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Most of the time updates to social media come with a lot of attention, but new updates to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Snapchat may have passed you by!
It seems like social media websites and apps are constantly updating to fix bugs, tweak performance issues, and occasionally to rearrange their features into slightly different formations (I’m looking at you, Facebook). Often apps and websites update automatically, so I rarely think to look into what has changed from month-to-month.
If you’re anything like me, you probably get along just fine with this approach to social media.
However, on occasion this lack of attention can leave you in the dark about new features that are added to updates, seemingly as an afterthought.
Over the last couple of months, several popular social media apps and websites have made small-but-significant changes to their mobile and web platforms. Sometimes this means solving a problem that users have wanted forever, and other times it means adding new features that no one ever even thought to ask for… but that have ended up actually being pretty fun or useful.
So, in case you missed them when they were released — here are all the latest updates to your social media platforms that you should be aware of!
News Feed Preference Controls
We all walk an awkward line on Facebook – do you add people to be polite, or do you not add them because you really don’t care what they had for breakfast?
Facebook is constantly on a quest to save you from yourself when it comes to this battle between your sanity and your real-world relationships. Because of this, many of Facebook’s updates and algorithms have to do with helping you to be less frustrated with your Facebook newsfeed, and making it more representative of the content you want to see.
Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible for Facebook to do anything about your annoying cousin Carol sharing endless recipes if you don’t tell them!
The new ‘News Feed Preferences’ option (found under settings on your mobile app, and as part of the dropdown menu you would use to log out on the web) walks you through four steps to revitalize your newsfeed.
This control allows you to select friends and pages who you want to appear first in your newsfeed, gives you a central location from which you can unfollow as many people and pages as you desire, reminds you of who you have unfollowed in the past, and gives you a list of pages that may be of interest to you.
The entire control is intuitive and only takes a few minutes to go through – a small investment for the enormous amount of stress relief that it will provide you in the long term!
Track Down Tweets with Google
Twitter is one of the most important social media platforms online. Despite its 140-character limit, it’s often the best source for up-to-date news and important commentary.
Before August, if you wanted to search for relevant tweets on the web you had to search for them from Twitter itself — a bit of a headache, especially since Twitter can make finding the Tweets you want difficult.
However, Google has recently updated their search parameters to include Tweets, meaning that your Google searches will no longer leave out these key pieces of information.
Send Longer Direct Messages
Anyone who’s ever been involved in either side of a customer service direct message, or tried to have a private conversation in response to a Tweet has likely been incredibly frustrated to learn that Twitter’s 140-character limit applies to direct messages as well as actual Tweets.
Thankfully, a recent update removed this requirement – giving users the freedom to communicate more effectively through direct messages without any text talk or abbreviated sentences!
“Think Outside the Square” Solution
I don’t know about you, but I have always struggled with Instagram’s requirement for square photos.
“What a great photo of my friends! Wait… which friends do I like least?”
“Finally the perfect selfie! Um… would I rather have my chin or my forehead in the photo?”
After years of people having to use third-party photo-editing apps as workarounds to Instagram’s strictly square crops, Instagram finally released an update in August that allowed users to “Think Outside the Square”.
The update means that full photos, be they horizontal or portrait, can now be uploaded to Instagram without any cropping at all – just tap the ‘format’ icon to switch between orientations, and enjoy finally being able to show off your vacation photos in their entirety!
Being able to show your entire photo should improve it’s quality – and according to the science of Instagram likes, this update should definitely help you to improve your influence on this platform!
Improved Web Functionality
Another overdue update for Instagram was their addition of search functionality to their web platform.
Up until July, it was impossible to find anyone or anything on Instagram if you didn’t already know a person’s Instagram handle. Now, hashtags and usernames can be searched from a native search bar at the top of Instagram’s homepage.
While you still can’t upload photos directly from your computer, this tiny (but welcomed!) update greatly improves Instagram’s web interface, and indicates a shift away from their almost exclusively mobile-based history.
Tumblr’s updates are always a little, er, chaotic (to say the least).
If you’re a regular user of Tumblr’s web interface it’s highly unlikely that you missed the update to its reblog feature, but if you’re primarily a mobile user or use Tumblr only occasionally, then you probably need a heads up.
The old, nested text-based reblog format was something that wasn’t questioned by most of Tumblr’s users, and that lent itself to a popular appearance for running jokes and commentary. The new design is an easier-to-read reblog format, but appears differently on your dashboard, on mobile, and on your personal blog.
While this doesn’t really change Tumblr’s functionality, it has changed some of the informal community behaviours around reblogging – so if you want to use Tumblr effectively, then you should probably be aware of this change!
Snapchat is king when it comes to cryptic and unannounced updates – especially when it comes to the ever-changing and mysterious emoji language that appears next to your friends’ names.
I’ve given up any hope of understanding those.
The last update to Snapchat debuted Snapchat Lenses. Lenses are new filters that are applied while you are taking a selfie-style Snapchat to send to your friends. Tap and hold your finger over your face, and then select from a variety of Lenses that will animate your features. Some Lenses add stickers or emotions to your face, others make you vomit rainbows or show you getting slapped by an animated hand.
Like most of Snapchat’s features, the purpose of Lenses is a little unclear but decidedly addicting and already very popular with Snapchat’s teenage audience.
Snapchat Replays new paid option is the first real attempt that Snapchat has made at monetizing its services. The app has offered one free Replay a day for the last few months, but now users will able to purchase additional replays at the price of three Replays per $0.99.
Paid Replays are currently only available in the US, and each Snap can still only be replayed once. Still, if you often find yourself regretting a missed opportunity to screenshot a particularly ugly photo of your best friend, maybe the $0.99 is worth that second chance!
Buyable Pins make Shopping Easier
Pinterest is a big contender when it comes to shopping online through social media. It’s got one of the biggest and best curated libraries of products that consumers find desirable.
Unfortunately, it can be hard for companies to tap into this resource and actually make their sale.
Buyable pins are looking to change this. Now, pins that link to specific products can come with a “Buy It” button found next to the classic “Pin It” option. This option is available on iOS devices and allows users to make their purchase from within the app itself using ApplePay or their credit card, instead of linking them out to the shop’s website.
This new functionality may be what finally turns Pinterest from a window-shopping destination into a platform for retail sales.
Updates for Days
There’s a social media network for every niche you can imagine, so keeping track of all the different updates can be a bit of a headache. With that said, though, it’s probably worth skimming the update information before hitting install – just so you know you’re not missing a new improvement!
Did any of these updates surprise you? What updates do you think your favourite social media platform needs to make? (Personally, I’m still holding out for that dislike button on Facebook…)