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Major changes are coming to Facebook as the company tries to balance a more privacy-focused approach with several new features aimed at encouraging people to interact with their Facebook accounts more.

At the company’s F8 developer conference this week, Facebook announced a wide range of features, changes, and redesigns which will roll out over the next year.

At the same time, representatives from Facebook hammered home the importance of privacy and protecting data with more advanced encryption and a huge redesign to shift how people use the platform.

The Redesign

Leading the pack of changes is Facebook’s most significant visual overhaul since its launch. While the most noticeable difference is the removal of blue on the page to create a more vibrant space for you to explore, it also holds many deeper revisions which intend to change how we use the platform.

For example, the interface will now highlight more Groups and private messages to make the platform feel more cohesive.

The redesign is already rolling out on Android and iOS mobile devices, though the company says it will take a few months for the full update to go live. Meanwhile, Facebook says it will begin testing the desktop redesign in the “next few months” before bringing it to the public.

Facebook Dating?

Facebook Dating

Image Source: Facebook

One of the most bizarre introductions during this year’s conference was the launch of a new feature called “Secret Crush” which allows users to pick nine of their friends which they have a crush on. Then, if any of those nine friends also select that user as a crush, they will be notified. If the attraction is not returned, however, the other person will never know.

Meet New Friends

In a similar (but less creepy) vein is Facebook’s coming “Meet New Friends” feature. As you might expect from the name, the opt-in feature aims to help connect people who share schools or jobs, or those who live in the same city.

Messenger Comes To Desktop

Image Source: Facebook

As part of an effort to make Facebook’s Messenger a more widely accessible platform, the company is launching a standalone version of the service for desktop computers. While Messenger has always been available on the desktop version of Facebook, it has been limited in several ways. For example, features like Group calling have been exclusive to the mobile app. With the launch of the desktop app, users will now be able to take advantage of all of Messenger’s features from any type of device.

Instagram Create Mode

Instagram Create Mode

Image Source: Facebook

Facebook isn’t the only platform getting an overhaul. Instagram also has several changes on the way, including a considerable reworking of the camera in Instagram Stories. With the new Create Mode, users can now create images for Stories that don’t come directly from their phone without extensive workarounds. Now, you can easily edit your Stories to create the images you want to share without leaving the app.

Instagram Likes Go Secret

Instagram Likes Disappear From View

Image Source: Facebook

One of the more surprising tests Facebook announced is that it will begin hiding the like count on photos and videos on Instagram in an effort to encourage people to pay more attention to the content and focus less on popularity contests.

In the test, followers will not be able to see a photo’s total likes or a video’s view count while viewing the content in their feed or visiting another user’s profile. However, the person sharing the content will still be able to look at their post’s metrics by tapping through a post. The test is expected to begin this week for users in Canada, though it is unclear when this might appear in the US.

Instagram has released a set of new features aimed to encourage better engagement and participation with followers, especially when live streaming or creating Stories.

Countdowns

 

Do you have a big event, announcement, or live stream coming up? Now you can highlight it with an interactive countdown sticker in your Instagram Stories.

Once you’ve created the countdown and set the time limit, you can easily insert it in all your stories to remind your audience about important events or promotions. You can also use the stickers to raise awareness of a limited-time offer that is expiring soon.

Followers who see the countdown can also choose to follow it, which will ensure they receive a notification when the countdown is over.

Question Stickers

One of the biggest ways people like to use Instagram’s live videos is to answer viewer questions. The only problem is this can get a bit hard to follow when you have lots of viewers asking questions back to back. It can also be hard for new viewers to know what question is being answered.

Now, viewers can create and share question stickers during live streams to make it easy for everyone to stay on the same page.

The stickers are easily browsable for streamers to pick from. Once chosen, the question will be shown at the bottom of the screen so that viewers know what question you are answering. You can see an example below:

Both of these features are now available for both iOS and Android users. However, broadcasting live videos is only available currently on iOS. Android users can still view the streams and share questions.

After the smash success of Stories on Instagram, the social platform is testing new features aimed at increasing engagement. Most notably, the company introducing more open-ended question features that let viewers interact more with the Stories they watch.

Currently, Instagram users have been able to include basic polls in their Stories with multiple-choice answer options. The only other way to interact with people sharing Stories was to message them directly.

Now, the company is testing expanding the feature by allowing Instagram users to share and respond to complex questions without having to DM. The goal is to make Stories a better tool to generate actual conversations between creators or brands, and their followers.

While the feature has been spotted by numerous people and Instagram has confirmed the test with reporters, little else is known – such as when it might be available to the wider public.

The move is just the latest effort by Instagram to emphasize video on their platform and capitalize on the success of Stories, which now draw more viewers than Snapchat’s total user base. The company recently launched an even larger video platform, IGTV, which allows users to create and share long-form video content.

During the announcement of IGTV, CEO Kevin Systrom laid out the company’s desire to emphasize video content and how it saw its place in the social ecosystem.

“On Instagram, people are watching 60 percent more video than they did just last year,” said Systrom. “An entirely new category of video now exists, and it’s being made by creators. Teens may be watching less TV, but they’re watching more creators online … That makes Instagram one of the largest and most engaged audiences anywhere in the world.”

Instagram logo

Instagram is coming up in the world. This week the social network revealed it has reached more than 1 billion monthly active users, jumping from 800 million in September of last year.

The extra 200 million users also make the site the fastest growing social network around right now by a fair amount.

For context, while Facebook remains the biggest social network overall, its growth in monthly users has fallen to just 3.14%. Snapchat, trapped by its own niche market of younger users, is growing even slower at 2.13%.

Instagram, however, continues to grow by almost 5% from quarter-to-quarter.

There is certainly some irony in the latest numbers. While Snapchat continues to stall, Instagram is largely making its gains on the back of similar features like Stories and image stickers.

Stories, in particular, have taken off to surprising popularity. According to the latest numbers, there are more people posting Stories on Instagram than Snapchat’s entire userbase.

The continued growth of Instagram also hints at Facebook’s gradual disconnect with younger users. Teens and other young social media users are adopting Instagram, rather than signing into Facebook.

The social network still has plenty of hurdles in its path, but their user growth shows it may be worthwhile to establish a business presence on the platform sooner rather than later.

The popular “Stories” feature that has expanded from its SnapChat origins into Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter has always been known for its short-term lifespan. Stories have always been something that disappears sometime after sharing.

Now, Instagram is changing this with new ways to save and reshare your Stories long-after they’ve vanished from people’s feeds.

Instagram recently launched two updates to its Stories feature that gives users the ability to add Stories to its Archive feature and include Stories in the “Highlights” section of users’ profiles.

In a blog post, Instagram said that Stories will be automatically saved to users’ private Archives once they expire. From there, you can view or reshare your old Stories as a normal video post or add them to highlights.

The feature is turned on by default, but you can opt to turn off the Archive feature if you like.

Instagram explained, “To access the Stories in your Archive, tap the Archive icon on your profile. From there, you can easily switch between your Posts Archive and your new Stories Archive. In your Stories Archive, your stories will appear in a grid with the most recent Stories at the bottom. The first story from each day will show a date indicator to help you navigate your archive as you scroll. Only you can see your archived stories, and you can choose to turn off auto-archiving at any time in your profile settings.”

At the same time, Instagram has launched the new Stories Highlights section, where users can add Stories to their profiles.

Stories Highlights can be created by simply tapping on the New circle on the far-left side of the app. After that, just choose which Stories you want from your archives, select a cover for the Highlight, and give it a name.

Once that’s all done, the Highlights will appear as circles on your profile where they can be viewed.

You can add as many Highlights as you want, and they will remain on your profile until you delete them by tapping and holding on the circle.

In the blog post, Instagram said: “Over the past year, Instagram Stories has become a key part of how you express yourself—but there hasn’t been an easy way to keep your Stories around for more than 24 hours. Now you can more fully express your identity by grouping Stories you’ve shared into Highlights and featuring them on your profile. Story Highlights lets you show all of the sides of your personality, and you can make highlights out of anything you’ve shared to your story in the past. From the best moments of your ongoing soccer season to all the stories you capture of your loved ones, the interests and activities that matter most to you have a home right on your profile.”

Brands and marketers will likely find these new features provide a number of ways to make Stories a more powerful marketing tool. In an email to Social Pro Daily, Instagram suggested brands can take advantage of the tools by:

  • Extending campaigns and promotions beyond 24 hours.
  • Showcasing immersive video and behind-the-scenes content on the increasingly significant profile page.
  • Re-engaging people around best-performing Stories content.
  • Sharing customer reviews

Instagram hasn’t become as synonymous with advertising or online marketing as it’s older sibling, Facebook, has. However, new stats announced by the company show business is booming on the popular social media platform.

Since July, more than 10 million businesses have launched business profiles – Instagram’s version of Facebook’s Pages – totaling over 25 million business profiles.

Instagram’s business profiles rolled out in May of last year and saw an initially slow response. The profiles give brands a more professional appearance on the app, including a “contact us” button and access to analytics features.

The inclusion of these business-oriented features has helped woo more advertisers to the platform, as well. Since the launch of business profiles, Instagram has increased its advertiser base from around 200,000 in February 2016 to more than 2 million in September of this year.

According to Instagram’s statistics, approximately 80 percent of Instagram’s 800 million monthly active users follow a business. Additionally, around 40 percent of the 500 million active daily users view at least one business’s profile each day.

Interestingly, two-thirds of the more than 200 million people that view a business profile each day did not previously follow the brand. That suggests the pages are effectively helping connect businesses with new potential customers and fans.

The Thanksgiving shopping weekend has officially become the biggest social media event of the year, garnering more discussion on Facebook and Instagram than even the most recent Super Bowl.

According to an email from Facebook to Social Pro Daily, more than 130 million people talked about Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday this year.

Facebook alone generated more than 226 million interactions from 90 million people about the Thanksgiving shopping weekend, while 52 million talked about the deals and shopping experience on Instagram.

Surprisingly, Black Friday and Cyber Monday weren’t the biggest days of the weekend on social media. Despite being considered the smaller event of the holiday, mentions of Small Business Saturday actually surpassed mentions of Cyber Monday. The day devoted to local small businesses also created two of the top hashtags on Instagram with “ShopSmall and #ShopLocal.

Other notable stats from the weekend according to Facebook:

  • There were more than 450 million views over the weekend on Facebook of videos related to Black Friday and similar topics.
  • Black Friday conversation on Facebook and Instagram was driven by women between 35 and 54.
  • Men between 18 and 34 were more likely to discuss Cyber Monday.
  • More than one-third of Instagram business profiles posted Instagram Stories during the holiday weekend.
  • The top five shopping-related hashtags on Facebook and Instagram over the weekend were: #BlackFriday, #CyberMonday, #SmallBusinessSaturday, #ShopSmall and #ShopLocal.
  • The three most engaged states on Facebook were Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee.

Instagram is quickly growing from just a platform for users to share pictures and videos towards a fully-fledged combination of social media and shopping. With the help of Shopify, Instagram is rolling out a new feature allowing “thousands” of merchants to seamlessly sell their products through Instagram just in time for the holiday shopping season.

The feature allows selected merchants to tag items in their Instagram posts to mark that they are available for purchase. When viewers see the post, they can easily click the tags to directly purchase the items without ever having to leave Instagram.

The feature has been in limited testing for almost a year, but it has been restricted to just a small number of high-profile brands like Warby Parker and Kate Spade. Since then, they’ve been gradually opening the feature to a few other merchants through Shopify.

The early response to this testing has been enthusiastic, so Shopify has now decided to expand the feature to a larger testing group including “many thousands” of merchants. They say they expect to roll it out even more widely in the near future, but they want to test and refine the system before a complete launch.

Instagram Banner

Instagram’s carousel feature for ads has been popular with brands as a great way to highlight their products and tell a story in their ads, and now it is coming to everyone.

Instagram announced this week it will be sharing the slideshow-like carousel ads to organic posts with all users, as well as expanding the number of photos or videos that can be shared at a time.

The feature is expected to roll out to all users on iOS and Android devices in the coming weeks. When it does, both advertisers and everyday users will be able to choose up to 10 photos and videos to include in a single post. Users can then swipe through the content to see more.

instagram-carousels

Regular users will be able to sort the photos or videos in their carousel manually, choosing the best way to tell their story. Advertisers will have this option, as well as the choice to let Instagram sort the content based on performance.

While the carousel format allows users to include several pieces of content in a single post, it does have some limitations. Most specifically, carousel posts do not allow for landscape photos or vertical videos. Instead, all photos or videos included can only be in Instagram’s traditional square frame.

Instagram is also labeling carousel posts to help make them easier to recognize in your feed. Similar to video posts, all carousel posts will include an icon next to the posts’ thumbnails.

instagramlive

Considering the success of live video on Facebook and other social media platforms, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that Instagram is trying its hand with live video. But, they have put their own twist on it.

Today, the social photo and video sharing platform announced it is rolling out live video within their Instagram Stories section. However, these videos don’t remain once you stop streaming. Instead, they immediately disappear.

The feature is already rolling out and is expected to be available to everyone around the world within the next few weeks. Users are able to share live video for up to an hour and control their streams by notifying friends when they go live and deciding whether to allow comments.

“Live video on Instagram Stories helps you connect with your friends and followers right now,” according to a blog post announcing the update. “When you’re done, your live story disappears from the app so you can feel more comfortable sharing anything, anytime.”

All you have to do to start streaming is swipe right from the home feed and tap the “Start Live Video” button. You can also see who else is live streaming in the Explore area of the app, under the “Top Live” category.

Live video isn’t the only thing disappearing on Instagram, either. The platform is also rolling out the option to have automatically self-destructing photo or video messages when sending direct messages to friends and groups.

The feature operates almost exactly like Snapchat’s well known disappearing photos, which allow users to share content in a “spontaneous, pressure-free way.”

“You can choose a group or create one in just a few taps—and you can also send to individual friends at the same time,” Instagram wrote in a blog post. “Send anything you want, from inside jokes to your worst selfies. Unlike other messages in Direct, these photos and videos disappear from your friends’ inboxes after they have seen them. And you’ll see if they replayed it or took a screenshot.”