April was a whirlwind month in the world of social media. Let’s take a look back at a few of the most noteworthy moments, shall we?

For more social media news, subscribers can download the Econsultancy Q1 Social Quarterly.

Airbnb introduces ‘humanless host’ on April Fool’s Day

Airbnb was just one of many brands to mark April Fool’s Day this year, using the opportunity to introduce the ultimate in home rental innovation – the ‘humanless host’. The ad features Brandon, a robot that – in Airbnb's own words – bridges the gap between ‘what is magical and what is easy’.

Despite the convenience, it turns out technology can't always be trusted. Brandon eventually runs out of battery, proving why the human-approach isn’t so bad after all.

Instagram reaches 700m monthly users

Instagram hit yet another milestone last month, announcing that it now has 700m monthly users. 

The platform’s growth appears to be accelerating at a rapid rate, with the news coming just four months after it reached 600m. This could suggest that it won’t be too long before it joins Facebook and WhatsApp in the one-billion-users club. 

Pepsi criticised over tasteless ad

At the beginning of April, Pepsi released a controversial ad that appeared to trivialise the Black Lives Matter movement. It involved Kendall Jenner joining some kind of demonstration and magically defusing the situation with a good ol' can of pop.

Despite Pepsi defending the ad, saying that it depicts ‘a moment of unity’, it was widely criticised for trivialising social justice in order to sell soft drinks. The ad was eventually pulled from YouTube and the campaign was cancelled.

Heineken uses real-life social experiment for ‘Open Your World’ campaign 

In contrast to Pepsi's misjudged attempt, Heineken unveiled a campaign based on the premise that having a simple conversation over a beer can help bring people together – even those with jarring political beliefs. 

The ‘Worlds Apart’ ad involves a real-life social experiment whereby three sets of strangers with opposing beliefs were asked to complete a series of tasks together. Only later did they discover the extent of their differences, before being given a choice to leave or discuss things over a beer.

The fact that the ad comes hot on the heels of Pepsi’s recent failure appears to be a coincidence, yet many have praised the beer brand’s mature and meaningful approach.  

LinkedIn reaches half a billion members worldwide

April was also a good month for LinkedIn, as the networking platform celebrated reaching 500m members worldwide. 

Brits appear to be particularly active on the platform, with 23m members coming from the UK alone. London also tops the list for the most connected city in the world, with users having an average of 307 connections. 

This comes after the platform unveiled a (controversial) redesigned version of its desktop site, complete with new messaging and search features. 

Dolce & Gabbana receives backlash over China campaign

Dolce & Gabbana was another brand on the recieving end of criticism. This time, it was for using stereotypical images in its D&GLovesChina campaign – part of promotional activity for its first Beijing fashion show.

Social media users argued that the brand was glorifying ‘backward’ stereotypes instead of showing the progressive side of modern China. As a result, D&G quietly removed the images from its Weibo and WeChat accounts. 

Burger King sneakily activates Google Assistants during ad

Burger King released a particularly clever ad last month, designed to activate Google Assistants on viewer’s phones and home devices. The 15-second video involves a Burger King employee leaning into the camera and asking “Okay Google, what is the Whopper burger?”

However, Burger King was perhaps a little too sneaky for Google’s liking, as reports suggest that devices stopped responding to the prompt a few hours after the ad was launched.

Google has not confirmed whether or not it updated software to prevent it. 

Facebook unveils developments in F8 event

Finally, Facebook announced a number of developments during F8 last month, including new AR and VR technology.

I recommend reading Ben Davis's article for an in-depth breakdown.  

For more on this topic, check out these Econsultancy resources:

Nikki Gilliland

Published 2 May, 2017 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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