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  • Ciara Macpherson

2017 - a social network year in review

With an estimated 2.95 billion people using social networks by 2020, it’s a channel that businesses can’t afford to neglect. Popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter continue to evolve at an incredibly quick rate, so we’ve pulled together some of the most important changes in case you missed any of them.

1. Twitter: Super-sized tweets

The iconic 140 character limit was scrapped in late 2017, giving way for double the space – 280 characters –giving users more space to express themselves. The change received mixed reactions – some people horrified at a change to something that is fundamentally Twitter, while others rejoiced at not having to truncate and abbreviate words to fit them into tweets.

In a YouGov survey conducted a month after the change, 38% of those surveyed approved the change while 32% preferred the 140-character limit. The remaining 30% were undecided. Tweet away!

In other news, you can now officially create a "Twitter Storm” – replying to your own tweets one or more times to create a chain of messages – by using the “plus” symbol under your tweet. Except Twitter calls this Threads. Doing so pushes out multiple tweets at once without the need for manually replying and having pesky followers interrupt your flow!

2. Facebook: Rise of the GIF

Who doesn’t appreciate a good GIF? Or is it pronounced JIF? Tumblr and Twitter got the ball rolling with GIF usage years ago, but Facebook was quite slow on the uptake. Previously you would have to post a link to an external page and then your friends would have to follow the link to see it and more recently, links to hosted GIFs on sites like GIPHY worked (most of the time). But thankfully, support for uploaded GIFs was introduced in 2017, meaning you can upload GIFs you’ve created or saved straight to your Pages. In addition to support for GIF uploads on Pages, users can search Facebook’s GIF library to find the perfect animation to use with a comment reply. And in recent weeks, Facebook Polls were re-introduced, now with the added bonus of using GIFs for poll options.

3. Snapchat: Helping businesses tell their stories

Snapchat has introduced new features this year, including branded links, geo-filters and Promoted Stories. Snapchat Stories are used by millions on the social platform to share photos and videos for a 24-hour period, before they disappear. Now, Promoted Stories allow brands to ‘tell their stories’ to Snapchat’s 170m+ daily users. HBO and ASOS were some of the first brands to experiment with the new feature. Peter Sellis, Director, Product Management, Monetisation at Snap Inc explains promoted stories - “Promoted Stories offer marketers access to the same Stories format used by our community, combined with the reach and placement enjoyed by publishers on the app.”

4. Instagram: Increased transparency for branded content

As the influence of… influencers grows on Instagram, controversy over undeclared sponsored posts increased. To combat the lack of transparency and potential loss of trust, Instagram introduced a tool to allow content publishers to tag the business they’re collaborating with on posts. It appears as a subheading that begins with “Paid Partnership with….”, with a link to the business partner’s own account. See below!

This selection is a small sample of some of the many important changes that happened in 2017 and it’s very exciting to see what 2018 holds for social media platforms. Find out our predictions in our next blog post!

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