As always, social media moves quickly, and a lot has changed since the beginning of the year. With Facebook Stories, Instagram Galleries, LinkedIn’s new ad platform and more, we’re breaking down what’s happened in social media in the first quarter of 2017.


Facebook remains a major player for accessing your audience, garnering traffic, and delivering ads to consumers. While the platform has remained mostly stagnant, with simple algorithm changes and adjustments to enhance video support, the major news around Facebook this quarter is Facebook Stories, a feature that looks to compete with Snapchat while complementing Instagram Stories. Frankly, in many ways, this feels like the social media melting pot run amok. While Instagram Stories has soared, it will be interesting to see the ways Facebook differentiates an almost identical feature. With a focus on augmented reality and sharing, it feels like there’s a disconnect between the product’s intention and it’s use case. For instance, being able to share the stories to your newsfeed or augmented reality features that are clearly intended for an ad product. It begs the question, again, if we are moving towards one super-platform, that will replace the combo Facebook-Instagram-Twitter-Snapchat that we currently attempt to balance.


Instagram is a social media darling. From beautiful features to a more reasonable proportion of ads to organic content, it’s hard to discount its place as a favorite of most users. Other than that pesky algorithm, the platform feels more curated and organic than many others. Its simplicity allows users to always know what they’re getting into opening the app, unlike other platforms where different feed tweaks, content types, and ads may attack the eye upon accessing the app. The ads on the site also feel more organic and curated, with carousels and short video clips that still seem to emulate the nature of the platform. What’s new this quarter? Ads that appear within stories (just like Snapchat) and the continued surge of the apps popularity for shopping. Like Pinterest, Instagram’s visual nature makes it ideal for those browsing for products, especially related to highly specialized markets. Whether it’s fashion, fitness, or cars the platform offers users a unique way to browse and shop for items in an organic way. The retail store and e-commerce store still pales in comparison to the easy, seamless nature of shopping on Instagram. We’re not-so-patiently waiting for in-app purchases.


Twitter may be seeing an uptick of activity still with the heightened global political climate, but the business side still feels stagnant. With a lack of new products and a generally lackluster user experience, the recent reveal of Periscope video ads seems a bit anti-climactic. They also have implemented a new feature that means @ username replies won’t impact character count… Now we’re just waiting for the same treatment for links. While experimenting with video on Twitter and using it as a tool to connect with and build communities is intriguing, we’re hoping for more in the next quarter.


LinkedIn is making moves. Struggling to break out of a simple work networking platform, their expansion into B2B usage, increased capabilities on their ad platform, and a curated “trending” topics feed much akin to Facebook’s similar feature, show they are ready to jump forward. We’ll discuss each of these options, and how you can learn from and utilize them to your best advantage. With a beefed up ad platform, and it’s nearly 40 million decision makers, users are able to access the audience that can make the conversion. In fact, ROI on LinkedIn are exceptional, coming in at 17.6, which is higher than that of native ads and Google AdWords. If you want to expand your business and are focused on growth, it’s a great place to start for business to business marketing. On the publishing side, LinkedIn offers both an internal publishing platform as well as newsfeeds where you are able to post updates and scroll through what your connections have been sharing. With the rollout of their new trending section, users will also be able to access information both in their network and in their industries. While the platform may be focusing on this to increase potential ad revenue and ensure users spend more time in the app, it’s a clever move that may have great results both for users and the company itself. Want to dig deeper? Learn how LinkedIn uses LinkedIn and get inspired.


The big news for Snapchat this quarter was their IPO. Opening at a shocking $3 billion, the company has taken the spot as the biggest IPO since Twitter. While the jury is still out about investment, we’re certainly curious to see what plans the platform will be enacting and many predict the stock will soar. With Discover and in-story ads, Snapchat has managed to beat out Twitter as the second most popular social media platform for ads as well, though they still struggle to prove ROI for marketers. The way that Snapchat has pushed mobile advertising forward shouldn’t be understated. Before Snapchat’s innovative platforms, from augmented reality to authentic video ads that mirror the organic content on the platform, mobile advertising often left something to be desired. Snapchat has revolutionized mobile advertising and there’s no turning back. Facebook remains number one, and with their increasingly brazen stealing of Snapchat’s most successful ideas, it may be hard for the new kid on the block to overtake or compete. The fresh approach, authentic nature of the platform, and growth of Instagram stories all stand in the way of a takeover. Only time will tell which platform will reign supreme.


With expanded ad platforms and visual search, Pinterest is making a mark and changing their product offering in a major way. With a bold statement that they expect to hit 500 million in ad revenue, their investors who have put in more than $1 billion in funding may start to see the uptick that every venture capitalist hopes for. However, the company continues to say there are no plans to IPO. We’ll keep our ears to the ground, just in case. The visual search feature represents more of what Pinterest is about – helping it’s users identify and live a certain lifestyle, with the aesthetic they desire. Whether it’s a coffee table or a pair of sunglasses, this feature could be a game changer for both brands and users do market research and scout for the items they’ve been dreaming of. One bump in the road? Pinterest is now banned in China. Welcome to the same club Facebook and Twitter have been in for a while now.


While things have been quiet for YouTube for most of Q1, a combination of controversy and new features has rocked the platform in the past month. With YouTube TV, the platform promised to take on streaming giants from Sling to AT&T. With 40 channels, the offerings may be slim at first, but we can expect quick growth and the platform to be able to catch on quickly. The play is also a way for YouTube to advertise its exclusive content offerings from YouTube Red, which hasn’t reported great successes thus far. In less happy news, Google is facing scrutiny for a restricted mode feature that blocked videos from creators who spoke out about LGBTQ issues, as well as things like the Human Rights Watch. Yikes. Even more concerning for the platform was the appearance of certain ads coinciding with questionable or controversial content. YouTube may be facing a $750 million dollar loss with brands like PepsiCo, McDonalds, and more pulling their ad dollars due to this. Until YouTube is able to control where ads are displayed, their ad revenue may be in trouble.


Google+ continues to stay a niche platform, one local and small business can utilize to engage with those in their area and be able to index content within. However, in terms of evolutions, this quarter just saw a feature loss, with the removal of sharing locations. As the platform slims down, we hope those in charge will focus on the elements that make the platform more user friendly, and enable businesses to connect more directly with their audience. That’s it folks – we’ll be keeping our eye out over the next three months to see what changes and evolutions happen and letting you know what to expect from all your major social media platforms – and any news you may miss.