Social Media: Imitation VS Innovation

In Social Media by Meg Shout

Copy CatsFrom MySpace to Periscope, the world of social media has transformed the planet over the last 15 years; serving new technology and altering communication across the globe. But, in recent times, what once started as a new and ground-breaking form of communication, has swiftly moved to a ‘who did it first’ game. But, all hope is not lost. It seems that the area that users can really rely on for new ideas lies in within the actual apps. Could there be a time when we discuss ‘old social media’? Let’s find out:



On the 6th of April 2016, Facebook announced two major ‘copy cat’ features on their platform.

The first, business pages will now have usernames. Yip, you read correctly. Facebook pages will now have @Handles underneath the official title.

The second, Messenger Codes; the ability to scan a code using your phone camera, within messenger, to quickly and easily connect with new contacts. Sounds familiar? Yes, a signature feature of Snapchat (Snapcodes).

This will allow users to find pages far more easily. Facebook’s search hasn’t ever been very strong, adding these elements will allow them to improve their search facilities.


In the last month, both Facebook and Twitter have launched alternative text on their images, a ‘digital brail’ if you will. The inclusion of images descriptions will assist those who are visually impaired by enabling screen readers to ‘read’ these images.

The technical aspect of adding alt text will also impact search over all. Once all social media posts are included in search engine results, Facebook and Twitter will have a head start on their image libraries, which may be featured on Search Engine Result Pages (SERP’s).

Most notably, this year’s biggest in-app development was the addition of Facebook Reactions, offering users a few more emotions to use when responding to posts.

Facebook has begun to fight the battle of the ‘readers audience’, so to speak. Many, many people log onto Facebook but don’t actually post any updates or respond to any of the content they read. Because Facebook’s algorithms dictate what users see in their timelines, it’s important for users to engage with what they read on Facebook. Introducing Facebook reactions was a simple way to give users more options to react to content, thus improving their reading experience by affecting the algorithm.

Facebook has also recently hinted that they will be alleviating rules on monetisation of pages and posts. If a user is allowed to make money through Facebook, that too will benefit the platform by keeping users from clicking away. This will improve their time on site and user interaction.



On the 15th of March 2016, Instagram announced that their feeds will be affected by new algorithms. According to them, people miss 70% of their timeline content and, “your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most”. Considering Facebook owns Instagram, it’s not a surprising development and the reaction thereto mirrored Facebook algorithm announcement, users weren’t thrilled. But, in their defense, they are open to feedback, will be sharing all photographs – just in a different order and will be improving it as they go along.

Oldie But a Goodie:

There’s nothing new about a good old fashioned rebrand. Twitter’s done it, Zomato’s done it, hell even Uber did it this year! While rebranding has become a part of every digital ‘life’, there can be positives and negatives. Take Instagram’s brand new, bright, shiny logo. It certainly pops when you see it on your mobile ‘desktop’, but has it digressed too far from the original? The iconic Instagram logo has become a stable image in modern day pop culture. Having said that, brown isn’t ever the prettiest colour in the world! We like the new bright logo, but the new simplistic timeline seems a bit…too…simplistic. Thoughts?


60 Second videos on Instagram. The picture-come-video platform announced that 60 second videos will be available soon, as well as the ability to edit videos using multiple clips on your camera roll. You will now also find Video Channels in Instagram’s search function, Explore which will allow you to find videos that (should) interest you, (according to Instagram) at the top of your search results page and enjoy the best of Instagram videos.

With Snapchat dominating video growth in the last 6 months, extending the length of videos on Instagram will improve the app’s usability, an attempt to stop users from switching to other video options.



Vine shared their new ‘Watch’ button that allows users to watch a channel’s videos all in one go, no loops. Simply visit the channel, click watch and enjoy their stream of videos, from start to finish.

Snapchat has allowed this function for some time, press play and watch all the people you follow’s videos play unhindered.


Vine videos playing on Twitter is a huge advantage for the micro video site. Instagram content still only appears as links in Twitter, thus relying on users to click through to the third party app. Users like content to be accessed as easily as possible. By adding in steps (like having to click through to third party site), this can often deter users.

Facebook, in reverse, plays all video links on its timeline, therefore Instagram does not have the same ‘parent platform’ advantages as Vine has on Twitter.  This “one up” provides natural brand awareness and exposure, which is an advantage to Vine in encouraging new users to sign up.



TwitterLogo_#55aceeAlgorithm changes on Twitter had the same reaction from users as the Facebook algorithm changes – they weren’t happy. But back in February 2016, the micro status site announced that the most important tweets would be shown first on users’ timelines, much like priority stories are shown on the top of Facebook feeds.


Twitter announced this April that they have a new message button that shares public tweets to DM. Until now, sharing has been limited to publishing to users’ walls.

This is an advantage as users have the option to turn on various notifications. If they don’t want to be notified every time they are mentioned, but only when they are sent a direct message, then this can be an advantage to them. Users are only able to DM someone if they are followed by that person. For example, a celebrity would then be able to get DMs from actual friends as they probably don’t follow back their fans. It’s a great way to manage their feeds.

Web Notifications



LinkedIn recently created Instant Articles that allow users to publish articles within LinkedIn. This will curb the amount of users, clicking away from LinkedIn and should improve LinkedIn’s Time on Site. But is this best for independent websites and their domain ranking/SEO? Facebook announced instant articles back in May of 2015, but only made it public, this April, to all users.

Facebook Instant Articles Responses Infographic RS

Image available via Facebook.


LinkedIn is publishing their very own student app that allows graduates to have access to over 400 000 professional contacts on Linkedin. Looking for a job? No problem. LinkedIn Students will help you find employment and is expected to be available on iOS and Android later this year.

Going Forward:

As a brand, ensure you’re selecting platforms that you have a long term plan for. As sites develop, so will their need for content. Ensure you’re using the best websites for your company and don’t spread your brand too thin. The rule of “quality over quantity” still applies when it comes to social media and brand positioning.

About the Author

Meg Shout