Facebook F8 2018 Recap

A few weeks ago, Facebook held their annual developer conference. Here, we recap the most relevant announcements, and provide some thoughts around potential opportunities for healthcare marketing.

Clear History
In the wake of Mark Zuckerberg’s Congressional hearings regarding Facebook’s role in the disinformation campaign leading up to the 2016 election, Facebook announced a new privacy control, appropriately called “Clear History.” There were plenty of questions raised concerning the type and volume of information that Facebook stores on its users, and what controls a user might have over who has access to that data. Clear History is meant to assuage some of these concerns.

Much like you’re able to do with cookies in your web browser, users will soon be able to view and flush their Facebook browsing history whenever they please; this includes everything you’ve clicked on and websites you’ve visited within the Facebook platform. You will also be allowed to opt out of having identifying information stored with your account in the first place, though Facebook notes that aggregated analytics will still be shared with developers.

Facebook is quick to caveat that, much like clearing your browser history and cookies, clearing your Facebook history may have adverse effects on your experience on the site. Impact could also spread to other sites that use your Facebook login information to verify your identity. Zuckerberg warns in a post: “Your Facebook won’t be as good while it relearns your preferences.”

Key Takeaway: Marketers will need to keep an eye on user adoption of this feature, and work with their Facebook advertising partners to understand the long-term impact on targeting efficiency. If users are clearing their history regularly, it will likely be more difficult to sort them into accurate audiences. On a more positive note, the mere announcement of these planned measures has helped stem negative sentiment surrounding the platform. Facebook gained another million users in the first quarter of 2018.

Instagram video chat
One of the more straightforward and predictable updates rolling out at F8 2018 is Instagram video chat. It’s not clear whether this will be a direct lift from Snapchat’s video chat feature, which allows up to 16 people to chat simultaneously and to use filters and lenses during chat sessions. What is clear is that Instagram has been planning this update since at least February, when it was first reported that video and voice icons appeared in Instagram’s Android application package.

If we can use Facebook’s calling features as any indication, Instagram’s video chat feature is bound to be popular, as Facebook boasts that 400 million people use Messenger video and audio calling each month.

Key Takeaway: This move is emblematic of the larger social platform trend toward live engagement. Nearly every platform already has their own live product (messaging, video), and now we’re seeing platforms begin to innovate within those offerings. Group video chat has a wide range of possibilities for users, and brands will need to look for ways to “break” this feature in order to take advantage. Look for Facebook’s alpha partners to have the first executions shortly after launch, but begin thinking of ways this could be used for patient communications. Is there a potential to set up support group chats between patients with a moderator? Hold smaller information sessions or remote co-creations?

Oculus Go, Facebook’s less expensive VR headset, goes on sale
Facebook announced the Oculus Go, a more affordable VR headset that will cost around $200. Outside of the initial setup that requires your phone’s Bluetooth connection, it’s an entirely stand-alone device. Unlike the Oculus Rift, it does not connect to your PC, and you don’t need to snap in your phone like you would with Samsung’s Gear VR.

As part of the announcement, Facebook rolled out a new version of Oculus Rooms, where you can spend time together with friends in the virtual world, either playing cards, watching a movie, or just chatting. Madhu Muthukumar, an Oculus product manager, explained, “The goal is to get immersive live content that you can kind of build a virtual crowd of people around who share interests.”

Oculus TV
Along with the launch of Oculus Go, Oculus TV was announced at F8 2018. Oculus TV will allow up to four people to stream shows together in a virtual room. The Oculus TV is not an actual television set, but rather an app that puts a television experience into a virtual environment. There will be onscreen controls that resemble the experience of using Google Chromecast or Apple TV. Oculus TV is partnering with apps like Showtime, Netflix, and ESPN. While users will be able to view existing streaming services like Hulu, Oculus TV will also support Facebook’s own video platform called “Facebook Watch,” which launched in August 2017.

Key Takeaway: This is a major step toward widespread trial and adoption of VR. Until now, the price tag of an Oculus unit has been firmly out of reach for many, but this more approachable option is likely to bring the technology into more homes more quickly. The launch of Oculus TV in tandem with this new, more affordable hardware option could help speed adoption as well, especially for users who don’t plan to use Oculus for gaming purposes. From our point of view, the immersive nature of VR makes this platform the ideal space for immersive disease education.

Sharing to Facebook and Instagram Stories from third-party apps
With Facebook’s push to promote “meaningful engagements,” videos and live content will continue to flood the forefront of the news feed.

Starting with Spotify, SoundCloud, and Musically, third-party apps will now be able to let their users share directly to Facebook and Instagram Stories. Users will no longer have to resort to screenshotting that song to share their current mood. Instead, there will be a button to share a photo or video of a playlist, song, or mini-movie from another app directly to Stories. While this feature is technically open to all developers, only partners that go through a review process (like the music platforms mentioned above) will be see their app attributed beneath the user’s handle.

Key Takeaway: This is native user behavior on Instagram already, and the platform is looking to make it official. Building the functionality into the platform further entrenches Instagram as the go-to location for this type of sharing. Future app builds should take this integration (and other social sharing opportunities) into account.

Facebook reopens their app review process
Prior to the 2016 US presidential election, Cambridge Analytica created a personality test app called “thisisyourdigitallife.” The app was able to collect personal Facebook data from app users as well as their friends. Even though the users had to opt in to the app, it was considered a misuse of data and a “breach of trust” by Facebook. This instance prompted the company to temporarily halt their app review process in an effort to limit the data that a third-party app can access through the Facebook API. The pause in the review process momentarily prevented all new apps and chatbots from joining Facebook.

At F8 2018, Facebook announced that the review process is reopening with a few changes that primarily focus on limiting developers’ access to Facebook user data. Facebook is investigating all apps that had access to large amounts of information before they changed their platform to reduce data access in 2014 and informing people if an app is removed for data misuse. In addition, Facebook will turn off access for unused apps if a person does not log in for 3 months, and will restrict Facebook login data so that an app will only receive a user’s name, profile photo, and email address without further review. To increase user awareness, Facebook will make the apps that a person is connected to more prominent on the user interface. It will also reward people who find vulnerabilities in apps through Facebook’s new Bug Bounty Program.

Key Takeaway: The months since the Cambridge Analytica scandal have been a period of harsh introspection for Facebook. This should be taken as a sign that they’re looking to get back to business as usual, hopefully with a bit more oversight and scrutiny.

Translation within Messenger
¡Hola! Soon you’ll be able to translate this greeting and other text written in a different language on Facebook Messenger with the M Suggestions assistant. The new feature will be a continuation of Facebook’s translation offering for News Feed comments and posts.

Facebook has started translating English-Spanish conversations in Marketplace messaging but will launch this functionality in additional languages and countries soon. It makes sense to begin the rollout with Marketplace, its peer-to-peer commerce feature, since people are often communicating with strangers. Chat translation will also help bridge the gap for members of Group pages that span across different countries.

Key Takeaway: Multicultural marketing efforts can come with a lot of guesswork in terms of your audience’s language preferences. This feature should change the equation for brands with mixed audiences and Messenger content.

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