Friday Social: Instagram captions, Saying Thanks & Twitter updates

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Our Friday Social is a weekly round-up of the key social media news stories from the previous seven days. Let us know your thoughts in the comments or via Twitter – @Umpf / @nathanbrush #FridaySocial

1. Edit captions on Instagram

Instagram launched a major update to its iOS and Android apps this week, allowing users to edit captions and discover new users and content more easily. The previous inability to amend captions frustrated Instagram users for years, with deleting and reposting images the only remedy for typos. Now a simple ‘Edit’ option is available on the menu beneath every upload.

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The other major changes come to the ‘Explore’ page, now depicted by a magnifying glass. Split cleanly into ‘Photos’ and a new ‘People’ tab, new images and accounts are easier than ever to discover. Along with some subtle design retouches, these changes further improve the usability of an already impressive app.

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iOS version 6.2 and Android version 6.10 are available for download now.

2. Reuters opts for social media commenting

News agency Reuters has ditched the commenting feature on its website in favour of debate on social media. Visitors to reuters.com will no longer be able to comment on news articles, with the website urging readers to engage and share opinion on social media instead. Crucially, the content of comments published on social will not be Reuters’ responsibility.

With news often first breaking on social media, and the spread of rich and interactive content, executive editor Dan Colarusso explained that ‘comments on a website must give way to new realities of behaviour in the marketplace’. It will be interesting to see if other news sites follow suit in an attempt to combat trolls and maintain a healthy culture of criticism around the news.

3. Book a hotel room on Twitter

Online hotel marketplace Stayful has launched TweetStay, a mobile service that lets people find the best prices for hotel rooms in cities across the US. Users can tweet @Stayful #tweetstay with their destination city, type of hotel, arrival date and number of nights to trigger a real-time comparison of available spots.

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It’s only possible to request availability 30 days in advance, meaning rooms that might otherwise go empty can be offered at the lowest possible prices. This automated technology, which simultaneously drives conversions and generates social engagement, should prove ultimately valuable for Stayful as the service hopefully expands to Europe soon.

4. Say Thanks on Facebook

Ahead of Thanksgiving, Facebook has launched a new greeting card creator called Say Thanks. Similar to Look Back, users can compile a video of photos and posts to share with one, or a group, of friends. With nostalgia a proven driver of social engagement, if it proves a success perhaps it will remodelled for Christmas come December.

5. Twitter queues up product changes

Twitter held its first Analyst Day event in San Francisco this week and announced a raft of product updates aimed at fuelling user growth and boosting the network’s share price. Timeline Highlights will reveal relevant tweets that were published while a user was away from the network, while Instant Timeline will automatically populate the timeline of new users with content, negating the need for them to immediately follow accounts.

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2015 will see an app update allowing users to upload and edit video on Twitter itself, not using Vine. Direct messages are also set to see a revamp along with breaking news alerts becoming more prevalent. After the failure of Twitter #Music, executives confirmed the network isn’t planning a replacement, but other standalone apps sure look likely.