As lockdown caused social media usage to soar by one hour per day on average as people were spending more time at home looking for connection and entertainment, social media platforms took note. Throughout the year, social media platforms were quick to respond to the new ways users were finding their communities online and created new features, trends and challenges.

Our research found that between March and June 2020, social platforms released 80 new features. 

BDB shares the teams’ favourite social media platform feature updates from this year.

1. Instagram Reels

Inspired by TikTok, in August, Instagram released Reels, a new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram where users can create and discover entertaining video content of up to 30-seconds. Creators can edit their video footage with tools such as AR effects, music and a countdown timer. Reels in Explore showcases the best of trending culture on Instagram. Reels give people new ways to express themselves, discover more of what they love on Instagram, and help anyone with the ambition of becoming a creator take centre stage.

Billion Dollar Boy data found that on average Instagram Reels get a play rate of 40.1% of an influencer’s follower count, while for TikTok this number is 9.4%. However, while play rate may be higher on Instagram, TikTok performs better in terms of engagement rate. UK influencers see an average engagement rate of 17.2% on TikTok, while for Reels this number is 5.1%. 

2. Instagram’s Official Challenge Sticker

2020 has been the year of social media challenges as more people looked for entertainment while staying home. Instagram launched its official challenge sticker for Stories in April this year, prompting more engagement. 

If users see a challenge they want to participate in while scrolling’ through Instagram stories, they can join instantly by tapping on the sticker. Doing so will bring you to the Instagram Stories camera where you can record your challenge and then nominate a few friends. No doubt the inspiration for this was TikTok, as TikTok has also been hugely important in driving the challenges trend. 

3. Pinterest Shopping Tools

Boosting Pinterest’ e-commerce ambitions, the platform launched its new Verified Merchant program in order to maximize its the availability of Shoppable Pins and connect Pinners through to products.

In April 2020, Pinterest added a new ‘Shop’option to your created Pinterest boards, which will provide buyable product recommendations based on the Pins you’ve added to your collection. It also added a new ‘Shop’section in search results, making it easier to shop in-stock products when conducting searches on the platform. In addition, Pinterest also added a new ‘Shop Similar’ button in visual search results.

4. Stories on Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Spotify

From Twitter Fleets, YouTube Shorts and Spotify’s Storyline, Stories have taken the social media limelight. Stories have been creeping into pretty much every social app in the past couple of years.

LinkedIn launched Snapchat-like Stories earlier this year, with the goal of meeting LinkedIn users “where their voices are.” Stories offer a lighter, more casual way of interacting in the business-focused world that makes up LinkedIn, instead of the formal messaging and posting that makes up the bulk of interactions on the site.

In September, YouTube launched a new short-form video experience called YouTube Shorts. The feature allows users to upload 15-second or less short-form videos using a new set of creator tools, including a multi-segment camera, similar to TikTok, speed controls and a timer and a countdown feature. The videos can also be set to music, thanks to YouTube’s access to a large library of songs that it says will continue to grow over time.

Meanwhile, Twitter launched Fleet, which sits right at the top of the timeline in a row of Stories-like bubbles. Fleets is a Stories clone, borrowing all of the best ideas implemented by Instagram and Snapchat. You can share text, respond to others’ tweets, or post videos with the same background colour and overlaid text options you get on other messaging apps with ephemeral features, with every message disappearing after 24 hours.

In November this year, Spotify tested a new Snapchat-style Stories feature alongside some of its playlists. The videos can be accessed from an icon on the top left of each supported playlist. Tapping it reveals an interface that’ll be familiar to anyone who’s ever watched an Instagram or Snapchat story, allowing you to tap on the left or right of the screen to skip through a collection of short video clips.

5. TikTok For Business

TikTok announced to advertisers that it’s open for business with the launch of TikTok For Business – its new global brand and platform for brands. The update now serves as the home for new products and services to allow brands to engage further with TikTok users. Brands now have access to TikTok ad formats, including TopView, which means your ad is the first one that appears when users open the TikTok app.

TikTok has set out to embrace the creative, positive, and real moments that make the community so special with solutions for businesses to connect and grow with the community.

If you are looking for support in your social strategy, get in touch: [email protected] 

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