iMessage is no longer your safe space, but it ain’t all bad
In an unsurprising move by Apple, they’ve let third-party developers in the door of iMessage, so you’ll now be able to do all kinds of things without leaving the app such as paying back your mates or ordering takeaway. Despite the app invasion, APPle is simply attempting to make your life even easier. Who doesn’t want to be able to send rich links that play music and video directly in their feed and share someone’s contact details in a less-confusing way? Ah, the simple life…

Snapchat’s meteoric growth continues
Just one week after news leaked that Snapchat had acquired more users than Twitter, an official report predicted it will grow another 27% in the U.S. this year. The platform’s predicted growth rate far exceeds that of mobile messaging in general—the category as a whole, by comparison, is expected to grow by 16% in the U.S. this year. C’mon, Australia, we can’t let America win here. Happy Snapping, everyone!

Snapchat growth

82% of mobile sharing happens ‘in the dark’
A new report revealed that a vast majority of mobile sharing happens on ‘dark social’, which is the ever-so-slightly sinister term for sharing via private messages or emails rather than visible social networks. That’s according to RadiumOne’s new report, ‘the dark side of mobile sharing’. The report found just 13% of shares happen on Facebook, with the remaining 10% on other public social networks. This has increased since 2014, when numbers were below 50%. While any engagement can be considered a good engagement, darkness isn’t ideal for those seeking virality (so basically, everyone). Regardless, welcome to the dark side! A very scary place for brands…

UK, Italy, Netherlands and Norway top European social media chart
More than half the population of Western Europe will be using social networks by 2019, according to new eMarketer research.  The Netherlands, Italy, Norway and the UK already have some of the highest rates of social network usage in Western Europe, with at least 69% of Internet users subscribing to social. By contrast, France and Germany claim just 55.7% and 57.1% of Internet users, respectively. Researchers blame the difference on factors including privacy concerns and language barriers.

European social media use

Facebook turns panoramas into 3D tiltable images…
…and I just invented the word ’tiltable’. Regardless, got few beach, mountaintop or cityscape panoramas floating around your phone? Well, beginning this week, Facebook will convert them into 3D tiltable images. The images can be explored by moving your phone or in 3D if you’ve got a Samsung Gear VR headset. Brands including NASA and the New York Times have already announced plans to use the feature, so make sure you share your ‘amazing’ pictures soon before anyone can compare them to professional ones.

Facebook panoramas 3d

Facebook allows you to comment in video format
So impressed with NASA’s panorama that you want to make a video thanking them personally? Well, now you can. Starting this week, you will be able to upload videos directly into the comment feed on posts. And for the inner troll in all of us, we now reserve the right to host a recorded video debate with other commenters all within one thread. I don’t know about you, but I plan to keep a keen eye on all Trump posts from now on. Should be quite entertaining cinema!

Snapchat launches ‘subscribe’ button and enables previews in Stories

Snapchat users can now subscribe to Discover publishers – a move that will help networks grow their audiences while also enabling users to prioritise their favourite sources of news and entertainment. The move comes alongside Snapchat’s refreshed Story page, which now combines a rolling selection of Live Stories from friends with Discover content and tops it off with story images and headlines.

Snapchat preview in Stories

Snapchat pumps up the volume
Just a few weeks after Facebook claimed the majority of videos viewed on the site had the sound off, Snapchat decided to appeal their claims and prove the value of sound in ads. The platform teamed up with ad measurement company, Moat, to help marketers better understand their campaigns’ effectiveness, particularly as it pertains to audio. Clement Xue, head of revenue operations, said the combination of visual attention, audio and user-choice enabled users to ‘lean in when they are consuming or engaging with ads’.

Twitter launches crew of ‘insiders’
Want to work for no money at Twitter? The network recently recruited 12,000  ‘insiders’ to allow brands to stress test campaigns before they launch. The ‘insiders’, who are paid in vouchers and electronics, are all anonymous, at least 16 years of age and live in the U.S. or the U.K. Advertisers can recruit them for short and long-term projects, ranging from simple surveys to in-depth research.

Pinterest to measure success of promoted pins for brands
Here’s a network we haven’t heard from in a while. In an attempt to keep up with social rivals Snapchat and Instagram, Pinterest launched a partnership with Oracle to measure the impact of its Promoted Pins.  The move comes after the launch of a report that found Promoted Pins created a five-fold incremental increase in in-store sales.

New tools from LinkedIn
LinkedIn is launching premium insights to help users ‘make smarter, more informed business decisions‘. Premium insights will include data around hiring, job openings and employee roles, as well as information on where senior employees go after they leave a company. Beginning today, premium users of the service can access this information for any company on LinkedIn with 30 or more employees.