F8, Facebook’s annual developer conference, highlights our global interconnection, their latest technology & developments, and plans for the future of their entire family of apps & services. Here are some of the things that we are most interested in that came from the 2019 F8 conference and what some of these changes mean for marketers.
Facebook Messenger caters to 130,000,000 users per year, and that number is only projected to rise with the implementation of new features and integrations.
The first among them is a rebuilding of the app from the ground up with the intention of being faster and lighter. People want to be able to communicate with each other as fast as possible, so message delivery and performance of the app itself need to be optimal. Facebook sees room for improvement here.
Watch With Friends
Last year, Facebook released a video feature called Watch Party that allowed friends to watch a video at the same time remotely. Similar functionality is being implemented into Messenger to enable friends to share videos via Messenger, but then chat together in Messenger while the video plays.
Right now, Messenger is only accessible via mobile apps or the website on your computer. That’s about to change, as Facebook is developing a desktop app for both Windows and macOS to be released later this year. The desktop app would have all of the features of the web version, but it could still result in a better experience and better multitasking.
Messenger has been slowly developing into a complete communication hub. It’s always had text-based messages, but it’s implemented video & audio calling, games, chatbots, and Stories. Facebook is now taking steps to make these things even more convenient and easily accessible, specifically for you to connect with your close friends.
Automation for Business
Automation can make some interactions between businesses and customers a lot easier, such as in the cases of password resets, emailing receipts, e-commerce, etc. Messenger is going to be integrating an automated lead generation system to make getting customers and their information easier. Ads will drive customers to a Q&A in Messenger in order to collect information using questions that the business has previously determined. This could be used to provide product information, start orders, or make appointments, among other things.
In addition, Facebook’s other messaging platform, WhatsApp, is getting a catalog of businesses as an additional or alternative channel through which customers can communicate with businesses.
Facebook is overhauling its design and layout that promises to be simpler, faster, more immersive and puts communities at the center. Groups and other private communities are the most important part of the platform for some people, so Facebook wants to put them front-and-centerfront-and-centre to make it easier for people to discover and engage with groups that are most important to them.
News Feed Integration
Users will start to see content from Groups in the News Feed. Right now, users are alerted to Group activity via a notification and we have to visit the group to see what’s new. Integrating these posts into the News Feed will create a more seamless experience and should mean not accidentally missing out on important Group posts because they’re out of sight.
All Group Activity in One Place
The redesigned Groups tab will show a personalized feed of activity across all of a user’s groups and an improved discovery tool will help them find great groups faster. Group recommendations will also start to be available in other areas of Facebook that you wouldn’t have previously. It’s all about connecting users with the people that are interested in the same things that they are.
New Types of Groups
There will also be new types of Groups and communities that provide different features and functions. For example, Health Support groups would allow members to post questions and share information without their names appearing on the post. Job groups would offer new templates for employers to post available job & careers and provide easier ways for applicants to message employers & apply directly through Facebook. Gaming groups will get a new chat feature so members can create threads for different topics within the group. Buy and Sell groups will let buyers easily ask questions and place orders to a seller who is advertising products during a live broadcast.
Facebook Groups have been increasing in popularity because they’ve been delivering value to their members. Facebook sees this and wants to encourage it. It only makes sense that a company that cares about connecting the world would make it easier for people to connect and communicate with people who can help, support, inspire, encourage, teach, and laugh with each other.
It would be wise for marketers to consider creating a community on Facebook now rather than later. There are already millions of groups on Facebook and there are about to be a whole lot more once these new, helpful, features are implemented.
Groups aren’t about influencing or converting, they’re about connection and community. Brands that create Groups should only do so to foster a community of people that are interested in their industry and not to build a pool of potential customers.
Instagram is a place where people connect with each other and their interests, even more so than Facebook Groups, so they’re working on making this connection easier and more accurate.
It wouldn’t be an Instagram update without improved camera functionality. Instagram is releasing a new design and a couple of new features. Create Mode is a new way to share without a photo or video, and will integrate popular creative tools like effects & interactive stickers so that you can express yourself more freely in the feed, not just in Stories.
Hiding Like Counts
Instagram is also working on improving its effect on some people’s mental health by hiding Like counts to users in the feed. The data will still be available in the backend, but this move is in an attempt to make posts less about competition and more about what people care about. This feature is currently being tested in Canada and its future will likely depend on how it’s received or how it changes the app to use in the coming months. Read more about our experience here with hidden like counts.
Instagram influencers are already a huge driving force for e-commerce, but the platform is implementing a feature called Instagram Shopping to make the process of buying the products they’re advertising even easier. Instead of a Shop Now button with one external link to one item, creators will be able to tag specific items within their feed posts. These tags will link directly to an item page within Instagram that will also handle the transaction. This will be huge for shortening the gap between impression and conversion.
They’re not just pushing e-commerce. Instagram has also created the ability to donate money to charities and non-profit groups, all from within the app. Instagram is great for friends, fans, and influencers to inform each other of some great cause, but this feature will enable action to be taken without having to leave the app. The best part is that 100% of the money collected in this way is going straight to the cause.
The worlds of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are in their infancy, but Facebook is doing a lot of work to help them grow. Most people are familiar with face filters during video calls, but AR makes so much more possible. Smarter, more immersive & secure video calling is available with Facebook Portal, and incredibly immersive gaming can be experienced with Facebook’s Oculus line of products.
Not only are both of these platforms getting upgrades and feature developments, Facebook’s AR technology, Spark AR, is being integrated into Instagram and being made available to developers to start creating their own ways of interacting with reality. Face filters on Instagram Stories are only the beginning.
There are also plans to integrate Oculus into the workplace, where Facebook will provide a suite of tools designed to help companies reshape the way they do business through VR.
“With each feature and product announced today, we want to help people discover their communities, deepen their connections, find new opportunities and simply have fun. We’re excited to see all the ways developers, creators, and entrepreneurs use these tools as we continue to build more private ways for people to communicate.”