Facebook’s annual developers’ conference happened the other day — and we sat through the whole one hour, 48-minute keynote so you don’t have to.
The biggest thing at this year’s F8 was privacy. This is not surprising since Facebook has been getting grilled for the past two years over security and data breaches. The good thing is it feels like Facebook is going about it the right way, admitting they stuffed up and they should’ve done more. According to Facebook, part of fixing this is restructuring their infrastructure and making sure developers are using their services for good.
While privacy was a big ticket item at this year’s F8 conference — it was mentioned over 50 times — there were also a heap of product announcements.
Here are the ones we think are most important.
Updates to Facebook
Facebook gets lighter, or darker (whichever you prefer)
This is being rolled out as we speak, but Facebook desktop and mobile are both getting lighter (or darker if you like dark mode). Gone is the blue in place of a new, cleaner look.
Groups. Groups. Groups!
As part of this new look, the groups tab has moved and become more prominent. They’re now suggesting groups to you based on your likes and dislikes. Facebook has been working towards this for a while, with the idea of helping users meet and interact with people who share similar interests (watch out Reddit).
Events are getting more visibility
The good news for everyone putting on events is they’ll now become even more visible. Facebook will now show users what’s happening in their local area. If you do by chance find something that sounds interesting and you attend, Facebook will now also suggest friends who likely want to attend with you.
Updates to Messenger
A desktop app is coming
An app for Mac or PC is coming. This means users will now be able to check their messages from their laptop without logging into Facebook or going to the Messenger.com. No details on when this app will become available.
Facebook is attempting to bring all their messaging platforms together
Facebook has said they’re trying to get Messenger, Instagram Direct Messages and WhatsApp to all work together. This means you’ll be able to respond to messages from any one of the platforms within Messenger. They’ve said they’re working on this functionality, but the key words here are “working on”. There’s no timeline for this functionality. Facebook has a habit of announcing features and then not always delivering them, so we’ll see if this actually happens.
Messenger is becoming its own social platform for your closest friends
It’s almost like Facebook Messenger is becoming what Facebook originally was. They’re creating a second tab that shows updates, statuses and stories from only the closest people in your network. It feels like they’re doubling up here, but this move has been a long time coming. The only question is: will people use it?
Updates to Instagram
Shopping from creators
Similar to affiliate programs that many publishers have with merchants, Instagram will allow creators to sell products that feature in their posts, all from within the platform. Merging shopping with scrolling is going to be big for business and horrible for our wallets. RIP PAYCHECK 💸
New create mode
Not that people weren’t doing this before, but Instagram’s new ‘Create Mode’ allows you to create content without actually having any photos or videos. This means you can speak to your fans, without having to take a selfie.
LIKES ARE GONE THE WORLD IS ENDING!
Well not yet. In Canada, Instagram is currently testing a new feature that would hide ‘like’ counts on your page. With the test, Instagram plans to remove the total number of likes from photos and videos that show up on the feed, profiles, and permalink pages. Only the account user will be able to see the number of likes a post receives.
Updates for developers
For us, the most interesting thing here was the full release of Spark AR. Allowing all developers to start working on Augmented Reality applications for Messenger. Augmented Reality is likely to be the next ‘big’ thing, with brands creating digital experiences that merge seamlessly into the real world.
Does any of the above matter?
The Facebook feed is changing and groups are becoming bigger. No one really wants to follow a group for a brand, but if you can foster conversation on a topic, this could be a great way to increase brand affinity within a smaller core group of fans. A great example of this is Beefeater Gin’s MIXLDN group. Created about four years ago (long before groups came back in vogue), it’s a place where bartenders can share their creations, network with each other, and ask questions about the competition itself.
While the brand doesn’t directly participate in the conversation, their brand ambassadors do. So it’s a nice way for the brand to interact in a more personal way.
The changes to Messenger may affect us the most in the long term, making it so we can message each other cross-platform from Messenger and create mini social networks.
The desktop app may make bots and other Messenger applications a far more effective way to connect with consumers. Something worth noting is we’ve seen a 91% open rate for messages from bots Bolster has created for clients such as TAC, Beyond The Valley, and Groovin The Moo.
And then there’s Instagram. Shopping on Instagram is beyond huge! This will no doubt become one of the biggest earners for the platform, and could fundamentally change the way we shop.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE LIKES!
Honestly, we don’t think this will make a huge difference. There’ll probably need to be more transparency from influencers, letting brands know the results of campaigns, but apart from that we’re almost welcoming the change. After all, isn’t mental health more important than a vanity metric? Don’t answer that.