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The last 10 years we have seen dramatic Digital change. To get a better understanding of the impact broadband connectivity and the rise of social media has had on businesses in the Highlands and Islands, we’ve developed a short survey, which should take only 3 minutes to complete.
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At the beginning of the month WhatsApp enhanced its encryption technology, meaning that only the senders and receivers of messages can read the content. The Facebook owned messaging platform has been working on this technology since 2014, ensuring that it works across various mobile platforms.
The secure encryption is available to all one billion users and covers chats, group chats and voice calls on iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone and Nokia. In order to access this new and advanced tech, users have to upgrade to the latest version of WhatsApp. Additionally, the network plans to inform users whether they are chatting with an authentic contact, as opposed to an imposter by verifying the encryption session using a QR code.
First announced back in 2014, Pinterest launched Promoted Pins, which allows businesses to pay to have their Pins (products) placed high in people’s feed and can target specific demographics. Up until now, this has only been offered in the US, but the social media platform is now opening it up intentionally and they are starting with the UK, expanding further to other english-speaking countries later in the year.
The online message board known as the retro “Internet soapbox”, has launched a set of mobile apps for iOS and Android users in the US, UK, Australia and Canada. This is a first for community-based site and the developers explained that it was time to do what everyone else in tech are doing; build a dedicated mobile version of their product. This move to smartphone apps is a strategic move for the company who are looking to expand their 243 million monthly users and become a more mainstream social media platform.
The new apps allow users to all of their usual Redditing behaviour like browsing news feeds, commenting, up-voting and down-voting stories and exploring AMA (ask me anything) Q&A sessions.
Chatbots have suddenly become the biggest thing in tech. Their ability to provide personalised, interactive communication akin to talking to a human customer service or sales rep, but at a much cheaper rate than call centres, is attracting businesses from every industry.
However, Facebook is the first social network to embrace the chatbot frenzy. Facebook will now allow businesses to deliver automated customer support, e-commerce guidance, content and interactive experiences through a chatbot powered chatting system on their Messaging app.
Facebook announced a number of chatbot partnerships with developers including 1-800-Flowers which enables users to order flowers by just sending its Messenger bot a friend’s name. Or CNN are now able to send people a “daily digest” of stories that match the user’s interests, whilst skipping the topics they don’t care about.
Mark Zuckerberg explained that with a combination of AI (artificial intelligence), natural language processing and human help, people will be able to talk to Messenger bots just like they talk to friends. Furthermore, Facebook also plans to earn money from this new venture by allowing businesses to send “Sponsored Messages” ads to people who have already voluntarily started a conversation with a brand. Advertisers can also buy a “Click To Message” news feed that initiates conversations with their bot. Both services could allow bots to push users to buy products and ultimately become a revenue booster for brands.
The Google-owned video platform YouTube is set to take on Twitter’s Periscope with their own version of live streaming. Dubbed YouTube Connect, the service will be made available for Apple and Android users and will allow people to link their streams to their Google and YouTube accounts. Additional features will include chatting and tagging tools, as well as a “news feed” section which will show the latest clips from channels a user has subscribed to.
The announcement of YouTube Connect comes at a time when the original live streaming app, Meerkat, has now exited the market due to the dominance of their rivals Periscope and Facebook Live. Twitter currently places Periscope with 10 million users and Facebook have rolled out their Live service in both the UK and US to boost its reach across the 1 billion user network; YouTube will be looking to take a share of this competitive live streaming market.
Just like its owner, Facebook, Instagram will be changing the order in which they show images in the main feed. Instead of showing images in the order they were published, the network are now using an algorithm that guesses what the user wants to see and may have missed.
Instagram claim that people miss 70% of the photos in their feed, with it becoming even harder to keep up as the site grows in popularity and traffic increases. Twitter also recently changed to a algorithmically-ordered feed, although they allow users to switch off this feature and resort back to the chronological order. Instagram are yet to reveal whether they would allow users to do the same and are still in the testing period, claiming that it will “take its time to get it right”.
This month Twitter celebrated its 10th birthday. It’s hard to believe that on March 21 in 2006, it all started with a single tweet from its founder, Jack Dorsey…
just setting up my twttr
— Jack (@jack) March 21, 2006
To mark the special day, Twitter released a two-and-a- half minute video (see below) showing the network’s role as a provider of information and activist platform for events all around the world including marriage equality, the Black Lives Matter movement and the 2011 tsunami. Interestingly the video ends with a thank you tweet that initially goes over Twitter’s 140 character limit and is then deleted and rewritten to fit in the content using emojis – maybe a sign of company plans for the future.
Starting in ?? on 3/21 and moving across the ?, we thank you for 10 incredible years.
— Twitter (@twitter) March 20, 2016
If you aren’t on Snapchat, then get ready to see a few new faces in your Facebook feed. The social network has purchased popular face-swapping app MSQRD, built by startup Masquerade. The app offers a range of features including live video effects for selfies and “celebrity masks” which involves facial overlays that make you look like the famous person of your choice. This may be a new feature for Facebook, but avid Snapchatters’ will be au fait with this capability as the popularity of the face swap filter has skyrocketed since its acquisition of Looksery.
This year Facebook has been enhancing the quality and capabilities of its image and video tools, so it is likely that users can expect to see MSQRD’s features pop up on the network in the very near future.
Since Instagram came into existence, it’s users have pleaded with the platform to provide multiple account support. And it seems like Instagram are finally ready to listen and make one of it’s most requested features now possible.
The ability to toggle between multiple accounts first appeared on the photo-centric app on Android back in November, during which time the platform was still testing it. However, following the latest update of the app (version 7.15), iPhone users are now able to make use of this “life-changing” feature.
To call it “life-changing” may be a slight exaggeration, but it really will save users who manage more than one account, a huge amount of time and make the experience of using the app much more enjoyable and efficient. The change can be accessed from the user’s account settings in their profile, and when one or more additional accounts have been added, users can switch between them by tapping on the username icon at the top of their profile.
This will be especially useful to brands on Instagram who may have more than one account based on their product or service offering and for those within the company who are responsible for managing the accounts, but also have a personal account. Gone are the days of logging in and out to access a different account. Hallelujah!
Facebook turned 12 earlier in the month and in celebration of this, they decided to create their own holiday called “Friends Day”. It worked in a similar way to “Year In Review”, with users’ being sent a Friends Day video, which compiled photos of them with their friends.
Turning another year older has also sparked some inspiration and drive to improve it’s offering to their 1.59 billion users across the world. This includes the launch of several new additions to the network including a new tool called Audience Optimisation which reveals how Facebook divides its users and the number of people who belong to each segment. This is hugely valuable data to any marketer as brands can now identify their preferred audience for a post by searching for and selecting interests relevant to their message.
Facebook have also been busy prepping a rival to Twitter’s “Moments” feature in the form of “Instant Articles”. This new feature will allow publishers to provide users with rich content all kept within the platform, as opposed to showing a small part of a larger story that is hosted elsewhere. This is good news for both brands and their audiences as users are given high-quality content to read that is easy and simple to access and in return, brands receive higher levels of engagement and interaction.
And finally, in their most recent reveal (and yes, this has all happened in February) Facebook have expanded on their “Like” button reactions. This fun new feature now enables users to react to friends’ posts in an array of emotions and gestures, including love, laughter, sadness, anger and wow. Facebook clearly anticipated the popularity of this new addition and have launched the new reactions worldwide on iOS, Android and the web version.
Snapchat has been working hard on its Discover feature and bringing on multiple major publishers who have been quick to identify the value in Snapchat; this includes BuzzFeed, Refinery29 and Mashable. However, the social network is going a step further and following in the footsteps of many of the other major platforms by announcing plans to expand into e-commerce and make the Discover section of the app shoppable, allowing customers to buy products from selected brands. Although in the very early stages, Snapchat already has a payments feature known as Snapcash, which should make implementing the e-commerce function a lot smoother and more of a seamless experience for its users.
With the level of activity on Twitter dropping, the platform knows they need to provide their users with something new and have been playing around with the way content is delivered and appears on the timeline. Earlier this month, it revealed a new “relevancy over recency” algorithm, which in effect, rewards better content, whether that be paid or organic. With this tweak, Twitter aims to keep in line with the network’s real-time nature but acknowledges the fact that trending topics and tweets can be missed by users. Dubbed an extension of Twitter’s “While You Were Away” feature, the new timeline will be available on both mobile and desktop interfaces.
After reading this headline, you’re probably thinking – was WhatsApp not always free? And you would in fact be wrong, as most people did not appear to notice the annual subscription fee of 99p after the first year. In a recent company blog post, WhatsApp admitted that as they’ve grown, they have realised that this approach hasn’t worked well.
If you were an early adopter and one of the first of WhatsApp’s one billion users, then you’ve most likely never experienced the subscription fee, with most original users being granted a free lifetime service. It has only been in recent years that the company introduced this fee, and although users who have already paid their subscription will not be refunded, it will cease to exist immediately.
The Facebook-owned company are also testing software which will allow people to use WhatsApp to communicate with brands such as their banks and airlines. The company is also maintaining its original principals and remaining ad-free, something which the founders are strongly in favour of, stating in 2012 that, “when advertising is involved, you, the user, are the product”.
The leading live streaming app, Periscope, will now automatically play within Twitter for iPhones and iPads. This integration into Twitter, who own Periscope, will see these live videos play in a similar way to Twitter’s Vines, pre-recorded video or GIFs; they all currently download and start playing without the user being required to interact with them. If users do choose to tap the Periscope video when it begins to play, they will be taken to a full screen view and the comments and hearts from other viewers will show.
Although this feature is currently only being rolled out on Twitter for iOS users, the Android and web versions will be available at some point in the near future.
With the take-off of not only pre-recorded video content, but also live video content across numerous social media platforms, Instagram could not be left behind. They have incorporated this feature into the platform by stringing together video content for live events. This works especially well for award shows, music festivals and sporting events, proving itself during the Golden Globes earlier this month.
Users can access these live video streams through the “Explore” tab, where a banner at the top of the page will highlight the name of the event being streamed. Users then click on this tab and the videos being to play continuously, one after the other. Videos can be also be skipped and moved on to the next one, which is similar to Snapchat’s popular swipe feature.
A dedicated team at Instagram’s HQ are responsible for curating the streams, and users can access the videos for only 24 hours before they disappear, which is again very similar to a Snapchat story.
Nothing stays the same for long and Twitter knows it. Within the space of one weekend, five of Twitter’s top executives had abruptly left the company. It was reported by multiple media sites including Re/code and The New York Times that the heads of product, media, engineering, HR and Vine had all departed the company, with immediate effect.
A major Twitter investor confirmed that the departures were the result of a long-planned restructuring to the company. CEO, Jack Dorsey, also posted on his own Twitter profile about the departures and explained each person’s reasons for leaving and commenting on the media’s inaccurate reporting.
The departures come at a time when Twitter are shaking up the way this social media giant works. As noted above, Periscope videos will now play automatically and there have been rumours that the company are seriously considering increasing their trademark 140 character limit to 10,000 characters – quite the leap!
In addition to these changes, Twitter is also reportedly developing a “brand enthusiast gallery” feature, which would take tweets from ordinary users and place them into brands’ campaigns, making it easier for marketers to source relevant content. Users’ permission would initially be asked by Twitter via direct message on behalf of the company wishing to use the content.
Analytics from mobile video traffic provides a clear indication that Snapchat is closing in on Facebook’s viewing figures. Snapchat’s growth is exponential, with over 7 billion views per day between June and November last year. With this figure, Snapchat are on the tail of Facebook’s 8 billion video views per day.
However, when it comes to another key figure – number of users – Facebook are strides ahead with 1.55 billion people logging into their account at least once a month. This is 15 times more than Snapchat, who currently have 100 million daily users. However, something tells me Facebook won’t be so far in front for long…
LinkedIn has, for a long time, been known for its poor mobile interface, with many of it’s users choosing not to download the mobile app due its poor usability quality However, the desktop version of the platform has remained popular with people looking for online networking opportunities with recruiters, employees and entrepreneurs. Therefore, the introduction of a new and revamped iOS and Android version of the mobile app is being welcomed by all.
According to LinkedIn the new look is “more intuitive, smarter and dramatically simplifies the LinkedIn experience”. Whilst giving the main feed inside the mobile app a new look, the company also announced that it has cut down on the volume of emails that it sends out to users. In the spirit of de-cluttering people’s inboxes, the mobile app is now more aesthetically pleasing and users are now able to opt-out of content and be more selective about what pops up in their feed.
However, beyond aesthetics, the main focus and biggest change to the app is the messaging function. Before, users were not able to easily message their existing connections and potential new connections due to the interface resembling the desktop version of the site, which more often than not, doesn’t translate well to mobile. It is now more chat-like with the option to add stickers and attach documents and images – much like the Facebook messenger app.
Another long overdue feature on social media is the ability to toggle between Instagram accounts. When Instagram announced earlier in the month that they were piloting the idea, their 400 million users all breathed a sigh of relief… Or at least those managing more than one account. Twitter has already mastered this feature, making it easy and quick to toggle between multiple Twitter profiles.
However, many of those users who would benefit from this update to the platform may have to hold their breath a little longer as it is currently only being tested for Android devices and has not yet been tried for iOS.
Following this announcement, Instagram then officially started offering advertising opportunities to businesses, both small and large, who’s target market are users of the image-sharing platform. To find out more about integrating these ads into your social media strategy, click here.
Back in our October Newsflash we mentioned that Twitter was introducing a new feature to the platform, know as Moments. This new and very popular addition has now made its way over to the UK for all of Twitter’s British users to enjoy. The new addition curates content for the user by collecting news stories, tweets, videos and images from across the Twitter feed and stores it in one single tab, which can be identified by the lightening bolt logo. Representing the most important breaking and developing stories in the news and Twitter world, these tweets are categorised into tabs within the Moments tab and include Today, Entertainment, News, Sports and Fun.
The UK is the third country that Twitter has launched this new feature in and is managed by an editorial team in London who are responsible for curating the content and selecting the most current and popular stories across the main news profiles.
Back in September, Snapchat introduced 7 filters that can be applied when taking a selfie. Using facial recognition technology, the filters have been very effective, thus making them extremely entertaining and popular within the Snapchattin’ community.
The question is: are people willing to pay in order to put a quirky filter on their selfie? Well we are going to find out… This month Snapchat have introduced a 99p charge to users who select a certain lens. There are still 7 filters that can be used free of charge, but for the majority of options, they now have to be paid for in advance of being used. However, once users decide to part with their cash for that perfectly funny/scary/freaky filter, it is a one-time payment and they do get keep the lens and use it as many times as they wish.
The store can be accessed the same way that users would normally access the free lenses; flip the screen to selfie mode, touch your face until the filter options appear and swipe through them until the 99p charge appears.
At the end of October, Snapchat also launched “Speed Modifiers”, allowing users to apply slo-mo, fast-forward and rewind effects to their videos.
It’s one of the most annoying and frustrating things about the internet (apart from slow Wi-Fi of course); when you find the ideal dress for the event you are going to or the perfect mirror for your new bedroom… but you don’t know where it’s from or where you can buy it!
Given that Pinterest is an image based social platform, it is considered one of the biggest culprits and they feel your pain. The site is now making anything you see in a pin easily searchable. Using their new visual search tool, which is supported by a deep learning algorithm, people can zoom into any pin and select a specific part (similar to cropping an image). Pinterest will then scan the selection and pull up similar pins that it matches. You can also filter results further by selecting the relevant topic for your search. This new feature is being made available to users globally.
Facebook at Work, the company’s own version of their social platform for colleagues in the workplace, have just launched the work version of the Messenger app; “Work Chat”. The new app allows employees to message each other directly, start and participate in group chats, share image and video content and make calls to each other.
You may not have even heard of Facebook at Work, as it has been in private testing since its launch in January. However, it is more popular than you may think with hundreds of companies using it, including Heineken USA, Hootsuite and the Royal Bank of Scotland. The RBS in particular are one of the biggest users of the platform and aim to have 30,000 of their workers on the network by March 2016 and its entire workforce of 100,000 active by the end of next year.
Employers have been able to set up new accounts for their staff and users can choose to link their personal and work profiles together. It is currently being used to share documents, have discussions, make announcements and manage projects, collaborations and events. Facebook have launched the site as a freemium service and aim to compete with Microsoft’s Yammer, Salesforce Chatter and Slack and it could even be used to communicate and store information in the way Sharepoint does.
The app has just launched on the Google Play store, with the iOS version to be released in the near future.
So the news out! Tuminds is going Dutch!
We made the headlines in The Scotsman last week and other publications have followed since.
Our Managing Director, Rene Looper, is travelling to Holland to meet with the Dutch team to discuss plans to open our first overseas expansion. We are obviously very excited about this new opportunity and we will keep you up to date on developments here.
In the meantime, if you have an interest in these plans, feel free to contact us.
See the articles below featuring our new Dutch office.
It has been a whirlwind month for Twitter; where to be begin…
It started with the announcement of co-founder and former CEO, Jack Dorsey, returning as the company’s permanent CEO. Following this, a new Executive Chairman was appointed from Google, Omid Kordestani.
However, in addition to the changes made to the Twitter board, there have also been adjustments throughout the rest of the workforce, with 1 in 12 employees (around 8%) being laid off as the company claims to streamline its product roadmap. In a letter written by Dorsey to the team, he cited the reasons for the changes as enabling the company to “focus on the experiences which will have the greatest impact”.
In this statement Dorsey may be referring to the new ‘Moments’ feature which was added to the social media platform earlier in the month. Twitter themselves describe it as “a bold peek into the future of how people will see what’s going on in the world”.
The new feature uses human curators to highlight the most popular conversations and topics on the network and delivers it all under one tab both on the desktop and mobile version (look for the lightening bolt sign). This much needed addition to the platform will be of particular value to those who find the main Twitter stream a little overwhelming and daunting to scroll through.
With all the changes currently happening in the Silicon Valley area, we wonder what is next for one of the biggest players in social; will growth be a much desired product of the streamlined process, or will the difficult times continue in what is becoming a very saturated and competitive market?
LinkedIn, the largest professional network in the world, is tightening it’s grip on privacy and changing the way Groups work within the platform.
Starting October 14, discussions on LinkedIn Groups have been made private, with only official members of the group being able to see the content and contribute to the discussion. This change not only affects the platform itself, but it also means Google will not be able to trawl discussions and content posted on the Groups, which again increases the privacy of this social channel.
Group owners now have to choose between Unlisted and Standard Groups which each have different criteria and levels of privacy. Read about them here.
The social media giant has announced that it is testing a dedicated place on the platform where users can go to only watch video content. This includes videos saved by users themselves, videos shared by friends, pages they follow and other video publishers on Facebook. Videos will also pop up in users’ feed which are considered “relevant” and something that the user is going to “Like”.
With the platform increasingly becoming the place to watch the latest news clips and viral videos, as well as the most recent blockbuster movie trailers, similarities are being drawn with the king of the video, YouTube. Furthermore, Facebook does not look to be turning it’s attention away from videos anytime soon with the company’s Ad Product Lead, Ted Zagat, stating, “a year or two from now, we think Facebook will be mostly video.”
Facebook is currently testing new video-specific features, including the new video section and immersive VR-like 360-degree video as it plans to make moving pictures an even more prominent part of the Facebook experience.
Hallelujah. It finally looks like there is a solution for GIFs and sharing them on social, specifically on Instagram which has been a notoriously difficult platform to work with when sharing GIFs. The looping mini videos have been around for a while, but it has never been straight forward or easy to upload the files on social media platforms… until now.
Instagram have now launched a new app to join their family of Hyperlapse and Layout, which allows users to create and share mini videos put together by a burst of five images, which are stitched together and made into a 1-second GIF, that loops the images backwards and forwards, creating the “Boomerang” effect.
The app does not have a newsfeed, but automatically saves the video to the user’s phone and allows it to be shared on social media. The one thing to be prepared for when using this app is the countless hours you will lose creating an endless amount of 1-second GIFs! Enjoy this new social obsession… I know I will!
Twitter was overrun by one particular hashtag this month – #IStandWithAhmed. This was about 14 year old Ahmed Mohamed being arrested at his school in Texas for building a clock, which, because he was Muslim, was thought to be a hoax bomb, and sent social media (and the rest of the world) into a frenzy. The blatant racial attack prompted political leaders, celebrities, CEOs, other influencers and public figures, as well as the general public, to make their voice heard on social media using the hashtag. One of the first to share his view on the matter was President Obama:
“Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great”.
— President Obama (@POTUS) September 16, 2015
Others who followed included the Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, who invited him to visit their headquarters, NASA who tweeted their support for Ahmed’s passion for technology, and Hillary Clinton who encouraged Ahmed to “stay curious and keep building”.
Like so many news events and good causes that instigate passion, social media is the tool that people turn to when wanting to make their voice heard; and thanks to those people, instead of being condemned for his intelligence and curiosity, Ahmed has a very bright future ahead of him.
Does Snapchat ever stop? It was only in July that the platform brought in a number of user-friendly changes including the “tap to view” functionality, enabling users to view snaps more than once and altering the way friends can be added (read more about these changes in the Tuminds Newsflash from July here).
Now Snapchat have gone down the gimmick route and brought in funny overlays and trophies – yes trophies … let’s address those first. Snapchat have decided to reward those who love to snap and encourages users to explore the platform and discover new opportunities to earn some trophies. This may be something as simple as recording a video snap, the length of your story or the number of points you have – but who really knows what those points mean and how they are calculated; it seems to be a tightly kept secret on Snapchat’s part.
However, the most talked-about feature to come users’ way are the new overlays, which are being dubbed the Snapchat Lenses. The company is innovatively using advanced facial recognition technology to apply CGI animations on the user’s face in real-time through the front camera. The software is able to tell when your face is moving and moves the animated overlays with it. There are seven lenses to choose from and at the moment a new one is rotated every day. You can choose to look start-struck, like you belong in a horror movie, aged by 50 years with a lot of wrinkles, or be a blubbering wreck with cartoon style tears. The overlays are fun and very well put together due to the high quality CGI, however, the question is – do we really need anything else encouraging selfies?? Snapchat would probably say yes.
Just short of their 5th birthday (you could call it a pre-birthday celebration), Instagram are able to enjoy not one, but two milestones. The photo-centric social platform have just announced they are now a community of 400 million who have posted more than 40 billion photos to the site. This puts the app well-ahead of Twitter’s 316 million monthly active users and considering that the latter 100 million users to join the platform did so in the last nine months alone, it is clear who the award for social popularity would go to.
In addition to this rapid increase in users, it was also revealed that the community has evolved to become increasingly global, with over 75% of users living outside of the US and a large proportion of the most recent users to join are from countries including Brazil, Indonesia and Japan.
The surge in love for Instagram is also an indication of our universal love for carefully crafted food, pristine landscapes … and of course, the selfie.