May’s Top 5 Social Trends

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This month: Facebook adds games, Twitter adds TV, Instagram adds users, Snapchat adds ads. And Mastodon? It adds an alternative to Twitter.

Instagram Grows (and Grows, and Grows … )

Instagram’s already-astounding growth rate has increased remarkably over the past year. The latest proof of its popularity? From mid-December to the end of April, it gained 100 million users, for a total of 700 million monthly active ‘grammers. While some of this boost is attributed to its newish ephemeral content feature Stories, Instagram has also worked to aggressively expand into international markets such as Brazil and, with accessible offline options, into more devices. The numbers are impressive, though they still pale in comparison to the user reach of parent company Facebook (1.9 billion) and siblings Messenger and WhatsApp (1.2 billion each).

Make Way for Mastodon?

Annoyed with too many Twitter tweaks, developer Eugen Rochko created his own social network, Mastodon. While similar to Twitter, it has some key differences: The free, open-source platform runs without advertising, and is also unique for its 500-character chronological posts that users can opt to make private. Released just over six months ago, it rapidly picked up speed in April, passing 40,000 users and reaching nearly 1 million posts. But it’s still funded only by voluntary contributions to Rochko’s Patreon account — a setup the platform’s sole staffer is happy to continue with. Is extinction a possibility for this fragile Mastodon? Maybe. What’s clear is that Mastodon doesn’t plan to compete directly with Twitter.

Facebook Games Level Up

After struggling with mobile game difficulties a few years back, Facebook has hit the reset button on its approach with Instant Games for Messenger. After a November U.S. launch, Instant Games is now available globally, offering 50 titles to play. And with new bot enhancements and multiplayer turn-by-turn possibilities, no-download titles such as Pac-Man and Words with Friends may make the already popular Messenger app downright addictive. No ads or in-game purchases are yet available, but with 1.5 billion Instant Games plays in 90 days, we think we know what’s in the strategy guide.
+minded Action: In the absence of ads, think branded games — for now.

For Twitter, It Takes Teams to Stream

Twitter has its troubles, but with a fresh foray into video streaming, things may start to look up. Soon after touting the 800 hours of live premium video (such as NFL games) watched by 45 million of its users in Q1 2017, Twitter announced a partnership with Bloomberg to launch a 24/7 news network on the platform in the fall. It has also inked a deal with concert promoter Live Nation to live stream concert videos — a pitch-perfect partnership, as Twitter is popular as a platform for music fans. These new video partnerships may give Twitter the ad reach it’s been seeking. We’ll wait and watch.

Snapchat Makes Ads a Snap

Snapchat plans to unveil a free, simple, self-service ads manager in June, allowing advertisers of every size to take advantage of its growing ad business — which is expected to hit $1 billion in revenue this year. All formats, including sponsored geofilters and full-screen videos, will be available with existing targeting capabilities, like goal-based bidding. Additionally, a new mobile dashboard will allow marketers to easily manage their ads. The best bit for smaller budgets? There’s no minimum ad spend. As for bigger buyers, Snapchat expects them to stick with more complicated auction partners to gain the custom targeting they need.
+minded Action: Take a look around. Is your audience on Snapchat? The new ad service may be appealing, but competitor Instagram ultimately draws more eyes.

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