One of the biggest happenings recently and certainly a key focus of every marketer whose business is reliant one way or another on Facebook’s services is the annual F8 developer conference in which the company showcases its coming additions, updates and many more. Yesterday was the last day of this years event and we have seen countless exciting new features and changes promised going live pretty soon, including new changes for groups, an app redesign and even a Tinder-like Facebook Dating that allows friends to match. Mark Zuckerberg’s points were centred around data privacy, he is set that “the future is private.” This hardly comes as a surprise after all the data scandals and worryingly increasing trust issues surrounding the company since last year. This is all brilliant but how is this going to affect businesses, you could rightly ask so we have collected the key takeaways for you.
As we all know by now, Facebook is not just the social media platform and the Messenger app anymore. It consists of multiple applications and services, including Instagram, WhatsApp and many more and now we also got more news about the Oculus Quest and Rift S virtual reality headsets. This loose collection of different parts seems to be changing now and slowly creating one cohesive and complete ecosystem which immediately reminds us of how WeChat works in China. If we look into that example, it is clear how much Chinese businesses are relying on WeChat and how essential it is in their success. This is what is about to come and here are the new features supporting this shift:
- Facebook Groups: new features include the ability for members to anonymously post questions and exchange information. There is also a new template for professional groups to post jobs on Facebook, allowing members to message the employer and apply through the app. Gaming groups will get a chat feature, members will be able to create threads about specific topics within a group. Though “friends” are currently the central point of the Facebook experience, that’s about to change and groups will be at the heart of the experience. This also suggests to us that in the near future it will get easier for businesses to find groups of people with the same interests or background providing the next level opportunity for precisely targeting their ads.
- New Messenger app: “People’s communication styles are migrating toward messaging way faster than anyone thought,” said Stan Chudnovsky, head of Messenger. “And people want to communicate with businesses the same way.” To support this move, the Messenger app will be faster than ever before and also smaller, only taking up less than 30MB of your precious space. On the other end, there is a desktop app coming to MacOS and Windows as well, alongside with Facebook’s website redesign hopefully providing a more advanced surface for business to communicate with their peers. Specifically crafted for businesses, there is an automated system that allows customers to book an appointment through Messenger. Facebook is also developing features that will allow Messenger users to message and call people on Instagram and WhatsApp as well.
- WhatsApp updates: for businesses, the company rolled out product catalogs, allowing customers to view a list of products within the chat. This allows customers to purchase an item directly within the app with a new payments feature which is currently being tested in India and will be coming to a number of other countries throughout the year. This opens new and exciting doors for in-app shopping. WhatsApp now also allows users to share their location via the app which similarly to all the messages will be encrypted.
- Instagram features: Instagram plans to debut a new feature that will allow users to tag items. This will allow other users to purchase them directly within the app a feature already available to retailers since last month. We can see that all the updates are centred around giving users the ability to shop and fundraise within the app and also be a lot more creative with their stories. Users can now raise money for charitable causes with a new donation sticker and 100% of the money raised will be donated to the nonprofit organization that the user has picked. Instagram is clearly going to be the new shopping channel, rolling out the checkout without leaving Instagram and a new way for creators to sell products.
- AR/VR shopping: for shopping AR enables a closer look at a product without having the physical item in front of you. Through partnerships with Nike, for example, you’ll be able to see a 3D model of a new sneaker up close and also be able to rotate the shoes so that you can zoom in on different details. Asus will let people virtually “unbox” a phone, so they can examine the “hardware” up close before buying it. Makeup company Sephora, will let you “try on” different shades and colors and immediately see how they look on you, like a Snapchat or Instagram filter, which gives you rosy cheeks or a flower crown. Features like these will let brands virtually put the product into someone’s hand without actually doing so and the dedication is apparent with the new Oculus Rift S and Oculus Quest VR lenses that Facebook has also announced.
Only three years ago at F8, Facebook announced it was opening up Messenger to chatbots so AI-powered software can perform simple tasks like composing an email, booking travel plans or helping with customer support. Since then we have come a long way and last year there were already more than 300,000 active bots on Messenger, up from 100,000 in the previous year and they were sending 8 billion messages between people and businesses each month. Now with the new changes and features opening up even more doors for a complete shopping experience and more streamlined communication between business and users we are excited to see how the new technology will be adopted and which will be its next evolution steps. As an active member of the Facebook Developers community, we already have a few tips and tricks that can help you to prepare your business for the changes so feel free to shoot us an email for a free consultation.