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September brought us a little closer to the end of a forgetful 2020. Nevertheless, we had some amazing updates in the digital field that was a great help to businesses. From Instagram improving on Reels, Facebook launching a co-watching feature in Messenger, to Google boosting the visibility of ‘Nearby’ product inventory and LinkedIn planning to add links in their stories, the month was packed with interesting updates. Let’s take a look at the complete list of #NewThingsInDigital for the month of September.

In case you missed last month’s list of #NewThingsInDigital Click here to read.

Table of Contents

1. Facebook lets select users view Instagram stories via Facebook

The cross-over we never knew we needed has arrived, almost. Recently, a few users saw a notification on their feed where they were given an option to sync their Instagram stories to Facebook. The move, which is still being tested with a small-scale audience, lets you view Instagram Stories via the Facebook App while maintaining the original Stories’ privacy settings on Instagram. To view an Instagram Story on Facebook, you should be connected to that user on both platforms. If you’ve restricted who can access your Stories on Instagram, your Facebook connections also won’t be able to see it.

2. LinkedIn adds new staff connection tools & follower analytics options on Company Pages

LinkedIn has added a new dedicated communications channel for company and employees which is accessible via your LinkedIn’s Company Page. The feature, which is “your employee-only” experience on the platform, is a closed group space, which lets you stay connected with your employees and their updates, and vice versa for the employees. Through this space, you can share internal news, celebrate staff and organizational milestones, and generally maintain a connection with colleagues via LinkedIn. Apart from this, the platform is also providing new follower analytics insights which will show you how your followers found your company page when they started following.

3. LinkedIn may soon let you add URL to your LinkedIn stories

Though the scope of Stories on LinkedIn is yet to be defined, it is noteworthy to look through the recent updates on this front. LinkedIn has started letting users add URLs to their stories on the platform. The functionality appears to be similar to other Stories options, in that users would ‘swipe up’ on the frame to access the attached URL link. This would generate attention from relevant businesses, thereby expanding the presence and results on the platform.

4. Instagram launches dedicated Reels tab in India

The dedicated Reels tab on Instagram’s main feed is here, FINALLY! After two months of launching TikTok-like features in India, following the Chinese counterpart’s ban in the region, Instagram has made a permanent space for Reels on the lower function bar of the app for Indian users. According to the Instagram chief, Adam Mosseri,

“Today we’re launching a separate tab for Reels in India given the momentum we’re seeing in the country.”, which also hints at the success the feature has seen in the Indian region.

5. Microsoft Advertising expands LinkedIn Profile, dynamic remarketing and in-market audience targeting

B2B marketers can use LinkedIn Profile targeting in Search and Audience campaigns in more countries. Retail advertisers can retarget product engagers automatically with dynamic remarketing ads. Microsoft is rolling out more access to three of its audiences targeting options.

6. Bing’s new robots.txt tester can help SEOs identify crawling issues

Bing has added a robots.txt tester to its Webmaster Tools, the company announced Friday. The new feature allows SEOs to analyze their robots.txt files and highlights issues that may hinder Bing from optimal crawling.

7. Google My Business Adds Video Conferencing Integration

Google My Business has begun what is suspected to be the video integration process with top video-conferencing platforms. It is suspected that this is activated after you update your service availability to specify your video appointments, but nothing is clear as of now. The new feature says “Connect in real-time, with video”, and “grow your business and reach more customers when you use video conferencing providers.”, which then provides you with a “set up” button to start to configure it. Once you hit set up, you are given a list of video conferencing apps such as Google Meet, Zoom, Skype and Webex.

8. Instagram tests dedicated “Reels” and “Shops” tabs on the Navigation Bar

Instagram is now testing dedicated tabs for Reels and Shops on the main feed. Just recently, the platform included a dedicated tab for Reels on profiles in many regions and is currently testing tabs for Reels and Shops on the Navigation Bar in the bottom of the main feed. Currently, three variations/combinations are being tested for the navigation bar. This move expands the app’s core functionality and focus.

9. Google says you can recover from core updates without a new core update

Unlike the old Panda or Penguin updates, Google core updates get refreshed data regularly. John Mueller of Google said in a webmaster hangout video that if your site was negatively impacted by a Google core algorithm update, that you do not need to wait for the next time Google pushes out a core update to recover.

10. Google experiencing indexing issue with new articles

Google is currently fixing an indexing issue affecting the new articles appearing in the ‘Top Stories’ section of search results. To be clear – the issue has been fixed. It’s the full restoration of content that will take several hours to complete.

11. iOS 14 update will impact Ads targeting majorly, warns Instagram

Apple’s iOS 14 update will prompt users to opt-into data tracking for each app on their device. Digital advertisers have raised concern over how this update will impact their businesses. Following Facebook’s warning to Audience Network advertisers explaining the changes Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) will have on the ad network, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri has also flagged concerns about the update, and how it could impact Instagram advertisers moving forward. It points out that while this will affect all businesses at large, it is the small businesses that will be the most hard-hit with this update. However, Apple has postponed the release of this update to next year to give more time for developers to prepare.

12. Google adds a new way to track Video Ad Conversions if a user doesn’t click through initially

Tracking any digital ad conversion can be complicated, given that a user need not necessarily click through an ad to be influenced to make the purchase decision. However, Google has announced that it is adding a new way to track video ad conversions even if the user doesn’t click through the ad initially. They are looking to make Engaged View Conversions (EVCs) a standard way of measuring conversions for TrueView skippable in-stream ads, Local campaigns and App campaigns.

13. Google My Business adds health and safety in the attributes section

In the wake of the ongoing global pandemic and the new normal taking shape around the world, Google has constantly been looking to make it easier for businesses to run smoothly. On that front, Google My Business has added an all-new “Health and Safety” tab to its attributes section. You can now add a standard set of measures to be taken by both employees and customers to make business transactions with you. The health and safety attribute includes: 
  • Appointment required
  • Masks required
  • Staff to get temperature checks
  • Staff to wear masks
  • Temperature check for customers required

14. Instagram adds “Suggested Reels” on the main feed; tests “Recommended as Featured” option

Instagram has constantly been trying to boost the performance of Reels amongst users. In a move to enhance the presence of the same, Instagram has added a “Suggested Reels” section on to the app’s main feed. The listing appears between the posts on your feed, highlighting some relevant Reels for you to check-out. Another feature that Instagram is testing is the “Recommend as Featured” option for your Reels clips, which seems to be similar to TikTok’s #ForYou featured page where it highlights the best content to each user. However, this particular feature is only being tested at the moment, so we will have to wait for more advancements on this. 

15. Instagram adds automatic closed captions for IGTV videos

Instagram’s auto-captions for IGTV videos is here! While the option has been available on Facebook for quite some time now, Facebook is looking to expand the same by bringing it to Instagram. You can find the “Auto-generate Caption” option in the caption settings. Naturally, the precision of the caption’s text depends on the clarity of the video’s audio. Nevertheless, this option presents your content to a broader audience. 

16.  Facebook launches co-watching functionality “Watch Together” on Messenger 

Facebook has launched “Watch Together”, a co-watching feature on Messenger. This enables users to host video watch parties through video calls or Messenger Rooms, with up to 50 participants. With the pandemic taking a toll on people’s social life, social media platforms are coming up with various ways to help people stay connected. This update from Facebook fosters a sense of community amongst people on social media. 

17. Facebook launches “Facebook Business Suite”, a one-stop management tool for FB and Instagram

In a move to further simplify the page management process, Facebook has launched “Facebook Business Suite”, a one-stop platform where small business can now manage all their activities on both Facebook and Instagram. This platform incorporates both Facebook and Instagram profile options into one interface, making it easier for business owners to manage their presence on said platforms.
As per Facebook, Business Suite enables users to:
Save time – Post to Facebook and Instagram at the same time and manage posts in one place, staying connected to both communities. 
Stay up-to-date – Get all of your Facebook and Instagram messages, notifications and alerts in one place so you can stay up to date and respond to all of your customers more efficiently. 
Business results –  See what’s working with Facebook and Instagram Insights and learn what your customers are looking for.

18. Google boosting visibility of ‘nearby’ product inventory with new Shopping features

Google announced that it’s making nearby product inventory more discoverable, with some new and updated Shopping UI features:
  • More prominent “nearby” filter under the Shopping tab.
  • New local stores card.
  • Greater visibility for curbside and in-store pickup labels.

19. Google Search Widgets For iOS 14

Google is updating its iPhone app with support for home screen widgets on devices running iOS 14 or newer. Home screen widgets are new additions to Apple’s mobile operating system that allow faster access to different features within apps.

20. Google tests Knowledge Panel in the middle of Search Results

With Google always getting down to testing the smallest of details in its UI, this week, it did some testing with its Knowledge Panel. The search engine platform is testing out the panel in the middle of the search results. This was first noted in a forum on Twitter.

21. Google prohibits selling Gift Cards via Buy on Google

In a recent update to its Gift Card Policy in the Google Merchant Centre, the search engine giant has officially banned the sale of gift cards via Buy on Google. This will be enforced from September 30th, 2020. Merchant Center products in the gift card category on Buy on Google will no longer be available to your customers once the Policy has been updated.

22. Longer & Improved Trimming: Instagram Reels New Update!

Within just a few weeks of it’s launch, Instagram is already into tweaking its TikTok clone “Reels”, starting with the length of the video. The platform has extended the duration of Reels from 15 seconds to 30. Reels creators also have the option of extending the timer by 10 seconds as they record their clips. Apart from this, it is also looking to improve on its native editing tools with improved trimming and deletion options.

23. Facebook tests listing hashtag usage metrics on “Create Post”

Facebook now provides you with the statistics/usage of a hashtag as you type within the “Create Post” window while recommending relevant hashtags for your post. The tag listing not only shows the recommended hashtags but also gives you the size of each hashtag. This is similar to the data provided on hashtags as we look for them on Instagram Search. Over the past few months, Facebook has been looking to improve hashtag usage on its main platform to enhance community engagement.

24. Facebook removes text restrictions in Ad content!

This is GREAT news for advertisers on Facebook! Facebook is in the process of removing text restrictions in its advertising content. Which means – the platform is doing away with the 20% text rule for good! For a long time now, advertisers have found this rule a major hindrance to their communication. Moving forward, the platform will no longer penalize ads with higher amounts of image text in auctions and delivery. However, advertisers will still need to abide by Facebook’s ad policies regarding the ad’s message.

25. LinkedIn updates look; makes LinkedIn Stories available to all users

LinkedIn has updated how the platform looks and has made LinkedIn Stories available to all users across the globe. The new-look comes with an added dash of a pastel-coloured scheme on a grey and white background. The platform looks brighter with lesser usage of its trademark colour – blue. Along with this, the platform added a series of tweaks, the most important one being the global roll-out of LinkedIn Stories, which was available only at select regions up until now. With its limited availability, the growth has also been limited. We will have to wait and see how the Stories feature is being capitalized!

26. Google brings bidding to Local Services Ads

Google is opening up Local Services Ads (LSAs) to auction-based pricing. This comes after a successful test in a subset of professional services categories.

27. Yelp brings Ads Dashboard into Yelp for Business, debuts new ads features

Advertisers can now optimize for goals such as phone calls, website visits or messages, add negative keyword targeting and more. The biggest change is the integration of the Ads Dashboard into Yelp for Business. Previously the Ads Dashboard and Yelp for Business were two separate tools. Yelp for Business is Yelp’s equivalent of Google My Business.

28. Facebook expands the Rights Manager Tool on both Facebook and Instagram

Facebook has announced an expansion to it’s Rights Manager tool on Facebook and Instagram. The tool which was primarily available only for videos will now be available to check copyrights violation for images as well. It will now automatically detect image copyright violations for claimed content across both Facebook and Instagram. According to Facebook, the new version of the Rights Manager tool uses image-matching technology to help creators and publishers protect and manage their image content at scale. Page admins will have to submit an application for the content they’ve created and want to protect. The tool will then find matching content on Facebook and Instagram.

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