Snapchat rolls out Group Chats and Shazam

Our round up of this week's social media news and insights:

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Snapchat rolls out Group Chats and Shazam

Snapchat has introduced a number of new features in its latest update, including integration with Shazam and the ability for users to chat with up to 16 friends. The social network has agreed a deal with Shazam, which allows users to identify a song by holding down the Snapchat camera screen when music is playing nearby. When a song is recognised, it will appear in the ‘Settings’ menu so people can access Shazam content and send Snaps to their friends of their music and artist discoveries. The new Group Chat feature can be created when starting a Chat or sending a Snap. When friends are together in a group chat, their names will be displayed at the bottom of the conversation. The Group Chat messages will be automatically deleted after 24 hours, while Snaps sent to a Group can only be opened and replayed once by each recipient. Users can also tap on the name of a friend in a Group Chat to start a one-to-one conversation – without spamming everyone in the thread – and they return to the group with one swipe, in a feature dubbed ‘quick chat’. The update also features two new creative tools: ‘Scissors’ will let users cut out part of a Snap on the Preview Screen to turn it into a sticker. The ‘Paintbrush’ tool will let users draw on top of Snaps in Memories. Meanwhile, UK teaching surgeon Dr Shafi Ahmed has livestreamed an operation using Snapchat Spectacles. He wore the sunglasses, containing a small integrated camera, when performing a routine hernia repair procedure. Clips from the operation were posted to Snapchat. Dr Ahmed said the spectacles offer a unique opportunity for teaching and provided a way to address inequalities in medical education in different countries. ‘I’m looking for ways we can use cutting-edge technology in relatively low-cost gadgets to teach people everywhere.’

PR and Marketing in Social Media

Center Parcs unveils biggest campaign of the year on Facebook before it goes live on TV

Center Parcs is trialling a new marketing strategy which will see it offer a teaser for its biggest campaign of the year on Facebook before going live on TV just before Christmas. The holiday park company has created a 50-second spot, which follows a family of four as characters from a forest fairytale set in one of its parks. The campaign’s focus on an emotional story instead of showing the product, is based on research, and follows on from the brand’s promotion last year. ‘We realised that beneath the service of people doing activities and having fun, the real reason people come back to Center Parcs so often is an emotional reason, spending time with family,’ revealed the company’s sales and marketing director Colin Whaley. The promotion will launch on 21 December on the brand’s Facebook page, before making its TV debut on 23 December. The new marketing strategy reflects the increasingly important role digital now plays in reaching Center Parcs target demographic. Whaley said that while TV is still important, it is ‘nowhere near as big as it used to be’. He also revealed that the holiday company has increased its spend in paid social by more than 100% in 2016 compared to last year.

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Facebook launches Parent Portal to improve online safety

Facebook has debuted a new portal aimed at helping adults to keep their children safe online. Facebook Parents Portal offers videos, tips and advice to adults guiding their children through the social media network. The hub is part of Facebook’s Safety Centre, and has been introduced in response to feedback about the knowledge gap among parents about the social network’s safety policies, tools and resources. The advice is available in over 55 languages and aims to foster conversations between parents and children about the issue of online safety, including topics such as ‘Try to be a good role model’ and ‘Engage early’. The portal also provides contact details for a host of experts parents can contact if they are unsure about certain policies or guidelines. Facebook is used by 1.8 billion people globally, but there are no official figures for how much of this audiences is made up of under 18s. Users have to be aged 13 or over to open an account, and the new portal provides links to report accounts that are held by people under the age of 13. Announcing the debut of Parents Portal in a blog post, Facebook’s head of global safety Antigone Davis wrote: ‘Whether you have a personal account or your teen does, we’ve compiled some basic information and tips to help you get the most out of your experience and help your child navigate theirs.’

Ed Sheeran returns to social media

Ed Sheeran has returned to social media exactly a year after quitting to work on his third album. The singer announced his extended break from social media last December, explaining to his followers that he wanted to focus on recording and to ‘travel the world and see everything I missed’. At the time Sheeran revealed he was ‘taking a break from my phone, emails and all social media for a while’, fed up with ‘seeing the world through a screen and not my eyes’. Songwriter Amy Wadge, who has been working with Sheeran on his new album, has said he will ‘break the internet’ when its released, adding it will be out ‘really soon’, but wouldn’t be more specific. The Thinking Out Loud singer has now posted a blank blue image to his 5.9 million Instagram followers and 16.6 million Twitter followers with no caption, and has changed his profile pictures on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to the same thing, prompting fans to speculate he is about to announce the release of his 3rd album.

Facebook explores buying original shows

Facebook is holding exploratory talks with TV studios and other video producers about acquiring its own content. The discussions are being led by Ricky Van Veen, the College Humor website co-founder who joined the social network earlier this year as head of global creative strategy. Facebook hopes to ‘kickstart’ content for its recently created Video tab, a dedicated home for video on the social network. Van Veen said Facebook is looking at funding some seed video content including original and licensed scripted, unscripted and sport content. ‘Our goal is to show people what is possible on the platform and learn as we continue to work with video partners around the world,’ he added. While Van Veen has stressed the idea is still at the exploratory stage, it is still seen as a significant step for Facebook, which has insisted on many occasions that it is a tech company, not a media company. However, this year the social network has struck deals with a number of publishers for its streaming service Facebook Live and a move into original content would put the company in competition with Netflix, Amazon and YouTube.

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