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This Week in Social Media – Jan. 5, 2018

Sharmin Kent January 5, 2018

Happy new year, readers! This writer is back and refreshed after a few days away from the interwebs. 2018 is already off to a busy start: video ads are meeting mixed responses with streaming service customers, Instagram is going cross-platform with WhatsApp, and your Amazon Echo might start selling you stuff.

Right Medium, Wrong Platform?

Video is huge on social media, and just about every big social channel is investing heavily in it. That’s good news for brands that want to offer video content to target audiences. But it might be bad news for video streaming service customers. eMarketer reports that more than 72% of survey participants said any kind of ad reduces the viewing experience.

So, what’s a brand to do? Streaming services like Hulu offer ad-free experiences for a price, but not every viewer is willing to cough up a few extra dollars. That means brands may have to explore video ads in new ways: in-content ads, separate branded experiences through alternate reality games (ARGs), and social channel-only videos are potential solutions. Video ads perform relatively well–it’s just a matter of finding the right medium for them.

Instagram + WhatsApp = More Stories

After bringing the Snapchattish Stories feature to Facebook and Instagram, Facebook is extending it to its sister network WhatsApp. TechCrunch reports that Instagram is currently testing a feature allowing Instagram users to post directly to WhatsApp as a status. The upside for individual users is that whatever they send will be encrypted, like the rest of WhatsApp.

Should this feature become generally available, it offers brands a few opportunities. WhatsApp isn’t nearly as popular in the U.S. as it is in the rest of the world–so brands looking to test the waters across continents could use this tool. It’s also a way for Facebook to extend usage across its apps, giving brands an incentive to test Stories ads on all Facebook-owned platforms.

“Alexa: What should I buy?”

The digital rumor mill is churning around Amazon’s latest potential ad unit: brands might soon be able to pay for positioning among voice search results on its Alexa platform. Despite AdWeek reporting Amazon’s in talks with brands like Clorox and Procter & Gamble, an Amazon spokesperson is quoted as saying there are “no plans to add advertising to Alexa.”

But there are two options being floated: one involves paying for higher placement around voice search (“how do I clean up spills?” for instance); the other involves a tweak to its existing algorithm allowing brands to be mentioned above others. It’s a no-brainer for a company whose biggest competitive advantage is being a de facto shopping search engine.

What social media news has got your attention for the first week of 2018? Drop me a line at and let’s chat about it.