The Best of WordPress.com: Summer Edition

The WordPress.com Blog

Hi everyone! Here’s a snapshot of some of the excellent WordPress.com community advice, insights, and updates that we enjoyed over the past month.


What’s new

Introducing Your New Social Icons Widget

The Social Icons Widget allows you to connect your site to your favorite social media networks. You can activate it by going to My Site → CustomizeWidgets. Check out the full guide to using the new widget or just watch the video above to learn more.

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Connect to Your Fans and Followers with the New Social Icons Widget

The WordPress.com Blog

We’re excited to introduce the new Social Icons Widget, which allows you to connect with visitors on your favorite social media networks.

The new widget supports over 40 popular social platforms, from the ubiquitous Facebook and Twitter, to crafter haven Etsy, to artsy enclaves like DeviantArt and Dribbble. Highlight music or podcasts through SoundCloud or iTunes, or connect with your community via Meetup or Yelp. Business owners will also appreciate being able to hook up their company’s LinkedIn page.

The new widget offers more flexibility, letting you choose from among three icon sizes: small, medium, and large. Pick the one that looks best on your site! You can even drag-and-drop the links in your Customizer to reorder your social icons.

Drag and drop social icons

Activate it now by going to My Site → Customize → Widgets. For self-hosted WordPress users, this new widget will be available in Jetpack soon.

If you’ve been using…

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Blogging Made Easier: Five Tricks You Should Know

The WordPress.com Blog

Writing interesting blog posts, creating attractive pages, and interacting with your visitors — these are essential ways to help you build a body of work, a successful business, or a growing audience online.

I’m part of a team focused on design and research at WordPress.com — I like to find ways to improve your experience, and to help you reach your website or blogging goals. In this post, I’ve compiled five of our favorite WordPress.com features that streamline your publishing experience and help you make an impact with your work faster.

Post Settings That You Can Hide

We’ve recently moved things around a bit in the editor. The settings for your post or page are now on the right — and can be hidden! Just click the cogwheel icon above your toolbar.

hide-show-sidebar.gifIf you yearn for a more minimal experience, hide the post settings so you can focus on your…

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Dark is the Night: A Poetry Chapbook

Rendezvous with the moon, drift among the stars and find yourself lost in the night skies. Author Dorinda Duclos, takes you on a journey through the night, visualizing dreams that let you become one with the universe. From ebony night and darkened shadows, to full moon light that reveals all, til morning breaks and the night slumbers, this is a poetry chapbook for all sky watchers!

Purchase Now on Amazon.com

Instagram Stories Now up to 250 Million Daily Users, Increasing Pressure on Snap Inc.

Facebook’s assault on Snapchat continues.

This week, Facebook has announced that Instagram Stories is now being used by more than 250 million people every day, far eclipsing Snapchat, which has 166 million total users.

The data also indicates that the Stories format is growing in popularity on Instagram – as noted by TechCrunch, Stories’ growth rate is actually picking up speed, “adding the latest 50 million users in 2 months compared to 3 months for the previous 50 million”.

In addition to this, a higher percentage of Instagram users are engaging with Stories on their platform – according to their S-1 documentation, Snapchat’s says that 25% of their daily users are actively creating their own Stories content, which was similar to Instagram’s Stories usage levels back in January, when they reported that 150 million of their 600 million total users were using Stories every day. But now Instagram has 700 milliontotal users, with 250 million engaging with Stories daily – more than 35% of their active audience. The comparison is not exactly direct – Snapchat says 25% are ‘creating’ Stories content, while Instagram says 35% are ‘using’ Stories. But still, it paints a more flattering picture of Instagram Stories usage.

However you look at it, Instagram appears to be winning the social stories race – this chart from Recode underlines the situation.

Instagram Stories Now up to 250 Million Daily Users, Increasing Pressure on Snap Inc. | Social Media TodayThe news is not good for Snap Inc., and the market responded as you would expect.

While Snapchat started the stories trend, Instagram is now taking over, which is putting increased pressure on Snap to come up with new ways to generate interest and shift the market narrative away from audience size.

Thus far, Snap Inc.’s strategy has focused on engagement over users – ‘we may have fewer people on our platform, but they’re far more engaged and locked in’. And going on available evidence, that may be true – Snap Inc. noted during their first earnings call that users are now active in Snapchat for over 30 minutes per day, which was up from the ‘25 to 30 minutes’ stat it listed in its initial IPO documentation, and could theoretically behigher than Facebook (Facebook noted last April that people are now spending more than 50 minutes per day, on average, using Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, though there was no breakdown of single app specifics).

But in order to reinforce that message, Snap Inc. needs to show significant gains in average revenue per user, reflecting that they can actively monetize that engagement. This wasn’t yet evident in their first results.

Instagram Stories Now up to 250 Million Daily Users, Increasing Pressure on Snap Inc. | Social Media TodayBut really, such speculation is higher level analysis, what brands really need to know is whether they should spend more time building their presence on Snapchat or Instagram.

Is it worth developing a Stories strategy on one or the other – or both?

The truth here is ‘it depends’. It depends on where your specific audience is spending their time, it depends on the response you’re seeing on each – there’s no generic answer as to which stories offering is going to produce better results for your brand, specifically.

Sure, Instagram has the numbers, and looks to be winning out – and Facebook’s global head of sales Carolyn Everson has also noted that:

“…a third (of the most viewed stories) are businesses using Instagram Stories and one million are advertisers.”

Clearly, Instagram Stories are proving popular for both individual users and businesses, but Snapchat is still generating good results for the brands that have taken the time to learn the platform.

When you’re talking in such large numbers, it’s easy to lose perspective, but 166 million people is still a lot, and the younger skew of Snapchat’s audience still holds much appeal.

The broader concern is what this means for Snapchat in the longer term – if Instagram continues to heap the pressure on, will Snap Inc. be able to survive? As we’ve speculated previously, one way that Snapchat may be able to get ahead is by putting more focus on their other product offering, Spectacles. Snap Inc. has worked to re-frame itself as a camera company – maybe by actually focusing on the camera element, and building a new, AR enabled version of Spectacles, they might be able to get out of Facebook’s way and forge their own path in another direction.

Recent reports have indicated that Snap Inc. is working on Spectacles 2.0, while they’ve also expanded the availability of Spectacles into Europe.

Of course, Facebook is considering their own version of augmented reality wearables too, but they still seem a long way off (Zuckerberg recently noted that we’re about 5-7 years away from an effective iteration of AR glasses). If Snap can get the jump on this, it could help them branch out and re-ignite their growth, and boost Snapchat itself as a complimentary platform.

It’s impossible to know Snapchat’s full plans, but Instagram’s latest numbers further increase the pressure on Evan Spiegel and Co.

Now we await their next response.

 

 

 

– See more at: http://www.socialmediatoday.com/social-networks/instagram-stories-now-250-million-daily-users-increasing-pressure-snap-inc?utm_s#sthash.KOzFuKlE.dpuf

Source: Instagram Stories Now up to 250 Million Daily Users, Increasing Pressure on Snap Inc.

‘Pinterest’s camera search Lens gets a new look’ by Matthew Lynley (@mattlynley)

Original Article

Pinterest’s camera search tool, Lens, is getting a makeover today with some updated including the ability to zoom in and out and tap to focus, and making it easier to search with Lens from photos they’ve already taken.

Lens is very much a move to try to collapse the distance between the experience within Pinterest the app (or site) and the real world. Users point their camera at something and are looking for some additional information for it — such as a price tag, where to buy it, or what they can do with it. Many of Pinterest’s recent product updates are geared toward inching users closer and closer to that “do” moment. If it can get a user there organically, it can give advertisers a window into user behavior that they might not get on Facebook or Google.

By making Lens seem more and more like typical camera apps — say, Snap or just the camera app — Pinterest seems like it’s trying to make it fit more into the norms and behavior that you’d find in those other apps. And that’s not necessarily bad: these apps have been refined over many, many years and settled on a user experience that seems to stick with people. Dropping that friction and making Lens more appealing is low-hanging fruit for Pinterest.

Pinterest earlier this month said it raised $150 million at a $12.3 billion valuation. There wasn’t a major jump in valuation here, but that really has to do more with the expectations that were set in 2015 against the reality of running a new kind of advertising business that’s going up against Facebook and Google. The actual user growth and reported revenue numbers came short of what some leaked projections showed, implying that Pinterest had more to do if it were to meet a loftier valuation.

To be sure, it’s trying to do that, and Lens is a big part of that. Pinterest said that the financing round was geared toward improving its visual search technology. Pinterest’s visual search tools went from a moonlight project dovetailing on improvements in visual recognition algorithms — and the proliferation of GPUs — to being one of its primary pitches toward advertisers. That technology will soon be applied to its advertisements as well, lining up branded content against other kinds of Pins that are called up with its visual search tools and not just keywords.

It’ll still be an uphill battle. Pinterest’s pitch to advertisers may be getting increasingly difficult now that Snap’s stock price is getting clobbered. Pinterest is supposed to be a new generation of advertising that taps into the kind of user behavior that you don’t see on Facebook — following a user from all points of the buying cycle, from discovering something to eventually buying it. But it needs to make that jump from experiment to mainstay for brands. That’s going to come in the form of better advertising products, but it’s also going to come in the form of refining products that Pinterest can demonstrate magnify that opportunity for brands.

An All-New Media Library for the WordPress iOS App

The WordPress.com Blog

We recently launched an all-new media picker for WordPress for Android. Now, iOS users, you’re next! The new 7.8 release of WordPress for iOS includes a top-level Media Library section for each site you manage — making it even easier to share your images, video, and other media with the world.

With just one tap from your site’s details menu, you can view all your media, search, edit metadata, delete items, and upload new items.

media-library-post

We know that for many of you your smartphone is your camera. We want the WordPress mobile apps to be the easiest way for you to store and share your photos and video on the open web. This is just the beginning of the improvements you can expect to see for
WordPress for iOS.

If you haven’t already, download WordPress for iOS from the App Store, give it a try, and let us know…

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