Facebook adds CTA stickers in Stories for businesses
Facebook Stories are growing, thank god, given the amount of time and $$$ the platform has invested in promoting and improving them. The latest boost to the feature is the introduction of call-to-action stickers for Page Stories, designed to help businesses make more effective use of the option via direct response tools. You can now prompt Facebook Stories viewers to 'Shop Now', 'Get Directions' or 'Book', directly from the Stories feed. Despite the aforementioned growth, fewer than 10% of users view Stories on the platform. Facebook needs to keep plugging away with updates like this to stand any chance of long-term Stories success.
Horizontal scrolling traumatises Instagram users
WTF HAS HAPPENED TO MY INSTAGRAM FEED was the cry from many users shortly after Christmas. Instead of scrolling through posts vertically, some people were forced to swipe and tap left and right through their feeds, leaving them rightfully traumatised. Of course, #instagramupdate started trending on Twitter with people expressing their outrage. It's all back to normal now - Instagram has explained that it was "a very small test that went broad by accident".
Instagram updates countdown and question stickers
In happier news for Instagram, the platform has introduced some new features to its Stories format. It now has a new countdown sticker, so users can count down to upcoming moments of their choice. But it's the question sticker that's the most exciting - users can now respond to questions with music (as you do) and there are also new camera effects that will respond to the music being played. Question stickers are also coming to Live videos; instead of getting lost in the chat stream, questions chosen by the user streaming will be shown on-screen, so all viewers can see which ones are being answered. Any questions?
Facebook adds selfie mode and Boomerang support to Messenger
If, like me, your face is still suffering from post-Christmas bloat, you might want to hold off on using Facebook Messenger's new update. The platform has added a new a Selfie mode that automatically blurs out the background - currently the best bit of my profile shots. It's also added native support for looping Boomerang videos and boosted its existing augmented reality offering with an AR feature that allows you to place Messenger’s stickers in your photos and videos.
Facebook is reportedly developing a cryptocurrency for WhatsApp
One for the crypto-nuts - Facebook is said to be working on a cryptocurrency that will let users transfer money on WhatsApp. The stablecoin, a type of digital currency pegged to the U.S. dollar, will apparently focus first on the remittances market in India. Presumably, if successful, it'll make its way to everyone at some point. It's a long way off though - Facebook is still working on the strategy.
Snapchat introduces Lens Challenges
Looking to brighten up your dreary January? Look no further - Snapchat has introduced Lens Challenges: themed challenges that incorporate a special Snapchat Lens, which can then be featured for the app’s community. For example, over the festive season, Snapchat users could select a specific Lens that would allow them to sing a version of “Jingle Bells” performed by Gwen Stefani. Those looking to get involved in challenges (and you'd be mad not to) should head over to Snapchat's Lens Explorer.
Twitter rolls out Sparkle button
Twitter has rolled out its 'Sparkle' button, which will enable everyone to easily opt out of the algorithm-defined feed and see the most recent tweets from those they follow first. Weird name aside, Sparkle should be a welcome move from the platform, as many people see the algorithm as working against the real-time USP of Twitter. But there's a big catch - users used to be able to permanently turn off the algorithm in their settings - now they have to do it by tapping a button every time they use the app.
Overseas U.K. footy fans to receive highlights via Twitter bot
Twitter and The Football Association in the U.K. have teamed up to help keep overseas fans in the loop with the latest footy highlights. They've created a direct messaging bot that will deliver video highlights to fans in over 10 markets — including the U.S., India and Egypt - during the Emirates FA Cup tournament. Twitter followers of Arsenal, Chelsea, Man U et al will receive their clips within minutes of the action taking place, as well extended highlights post-match.