Instagram business tools and a new deep learning era at Facebook – what happened in social media this week

It’s been a busy week for Facebook and Instagram, with both social networks announcing new tools. Businesses can look forward to a more Facebook-like experience with new business profiles and associated tools on Instagram, while Facebook is rolling out a new deep learning system which makes sense of text-based updates.

New business tools coming to Instagram

Instagram has announced a suite of tools for businesses, including business profiles, insights, and promoted posts. Don’t get too excited however, as they are unlikely to be available for some months.

The company plans to roll out the new tools in the US, Australia and New Zealand in the coming months, and they should be available globally by the end of the year.

Instagram offered a preview of the business tools on its business blog this week.

Business profiles will include a contact button, giving users the ability to get in touch with a business with one tap. Companies can choose between phone, text, and email details for this feature. Customers will also be able to get directions to the business, and the business page will unlock the insights and promotion tools.

Given that Instagram is owned by Facebook, business profiles will only be available to companies that already have a business page on Facebook. The insights tool is also similar to that of its parent, providing simple to follow analytics on audience demographics, engagement, and the performance of individual posts, all from within the mobile app.

Instagram Insights

Similarly, the promote tool appears to be modelled on Facebook’s promoted posts, with the option to turn an already published post into an ad, complete with audience targeting and a call-to-action button.

Deep learning reaches new heights at Facebook

This week also saw Facebook announce DeepText, its new artificial intelligence system which takes text-based learning to a new level. The system, which Facebook says can understand text “with near human levels of accuracy”, will be used to understand the context of what you type and offer suggestions where relevant; for example, posting about an item you have for sale will trigger a suggestion that you use Facebook’s ‘for sale’ tools.

The social giant is already testing DeepText in its Messenger platform, where someone IMing a friend to say they need a ride will be offered the option of booking an Uber or Lyft.

Here’s a quick video of DeepText in action, posted by Facebook Engineering this week:

Facebook expects DeepText to have several benefits for users, including better understanding people’s interests based on what they type, and helping to further refine the network’s ability to provide the most relevant content, particularly comments.

“DeepText has the potential to further improve Facebook experiences by understanding posts better to extract intent, sentiment, and entities (eg, people, places, events), using mixed content signals like text and images, and automating the removal of objectionable content like spam,” the post on Facebook’s engineering blog states.

“Many celebrities and public figures use Facebook to start conversations with the public. These conversations often draw hundreds or even thousands of comments. Finding the most relevant comments in multiple languages while maintaining comment quality is currently a challenge. One additional challenge that DeepText may be able to address is surfacing the most relevant or high-quality comments.”

If you’re not comfortable with DeepText reading and acting on your private messages, The Guardian may have some good news – it reported this week that Facebook is planning to provide end-to-end encryption in its Messenger app. According to the article, this will be offered as an opt-in service as it is likely will interfere with new machine learning features being rolled out; while not mentioned, this presumably includes DeepText.