Social Media

Twitter Polls Allow Users to Communicate on a Whole New Level

ieplexus blog 1 10-22-15In the world of social media, it makes sense for different websites to continually release new and different features that can set them apart from the others. Twitter is just one website that has been attempting to evolve to help keep the site popular. Since Twitter was first launched, there have been many big changes to the site to encourage people to continue using the site and to encourage new people to join. With some speculation that Twitter might be pushed out of the market by Instagram because of challenges within the platform, it is time for another big change.

The newest change for the Twitter platform is the roll out of a polling feature, which will allow followers to vote to signify their agreement or disagreement about a specific question or pick from two specific options available. This will allow businesses and individuals to put up simple polls to help them streamline a process that they might previously have conducted through hashtags or other Twitter features. This will make it significantly easier for anyone to use Twitter to construct an idea about the opinions of their followers.

The new poll feature of Twitter is starting out as something that will be fairly basic. Users will notice a pie chart button showing up on their Twitter within the next few days. By selecting this button, users will be able to construct basic polls to talk about anything as simple as whether a referee made the right call in a sports game or something that a business might actually need to collect information from customers about. This will give people who use Twitter the ability to communicate with their followers in a completely new way.

The Truth about Facebook’s Upcoming Dislike Button

Picture 9-17-2015The Internet has been taken by storm after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that Facebook is working on a ‘Dislike’ button. The Dislike button is one of Facebook’s most frequently requested features, likely because many other formats online (such as Reddit and Disqus) allow for a downvoting function to contrast the upvoting function that is equivalent to the Facebook ‘Like’ button. However, there are plenty of people who feel like a Dislike button would promote negativity, pettiness, and add to the existing problem of cyberbullying.

Most newswires seem split in their views; some believe that the Dislike button is a necessary feature that Facebook has been missing for years, while others believe that there is nothing good about the idea of a Dislike button. In either case, a lot of these newswires seem to be misinformed entirely about how this Dislike button is going to work. Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement specifically mentioned that he doesn’t want the Dislike button to be equivalent to Reddit’s downvote; he wants this button to allow users to show empathy and express themselves in more ways than the Like button currently allows, saying “Not every moment is a good moment.”

In reality, this upcoming Dislike button likely will not be as simple as a literal Dislike button. It’s more likely to take the form of a ‘Sorry’ button or something similar to that. This way, users would be able to express their condolences in situations like death, loss of a job, or the end of a relationship. Though Zuckerberg specifically mentioned that the Dislike button was being worked on it, it likely will not appear in the form that many people are expecting. The new feature, however it may appear, is likely to be rolled out in the coming weeks.

What Else Can Be Done with Social Networks?

Picture 9-10-2015When most people think about social networks, they see them as methods for keeping in touch with friends, family, and acquaintances. Social networks are frequently used for messaging, image sharing, and status updates, but there are so many more functions that social networks and applications can provide. With social media being a particularly competitive industry, most social networking companies are always looking to see what they can do for their user base that will separate them from the herd. For instance, Facebook has proven that their service can be used as a functional way to help people. Earlier this year, they launched a function that shares Amber Alerts with users in the area of a missing child, in an effort to make it easier for people to help.

There are other ways that various social networks are aiming to help people in ways that you might not expect. LinkedIn, which has functioned as a way to maintain a profile that potential employers can see, launched a standalone job search application last year, intended to help users find and apply for jobs easily. The application ensures privacy, so that users will not have to publicly declare that they are searching for a new job to their boss or co-workers. By separating these features in a dedicated application, LinkedIn hopes to make job searches easier for those in need of employment.

In addition to expansions of existing social networks, there are standalone social networking applications that are launching to provide helpful functions to users. For instance, Roomi launched in June as an application that makes it easier for people to find new roommates for their apartments and houses. This works as yet another example of how social media can work as a positive force, making tasks that once were difficult just a little bit easier. From everyday tasks like finding a roommate or a job to high-importance tasks like finding a missing child, it’s incredible to see what ways social media can benefit people.

Facebook Branches Out with Messenger, Events, and Notes

Picture 9-3-2015With the evolution of Messenger, Facebook has been doing its best to create standalone experiences that don’t necessarily have to work in tandem with the main social network. We’ve seen how Messenger has been evolving on its own; Facebook has been bringing new features to Messenger themselves and opening the platform up for third-party applications to provide users with even more interesting features. Most recently, it appears that Facebook is aiming to make the experience even more standalone. Since June, users have been able to sign up for Messenger without having active Facebook accounts, separating the app even further from the social network.

The success of Messenger has been very apparent, so it’s no surprise that Facebook is looking into creating standalone applications for other aspects of the social network. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has stated that Facebook Groups has 850 million active users, while Facebook Events has 450 million active users. Facebook has already launched a standalone Groups app, so it stands to reason that there could be an Events app coming in the near future, especially with Zuckerberg mentioning that Facebook Events had hit ‘global scale’ in a recent earnings call.

While Events may be next on the horizon for a standalone app, Facebook is also working on tweaks to the various utilities that will surely remain as part of the social network itself for the time being. Specifically, it seems that Facebook is planning on revamping Facebook Notes, transforming the area into a blogging platform rather than something that looks similar to other Facebook updates. The updates to Facebook Notes have not yet been rolled out to all users, but they show that Facebook is serious about updating every aspect of their interface and staying competitive with other platforms.

Meet M, Facebook’s New Personal Assistant

Picture 8-28-2015Last month, I spoke about a personal assistant that Facebook had been working on, at the time codenamed Moneypenny. It seems that the personal assistant’s final name is a different James Bond reference, however, as Facebook announced the launch of M this week. There are a number of ways that M will differ from other personal assistant services like Siri and Cortana. Primarily, M will work as a fusion between artificial intelligence and human input. Effectively, this means that your requests to M, as supervised by a team of people, will be able to complete tasks on your behalf.

Though M is still in its early stages, Facebook believes that they will be able to create the ultimate personal digital assistant with its unique build. M will be able to purchase items for you, deliver gifts, book restaurants, make appointments and travel arrangements, and so much more. Another way that M is differentiating itself is by avoiding the voice-activation that can sometimes be a nuisance with services like Siri and Cortana. Instead, you’ll ask questions via text and a real person, an AI, or some combination of the two depending on the task at hand, will respond to you.

M will be built into Messenger, so that you can easily communicate with your digital assistant without issue. There are many potential ways that M could be used that are getting people excited. With the combination of human and AI input, the possibilities are endless. There are likely to be plenty of business applications and ways that Facebook will be able to monetize M as well. Though M has not been fully rolled out yet, it has begun open testing with a select number of users in the Bay Area.

More Competition in the World of Live-Streaming

Picture 8-6-2015Live-streaming is something that I have discussed before. Applications like Periscope and Meerkat, which allow users to live-stream video on Twitter, are more popular than ever. Thus, it shouldn’t be incredibly surprising that there are other groups that are interested in getting in on the live-streaming magic. A number of other applications and updates are being released that will allow live-streaming to become available to an even broader audience, with a variety of different nuances and options that make them stand out from their potential competitors.

It’s probably least surprising that Facebook has decided to jump into the business of live-streaming, although they are handling it quite a bit differently than the options that have been available on Twitter. Facebook has added live-streaming as a feature called ‘Live’ to Facebook Mentions, which is the app that allows celebrities to connect with their fans. Thus, the live-streaming function is not available to all Facebook users and is instead only offered to those who have Facebook Mentions accounts. Anyone following these celebrities on Facebook is able to like, comment on, or share these live-streaming videos. The ‘Live’ product manager has stated that this feature may be rolled out to other users in the future, once the company has received feedback from public figures and viewers.

Another type of live-streaming has appeared that’s more accessible for the average person. With Blab, a new app currently in beta, users sign in with their Twitter information and can join a live-streaming video chat of up to four people. Effectively, the app manages to operate as Meerkat or Periscope, only for groups of people. Users can watch the video chat and can mute any of the windows at their leisure. Blab is expected to make waves, in that it could be used for interviews, debates, and other purposes.

Twitter Cracking Down on Joke Thievery

Picture 7-30-2015With its 140-character limit and far-reaching user base, it’s no surprise that many comedians have utilized Twitter to share jokes, quips, and puns with their followers, helping to develop their brand, bring in new fans, and make people laugh. However, there are plenty of people out there who aren’t particularly funny but still want to share jokes through Twitter, which is why uncredited joke thievery has become such a major problem on Twitter. It seems that finally Twitter is taking a stand against joke thieves.

Based on Twitter’s copyright rules, the social network is now allowing users to report tweets as stolen. When this occurs, the company will treat the report just like any other copyright infringement requests (which were previously mostly limited to images and videos). After determining if the tweet has indeed been stolen, the tweet will be removed from the thief’s page and marked as ‘withheld in response to a report from the copyright holder’.

This seems to all be part of Twitter’s recent decision to take a tougher stance against spam, abuse, and other problematic speech being shared on Twitter. Many of the joke thieves are spambots that simply repost things that are found on Twitter without credit. Of course, now that Twitter’s stance on this is out in the open, there are many people testing the waters of Twitter’s limits by tweeting out en masse the specific joke that was first recognized as an example of copyright infringement. It remains to be seen what will be done about things like this.

In the Future of Facebook: A Look Forward

Picture 7-23-2015As I’ve said many times before, it’s necessary and expected for social media to always be changing. That simply fits with the average attention span of the millennial generation and the overall user base of social media apps, who are always on the lookout for the next big thing. As the biggest social media platform, it’s always going to be important for Facebook to keep up with the times in order to stay relevant in a realm that’s always going to be introducing new types of competition from different angles. Currently, Facebook is working on a number of different major changes and ideas.

Businesses have been able to thrive with successful Facebook pages and Facebook’s next hope is that their users will be able to buy things directly from a business’s Facebook page, without even having to be redirected somewhere else. Facebook has been allowing users to connect their debit and credit cards to their accounts to make payments to other users for some time now. Apparently, the next step will be including a ‘Buy’ button for a number of retailers, which is something that they are currently working on testing. Another feature currently being tested is a ‘Watch Later’ button, which will allow users to save videos they find potentially interesting for later.

One of the most interesting recent developments is that Facebook is working on a personal assistant service that will be able to compete with Siri and Cortana. However, what separates their service – known as Moneypenny – from the others is that it won’t be a virtual assistant. Instead of being powered by computers, the intention is that Moneypenny will have a real human on the other end at all times. Unlike the other things that Facebook is testing, it is likely that Moneypenny may be quite a bit further away from completion, but it’s yet another interesting way that Facebook is trying to stay competitive.

Facebook Users Gain More Control over Their News Feeds

Picture 7-9-2015The newest way that Facebook has changed to provide users with a better experience is by making it easier to control what shows up in the News Feed. The updated version of the News Feed allows users to pick out which of their friends and acquaintances they’d like to see appear more in the News Feed. This feature will allow users to see all of the posts made by certain users. A Facebook user can select any number of their friends and no one but the initial user can see which friends have been chosen.

For a long time, Facebook’s News Feed has mostly been presented as part of an ‘algorithm’ that determines which posts you wanted to see more of based on your likes and interactions on Facebook. However, the people behind Facebook have recognized that this algorithm is far from perfect, which is why giving users a bit more direct control over what appears in their News Feed was a positive step forward for making Facebook more appealing to its users.

The News Feed changes are accessible from the ‘News Feed Preferences’ section of the Facebook app. This section now allows users to prioritize who they see first, unfollow other users to hide their posts, reconnect with those that have been unfollowed, and discover new pages. Though the new features are currently only available on the iOS platform, they are expected to be rolled out to the desktop and Android versions of Facebook in the coming weeks.

How Pinterest Has Improved Over the Last Year

Picture 7-2-2015When social networks are discussed, it’s usually Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat that are at the forefront of discussion, while other social media apps trail behind. However, Pinterest is still #37 on the Alexa web traffic rankings, showing that it’s really not as far behind the other social networks as people might think (Facebook is #2 and Twitter is #8, comparatively). One study in 2013 determined that Pinterest had more than 70 million users worldwide. Like any other social network, Pinterest has maintained their success by continuing to change and improve.

One of the larger changes for Pinterest happened when they launched their Guided Search and Place Search features, which effectively made it easier for users to search for things and places that are interesting to them. The new search engine updates also made it easier for Pinterest users to map Pins to a Place Board.  More recently, Pinterest announced that it was launching a set of intuitive tools that would make Pinterest connect much easier with Squarespace, a popular website builder and hosting service.

Earlier this week, Pinterest announced a major update for its users, which is a step in the direction towards making Pinterest a more monetized social network. They have launched a Buyable Pins feature, which effectively adds a ‘Buy’ button that lets users purchase products directly from Pinterest. Though this feature is only available on iOS platforms right now, it is expected to roll out to Android in the near future.