Digital Dash: Big Facebook news & more

1. Pinterest targets offline shoppers with new quick-access
2. Facebook wants hardware device ‘Portal’ to be your new favourite houseguest
3. Facebook/Sony deal just gave you access to a giant royalty-free library of hit music
4. You’ll soon be able to share your Instagram Stories on WhatsApp
5. Facebook’s top viral content of 2017

BREAKING: Facebook will demote brands in News Feed, but is everyone overreacting?
You might notice that you’re getting 6 news bites this week rather than the usual 5.

The reason is this: the regular updates were already written and ready to go live, when an announcement from Mark Zuckerberg – that hit the press early this morning – sent the digital world into a frenzy.

We just couldn’t wait until next week to give you the lowdown on this one.

So what’s all the fuss about?

It’s been officially revealed that Facebook is going to overhaul its News Feed algorithm, prioritizing ‘meaningful interactions’ over ‘relevant content’.

Facebook believes that ‘video and other public content’ is ‘crowding out’ updates from friends and family – and the upshot is that brands and media outlets may have a much harder time getting content seen by users in future.

There might be a notable decline in reach, video views etc., and potentially a spike in the cost of ads (as advertisers compete for less organic News Feed space). The announcement also conceded that it could result in users spending less time on the platform.

But don’t panic just yet.

When Facebook makes changes like this, it’s important to remember that they are made with user experience in mind. This may mean that the impact of the changes will be less significant for brands producing high quality content that’s of genuine interest to fans (sales-focused posts probably won’t fare well) and produces those all-important ‘meaningful interactions’.

Also, as pointed out by Jon Loomer, Mark Z’s original message doesn’t actually mention anything about ads. It’s possible that paid content won’t be affected as much or at all.

At this point, everything is speculation. You’ll have probably gathered that by the heavy use of italics above. The announcement message was fairly vague as far as serious Facebook marketers are concerned, and until the changes actually roll out, it’s hard to predict what the real impact will be.

Note: there is no suggestion that brand content will be confined to the controversial ‘Explore’ tab (as tested a while back).


1. Pinterest targets offline shoppers with new quick-access Pincodes
Anyone remember QR codes? They came, they saw, they didn’t quite conquer.

Well Pinterest launched its own version in late 2017, and just in case you missed the news with all those Christmas presents to open, here’s what you need to know.

Pincodes, as they’re called, make it super easy for people to discover ideas related to the places they visit.

Pincodes are essentially barcodes that can be placed in physical locations, such as magazines, food packaging and in-store displays. To scan a Pincode, users simply have to activate their in-app camera and hover over it to instantly reveal a related board.

Nordstrom took advantage of Pincodes during the holiday season to show customers a board of ‘gifts under $100’.

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So if QR codes didn’t ever properly live up to their hype, why will Pincodes work?

First and foremost, the content is so easily accessible – customers can simply use their camera lens. To interact with QR codes you previously needed to download a QR scanner app, which proved a major barrier to the tech’s mainstream adoption.

Also, Pinterest is a core part of the product/idea-finding experience for millions of people, and that association will make it natural to want to see what the Pincode will reveal.

On a side note, now Apple has integrated a QR reader into its smartphone camera, there’s a lot of talk about a new generation of QR codes taking commerce by storm.


2. Facebook wants hardware device ‘Portal’ to be your new favourite houseguest
If you have great memory, you might recall that a fair few Digital Dash’s ago we revealed that Facebook could launch a home device.

And now it’s happening. Well, soon. Well, according to sources…

Rumours about a Facebook home device – named Portal – have hit fever pitch and suggest that the launch could happen this year.

Anonymous sources, speaking to Cheddar, say that Portal (an AI-powered device that comes complete with a laptop-sized touchscreen) will be positioned primarily as a video chatting product and will be able to identify individual faces and associate them with Facebook accounts.


Interestingly, Amazon released a touchscreen version of Echo last year (Amazon Echo Show), and Google is set to follow suit by integrating its own voice assistant into hardware from Sony, Lenovo and JBL – as announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2018.

Portal’s focus on video chatting sets it aside slightly from the major competitors, but with in-built speakers, camera and microphone – a progression into voice-assistance seems likely.

Another major USP of Portal will be its compatibility with third-party streaming services like Spotify and Netflix. And with video and TV – notably Watch – being a major priority for Facebook in 2018, the ability to stream content to a big screen could be a really big deal for users.


3. Facebook/Sony deal just gave you access to a giant royalty-free library of hit music
In early December, Facebook gave users an early Christmas gift in the form of Sound Collection – a hub of free music and sound effects for content creators.

And if you thought that was exciting, you’ll like the sound of this…

Facebook has just inked a deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing, which means you’ll be able to use music from Sony/ATV’s entire back catalogue without any fear of copyright infringements.

The copyright owners will earn royalties whenever their music is shared on Facebook, Instagram or Oculus.

This follows a similar deal with Universal Music Group (UMG), struck last month.

Put the two together, and you’ve got a library of over 6 million songs to choose from for your next video, including tracks from artists like Pink, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift and Kanye West.


4. You’ll soon be able to share your Instagram Stories on WhatsApp
Instagram Stories have proved such a rip-roaring success that Facebook can’t seem to stop itself finding new ways to get them seen.

After announcing that it would let users share their Instagram Stories on Facebook, it will soon be testing a cross-posting option between Instagram and WhatsApp.

WhatsApp already has its own version of Stories, called Status, which has proven seriously successful overseas. The idea behind integrating Instagram Stories into Status is undoubtedly to further its popularity across the globe.

Facebook is now really starting to ramp up efforts with WhatsApp, and while the chat app has a strict ‘no ads’ policy, its parent company is increasingly finding ways to add interest and build functionality.

In Dec 2017,
we revealed Facebook’s new ad unit that featured a click-to-WhatsApp button – meaning businesses had a new way to start conversations. It’s also rumoured that there will be standalone WhatsApp business app.


5. Facebook’s top viral content of 2017 – can you guess which posts people loved?
BuzzSumo has analysed over two billion articles and posts published on Facebook in 2017 to find out which types of content were most engaging.

In terms of the most viral posts of 2017, here are the findings to make note of:

Video: only 3 of the top 20 posts were not video
Practical hacks: accounted for 5 of the top 10 posts
Food: made up 25% of the top 25 posts
Cute animals: one of these ranked as the second most viral video of the year
Music videos: also scored highly on the ‘most shared Facebook content 2017’ chart

Facebook_most viral posts

While improving brand performance on social media unfortunately isn’t as easy as saying ‘let’s make a music video featuring cats showing you how to cook!’, the above list definitely gives a valuable insight into what gets content moving.

For example, almost any brand can do itself a favour on Facebook by creating more video (provided it’s good quality!).

What’s important to remember though is that your brand identity and value should always come before your desire to get loads of engagement.

If you can tick both boxes, you’re onto a winner.