Six months ago, we not-so-boldly made a prediction about 2021: “Change will continue to happen across all platforms.” There was so much change that happened in 2020 that it was a very easy thing to say.
Sure change is happening, but at the same time there’s a lot of copycat things happening. And one platform is trying to set itself aside from all the others that they don’t even call themselves a “social media” network anymore.
Without further delay, here are three things with each major platform that have happened so far this year.
The word “evolve” may fit better than “change” for Facebook – and many other platforms – so far this year.
1. Over the years Facebook has made efforts to keep you within its platform or its multiple other apps. That trend continues. Throughout the first half of the year, Facebook has been testing things like Audio Rooms to select audiences. Now just in time for the summer, you can talk and talk and talk to your friends in those rooms. You can listen to podcasts on the platform, too.
2. Facebook rolled out the ability to hide like counts to all users. This move also applies to Instagram.
3. Facebook has clamped down on misinformation throughout the first half of 2021 after battling false information around the pandemic and elections last year. This includes more labeling of information that has been proven false and removing repeat offenders.
At the end of 2020, a layout change put a big focus on Reels, which continues to grow in popularity. It’s been a bit quieter for Instagram so far this year, which has incorporated some of the changes that Facebook rolled out, such as the hiding likes feature. Here are a few other highlights:
2. This year is shaping up for more social media platforms to be more transparent. Instagram did this in early June with a lengthy blog post to explain its “algorithm,” which they say really isn’t an algorithm at all.
3. Another theme developing this year for Instagram is protecting and supporting communities. This includes things like having expert-backed resources available to people with eating disorders and new tools to combat hate speech.
We’ve focused quite a bit on Pinterest this year as the platform has distanced itself from all the others. They’re the ones that don’t want to be labeled “social media” anymore.
1. Pinterest is all about shopping, shopping, and more shopping. The ability to save Product Pins in one place is taking “window shopping” to another level in the virtual world. When you’re ready to buy those fun things you found, you don’t have to search around your saved Pins to find them.
2. Pinterest is getting more personal. A campaign dubbed “You might just surprise yourself” and the launch of “Interests” are two ways that the company is showing how you can use the platform to personalize your experience. It’s not like other social media platforms focusing on relationships — it’s much more about YOU and your interests that make you happy.
3. Benefits to businesses continue to build this year. As we write this, the holiday season is still quite a ways away. For many businesses, though, it’s already time to focus on what will happen at the end of the year. The Pinterest Business center has holiday planning posted, along with numerous other helpful tips and tricks for brands. This area gets more robust every time we check it out.
It’s felt somewhat quiet on Twitter so far this year, but the platform is setting up for much bigger second half of the year:
1. An audio boom started by Clubhouse in 2020 has spread to Twitter with the unveiling of Spaces.
2. Want to tip someone whose work you follow? The “Tip Jar” option was launched this spring.
3. There’s lots of testing happening. This includes more emoji reactions and letting users untag themselves in conversations.
This platform has remained fairly quiet, too, but there are still a few things definitely worth highlighting:
1. New marketing features make it easier for businesses to boost organic content and promote events.
2. LinkedIn launched “Creator Mode” in March to help people grow their following. In creator mode, your primary profile shows “Follow” instead of “Connect.” This mode also highlights original posts in a more front-and-center way on profiles.
3. You now have more control over who sees your posts and who can comment on them.
This platform has also remained fairly quiet, but with more than 2 billion users logging in each month, we don’t expect too many things to happen. That said, we still found a few things:
1. YouTube Shorts – an effort to compete with TikTok and Instagram Reels – continues to expand to more countries.
2. The video giant is turning away certain advertisers for prime ad placements. Ads related to alcohol, gambling or politics will no longer be featured at the top of their website and app.
3. Just in time to make this list — picture-in-picture viewing for iOS users is starting to roll out.
No, we didn’t forget about other platforms, such as TikTok, Snapchat or Clubhouse! Their impacts are certainly being felt and highlights on those platforms from this year can be found throughout our regular “Social Media in the News” feature.
What’s Ahead for the Rest of 2021?
This theme of platforms evolving rather than implementing a lot of change at once is surely to be expected. As things with the pandemic subside, humans are, well, being human again and getting back together in person.
The quick changes since early 2020 have subsided as platforms test new or enhanced features to smaller audiences first before a full rollout. The user experience may not change at much as it did at rapid paces a year ago. Check back here in 6 months to see if this holds up!
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