Social media is a rapidly-changing landscape and every month scores of new Facebook features are introduced. It can be tricky for social media professionals to not only keep on top of what’s new in their industry, but also to pick out the bits that are relevant to them. The past month in particular has seen some big new features on Facebook released - here is our pick of the three that you need to be aware of.
New Facebook Ads Manager
Whilst there may have been changes this month that generated more fanfare than this one (I’m looking at you, Twitter), one of the new Facebook features is without a doubt the most important one for advertisers. As you probably know, in the past Facebook had two ways to create and publish a new ad set: Ads Manager and Power Editor. The former was a relatively simple, stripped-back way to create a new ad campaign, whilst the latter offered Facebook’s full range of targeting and customisation options for Facebook advertising experts.
However, that’s all changed. Over the past 12 months Facebook have slowly been combining the two tools into one interface, which will be creatively entitled Ads Manager. In the last month, it seems that process has been completed and the new tool rolled out to all users. Users are now faced with two options when creating a new ad campaign, one aimed at beginners and the other at advanced users. You can head here to watch a short video about the new changes that have been introduced or to the next link for some Facebook advertising tips.
Facebook for Nonprofits
In September the social network also announced three new Facebook features aimed at nonprofits, but with potential benefits for companies and users outside of that sector.
Collecting donations directly through Facebook
Facebook Live donations
Although these features have been available in the US for around a year now, last month they started to roll out across Europe too. This order of doing things is pretty standard for new Facebook features: their recently-announced ‘Watch’ feature is seemingly doing the same thing too.
The first feature will now allow users to donate to charities of their choice via the ‘Donate’ button on charities’ pages without leaving Facebook. Whilst this button has existed since 2015, in the past users would be directed to a donate button on the charity’s website rather than donating directly from Facebook.
This new functionality will also be utilised in something that looks suspiciously like another step in Facebook’s conquest to be everything to everyone. So watch out JustGiving and your ilk - because they’re making a serious landgrab for your territory. Facebook Fundraisers will offer fundraisers the 'opportunity to tell their stories, spread awareness about nonprofits and rally support around a goal’. It's something that actually makes a whole lot of sense given the regularity with which links to JustGiving or similar appear on my timeline. I know I’ve posted similar stuff before!
The final new Facebook feature for nonprofits is the most intriguing, and one which could be of interest to companies outside of the charity sector too. Users will now be able to donate to a cause during Facebook Live streaming, which has obvious benefits for charities and also regular companies who partake in charitable work. It’s certainly something to bear in mind if your business is planning a charity fundraiser in the near future, given that Facebook Live has been shown to be the post format which reaches the most people.
Integrating Instagram Stories with Facebook Ads
Moving onto Instagram, but kinda sticking with Facebook too, the increasingly-popular Instagram Stories - with 50% of businesses having used it in the past month - is going to be integrated into the brand new Facebook Ads Manager mentioned at the start of this blog post. As part of this, users will be given the opportunity to use Facebook Canvas format within new Instagram Stories, the use of a whole bunch of creative tools such as face filters, boomerangs and drawing tools within ad campaigns. There will also be a new placement optimisation offering that will let you automatically add Instagram Stories to Facebook.
Given the huge popularity of Instagram Stories, this should be of interest to Facebook marketers and advertisers who are looking to jump on board with the latest social media trend. There are a few creative inspirations to take from Instagram’s blog post on the new feature, and now could be the perfect time to steal a march on competitors by embracing change.
BONUS: Twitter Lite
But enough of new Facebook features - as this month was a particularly important one in terms of changes for Twitter, I'm gonna throw in a couple at the end as a bonus. Twitter, now just a kind of noisy neighbour rather than competitor of Facebook, is following in the steps of its more illustrious counterpart by releasing a lighter version of its app. It boasts another creative title in the form of ‘Twitter Lite’. Whilst a mobile web version of this was rolled-out back in April, a Twitter Lite app has now appeared in the Google Play Store. According to the listing, here are its main features:
Loads quickly on 2G and 3G networks
Minimizes data usage — Turn on data saver mode to download only the images or videos you want to see
Takes up less space — At an install size under 3MB, Twitter Lite doesn’t take much room on your phone
The acknowledgement of Twitter that this is a move to make gains in emerging markets around the world should be of interest to anyone with a presence in a country such as the Philippines, where it is currently being tested. Although big pushes have been made by the social network in recent years to make your feed more media-rich, with videos, GIFs and live broadcasts now dominating, this approach remains problematic to users on a small data plan or with limited internet access. Brands should bear this in mind before relentlessly pushing out data-draining videos to followers who may not be totally receptive to them.
BONUS #2: 280 Characters
First things first: I don’t doubt whatsoever that you were already aware of this fairly seismic change to Twitter, but it seemed a little strange to run through the latest social media features without at least giving this a mention.
Yup, Twitter have finally moved away from their 140 character limit with the announcement that they will be doubling the allowance to a whopping 280 characters. It’s fair to say that the reaction to the news so has been mixed, with a new Chrome extension blocking 280-character tweets the most extreme reaction I’ve come across.
I’ll leave you to make up your mind on whether this is a good or a bad thing - it certainly offers brands more opportunity to go into detail on individual tweets, but there’s no doubt Twitter will lose some of its charm with the ditching of the 140-character limit that was so embedded within its DNA.
I'm a freelance community manager in Barcelona helping companies all over the world with their social media. Here's more information about my previous work with Ricoh, the University of Sheffield and Funky Pigeon.