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F8 blew our minds

Each year Facebook hosts its developer conference, F8; where the company releases information pertaining to their product roadmap. As a Facebook Marketing Partner, we were invited to attend this much anticipated two-day event in San Jose, California, from May 1st to May 2nd. Several of our team members were there as Facebook (and Mark Zuckerberg himself) revealed exciting new additions to their platform, including updates to VR and AR, a giveaway of the Oculus Go, a new dating feature and a more in depth focus on keeping users’ data private, among others. We put together the highlights that we feel will impact marketers in South Africa.

watch a summary of F8 highlights

clear history

It appears as though the platform has placed a larger focus on protecting users’ privacy. Users are now able to not only clear their Facebook history but they are also able to see which apps use their data and what data is shared. Furthermore, users are able to adjust settings allowing apps to view only the data they are comfortable sharing.

dating home

Dating Home is an opt-in dating feature which allows users to browse potential matches within events and groups they belong to. On this Zuckerberg stated: “We want Facebook to be somewhere you can start meaningful relationships”.

The feature only allows users to opt-in if they have their profile set to single. Furthermore, communication will only occur via text to increase users’ safety and users are not able to see a friend’s dating profile. Following this announcement, Match Group, the parent company of Tinder and OkCupid, saw their stock market price plummet by 22%.

virtual reality (VR)

Perhaps one of the more anticipated reveals this year was the release of Facebook’s Oculus Go, the company’s first standalone VR headset. The headset is designed to not need an external computer or phone and at $199 for a 32GB headset, it is clear that Facebook’s aim is to get it to as many people as possible. Furthermore, in what some have called an “Oprah moment”, Marc Zuckerberg announced that everyone at F8 would get an Oculus Go, and they did. The vision is to use VR even in public spaces such as to view live sports or attend concerts.

The move into a more virtual world forms part of Facebook’s continuous move to bring people closer together. This has been referred to as Social VR which entails creating an element of physical presence in an interaction; thus, enabling users to defy distance and meet with friends and family in a VR setting.

augmented reality (AR)

In terms of AR Facebook announced that they would be releasing support for 3rd-party AR filters in Messenger, Facebook Lite and Instagram. With this new functionality, when a potential customer opens a dialogue with your business through Messenger, you are able to prompt them to engage in an experience with your product or service, through their camera; this particular functionality is still in the Beta phase but is on the roadmap for 2018, so watch this space. In addition, Facebook announced that they will be releasing tools to assist developers with creating AR experiences.

groups

A new Groups tab has been added to the platform. The tab is intended to help users easily navigate to existing groups, join new groups and interact with content from all the groups they belong to, in one central place.

Following the notion of bringing people together, Facebook also announced the release of Watch Party; a feature which allows users to watch the same video together while chatting. In addition, a WhatsApp and Instagram update will now enable users to video call; however, the feature will only be available in Instagram Direct Message.

journeys

For those in the digital marketing space this may be one of the most exciting features to be announced. Journeys is Facebook’s new addition to their current set of analytics tools. With Journeys, marketers are able to see what users were doing before they took an action which resulted in a conversion. This tool provides omni-channel data and reporting which is anonymously aggregated and not linked to any specific individual’s identity; taking into consideration the recent data concerns the company has faced, Facebook has carefully built this product to keep users’ information safe and ensure their privacy.

Journeys provides a single report which shows all paths to conversion which are visible to Facebook, that were made on your websites, apps, Messenger bot and Facebook page. The feature shows how long customers take to convert and which channels they used through their consumer journey. Therefore, allowing you to discover the insights which are most relevant to your business, across multiple channels and devices.

In summation: “This year really placed a focus on two areas; firstly, the issues of privacy were addressed and Facebook has placed several systems and updates in place to ensure user’s privacy. Secondly; the platform has continued to place an emphasis on connecting people. Going forward we are going to see a lot things happening in stories, and you can see stories across their platforms; Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp and that’s a product which is pulling-out of News Feed as well as several other products such as Groups, Market Place and Dating. So, anything that concerns connecting people is pulling-out and becoming a product on its own”- Gil Sperling, CTO and Co-Founder at Popimedia.

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