June 30, 2017

Keeping Up With Social Media


While you’ve been avoiding updating your Instagram, developers have made huge changes and launched new services. Over the course of the last week or so, Snapchat gave the world Snap Map, YouTube debuted an experimental app called Uptime and Facebook changed its entire mission statement! Let’s take a minute to slow down, take a look at these new social media trends and maybe even test them out a little.

Snap Map

On June 21, Snapchat tried to tackle the classic baby boomer complaint of ‘kids these days are glued to their phones’ by launching Snap Map. This new feature, which still involves some staring at your screen, allows you to share your location with your friends in an attempt to encourage real-world interactions. That’s right. Doing things in person.

Simply pinching together on the Snapchat home screen takes you to the Snap Map, and your friends’ locations are shown by their Bitmoji, which changes based on factors such as location and time of day. By clicking on someone’s Bitmoji you can then see their story and directly message them about meeting up.

I gave the update a try and was particularly intrigued by the heat colors, which indicate where a large amount of content is being posted, potentially suggesting an event you might want to go to. The mission behind the update is to promote connections IRL (in real life) and though the map is interesting to explore for a while, I’m probably going to stick with texting my friends.


While Snapchat is trying to get you off your phone, YouTube is trying to keep you on it with the arrival of Uptime on Monday, June 26. Uptime is an experimental app that was actually developed in Google’s incubator, Area 120 and the aim is to encourage you and your friends to watch YouTube videos together.

When you open up the app, you are given the option to scroll through your feed exploring and joining in with what your friends are watching or share a video of your own. When actually watching videos, little bubbles bob around the outside of the screen indicating who is watching the video and at what point they are at. And most importantly, you can react to the video at any point using all your favorite emojis!

Uptime’s launch was actually very quiet and as of right now, it is not even registering on the app store’s charts. That obviously takes away from the experience as chances are your friends aren’t on it and probably haven’t even heard of it. This should pick up soon enough with ads currently running on the app store to try and increase exposure.

Facebook’s Changing Mission

Though not accompanied by a huge piece of tech, it is still important to note that on June 22 Facebook changed its mission statement. The statement was originally, “Making the world more open and connected” but as they prepared to pass 2 billion users (which they did on June 27) a new direction was required. The new mission statement reads, “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”

Announcing the move at Facebook Communities Summit, CEO, Mark Zuckerberg cited the continuing and increasing division across our societies as a driving factor behind the change. “I used to think that if we just gave people a voice and help some people connect that that would make the world a whole lot better by itself…We have a responsibility to do more.”

There were some small tech updates to go along with this announcement, but nothing quite on the scale as Snapchat and YouTube. However, across these three recent developments you should be able to spot an overarching trend. Whether it’s in person, on an app or through an entire company, social media is trying harder than ever to get us to interact with each other in engaging ways.

Social media has always been about making connections with individuals and friends, but there was always an element of isolation lurking beneath the surface. With these changes, it is clear that turning these connections into something more meaningful is now the focus. Uptime success will depend on it actually being enjoyable to watch videos with friends across the country, Snap Maps is all about actually meeting people in the real world and Facebook has quantified their new statement with the goal of helping 1 billion people join meaningful communities. I wouldn’t kiss goodbye to those endless evenings spent on the couch ignoring the world while you’re buried deep in your Facebook or Instagram feeds quite yet, but it seems like social media is getting, well, a bit more social.