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Snapchat Makes Changes to Allow It to Compete for Social Media Advertising

snapchatAs Twitter is struggling to find relevancy with today’s users, Snapchat is beginning to dominate the time that people used to spend on other social media sites. Snapchat itself has been growing in popularity since its initial launch to the point where users are averaging 24-30 minutes spent on this particular application each day. With this level of success, it is no wonder that Snapchat is starting to look for ways to profit more from the time users spend on the application.


After a recent update where Snapchat made many small changes to the way the stories are displayed on their app and to icons on the app, they announced that a new update was coming as well. This new update is going to make it so that advertisers will be able to easily create ads and submit these to the app without having to talk directly to a Snapchat representative. With a high level of advertising customization, advertisers will be able create a place where users can swipe to go to their site, buy their product, or do anything else that benefits the advertiser. They will even be able to target their advertisements to a range of demographics. This should help to make it so that advertisers are able to more easily submit and customize their advertisements.


In addition to just making some changes in the submission process, they announced exactly where these ads would be appearing. The ads will work a lot like the ones on YouTube do where users have to see the ads before watching the videos. In this case, the advertisements will appear between the stories that users view as they are scrolling through their feed looking for updates from friends.


Already, Snapchat is starting to see a bit of an adverse reaction to the newly announced advertisements. Many users are worried that the ads will become annoying and intrusive after this initial change to the social media application. For now, Snapchat allows the option of scrolling past these ads, but many users fear that this will change over time. If Snapchat can successfully add a greater number of advertisements into their app, without upsetting their user base, they may have a good chance of taking a lot of the advertising dollars that currently go to Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Adds Video Comments to Change User Interactions

video on cell phoneIn a recent change to their social media platform, Facebook now allows users to post comments in the form of videos downloaded from a phone or a computer. This is a new extension to the ever expanding number of ways for users to interact with each other on posts made through Facebook. With the addition of video comments users will be able to use their videos in ways that they never have been able to use them before.


This new addition to Facebook was created during their 50th hackathon back in February, but had to go through several months of tweaks and tests before being released to all of their users. Initially the change was only available when visiting the site on a computer, but it is now going to be in the newest update for the Facebook app on mobile phones as well. This will allow users on all platforms access to this particular feature.


To use a video as a comment, users only have to click on the same camera icon that they would have previously used just to add photos to comments. They will then be given the option to upload either a picture or a video to add as a part of their comment. Videos are just the latest in a whole group of additions for visual comments in the past. They arrive in the wake of pictures, stickers, links, and emojis which were all previous additions to comments.


Most people see the addition of videos to their comments on Facebook as no surprise because it continues to follow Facebook’s current trend of putting a higher emphasis on video. As the social media site grows and changes, it is clear that video and adding more uses for video is one of its huge goals. Many suggest that this is Facebook’s way of getting in on the success of Snapchat and similar apps. As Facebook continues to transform their site to be more video friendly, updates like this one just make sense.

Twitter Searches for CEO, Begins to Make Changes

ieplexus blog 1-18-16Earlier this month, Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, announced that he would be resigning as CEO at the beginning of July, at which time he will be replaced by another CEO, chosen by Twitter’s board of directors. Having split his time between Twitter and Square, a platform for accepting debit and credit card payments, it is likely that he will be aiming to focus primarily on Square. Twitter’s board of directors has said in response that they are hoping to ensure that Dorsey’s replacement is focused entirely on Twitter. They want someone “in a position to make a full-time commitment.”

A shift behind the scenes isn’t the only thing changing for Twitter. There have been some major changes in the past weeks since Dorsey announced that he was stepping down. Last week, for instance, they announced that product pages would be creatable on Twitter, featuring tweets, supplementary information about certain products, as well as the ability for users to easily purchase that product through Twitter. Additionally, users will be able to view ‘top tweets’ about a product, effectively allowing Twitter to operate as a reviewing service.

In another interesting move, Twitter has announced something called Project Lightning, which is a feature that will allow users to browse tweets based on live events, from music festivals to protests. These experiences will be curated by a team of editors, rather than automatically swept in via hashtag. Overall, Project Lightning sounds somewhat similar to Snapchat Stories and its approach to handling live events. Project Lightning is expected to be released later this year. In the meantime, Twitter’s search for a new CEO might lead them down other interesting avenues. It’s not impossible that they wind up picking Snoop Dogg, who has put himself into the running.

The Broadening Horizons of Snapchat

Picture 3-5-2015Like any social network, Snapchat is always trying to find new ways to expand and evolve. Recently, they added the ability for different brands to get content to interested users through Snapchat Discover. However, there have been other ways that Snapchat has been trying to appeal to their users, albeit with mixed results. Snapchat launched an ephemeral scripted web series through Snapchat Discover called Literally Can’t Even, which is interesting in that episodes can only be watched for 24 hours before disappearing, but has premiered to largely negative reviews.

Better responses have been received from a different feature that was recently added to Snapchat. Last month, Snapchat began allowing users to record video while playing music from their phones, whether they’re using Spotify, Pandora, or the phone’s built-in MP3 player. Previously, Snapchat did not allow users to play music from apps like these at the same time as shooting video, so this may give users some additional versatility regarding the videos they share on Snapchat.

Not everything that Snapchat has been doing has been about adding new features. In fact, there were some negative reactions when Snapchat added the Snapchat Discover feature, because it came alongside the removal of the ‘Best Friends’ feature. This was a fairly minor feature that allowed users to view the top three users that one of their friends exchanged Snapchat messages with.

Many people, likely accustomed to the somewhat voyeuristic aspects of social networking, were displeased that this feature had been removed, considering it allowed users to see who their friends were messaging the most, on an otherwise private social media app. The CEO of Snapchat responded that the Best Friends feature will be returning in a different form, though there have been no updates about the feature since then.

Snapchat Discover Offers Content from Major Brands

Picture 1-29-2015Snapchat has known for a long time that their platform could be monetized. That’s why they turned down billions of dollars that were offered when Facebook attempted to purchase them. However, we hadn’t seen many ways that Snapchat was actually pursuing these sorts of endeavors, apart from some occasional ads that have made their way into users’ Snapchat apps. This week, however, things changed with the launch of Snapchat Discover, which will be offering content from brands such as CNN, ESPN, Comedy Central, and more.

Snapchat Discover will allow all sorts of different brands to deliver content to users and users can pick which brands they hope to see information from. These brands will be able to regularly launch their own ephemeral content for users to check out and Snapchat Discover will be regularly refreshed with new options for users to browse through. The featured brands will change from day to day. Snapchat Discover launched with CNN, Comedy Central, Cosmopolitan, Daily Mail, ESPN, Food Network, National Geographic, People, Vice, Yahoo News, and Warner Music Group, but these will change daily.

Snapchat is not requiring companies to pay to feature content on their app. The way that Snapchat Discover will work to generate money will be by selling ad space that runs alongside the content that is viewed through Snapchat Discover. For instance, CNN content appears alongside BMW ads, while Vice content shows up with ads for GrubHub. Snapchat Discover could be a real game-changer for the way different companies will be spreading information to their user base. Furthermore, being on Snapchat will allow these brands to expand their user base by offering content to a younger demographic, the group that most frequently uses Snapchat.

Snapchat Continues to Find Ways to Stay Relevant

Picture 12-24-2014Some could argue that 2014 has been a bit of a rough year for Snapchat. Though this is the year that Snapchat was monetized for the first time, the ephemeral social media app ran into a variety of snags. In one instance, third-party apps allowed many photos taken with Snapchat to be saved and eventually exposed, in an event known as ‘The Snappening.’ However, Snapchat has proven this year that they are willing to change and alter their interface to provide a better experience for its users. In reaction to The Snappening, Snapchat added a function that allowed users to see if another app was saving pictures from Snapchat.

Another hurdle for Snapchat occurred when the Sony Pictures hack organized by North Korea led to a variety of Snapchat company secrets being exposed. These leaked emails had a number of early reveals to the public about what Snapchat will be working on in the future. One that stands out in particular would have to be the fact that Snapchat has met with Sony Music Entertainment in an attempt to bring a music service to the Snapchat platform, an interesting move that is definitely different from the norm for Snapchat.

Though some of Snapchat’s recent announcements and information reveals have been reactionary, Snapchat has found plenty of other ways to upgrade their service in the past few months. In November, Snapchat launched Snapcash, a feature that allows friends to send money to one another via debit card. They also opened up their Geofilters tool to the public a few weeks ago, which allows users to submit artwork that will appear as a geo-targeted filter in Snapchat photos. With these recent developments, one can only expect that Snapchat will continue to expand in the future.

The Aim to Consolidate Your Social Media

Picture 11-13-2014These days, many people find themselves with profiles on many different social networks: one person alone might have separate Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and Instagram accounts, on top of plenty of others. As these social networks continue to grow, some app developers have been trying to find ways to make it easier to combine all the functions of these social networks into one consolidated application. This is something that has been handled in different ways, depending on the app.

Many of these apps work directly with existing social networks. For example, Snowball is an application that allows Android users to have a universal inbox for different messaging clients. This way, users are able to view all of their messages on one simple home screen. The app includes messages from Facebook Messenger, Twitter, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Google Hangouts, and more, as well as including basic text messages in the mix. Comparatively, on iOS, an application called Accounts has been launched, which is more of an attempt to create a universal address book. It pulls from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit, and more and attempts to aggregate these accounts to make things easier for its user base.

Other new applications seek to enhance the features of your existing social media apps. For instance, Xpire is an app for iOS that’s focused on the ephemerality of all of your social networks. It aims to allow your Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr posts to effectively self-destruct in the same way that Snapchat automatically allows you to. This app also has other features, such as allowing users to determine how much inappropriate content appears on their Twitter account (which may lead users to want their tweets to be a bit more ephemeral).

Still others are trying to launch mobile apps that will work as replacements for other social media apps, by offering multiple features all in one. One notable instance of this would be Selphee, an app that has been billed as Snapchat, Instagram, and Vine combined. Even Selphee, which features all of these functions, still allows users to share photos and videos through existing social networks, however. Each new app appears to be one step closer to our social networks being nearly interchangeable and smoothly working together as cogs in a social media machine.

Snapchat Buckles and Finally Gets Advertisements

Picture 10-23-2014For a while now, it’s been apparent that Snapchat would eventually be getting advertisements. Though the value of the company has been incredibly high, having turned down a $3 billion offer from Facebook (although some claims value the company at $10 billion), the company has not been generating a whole lot of revenue. Rumblings came a couple of weeks ago stating that Evan Spiegel, the owner of Snapchat, had decided that ads would be coming to the popular mobile application soon. It seems that time has finally come.

The ads, which were implemented for the first time this weekend, appear in the Snapchat Stories section of the app, rather than appearing intrusively in personal snaps that have been sent from user to user. The advertisements will only play if a user chooses to activate them from the app and — like other Snapchat Stories — they disappear after being viewed or after 24 hours. The company has been fairly straightforward about the reason behind the ads: they need to make money.

Snapchat does not intend to target their ads towards users, hoping instead to include ads that are merely fun and informative. The first ad that has been launched through this medium has been a 20-second trailer for the horror movie Ouija, which is due to be released tomorrow. It is not yet clear how frequently Snapchat will be rotating out new advertisements, but it’s likely that Snapchat users will be seeing a number of new ways to view ads through Snapchat as they continue to experiment.

The Snappening: Hackers Cause the First Major Snapchat Leak

Picture 10-16-2014Snapchat’s core purpose is to provide its users with the ability to privately send photos and messages that will disappear forever after a short period of time. However, some third-party applications have been attempting to combat this aspect of the ephemeral social network. Apps like SaveSnap and SnapSpy allow users to save the photos that are sent to them, ultimately defeating the entire purpose of Snapchat. The existence of these sorts of apps is a huge problem in regards to the safety of what one sends via Snapchat, which was proven in an event the Internet has been calling ‘The Snappening’.

Initially, it was unknown whether or not the hack had actually happened, but claims were being made on anonymous image-boards saying that hackers had found a way to access stolen Snapchat photos through a third party app and planned to release the sexually explicit pictures alongside those users’ usernames. Snapchat was able to confirm that there was a leak, but that their servers had never been breached and that their user base had been victimized by one of the many third-party apps intended to add other features to Snapchat.

However, the leak was ultimately confirmed as true when a collection of nearly 98,000 files was posted to a torrenting website called The Pirate Bay. Rather than a third party app, it was revealed that the leak actually came from a website that offered similar features, called, which was shut down after the leak. Furthermore, a website called was launched, making the content acquired from the incident publicly available to anyone with access to the Internet.

The website was receiving more than 5 million views a day but was quickly shut down by the administrator, potentially for legal reasons, considering the high likelihood that the images acquired including pictures of underage pornography. Snapchat has a reputation for being used by younger users for these sort of purposes, considering the intention of Snapchat is for these sorts of pictures to remain private. Following this incident and the iCloud breach that resulted in the leak of many nude celebrity photos, only time will tell whether people continue to trust these sorts of mobile apps and features.

Secrecy, Privacy, and Ephemerality in Social Media

Picture 9-11-2014In a world where millions of people post every thought, photograph, or video to our social media profiles, we have effectively given up our privacy. And yet we still cling to the idea of privacy, even if that just means setting some sort of limit to the people who see all the things we’re posting for everyone else to see. Social media security has been a hot-button issue for this reason and over the course of the past couple of years, there have been a large number of breaches and hacks where social media users’ information has been compromised. I’ve talked before about hacks that affected Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, but these are not the only social media networks and apps that have had breaches in their security.

Back in June, the simplistic social media app Yo was hacked by three college students, who were able to get the phone numbers and contacts of every Yo user as well as being able to send them false messages that appeared to be from other users. Considering Yo was developed in merely eight hours, it wasn’t a huge surprise that there were security issues, but what’s disturbing is how quickly users latched on to the new hot social media app without considering that their personal information might be at stake. The social network Secret was marketed as the ‘anonymous social network’ but hackers last month were able to find an easy way to make it a lot less anonymous.

Though Yo and Secret have issued fixes to these security breaches, as have the larger, more popular social networks, it would not be crazy to say that our faith in social network security is waning. Facebook is making efforts to change things; they acquired a cybersecurity start-up company called PrivateCore last month in an effort to help protect the data of Facebook users. However, with the state of social media privacy and security still unsure, there are other things people and social networks are turning to (including Facebook).

Ephemerality is the nature of apps like Snapchat, Bolt, Slingshot, and plenty of similar social media applications. The idea here is to ensure some manner of privacy by making messages, photos, and videos only appear temporarily before being deleted forever. Recently, Facebook began testing their own new ephemeral feature, which will allow users to use a ‘Choose Expiration’ function. This feature will give posts a life expectancy from anywhere between an hour and a week. Thus far, this feature has only been available to a small set of users operating Facebook for iOS and it is unclear what the future of the feature may be.