3 Social Media Trends for July 2017

Leveraging Changes on Two Major Social Networks

By: Emily Truax, Assistant Director of Social Media

Summertime: A time when those of us in higher ed gather our notes, doodles, spreadsheets and wish lists to begin planning campaigns and content ideas for a full, exciting school year ahead. This year, in the midst of the planning process, social networks have made a few announcements that are causing social media professionals to pause, and adjust their best-laid plans.

Here’s more info on three of this summer’s biggest social media changes and ideas on how Boston University can take advantage of new social media opportunities:

1. Snapchats Can Now Include Links

While undoubtedly an important platform for colleges and Universities given its user base, the ROI of Snapchat has been difficult to articulate — and even more difficult to measure. Now, with Snapchat’s recent ability to add links to individual snaps, the possibilities for content distribution have increased dramatically.

Source: Mashable

Generally, we’ve used Snapchat in the past to connect specifically to current and prospective students. So, how will we use this linking ability at BU? In a word, selectively; by no means will we include links in all of our stories. However, the ability to drive traffic to select pieces of editorial content that are of particular interest and relevance to our student audience is a huge asset in achieving our own goals and engaging this core group. For example, we may link to a listicle of the best ice cream shops around the city of Boston or an article with more information on recent University rankings. Now, when we receive snaps with questions about everything from Admissions requirements to housing to dining options, we can direct users to the appropriate places on our website with more information. While snapping campus events, student groups or big announcements, we can drive viewers to learn more on relevant websites or even other social channels (i.e. “Connect with Student Group XYZ on their Instagram account here”).

It is important to keep in mind that Snapchat’s traffic-driving capabilities are relatively untested at this point and unlike Facebook, it should not be viewed as a network with traffic driving as its primary motivation. Snapchat has always been about community building and forging authentic relationships in real-time and remains so despite the app’s recent update.

2. Facebook Will No Longer Allow Publishers to Change Link Previews

In an attempt to fight fake news, Facebook recently announced an API update on their Developers blog indicating that over the course of the summer, they’ll be removing the ability to edit titles, captions and photos in link previews. Facebook page managers have long used this capability to make headlines or captions more engaging and intriguing for social audiences.

How will we adapt? Luckily, earlier this summer the social team at BU began working with our editorial teams on a process to enable us to change link previews on both Facebook and Twitter via Open Graph meta tags within our CMS. At BU, we use Wordpress and via custom meta tags, the social team now has the ability to adjust the way this content displays on the two social networks when posted. For example, the article below was published on our Research website with the below information:

Title” “Is Science Too Straight?”

Subhead: “LGBTQ+ issues in STEM diversity”

However, using custom meta tags the social team adjusted the display to read:

Title: “Is STEM leaving the LGBT community behind?”

Subhead: “During Pride Month, LGBT scientists at Boston University share their experiences working in STEM and their take on the field’s diversity.”

This change was made with a conscious effort to incorporate SEO-friendly keywords, while using the news hook (Pride Month) and provide additional context for a broader audience beyond those reading directly on our Research site.

This API update offers an opportunity for social media managers to work with their web and editorial teams to explain the need for these custom titles and images and create a workflow to have in place when the Facebook update becomes global.

3. On-Demand Snapchat Geofilters Can Now Be Designed In-App!

In thrilling news to social media managers everywhere, Snapchat recently announced that their popular “on-demand” (read: paid) geofilters can now be designed within the app!

Previously, users had to submit these filters via the web in a photo-shopped PNG format. It required advance planning plus graphic design skills. However, the app’s newest iteration allows users with no graphic design skills and/or software to customize geofilter templates directly in the app. For example, a geofilter for your University’s graduation…

…. can be easily customized in seconds!

Of course Snapchat is hoping this encourages users to create (and pay for) more filters — and they’re probably right! Here at BU, we’ll likely be able to ramp up our use of custom geofilters given the lower barrier to entry the new update provides.

How are you adapting to the newest updates from our favorite social platforms this summer? Let us know! We’d love to hear from you!