely be expanded before they are widely accessible to brands on the platform. At the same time, they show how TikTok is working to provide new ways to monetize your presence on the app and reach new audiences with high purchasing intent. 

Given that TikTok’s users already seem uniquely primed to buy products they discover through the app, this looks to potentially be a major upcoming advertising opportunity for many brands.

Twitter is signaling its plans to let brands establish dedicated shops on the platform through a limited test.

The company revealed it is introducing dedicated shopping pages including up to 50 products to a handful of brands as an experiment ahead of plans to roll out the feature to more retailers later this year. 

The feature allows a brand or business to add a simple “View shop” button to its profile page, which will link to a Twitter-hosted e-commerce page. When clicked, the button will then take users to your actual online store or website, where the transaction can be completed. 

As Twitter described the new feature in its blog post announcement:

“People are already talking about products on Twitter. We want Twitter Shops to be the home for merchants on Twitter where they can intentionally curate a catalog of products for their Twitter audience and build upon the product discussions already happening on our service by giving shoppers a point of action where a conversation can become a purchase.”

Only Available to a Select Few

As Twitter Shops are currently considered a beta test, the feature is only available to a small number of brands in the U.S. Specifically, the announcement only mentioned five brands that have utilized the feature so far – Verizon, Arden Cover, the Latinx In Power podcast, Gay Pride Apparel, and All I Do Is Cook.

Additionally, only iPhone users are currently able to view or interact with the shops, though the company plans to roll the feature out to other devices in the future.

Social Stores Are Becoming The Norm

The new feature underscores the increasingly blurry line between social media and online shopping. Several other platforms, including TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram have rolled out their own shopping tools to brands on their platform, though the most obvious comparison is Pinterest’s current shopping system where users can discover brands and shop their products on the platform before finalizing their purchase through retailer’s own sites.

For more, read Twitter’s full announcement here.