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Facebook Launches New App Called ‘CatchUp’ to Facilitate Group Phone Chats

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Facebook’s experimental NPE team has released its sixth new app, this time focused on facilitating phone calls between friends who are up for a chat.

Called CatchUp, the new app is essentially Messenger Rooms for voice calls, providing the capacity to see when your friends are online and up for a voice call, as well as in-progress group chats that you can join.

Facebook CatchUp

As per the app description:

“Catching up has never been this easy. See who’s available and effortlessly join one-on-one and group calls. Never play phone tag or make an appointment to call someone again. Keep in touch more, think about it less. Any time you’re free to talk, CatchUp!”

So, yeah, you can see who’s active in the app, like Messenger, and join open group discussions, like Messenger Rooms. Seems simple enough.

Within the app, users can set their status to let their connections know when they’re ready to talk, and create groups to chat with. There’s also an ‘auto-availability’ function which will automatically update your status when you’re connected via Bluetooth.

It’s another way for people to connect – but of course, you can already call people through Messenger anyway, with the added option of using video as well, if you so choose. As such, CatchUp’s only functional addition over Messenger is that you can see when people are specifically up for an audio chat, so it doesn’t seem like it provides enough utility for a separate app, which you and your connections will subsequently need to each download in order for it to be of any real use.

But then again, maybe in regions where connectivity is limited, and phone calls are the preferred means of connection, having the option to be able to see when people are open to a voice chat will be beneficial. The app is currently available in selected regions (we were tipped off to it by GratisDatingTips which is based in the Netherlands), on both iOS and Android.

Either way, it is interesting to keep tabs on where Facebook’s NPE – or ‘New Product Experimentation‘ – team is looking, and what trends they might be seeking to capitalize on with their test apps.

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Thus far, NPE has launched six new apps over the last six months. Those apps are:

  • Kit – Provides expanded messaging options via Apple Watch
  • Hobbi – Enables users to collect images of creative hobbies, and sort them into boards to track personal development
  • Whale – Enables users to create their own memes with simplified templates and tools
  • AUX – A participatory DJ app, where users try to get their song on a group playlist
  • Bump – A chat app which aims to introduce students to others in their vicinity

And now CatchUp, facilitating connection via voice calls.

There’s no specific theme to the various apps NPE is trying out, but you would assume that each is based on usage behavior, with Facebook looking to tap into the next key trend and keep ahead of the competition.

Given the limited functionality of each beyond apps that already exist, and where users, critically, already have established networks, none of these new apps looks set to become a mainstay. But that also might not be the intention – it could be that Facebook is simply looking to gather insights to inform other areas and tools.

In its explanation of the NPE team, Facebook says that:

We decided to create this separate developer name to help set the appropriate expectations with people that, unlike Facebook’s family of apps, NPE Team apps will change very rapidly and will be shut down if we learn that they’re not useful to people. We expect many failures. We also want to minimize disruption to the billions of people who use Facebook apps every day.” 

So each app could simply be a small testing ground for a new feature in an existing Facebook app – so if notifications of friends who are up for audio calls in Messenger becomes a thing, this could well be why.

What we do know for sure is that the NPE is certainly not wasting time – and maybe, if they keep throwing ideas at the App Store wall, one will stick. 

You can find CatchUp on the App Store and the Google Play Store, and thanks again to GratisDatingTips for the heads up.  

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LinkedIn Adds New Features for Company Pages, Including Post Templates and Link Stickers

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LinkedIn has outlined its latest batch of updates for Company Pages, most of which had already been previewed in some capacity, but are now being rolled out on a broader basis.

First off, LinkedIn’s making its new post templates available to all company pages.

LinkedIn post templates

As you can see in these examples, LinkedIn’s post templates, as they sound, provide a range of visual enhancements for your LinkedIn updates, which could help to make them stand out in feeds.

LinkedIn originally launched post templates for individual users last month, but now, it’s making them available for Company Page updates as well.

As per LinkedIn:

Create engaging, actionable LinkedIn content easier than ever with customizable templates, available directly in the LinkedIn app, with no third-party tools required.”

I mean, I don’t know that these types of posts really fit with LinkedIn’s professional approach. But then again, as many have noted, LinkedIn is increasingly becoming more like Facebook anyway, with more personal posts and updates that are less focused on professional aspects.

And that seems to be working – LinkedIn’s parent company Microsoft keeps reporting ‘record levels of engagement’ in the app every quarter, so maybe this is actually a good, valuable addition.

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We’ll see how people feel about it when every other LinkedIn ‘thinkfluencer’ is posting using these templates. You can access post templates in the mobile app by tapping the ‘use template’ option in the post composer menu.

As an addition to this, LinkedIn’s also making its new link stickers available for Company Pages too, which could help to drive more direct response to your updates.

LinkedIn link sticker

On another front, LinkedIn will also now enable all Company Pages to pin comments beneath their brand posts.

LinkedIn Pinned Comments

The rollout for this feature also started last month, with some users seeing the option to pin comments in the app.

That could be a good way to spark more focused engagement, and highlight top fans, while you could also use this to simply boost interactions by pinning the comment with the most engagement at the top of the reply chain.  

As a reminder, LinkedIn Company Pages can also pin an update for similar purpose.

Finally, LinkedIn has also added a new Our featured commitments’ section for Company Pages, where brands will be able to showcase their most important values.

“Increasingly in today’s market, job seekers are evaluating potential employers based on their values. They’re interested in knowing where companies stand on issues that are important to them, such as DEI, work-life balance, sustainability, etc. To provide greater insight and connections, LinkedIn is enabling employers to highlight these commitments on their LinkedIn company page to define their talent brand and values.” 

Brands will be able to include up to five commitments in their featured commitments section, while you’ll also be able to host content that demonstrates the same, all of which will be displayed in a sub-panel in the ‘About’ section of your Page.

These are some potentially handy updates, with the link stickers and pinned comments standing out as likely the most valuable additions for LinkedIn page managers.

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Post templates I’m not as sold on, especially for brands – but then again, there may be ways to use these templates to improve the presentation of your posts, and maybe, that’ll increase overall engagement.

You can read about all of LinkedIn’s latest company page updates here.

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