Snapchat’s New Feature Is Freaking People Out

Snapchat has been fighting tooth and nail to stay relevant while social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and even Whatsapp replicate features that once made it unique. Snapchat’s latest feature has certainly got people talking, but not necessarily for the right reasons.

Snap Maps, allows your followers to find you by your location. According to Snapchat, the addition is meant to help users see what’s happening, find their friends, and get inspired to go on adventures.

The concept could be particularly useful to explore locations or tourist destinations, for example. Imagine being able to see unedited videos from people in London while you’re in South Africa. You could also experience events as they happen, like a Nicki Minaj concert or see real-time content from users at an event on the news.

Since the announcement on 21 June 2017, the internet has been peppered with articles about the new feature. Some media sources have hyped up the addition and commented on the possibilities, especially for marketers. Although there are certainly pros to the feature, articles have largely been negative and focused on concerns about compromised privacy.

While the idea is cool in theory, the reality is that your followers can see where you are at all times – even when not using Snapchat. This is pretty creepy for anyone, but parents are particularly concerned about the safety of their children, and rightly so.

In a recent video, YouTuber Joey Salads did a social experiment where he added a young girl he’d never met to Snapchat. See what happened for yourself:

Location settings on Snapchat
Upon activating Snap Maps, users can decide who can see their location.
Although you can select whether or not to share your location and with whom, the reality is that children and teenagers are not as social media savvy as they think they are. Anyone is at risk though – a stranger could quite easily learn your routine by tracking your movements and target you when you least expect it.

After being live for less than two weeks, Snapchat has removed the promotional video from YouTube, which suggests they’ve second guessed the update. This is, of course, just speculation but the addition could potentially lead to more trouble than it’s worth at what is an incredibly critical time for Snap Inc.

In my opinion, we can’t keep shifting the blame to someone else. At some stage, we need to step up and take responsibility. Parents need to continueously educate their children about the dangers of social media, and we need to be more discerning with who we allow to see our information as well as be more aware and protective of the information we share on the internet. Technology and social media are constantly evolving and the onus is on us to keep up.

Question: What are your thoughts? Should Snapchat remove this feature or is the onus on the user to be selective with who they share their information with?

Resources and Additional Reading

Facebook Copies Snapchat Again

Find Wi-Fi Hotspots With Facebook’s Latest Feature

Facebook has recently launched its latest feature that allows you to find venues that provide public and free Wi-Fi. Introducing ‘Find Wi-Fi‘. 

How Does It Work?

If a business has shared that they provide Wi-Fi on their Facebook Page, the business will be added to the Find Wi-Fi map, where users can find out more about the business and navigate to the venue.

Find WiFi Menu
‘Find Wi-Fi’ can be accessed on your iPhone or Android device under the Menu tab on the Facebook app

Who Can Use ‘Find Wi-Fi’?

The feature was tested in some countries in 2016, but as of 30 June 2017, Find Wi-Fi is now available globally. The feature is available to all iPhone and Android users.

How Do You Find Wi-Fi Hotspots?

On the Facebook app, click the ‘More’ icon and scroll down to ‘Find Wi-Fi’. If the option isn’t there, select ‘See More…’ and the option should appear. Once in the ‘Find Wi-Fi’ tab, enable the service and you will now be able to explore available hotspots on a map and learn more about businesses hosting them.

Who Benefits from the Feature?

Find Wi-Fi is a wonderful feature that is helpful to practically all Facebook users:

  • Particularly in South Africa where costly mobile data is a constant struggle, being able to find free Wi-Fi would significantly help people who have limited access to the internet. Students and entrepreneurs and students, in particular, could really benefit from this feature.
  • Businesses can enhance the chance of discoverability by firstly providing (preferably free) Wi-Fi, and making sure to add this detail to their Facebook Page. This can be a persuasive offering when considering a business meeting spot or study group location.

Facebook is an absolute innovation machine that is constantly releasing features to improve the user experience. With features like this, it’s no wonder Facebook is the largest social media platform with 2 billion monthly active users.

Additional Reading

Social Media Analyst Confirms #SocialMediaBlackout Was A Fail

#SocialMediaBlackout has been a trending topic on Twitter for the past two days (20 to 21 June 2017) after MTN introduced a cap to its previously unlimited free Twitter usage.

According to Eye Witness News, the hashtag was started by activist Ntsiki Mazwai who encouraged the public to not use social media or purchase mobile data on Wednesday, 21 June 2017 in an effort to convince mobile operators to reduce data tariffs.

Since 99% of #SocialMediaBlackout posts originated from Twitter I thought I’d analyse usage on the platform to better understand if the fight against data was successful. Here are the findings.

Twitter Activity in South Africa

On 21 June 2017, the day of the #SocialMediaBlackout, tweets and retweets totalled 1 014 134 posts and was 6% above the daily average of 956 080 posts. This was, however, below the average from the past year.

Twitter Usage South Africa
The above graph represents Twitter usage from June 2016 to June 2017.
Twitter Usage 2017
The above represents the number of tweets and retweets in South Africa from 1 January to 21 June 2017.

Over the 24-hour period, posts increased throughout the day as represented below.

Total post on Twitter 21 June 2017
The above reflects the total number of posts on Twitter per hour on 21 June 2017.

According to the data, Thursdays are the most popular for Twitter users, followed by Wednesdays.

Week Day Twitter Usage in South Africa 2017
The above graph indicates the average number of tweets and retweets per day of the week for 2017 to date.

The total number of posts was also 3% above the average number of posts on Wednesdays in 2017.

#SocialMediaBlackout

Not only was overall Twitter usage higher than average, but #SocialMediaBlackout was a trending topic and was the second most used hashtag, accounting for 2% of total tweets and retweets in South Africa on 21 June 2017.

Although it is unclear how the social media protest was expected to result in significant change to data prices, the drive has had no impact. MTN and Vodacom reported that there was no notable difference to internet usage over the past 24 hours.

Key Takeaway

South Africans are all talk and no bite. Despite the topic of data being a pain point for many South Africans, and although individuals have been vocal about grievances around the perceived high cost of data, when it comes down to actually taking action we aren’t prepared to do anything more than complain.

Find out more about the hashtag as well as other data-related hashtags below:

#SocialMediaBlackout Stats

Additional Reading

#SocialMediaBlackout Stats

On 14 June 2017, South African mobile operator, MTN announced that their free Twitter service will be limited to 100MB per subscriber per day. The news was not well received by users and sparked a public campaign against telecommunication companies to reduce the cost of data.

As a result, the #DataMustFall trend, first made popular by Tbo Touch in September 2016, started to increase.

Data Must Fall Trend
The above graph shows how many times #DataMustFall has been used in South Africa.

Despite being announced on 14 June, the public only started noticing the changes in the following couple of days.

Data Must Fall posts June 2017
Online mentions of #DataMustFall from 1 to 21 June 2017.

Although triggered by MTN, other network giants have been involved in #DataMustFall mentions. In June, MTN was the most mentioned telco in #DataMustFall conversation and was found in 14% of mentions, followed by Vodacom with 11% and Cell C and Telkom accounting for 6% each.

South African mobile operators Data Must Fall Stats
Since 1 June until 21 June 2017, there were 70 369 mentions of #DataMustFall on the internet.

Not only was #DataMustFall being used, but #SocialMediaBlackout was introduced in retaliation. The hashtag was reportedly introduced by activist Ntsiki Mazwai on 19 June and encouraged the public to not use social media on Wednesday, 21 June 2017 in an effort to get the attention of mobile operators and reduce data tariffs.

Despite intentions, ironically, the hashtag was trending again yesterday and was the second most used hashtag on Twitter over the 24-hour period.

The most used hashtags on Twitter on 21 June 2017
The most used hashtags on Twitter on 21 June 2017.

The hashtag was most used on 20 June totalling 27 635 online mentions and accounted for 56% of all #SocialMediaBlackout posts. The hashtag received 18 989 mentions on 21 June – 31% fewer mentions than the day before.

#SocialMediaBlackout Statistics
#SocialMediaBlackout started on 19 June 2017 and saw a significant increase in usage to promote the initiative.

#SocialMediaBlackout was a trending topic and was the second most used hashtag during the tracking period and accounted for 2% of total tweets and retweets in South Africa on 21 June 2017.

#SocialMediaBlackout Data
#SocialMediaBlackout and #DataMustFall were popular hashtags used in mobile data-related posts from 19 to 21 June 2017.

Although the main hashtag was #SocialMediaBlackout, #DataMustFall and #SocialMediaShutdown were also used.

#SocialMediaBlackout Related Hashtags
Other hashtags used that relate to #SocialMediaBlackout.

The protest wasn’t taken seriously by the public nor telcos however, Afrihost and Telkom who took the opportunity to capitilise on the negative sentiment.

https://twitter.com/Afrihost/status/877451093688668161

 

It is doubtful that the #SocialMediaBlackout had any impact, but the latest Twitter user statistics suggest that the drive was a fail.

Find out how many people were on social media and did not participate in the data fight here.

Twitter Activity in South Africa June 2016 to 2017

Additional Reading

My Twitter War #YouTubeZA

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably would’ve seen the Twar that I was involved in last week.

For the past few weeks, @MickyCost has adopted the #YouTubeZA hashtag to start a Twitter chat. The theme for each week is voted for largely by South African YouTubers, and Michael tweets specific questions that people reply to.

These conversations have been taking place for several weeks and while spreading awareness that there is a community of YouTubers in South Africa is needed, I didn’t see any tangible support or change extending beyond Twitter. While this was my opinion, I wanted to get an indication of how others felt and so I created a poll asking them if they’d seen a change. And let’s just say I ruffled some feathers…

#YouTubeZA Fantomdan

Despite not voicing my opinion in the poll, numerous people saw it as an attack on the initiative and Michael (who also took it personally). I kept reiterating that I simply asked an objective question that was open for anyone to answer and I was not criticising the intentions of the chat. That didn’t stop the onslaught but I wasn’t afraid to share my opinion when confronted and that made me quite unpopular.

I knew the poll would be disruptive, which was kind of the point. If we aren’t thinking critically about what we’re doing and the conversation doesn’t lead to action then what’s the point?

Truth be told, I don’t believe that the #YouTubeZA conversation has amounted to anything more than a Twitter chat, which is disappointing. To my mind, the hashtag should be used to not only spread awareness but to act as a way of YouTubers connecting and sharing each other’s work. What I (and multiple others I have spoken to) have found is that people are participating in the Tuesday Twitter conversations and that’s where it ends. This suggests that people are simply using the chat as leverage to be discovered or learn from others.

What’s funny is that the results of the poll showed that 57% of people who voted felt the #YouTubeZA chat was nothing more than a weekly conversation so I’m clearly not alone. Despite that, I was attacked directly and indirectly because I wasn’t afraid to voice my opinion on the matter and chose to stand by my convictions.

Take Aways

  • Don’t be afraid to rock the boat. Having integrity means you aren’t always going to be everyone’s favourite, and this week reminded me that it’s okay to be challenging.
  • If you’re going to be bold enough to share your opinion, be prepared to be challenged. Hopefully, you are clued up enough on the subject before adding your commentary but either way, be prepared to engage in a debate.
  • Knowing when and when not to engage is so important in all aspects of life. Not every confrontation deserves a response, especially on social media.
  • Be open to debate, but have the courage to stand by your convictions when challenged in an analytical, mature and composed manner.
  • Know who matters and whose opinions should really matter. We all have opinions and particularly on social media we feel entitled to voice them. In doing so we open ourselves up to criticism, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as sometimes it’s good to have your point of view challenged. This can either lead to your beliefs being altered or reaffirmed. Knowing whose opinions to consider or take seriously is key to forming sound points of view.
  • Be the change you want to see in the world. The onus is on us to work towards the vision we want to see. You are setting yourself up for disappointment by expecting others to do more, so it is on us to do what we can with what we have and not rely on others to bring about change.
  • Emotional intelligence is a thing. Not everyone has it, but self-awareness and being accountable of how you feel is vital when navigating conflict in any setting.

What are your thoughts? Has your viewpoint ever been challenged? How did you respond and would you react differently now? Let me know.

 

YouTube Is Getting a Facelift

YouTube has recently unveiled the new design of their desktop website to enhance the user experience. With 4 major changes and more on the way, YouTube is certainly doing all they can to keep users on the platform. Here’s what you need to know about the latest developments on the video site.

What's Different?

1) Clean Design – YouTube has simplified the design for a much cleaner look. There is noticeably more blank space, which makes the interface easier to navigate and is a sleeker, more modern look.

New YouTube Design 2017
I tested out the new design on my channel and I love the new look!
2) Endless Timeline – YouTube has finally caught up with all the other social platforms and introduced endless scrolling on the timeline, which means that you can discover new content more easily.

3) Dark Theme – YouTube is known for being white and red, however, a black version has been introduced to reduce strain on viewers’ eyes. In addition to reducing glare, the Dark Theme also lets you see true colours of the videos you watch. This is certain to be a favourite for many. To find out how to activate Dark Mode, click here.

Polymer Dark Theme
The YouTube interface using the Dark Theme. Source: The Verge
4) Faster Framework – The new framework, Polymer, was developed by Google and is an open-source JavaScript library for building web applications using web components. By using this, the new site has been designed for development optimisation, meaning that we can expect a lot more features being added a whole lot quicker.

“This is only the beginning — you can look forward to more powerful new features coming soon.” – Brian Marquardt (Product Lead at YouTube)

How Do I Get The New Design?

A major consideration for YouTube has consistently been to gain insights from its users and so they’re relying on feedback from the YouTube community before the new design is implemented across the board.

Although not available to everyone just yet, select groups of people from all parts of the world have been given a chance to preview the upcoming change. But if you’re just dying to try it out yourself, you can preview the new and improved site here.

YouTube is constantly innovating the platform with multiple new features being introduced in the last few months – arguably, the most notable additions being the Community Tab (September 2016) and YouTube Messenger (January 2017). The golden thread tying these developments together is the user experience, which very clearly demonstrates the core purpose of keeping users on YouTube for longer. With the implementation of the new framework, it will be interesting to see what changes the developers have in store for the near future, and whether or not it will lead to a significant change in the social media landscape.

References & Additional Reading

YouTube TV Is Officially Here!

The wait is over! YouTube has officially launched its streaming service, YouTube TV, which allows users to stream and record live TV shows.

YouTube TV shows
YouTube TV allows viewers to watch a range of networks (50 channels) without the need for a cable

Here's What You Need to Know About YouTube TV

  • An impressive number of the top US networks are available for viewing, including Fox, E!, The CW, NBC, YouTube Red Originals and more
  • The main focus is so that users can watch TV wirelessly from anywhere. However, sign in from home at least once every 3 months is required to keep the account active
  • A household can have up to 6 separate accounts, which is particularly useful when recommended shows are tailored to your interests
  • Viewers can watch shows live or record to the cloud with no storage limits
  • YouTube TV is mainly a mobile app however, you can access the platform via mobile (Android and iOS), TV (Android and Chromecast) or computer (Chrome being the recommendation, obviously)
  • As with other streaming services, YouTube TV has commercials, with the majority of ad revenue going to the networks
  • Users can sign-up for a 1-month free trial
  • The service costs $35 dollars per month
  • The service is currently only available in select US cities (Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia & San Francisco Bay Area, with more on the way)

Traditional television viewing is undoubtedly changing and social networks are quickly coming to the party as well. In February, Facebook also announced they will be launching a TV app soon, but have not given any indication of exactly when. The number of available TV streaming services in rapidly increasing, so it will be interesting to see who else will enter the market and how they differentiate themselves from competitors. So, what are your thoughts – is traditional TV dead?

You can find out more about YouTube TV by visiting their website or click on any of the links below for a more objective opinion on the service.

References and Additional Reading

 

Facebook Copies Snapchat Again

Facebook has just launched their latest feature, which allows users to share photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. This is the fourth time the giant has mimicked Snapchat after introducing the feature on other Facebook-owned entities – Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp.

Here’s what you need to know about Facebook Stories:

  • The feature is only available on iOS and Android mobile devices and is essentially a second Newsfeed.Facebook Stories Screen
  • It is accessible as soon as you login to the app and can be found at the top of your screen, much like on Instagram.
  • Navigation is easy and works just as Instagram Stories, allowing users to skip stories or move forward and backwards in a story.
  • To add your own story, you can click on the plus icon or simply swipe across to access the camera.
  • The camera comes with a number of filters, including filters that use facial recognition – arguably Snapchat’s key differentiator.
  • The pen feature is also a nice touch, allowing users to choose the colour, width and texture of the pen.
  • Photos and videos can be shared publically or directly to one, or a few, of your friends.
  • Direct messages allow the recipient to view the file one more time within 24 hours after opening the photo or video.
  • Comments on Stories are kept separate from Messenger
  • At this moment, you are able to see who has viewed your story but not if they have taken a screenshot.
  • Your content can be downloaded and stored on your phone as with the other platforms.

The topic of Snapchat being on borrowed time has been a popular opinion for some time now. Is this the last nail in the coffin?

It is already available to all users, but for more information on Facebook Stories, you can visit their website here.

Additional Reading and References

Introducing YouTube’s New Messaging Feature

Social platforms are constantly looking for ways to add new features that keep them relevant. YouTube is no exception and has aggressively been testing and adding new features to enhance the popularity of the platform. Their latest addition is sure to be a hit.

Google-owned YouTube has just released a new messaging feature that allows mobile users to message each other within the app. Users are now able to share videos with other people in their network, and to have private conversations about these videos without having to leave the platform. This is much less cumbersome than having to copy a link and share it via other social networks.

The new in-app feature has been tested since mid-2016 and is currently only available to users based in Canada. Although the addition will be made available globally, according to Google, Canadians share 15% more than users anywhere else in the world, which makes them the perfect guinea pigs for the initial implementation. There has been no word as to when the feature will be rolled out to other users, but for now, if you have friends and family in Canada, ask them to add you to a conversation using your Google account and you can try it out before other regions.

I think this is a brilliant idea for YouTube and it will no doubt boost engagement on the platform. This is quite clearly a key objective for YouTube, especially considering the addition of the community tab. This isn’t surprising with the popularity of video content increasing. I suspect this isn’t the last innovative feature for the platform we’ll see this year. What do you think?

References & Additional Reading

Facebook’s 5 New Copycat Features

Certain features and capabilities on the various social channels are bound to be similar. Although some overlap here and there in terms of what these platforms provide is to be expected, there are differentiators that give them a competitive edge. While there will always be competition, recently Facebook has aggressively been taking inspiration from other social media platforms to add to its own offerings.

Here is a brief look at how Facebook has been evolving over the past few weeks.

1 – Job Postings

News that Facebook was experimenting with a job posting feature came to light in early November, which poses a direct threat to the likes of LinkedIn, Jobscore and Workable. The feature allows page admins of business pages to drive traffic to their Facebook Page via the News Feed in the hope of recruiting new staff members. These positions will also be available via a Jobs tab on the business’ Facebook page. Users will then be able to apply via Facebook without having to type out all the specifics, as Facebook already has most of this information.

2 – Instagram Stories

Facebook-owned Instagram introduced Instagram Stories, which is basically the main point of Snapchat. Igers can now post photos and videos that expire after 24 hours. Users can apply filters, add text and draw over their content, much the same like Snapchat offers. Disappearing messages to other users is also now a feature. In addition, Instagram gives you the ability to tag people in your stories, which is not offered on Snapchat. Stories does not (yet) allow users to add filters that recognise facial features, however, Facebook has used facial recognition for years, particularly when posting photos, so it’s only a matter of time.

3 – Live Video Filters

There was much excitement about being able to use artistic filters in Facebook’s Live streaming thanks to third-party company, Prisma. This was short-lived as Facebook quickly blocked the app from being able to access its Live API as it did not comply with Facebook’s terms and conditions. The main reason was that the API is only for publishing live video from non-mobile devices such as professional cameras and drones. It has been argued that this is purely a bully tactic as Facebook is working on a style transfer filter feature of its own.

4 – Facebook ‘Collections’

Social media has become a popular source of information and news. The topic of fake news has been a hot topic lately as users consume news from media sources that seem to be legitimate, only to discover that the content is false. The repercussions of this on society and perceptions is a concern for many, including Facebook. The social brand has joined a network of more than 30 international media companies and organisations to filter out fake news and improve the quality of information being shared. Much like Snapchat’s Discover feature, ‘Collections‘ will be curated information from select media partners, inserted directly into users’ News Feeds.

5 – Instant Games

Facebook has just launched Instant Games, which enables users to play games against their friends via Facebook Messenger, however, WeChat has been offering this feature for years. The games will be available for Android and iOS users and will first roll out to 30 countries. The main reason for this feature is to encourage users to discover, share and play games without having to install new apps.

Despite having 1.79 billion active monthly users, Facebook is clearly doing all it can to be ubiquitous. Will any other social platform ever be as agile as the social network giant, or do any of them even stand a chance? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

References & Additional Reading