These days, it’s hard to read through feedly, email newsletters, updates, or social profiles without stumbling upon an article about the shifts in content, social media, and publishing — and the overlap that continues to encompass each of them. (If you’ve yet to read or hear anything about Facebook’s Instant Articles, then please let me be the first to welcome you home from your “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”-style bunker, my friend. It’s a miracle!)
The shifts and trends shaping our content, social media, and publishing practices are happening at record pace, and I’ll admit that it can sometimes be challenging to keep up. Getting up to speed on the specifics of each platform’s updates, what they look like in practice, how they work alongside other platforms’ changes, and how you can put all the pieces together for your strategy is a full-time job in itself.
As quickly as it’s adapting, the fact that all signs are pointing toward an online world of content that’s geared toward the user experience should be a light to guide your efforts. As a fellow content marketer, here are three of the most interesting B2B-relevant shifts I believe we need to understand to improve our efforts:
LinkedIn Explores ‘Instant Articles’ of Its Own
If you’ve read this blog before, you know how much we at Influence & Co. love LinkedIn. Its publishing platform is great for lead generation, expanded reach, education, and engagement — for influencers and individual contributors, not necessarily publishers.
These publishers are eager for their chance to distribute content on LinkedIn. In the wake of reported successes like more clicks on content links, increased shares, and the reduced likelihood of content abandonment from Facebook’s Instant Articles rollout, it makes perfect sense for the professional networking app to explore an Instant Articles option of its own. And as if the pressure to develop that option weren’t strong enough already, mobile users now represent 57 percent of all traffic to LinkedIn.
To improve the experiences of those mobile users and further establish itself as the go-to resource for business and professional news and insights, LinkedIn is set to explore its own version of Instant Articles.
Twitter Prepares for an Expanded Character Limit
Remember when rumors of Twitter’s potential 10,000-character limit made their way into the headlines of your favorite tech publications? And then we all kind of lost our minds because the reason we’d come to love Twitter in the first place was its refreshing brevity?
Well, Bloomberg reports that we can expect a much more reasonable expansion in the near future. Twitter will no longer count URLs and images against users’ 140-character limit, essentially giving users an additional 23 characters to express themselves without sacrificing the bite-sized glimpses the platform is known and loved for.
Not only does the expansion give marketers, content creators, and audiences more space to interact and connect with one another, but it also encourages the use of multimedia. Multimedia use improves engagement, expands options for creativity, and can potentially boost the quality and quantity of user-generated content on the platform that brands can take advantage of.
Instagram Tests Business Profiles and Analytics Features
Amid the clamor of consumer reactions to Instagram’s logo and app redesign — which, whether you like it or anticipate it will go down as “one of the biggest design fails of the year,” is certainly big news — you may have missed other exciting announcements about Instagram’s plans for the future. The image- and video-sharing app is currently testing two major updates that could change the way marketers use the platform.
In addition to the standard bio and website URL options in current profiles, Instagram’s new business profiles would include “Contact” buttons alongside the “Follow” buttons, allowing users to email accounts directly. These profiles will also include location and business category options (similar to industries in LinkedIn profiles).
Instagram is also testing a detailed analytics feature not unlike Facebook’s Insights. The long-awaited analytics are reported to include follower data like geographic distribution, age, and gender along with active engagement times and insights into post performance within a 30-day period.
Particularly for marketers who may have struggled to find the best way to optimize Instagram for their brands’ needs, both the business profiles and analytics features should be cause for celebration. Marketers, rejoice!
What This Means for Brands
Each of these updates highlights the continued shift toward a user- and consumer-focused world of communication. The experiences of our brands’ audience members should always be marketers’ top priority — this growing convergence of content, social, and publishing channels ensures we deliver on that.
How brands decide to prioritize that audience experience is up to them — whether that’s through improved content as a result of better analytics on social, extended character limits that facilitate creativity and engagement, or in-app content consumption. But as we continue down the path of network-focused content and cutting-edge analytics, you can bet that targeted, high-quality content and strategic platform alignment will remain front and center.
Which trends in content, social, and publishing are you most excited about? Let me know in the comments below!