It’s been a busy few days at Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference 2018, with announcements including the creation of a Facebook dating service, and the launch of a video chat functionality for Instagram.
In the midst of all the announcements, it can be difficult to keep track of what reveals will have an impact. Here, I look at the key points from F8 that social media managers should be aware of – and what I think they will mean.
There was a lot of cool announcements made over the two days, but for me one of the very best was the trialling of augmented reality shopping to bring the experience to life through Facebook.
A closed trial will see users able to look more closely at the features of an ASUS phone, see and ‘customise’ a Kia Stinger car, get a ‘visual red carpet experience’ with a new pair of sneakers from Nike, and try on Sephora makeup.
David Marcus, VP of Messaging Products at Facebook, explained: “Blending AR effects and messaging solves a real problem for people shopping online. There are so many situations where we need to visualize a product before we feel comfortable buying it. We often seek input from our friends and family before making a purchase.”
It comes off the back of Snapchat making a similar announcement about AR shopping, so it will be interesting to see which platform moves it forward first.
Personally, I think this will be brilliant when it rolls out to a wider audience and will give retail brands a chance to showcase their products in a better way.
If you agree, you can sign up here to be considered as part of a larger beta when it rolls out.
Community managers and social media managers who use Facebook Groups will be pleased to hear that the platform is introducing a Groups tab.
This move will help users to navigate to their existing groups more easily and interact with content from all of them – bringing them front of mind.
It was also announced that later this year there will be the functionality to find and join similar groups through the tab.
Facebook Groups is a great way to get consumers involved with a product (we’re using Groups for our work with Hachette Partworks) so to see this getting more exposure can only be a good thing.
It’s been a pretty hard few months on the privacy front for Facebook, so it should probably come as no surprise that one of the changes announced was a privacy feature.
Zuckerberg said that with this change, rolling out in the next few months, users will be able to see information about the apps and websites they’ve interacted with, and can ‘clear’ this information from their account.
In a nutshell, it’s the Facebook version of clearing cookies.
But this could have an effect on marketers: if it has a wide take-up, it could make it harder to find and target using Facebook Ads. It was hinted that aggregated data could still be provided to developers, but I doubt that advertisers will still be allowed to get hold of the information.
It comes at a time when Facebook is removing its ‘partners’ categories for advertising (e.g. homeowners) and is clamping down on email marketing ahead of GDPR coming in in the EU – but I suspect that Facebook marketing will still continue to be successful, with the launch of various new tools and opportunities.
This next feature was described by Facebook executive Rachel Franklin as “like a Facebook album that has come to life”: a somewhat bizarre functionality which will take old photos and use computer vision to give the flat 2D images a (blurry) 3D surrounding.
It’s definitely a strange one, and it’s very much still in development, but I can see this working well for brands who are willing to try it out.
AR Instagram effects
Last year at F8, Facebook announced the AR camera platform, and now it’s coming to Instagram.
The move will see creators be able to design face filters and world effects for use on Instagram. Of course, there’s a chance the majority will be frivolous (I’m looking at you, Snapchat dancing hotdog…) but as Facebook has already shown, there are multiple ways that AR can be used to help brands.
Instagram hinted that creative effects from Ariana Grande, Vogue, and Buzzfeed are set to appear soon, so brand features will be hitting your feed and your stories very soon.
Sharing to stories
One announcement that our designer Chris is chuffed about is a new way to share from your favourite apps to both Facebook and Instagram Stories.
The feature lets users tap the ‘share’ button in an app like Spotify and GoPro to share what you’re listening to directly into the camera. You can then edit and add text or images.
Although some people will already have their Spotify connected to Facebook (depending on how they sign in), you don’t have to connect your Facebook or Instagram account to other apps to share to Stories.
The GoPro use will be great for any activewear brands, or for influencer campaigns to be able to show a little bit more adventure. As this rolls out further, it will be good to see what apps come on board: with Instagram saying over 200 million people use Stories every day, this could be a great way for brands to get more exposure.
And one thing Facebook didn’t announce: a smart speaker
For months, there have been rumours about the launch of a Facebook smart speaker. But, probably with the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, this was conspicuously off the agenda at 2018’s F8 conference.
It may be the case, as CNBC has suggested, that the smart speakers are not rolled out in the US, but internationally, at least to start with.
Reports have said that the speakers, which are set to rival Amazon’s Alexa, will include a video and a touch screen, and will connect directly to Facebook Messenger.
Obviously, Facebook will be taking a lot of data issues into consideration, but this would be a huge move for the company and could offer great opportunities for brands.