In the past few months, there have been some pretty remarkable changes to the social media platforms we know and love. While some may view these changes as small or insignificant, capitalizing on the new features while they're still fresh can better position your brand to catapult your social media influence to new heights.

Here are a handful of those changes and how you can take advantage of them.

1. Native video on LinkedIn.

In late August, LinkedIn rolled out the ability for users to record and publish native video. If used effectively, this could facilitate stronger relationships with your professional network on the platform given the prior restrictions of communicating solely through text and photos.

To date, one creative and compelling example of LinkedIn video has been the #LetsGetHonest campaign, where participants opened up to their audience about some of the obstacles they've had to overcome both in the workplace and at home.

Another terrific example is the work of Allen Gannett, CEO of TrackMaven, who often shares candid, casual interviews with public figures like Mark Cuban, Kobe Bryant and more.

A final example is Baron Davis, former NBA all star and current CEO of The Black Santa Company, who publishes videos that show the behind-the-scenes footage of his business's operations.

Whether you use these examples as inspiration or create your own lane, LinkedIn video could be a formidable channel for you to boost brand awareness on social media.

2. Twitter expands Tweet limit to 280 characters. 

Twitter's recent expansion from 140 to 280 characters per Tweet has left the internet in a quite a stir. No matter if you like or dislike the decision, the extension could prove to be a positive change.

More characters equals more room for storytelling and the sharing of ideas. Inevitably, there will be entirely new styles of Tweets that rise to the surface as a result. If your brand ends up being one of those innovators, it could result in increased visibility on Twitter.

3. Polls within Instagram Stories.

In October, Instagram rolled out interactive polls on their Stories. For anyone who has ever spent days patiently waiting for their email list to complete another tedious survey, this feature could present a streamlined, engaging alternative.

Polls on Instagram Stories are a fun way to see how members of your audience really feel about a certain topic. Have a new version of your website coming out? Take a poll to determine which color scheme or arrangement your audience prefers. 

Have a book coming out? Take a poll to decide which book cover your audience likes best. If you're a musician, why not ask your followers which song title they like the most for an upcoming track you have?

4. Facebook Creator on Facebook.

Facebook continues its assault on YouTube with the unveiling of Facebook Creator. The intention here is to entice influencers and brands to switch their primary video publishing platform to Facebook.

Within this new application, creators are able to add personalized reaction buttons that are custom designs to their videos. Additionally, Facebook Creator enables publishers to add intros and outros to their live videos, cross-post directly from Facebook Stories to Instagram, and much more.

If your brand already has an engaged audience on Facebook, this could prove to be a tempting alternative to using a standalone service like YouTube given how overcrowded the platform is. 

5. Context Cards on Snapchat.

If your business was late to the party for Yelp and Google, you might be able to make up lost ground by using Context Cards. This new feature allows Snapchat users to view stories published by the customers at a business, to order a Lyft or Uber to that business's location, make a reservations, and more.

To start the process, make your Context Card lively and full by encouraging your customers to take Snaps of their experience at your business, and to leave a review on TripAdvisor (Snap's preferred partner for the update). 

When it comes to social media marketing, there's very few ways to get a better head start on your competition than by being an early adopter of new updates. With 2018 rapidly approaching, consider venturing out of your comfort zone by zeroing in on these features. It just might be what "moves the needle" for your marketing in the coming year.