A Marketer’s Take on Facebook’s F8 2018
I may not know how to code, but Facebook’s F8 did not disappoint. With a number of new updates and promising new privacy measures, Facebook had a strong show at their annual developer conference.
As a marketer, here were the key updates that stood out to me:
This topic that was at the forefront of F8. Given the recent data scandals at Facebook, this is likely no surprise and Mark Zuckerberg did not delay, tackling this subject head-on as he kicked off his day 1 keynote. Here are a few of the updates he discussed:
Perhaps the biggest data privacy announcement at F8 was the Clear History feature, which will enable users to see the websites and apps that collect and send information to Facebook when used, and provide users with the option to delete this information from their account, and/or turn off Facebook’s ability to store this information associated with their account going forward
From a developer standpoint, there were also key announcements made around introducing new and improved developer tools that allow them to build APIs that create value while also giving users transparency and control over their data.
Some of the big announcements included re-opening the app review process (now with more verification and review requirements), as well as changes to Facebook Login and what data is available to restrict access to personal user data and enable developers to receive requests from people to delete their data.
Outside of the data itself, Zuckerberg dove into their approach to election-related issues and using technology to fight fake news. Zuckerberg started by touching on the Facebook announcement from last month highlighting the independent election research committee they were creating that is comprised of scholars and academics who will work together to better research election-related issues.
He also focused on the artificial intelligence aspect that is fighting fake news, fake accounts and hoaxes on the platform, which coupled with some of the new news features, such as featuring related articles and fact-checking, which will hopefully provide better context to users overall.
If you walked away with nothing else, the two things to remember when it came to the News Feed were loyalty and interactions – the two key must-haves to reaching your audience and optimizing your content on Facebook.
And, perhaps, most surprising was the stat thrown out about the “new” News Feed we should all be talking about – Stories! Based on current usage, Stories is set to surpass the News Feed next year in terms of volume of content shared with friends.
So, what’s new on the News Feed & Stories?
With Stories growing, Instagram is making it even easier, with new share features allowing users to share everything from their favorite song in Spotify to their favorite video shot on their GoPro directly to Stories, creating a new seamless experience that also lets users better share their experiences with friends. So say goodbye to the Spotify screenshot, as users will now be able to share their favorite song and make it easy for their friends to simply swipe up and listen. More apps will be added to the sharing to Stories feature soon, so keep an eye on that!
Instagram’s explore tab is getting a facelift, and will now be more personalized to include topic channels based on machine learning around a user’s interests and tastes. Take a look at the new layout here.
Facebook has made it clear that interactions matter, especially comments. It was said over and over again that we’ll be seeing “more friends, more comments” in our feeds moving forward, so for brands & marketers, you’ll need to be driving conversations to be rewarded on the platform. In the same vein, they also made it clear that while increasing the importance of comments, they are also taking a more proactive approach to fighting hate speech and bullying with two key features: upvoting & bully filter.
Users will soon get the opportunity to upvote and downvote comments and conversations on posts. This is the first step toward trying to minimize hate speech and bullying in comments and ultimately provide users with the power to filter comments themselves.
In terms of AI, one of the new features they announced was Instagram Comment filtering technology to create bullying filters by using machine learning to hide hateful posts.
Over the last few months, Facebook has made some key updates to how video content and ads are distributed by really focusing on incentivizing loyal repeat viewers. These updates include:
Updating the News Feed ranking to favor video content that people seek out and return to regularly
Updating the News Feed ranking to favor video that inspires interaction and conversation among people watching that content
Ad breaks monetization is limited to longer-form videos that are 3 minutes or longer
Overall these updates once again touched on the key focus areas: (1) Loyal viewers and (2) The ability to drive conversation and comments, clearly showing a shift from one-way video broadcasts to two-way video dialogues with the audience and amongst the audience.
To support these key concepts, Facebook announced the following updates at F8:
Based on testing they were able to determine that users preferred to only see ads in longer videos with fewer or shorter ad interruptions. Basically, users are open to ads when they are offered as part of a value exchange – for example, they are more understanding of the breaks in episodes of shows or regular long-form video postings from publishers and content creators they are loyal to. They also prefer to see the ads prior to watching something they want to see, which has led to the testing of pre-roll content.
Facebook is expanding the ways that their content partners can monetize with branded content on Facebook. Advertisers want to reach audiences through publishers that do so in an authentic way. In line with these goals, Facebook rolled out more flexible tagging options (i.e. show ‘paid’ label, don’t show ‘paid’ label) and bringing more shoppable formats to branded content ads (similar to Instagram Shopping and collection ads).
Facebook is looking at ways to bring more of a social aspect to video content. They’ve found that formats like Facebook Live, which provide a social approach to viewing, drive more interactions. As a result, they announced a number of new video features across platforms to add more interactivity to video content and to grow their Facebook Watch presence, including:
Watch Parties: Facebook Watch already provides social context to help discover content based on what their friends like. Now, through the use of groups, users can take it one step further by watching specific videos live with friends.
Live Commentating: Also within groups, Facebook is launching the ability to become a live commentator, which will allow them to appear on top of the screen and provide commentary along with whatever it is they are watching.
Video Clipping: If live commentating wasn’t enough, there will now even be features that allow users to take frames of videos they love the most and add a personal touch.
Facebook Premieres: Very similar to the capabilities available on the Twitch platform, Facebook is now allowing users to take any piece of pre-recorded content and place it on Facebook as a live moment, layering on the ability to interact in real-time. The initial testers will likely be publishers and creators on the Facebook Watch platform.
Following the F8 rollouts, Facebook shared updated video best practices which can be found here.
The underpinning of all of Facebook’s new video features is a focus on more niche groups and building meaningful connections. In addition to the new watch and video features, Facebook is also clearly providing priority to groups, and they even made a new launch announcement that is more about relationships than ever before:
The newest tab being added to the Facebook app is a new groups tab, which is expected to start rolling out soon. This will ideally increase traffic to group pages and make it easier for people to connect.
The idea of groups extends to Facebook’s latest launch, a new dating feature, and will have the option to discover other users with similar interests through Groups or Events that they share in common.
Another way that Facebook is looking to help users connect is through direct video chats. According to Facebook, video chat will be available on Instagram Direct and WhatsApp and will empower both one-on-one and group conversations.
The clear hot topic at F8 for developers was all about VR & AR. What stood out to me as an advertiser is 1) there’s a whole new device type to consider – step aside desktop and mobile and make room for the headset. And, 2) how Facebook is trying to scale AR & VR to make immersive content available for everyone. In fact, many speakers at the conference compared our current 2D media as the black and white photos of the future.
So what’s new in VR & AR?
Facebook officially announced Oculus’ first standalone VR headset at the conference, and they are now available for purchase at just $199 per set. At launch, the Oculus Go has access to more than 1,000 apps and experiences.
Along with the new headset, Oculus introduced new ways to experience VR with friends and connect with users favorite music, movies and TV shows:
Oculus Venues is a one-stop show for live social events in VR including concerts, sports and comedy nights with friends and fans alike.
Oculus Rooms, originally released for Gear VR, has been redesigned to align with the launch of Oculus Go and lets friends meet up and play games, watch TV and more.
Oculus TV gives you a virtual big screen TV, where you can watch live or on-demand content – and will allow up to four people to watch together.
Last year at F8, Facebook rolled out the AR camera platform. This year Facebook announced the AR camera extension to both Instagram and Messenger. Through the use of AR Studio, creators will be able to design unique, interactive camera experiences similar to those that are available on platforms like Snapchat, including both face filters and world effects, and help to drive use by distributing to followers and encouraging users to share with their friends to use as well.
Prior to F8, Facebook introduced 3D posts. At F8, they expanded on that roll out and introduced the capability to take 3D objects from News Feed into Facebook Camera AR experiences with one tap. Additionally, they also announced that 3D can go beyond the post with fully immersive 3D photos (rolling out later this summer).
3D photos are a new type of media that lets people capture 3D moments using a smartphone and then share to Facebook.
Interactive 360 experiences were another immersive content type that is now available through the use of Facebook’s newly title React 360 software. These interactive virtual tours stitch together individual 360 experiences through the use of interactivity, driving more active engagement from users, as they are taking a self-guided tour through 360 experiences.
See one by National Geographic for yourself here.
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All in all, I had a fantastic experience at F8 and cannot wait to see these new features in action across the Facebook ecosystem.
7 MINUTES READ | April 18, 2019