Friday Social: WhatsApp for Brands, RIP Twitter and Election Ad Spend

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Our #FridaySocial 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@GrittAlessandra

WhatsApp to open to brands

WhatsApp has announced that the messaging platform will be opening to brands this year, allowing businesses to communicate withWhatsApp_Logo_1 customers.

In a blog post, WhatsApp revealed that in addition to removing its annual 69p fee (which, despite all of Team Umpf using WhatsApp, none of us have encountered yet…) it will be testing tools to allow users to communicate with organisations – it stresses that these will be businesses that you want to hear from, giving examples of notifications from a bank about fraudulent transactions or from an airline about flight delays.

The post also confirms that there are no plans to introduce third party ads.

RIP Twitter

Twitter users were forced to take to other social media platforms to express their outrage at an outage the platform suffered on Tuesday morning (19 January).

Beginning from around 8.20am GMT, the site began failing across mobile and desktop (including TweetDeck). While it was back online by around 10am, some tweeters found the temporary loss almost too much to bear:

https://twitter.com/jordyjayTV/status/689560660309573632

Twitter has blamed an internal code change on the issue.

Sina Weibo ends character limit

Sina Weibo, China’s popular social media platform, is this week beginning to remove the limit on the number of characters users can include in posts.

Users were previously restricted to 140-character posts (sound familiar?) but from 28 January, ‘senior users’ will be able to publish longer posts – although not all of the text will appear in their followers’ feeds, and users will have to click into the message to read more. This will be rolled out to all users before the end of February.

Could this encourage Twitter to progress with its potential plan to ditch its 140-character limit too?

Election Ad Spend

Figures released this week by the Electoral Commission have revealed that the Conservative party spent a whopping £1.2m on Facebook ads during the 2015 General Election Campaign, while Labour spent just £16k.

UKIP reportedly spent £91k, the Liberal Democrats £22k and the SNP £5k. Interestingly, there was little budget put towards Twitter with just £8k spent on the platform by the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party combined.

The totals account for spend made in the 12 months leading up to the General Election. PR Week has published an interesting breakdown of the figures here.

Google patents email scanning tool

A patent awarded this week (19 January) will allow Google to scan messages to suggest engaging social media posts based on email content – effectively writing your social media updates for you.

The new system will identify what the link is about, and suggest topics for the user to share. The given example in the patent application is a link sent between friends regarding a book one might enjoy – Google’s tool is shown giving examples of suggested posts including ‘X is my favourite author…’ and ‘X’s new book…’.

The patent application states that ‘email is not an optimal mechanism for sharing links or engaging in a conversation’, so suggests a better way of communicating this information – via social networks.