The social realm is always abuzz with new developments that it can be a little difficult to keep track of all the updates and--more importantly--determine what these developments mean for you.

Aside from the news of Twitters IPO, the big players in the industry have been getting into a lot of other interesting things lately, and its worth having a look at what they are.

If youve been out of the loop with all the social media news going on, fret not. Below are some of the most important updates and news bits in social media, along with what you can do about them:

Facebook is Testing An Easier Way to Watch Video


Do you publish videos on your company Facebook page? If so, then heres some potentially good news: last week, Facebook announced that it has started testing a new auto-play capability for videos in News Feed. According to the social network, Videos initially play silently, and if you want you can tap to play with sound in full screen. Scroll past if you dont want to watch.

The capability, which is similar to how Instagram handles videos (sans the sound), is being tested on personal Facebook accounts, verified Pages, and Pages of musicians and bands. It isnt available for advertisers at the moment, but Facebook states that over time, it will continue to explore how to bring this to marketers in the future.

What this means for you: If you have a verified Facebook account or are operating a musicians Page, then this could mean more video views and engagement from mobile users, so keep an eye out. All other Facebook advertisers and marketers should continue watching this space as well to see if Facebook rolls out the feature to other accounts.

Google+ Introduces Live Q&A for Hangouts On Air


In 2012, Google+ launched Hangouts On Air, a feature that allows people to broadcast their Hangouts to YouTube, their Google+ stream, or their website. The function enables users to share their Hangouts and discussions to a wider audience--as opposed to just the 10 people who can join.

Most recently, Google+ unveiled a new Live Q&A feature that would enable presenters to select questions to answer on air. Presenters can solicit questions from up to a million concurrent viewers and not just from those participating in the Hangout. You can also timestamp the YouTube recording by marking the questions as they are being answered.

What this means for you: Live Q&A for Hangouts On Air opens up tons of possibilities for brands. You can use it to launch a product and take live questions and comments from the audience. Maybe hold a panel discussion or debate, and allow your viewers to weigh in with their thoughts. Could this also be your new webinar platform? If youre looking to broadcast a class or group coaching session, this could be a great solution as well.

Brands are Ramping Up Their Vine and Instagram Efforts

A couple of months ago, automaker Nissan announced that it would be featuring fan-made Instagram and Vine videos in a TV commercial. Shortly after that, Jobs the movie released the first trailer ever to be unveiled via Instagram. And most recently, Dunkin Donuts launched the first TV ad made entirely from Vine and aired it during Monday Night Football.

What this means for you: Big brands adapting Vine and Instagram marketing tactics indicates a strong consumer presence in these social networks. If your company is on Instagram or Vine, take a leaf out of the playbook of these companies and find ways to connect with your audience through images or videos. Engage with them using contests or special hashtags. Why not encourage customers to share images of your products using these social networks?

Facebook Unveiled New Tools for Surfacing Conversations on the Social Network

Facebook recently made its Public Feed API and Keyword Insights API available to a select group of media partners. According to Facebooks announcement, with these two tools, selected news organizations can begin to integrate Facebook conversations into their broadcasts or coverage by displaying public posts of real-time activity about any given topic. For example, CNNs New Day can now easily incorporate what people on Facebook have to say about the latest, breaking news event during their show.

In addition, partners can also leverage the tools to surface the number of Facebook posts pertaining to a specific period. For instance, now every week during the Whats Trending segment of The Today Show, NBC can easily include how many people on Facebook talked about a popular subject, where its getting the most buzz, whether its most popular among males or females, and with which age groups.

To see these tools in action, you can check out Mass Relevance, a technology thats using them to showcase trends and conversations on Facebook.

What this means for you: While these tools arent open to everyone, its definitely worth observing how media companies use them. It would be interesting to see the Facebook conversations and stats about particular issues, and the great thing is that you could potentially leverage that information to create content of your own and engage your audience.

LinkedIn Introduces University Pages


This piece of news has been making rounds for quite some time now but its still worth mentioning. The professional social network lowered its minimum age in the US to 14 years old (13 in other countries, except China which still requires members to be at least 18).

LinkedIn launched University Pages as part of its strategy to help students at every critical milestone from campus to fulfilling, successful careers. Similar to company pages, University Pages enables educational institutions to post updates and display information about their school. Students, on the other hand, will be able to use the pages to connect with fellow students and alumni. University Pages can also help students in deciding where to attend college.

According to LinkedIn, about 200 universities have already adopted these pages, including INSEAD, New York University, University of California San Diego, Fundao Getlio Vargas, University of Michigan, Villanova, Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Illinois and more.

What this means for you: Obviously, this is big news if youre an educational institution, because it will allow you to connect with students, alumni, staff, and more importantly aspiring students worth recruiting. This is also great news for brands targeting a younger demographic. If LinkedIn succeeds in enticing younger people to join its network, companies could start connecting with students through groups, InMail, and ads.