March 2016: 11 Key Social Media Updates for Today’s Communication Pros


Serena-Ehrlich-headshotBy Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media, Business Wire

In 2015, a Pew Research study showed us just how important leading networks are in news discovery. With over 63% of Twitter and Facebook users using these platforms as a new discovery forum, it only makes sense that communication professionals keep up to date on the changes within each platform and how those changes may impact PR and marketing programs.

In 2016, social networks are testing new features to increase usage of their services.  Below please find 11 key updates every PR pro should know related to news distribution and news consumption across social channels. Have questions? Please let us know!

CommProSM21) LinkedIN is now scraping news releases and using them to generate engagement opportunities. Talk about a coup for the PR profession.  In an effort to increase engagement, LinkedIN is now scraping news releases and promoting the contacts included in their “In the News” feed updates and push emails.  Look for the blue and white circle and the text that says: XYZ is in the news.  This is a great example of the how social networks are increasing the visibility of news releases, at no charge to the company or person included.



CommProSM3.jpg2) Twitter modified timeline is officially rolled out. While highly controversial in theory, the concept here is that Twitter wants to make sure you see tweets from your favorite people and brands first.  To set this up, open Twitter on your phone and click on settings, tap on timeline and click on timeline personalization.

Now, when you first log into Twitter, the initial tweets you see will not be in real time. Instead you will see the tweets Twitter thinks you want to see first, including breaking news, people you tweet with on a regular basis and more. Once you refresh your feed, or scroll past these emphasized tweets, you will see the standard timeline.


3) Twitter video uploads now ask for metadata. When you upload a video clip in Twitter using your desktop, not a mobile device, you will now be prompted to add in a title and description of your video that is included when you send it out. This is great!  Now you can utilize your tweet space to engage readers instead of just describing the video clip attached.  This provides you the option to write an engagement-oriented tweet, since the description will now travel with your tweet.


CommProSM44) Twitter now allows mobile device users to add GIF files to their tweets. While users have been able to attach their own GIFs for a while, Twitter has now formally created their own database of searchable GIFs to select from. Yes, there is even a GIF of Re/Code’s Kara Swisher hidden in there.  This is a great update for PR pros! GIFs provide impact when paired with the right text, and it is a great way for today’s PR teams to increase emotional connections with key audiences, as well as drive home a message point, with amusing visuals.


5) Periscope broadcasts are now live within the Twitter feed itself. To assist broadcasters and viewers alike, Twitter has made it easier for people to find and watch Periscope livestreams.  Yes! This means no more clicking the tweet, then clicking the Persicope link to launch the app, in order to watch a livestream.  You can now join in a video chat right from your Twitter feed. This will increase the viewership and experience of engaging with Periscope livestreams.



6) Facebook launched reactions button, available for desktop users. This means your audiences can now “like” an update, or assign an emotional response to it via smiley face or frowny face.  At this time, Facebook says that this will NOT impact how business and breaking news will be surfaced and shared on their platform, but we would not be surprised to see an update on this moving forward. Ketchum has a great article here on how this change impacts today’s communicators.


7) Facebook Livestream is now available on personal pages and verified pages. Have you tried livestreaming via Facebook yet? It is a pretty great experience.  This update allows users to livestream directly through their Facebook page. This is great as it now lets you pick the livestream platform that most aligns with where your audiences are.

CommProSM6For example, Company X wants to live broadcast a product launch. Now, you can choose between Facebook and Periscope, selecting the channel that has the most followers and engagement. Companies with equal engagement on both platforms can even choose to use two devices and broadcast it on Twitter and Facebook at the same time, reaching both audiences at once. Want to add in even more platforms? Consider streaming a Google Hangout as well.


8) Instagram moves to an algorithmic timeline. With 80M photos uploaded every day, Instagram will be changing the visibility of images based on popularity and relevance. Top takeaways? Stop oversharing, focus on quality vs. quantity, timing matters so test out which times of day are best to reach your audience, filters drive likes, so you want to also test filters (Try Willow) and of course, make sure your IG strategy includes outbound engagement.


9) A cautionary tale from SXSW: Hackers Use SlideShare:  Marketers who create and upload decks to SlideShare showcasing internal information about their organization’s technology or promoting rationales of their successes may be opening the doors to hackers.  Today’s hackers are searching SlideShare to glean information related to companies’ technologies and processes to determine a company’s access points.


10) Google changes search results. This week Google removed right side ads, replacing them with four ads at the top of search and the Knowledge Graph. By doing this, Google is putting more ads in the main feed, meaning news coverage that had appeared as a teaser at the top of search may now appear below the fold.  However, news coverage and news releases still continue to appear in Google News as well as within news carousels in mobile search.


CommProSM711) SEO-ish:  Business Wire launched a brand new infographic that showcases how an optimized release that includes relevant key phrases such as “Internet of things” within the release headline, can drastically increase the success of a news release.


In this case study, the news release with the optimized headline received more open rates, more coverage, more social shares and more inbound traffic, resulting in more sales, than a non-optimized release. Want to learn how to duplicate these results, the story can be found here.

2016 is going to be a big year of change across all social channels, with a majority of these changes positively impacting PR.  Hang tight, it is going to be a great but wild ride!



 About the Author: Over the last 20 years, Serena Ehrlich has worked closely with public and private companies providing guidance on investor and public relation trends. Serena has implemented local, national and international social media and marketing campaigns for a wide range of company and brands including Mogreet, LuxuryLink, Viking River Cruises, the unincorporated city of Marina del Rey, Kraft, Kohl’s, Avon, Mattel and more. Serena started her career in advertising where she developed an understanding of branding from a large-scale perspective, but it was her 14 years in the newswire industry that placed her squarely at the forefront of a technical, sociological and influential revolution changing the face of customer communications. In 1994, Serena was part of a small team who introduced the communications industry to the Internet via a series of first-ever conferences, Her love of technology based communications hasn’t stopped since. As the director of social and evolving media at Business Wire, Serena has a unique insight in the content lifestyle – from creation to consumption. In addition, Serena serves as the Corporate Secretary of the international Social Media Club board of directors, President of Social Media Club Los Angeles, as well as social chair for the National Investor Relations Institutes’ Los Angeles chapter and is a frequent speaker at analyst and business conferences alike on the topics of mobile, payments and social.. She can be found on Twitter (@serena


1 Comment

  1. Dave Meeker on at 11:24 AM

    Fantastic post! I really liked items #1 & #11!

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