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6 social media features that can be improved using Data
By Kamal Jacob
A survey conducted by Pew Research Centre concludes that around a majority of American adults continue to use Facebook and YouTube in the year 2018. This comprises of 73% of Americans for YouTube and 68% for Facebook. Other social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat are particularly popular among younger adults between the age of 18-24 years.
The growing number of social media users across the globe is an indicator for social media companies like Twitter and Instagram and product (or service) companies to effectively use this platform to reach out to and engage with a wider audience. The Data analysis of how social media users behave or interact with the platform can provide indications of:
a) What they are looking for on the social networking platforms?
b) What actions do they perform on the platform?
c) The source of the web traffic or where are the users coming from?
d) Type of content pieces (videos, infographics, listicles) that are attracting more user traction.
e) How users interact with your platform (clicks, shares, or page scroll)
f) What is their intent? Buying? Selling or gaining rewards (satisfaction of knowing more, reward from the tribe in the form of likes, comments, etc.)
Through the use of data science technologies and data insights gained from user behaviour, social media platforms have incorporated a wide variety of product features that has improved the overall user experience and also maximized their ROI. Among its best features, Facebook Live allows its users to live stream an event from their smartphone or personal tablet. Similarly, for its Android users, the Snapchat lenses feature allows its users to apply face lenses after clicking your photo. With over 400 million active users, Instagram also has added a host of innovative features that are engaging with its users. This includes its popular Instagram stories, face filters, and the use of the Instagram app in offline mode.
However, despite the proliferation of new product features, social media platforms are still missing out on many features that would increase its adoption among new-age Internet users.
Let’s look at some desirable features that are currently missing in each of the popular social media platforms.
Among the desirable features that are currently missing in the Facebook, is the “Profile View” feature or the ability to view other Facebook users who have recently visited your profile page. While LinkedIn already offers this feature, Facebook should add this functionality along with the ability to see the name of the profile visitor and the number of times your profile has been visited.
Another feature that would be most welcome in Facebook is the option to disable user comments, shares, or likes on posts in your personal timeline. This can save Facebook users from unnecessary debates or comments on your personal posts along with endless notifications.
Have you ever felt like unfriending a Facebook friend just to escape from their endless posts or constant comments on other posts that don’t interest you? While unfriending them may be a bit too harsh, an option of muting them on a temporary basis would be a great feature to have on Facebook.
Among the largest social networks currently in operation, Instagram has its share of useful hacks that third-party developers have developed to improve your overall experience. However, we would surely like to see these hacks incorporated into the product instead of having to use external tools. This includes the ability to create a collage of all your posted photos and videos with the most likes and shares. Instagram does offer the Layouts feature for collage making but is not as convenient as some third-party tools like the Top Nine app.
Want to post an Instagram story or video longer than 15 seconds? This is not currently supported due to Instagram’s 15-second limit. Third-party tools like Story Cutter and CutStory splits videos (longer than 15 seconds) into 15-second clips that can be played one after the other to complete the story. However, instead of using these hacks, users would definitely want to post longer stories and videos on Instagram.
Any other missing features that can be deployed? Yes, the reintroduction of the Instagram Maps feature that lets Instagram users browse photos based on the location where they were clicked.
Also popularly known as “Subscriber ghosting,” many YouTube users are left out from being notified to new videos uploaded by YouTube creators or channels that they are subscribed to. While active subscribers always receive timely notifications of live events and new uploads, users (who are simply channel subscribers but do not press the channel bell icon) only receive occasional notifications from YouTube. This is one feature that YouTube creators would like YouTube to fix.
Any more features that users would like to see in YouTube Music? Yes, what’s missing is the “Fill screen” mode for YouTube music videos, integration with Google Home, and gapless playback of YouTube music.
Image Source: https://www.snapchat.com/
With the roll-out of its augmented reality tool, Scan and its multiplayer gaming platform this year, Snapchat continues to reinvent itself even as it continues to lose market share among teenage users to Instagram. This is primarily because of the poor performance and issues with its Android app that resulted in the loss of around 2 million users in 2018.
Although it continues to be popular among Apple iOS users, Snapchat’s future growth (or even survival) is dependent on the features and performance of this app on Android users.
So, what are the primary features that Android users want from the Snapchat app?
Android users are looking for faster loading of the “Snapchat Lenses” and the “Snapchat stories” features along with smoother swiping and improved image quality. Features such as the Snapchat Charms are also currently supported only on Apple iOS. The Snapchat Android app has also faced basic issues like app freezing or crashing that needs to be fixed in its revamped version.
While direct messaging has been an integral part of the Twitter social media app for some time, Twitter has introduced the “read receipt” check mark that shows that direct messages (DMs) have been read by the recipient (much like the “blue” check mark in WhatsApp). While some Twitter users may approve of this feature, there are others who would prefer to not show that they have read some DMs sent by other users. While you can disable this feature in your Twitter account settings, it will also disable you from seeing the “read receipt” check mark on DMs sent by you. Here’s wishing that Twitter had not added this feature in the first place.
Twitter also does not notify its users when they are unfollowed by other users. This is one feature that is desired by most Twitter users.
With over a billion users, WhatsApp is clearly the market leader in instant messaging apps. Despite its market dominance, WhatsApp has its share of missing features that are mostly included in its rival apps like Facebook Messenger and Hike.
One such missing feature in WhatsApp is the use of Stickers that is gradually replacing the use of emoticons in instant messages. While group chat is an important feature of instant messaging, WhatsApp limits the size of its group to a maximum of 250 participants, which definitely needs to be expanded.
Want to use your instant messenger as a payment app? While Hike has already launched its payment wallet feature, WhatsApp users are currently unable to make bank transfers even to other users on WhatsApp.
With the rapid growth of its users, social media apps like Facebook and Instagram are responding to user behaviour by adding new and innovative features that are delighting online customers and creating a rich online experience for them. However, due to the fast pace of changing customer expectations, social media apps also have a host of missing features that must be included in the apps at the earliest.
Through this article, we compiled some of the essential features that we think should be added to improve the functionality of social media apps like Instagram, Snapchat, and WhatsApp. What do you think of our evaluation? Have we missed out on any features that you think should be added to your favourite app? We would love to hear your comments. You can also check out some of our training courses in user experience and interaction design here.
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