Facebook rolled out a dozen new or improved features as evidence it’s still firmly on the path toward world domination.
The social media network shared lots of news at the F8 summit on April 12, but one of the most exciting announcements was the unveiling of Surround 360, a 360-degree video camera that films virtual reality footage. There was also a cool demonstration of Oculus Rift. Facebook sees personal VR devices and “social VR” as the future, but right now virtual reality remains a very expensive technology that’s out of reach/budget for most. Marketers should keep an eye on this technology, Buffersocial advises, because the tech companies that are already taking a strong interest in VR could drive the rapid development of more affordable and efficient devices down the road.
For marketers, some of the biggest news from F8 was that businesses could soon build their own bots for Messenger. A pool of 33 companies are already using the first wave of Messenger bots to handle a wide range of interactions – for example, users can order food from Burger King and get account notifications from Bank of America. This opens up opportunities for marketers to use bots to manage simple engagement with regular users, but it’s not yet clear how those bots could provide more sophisticated personalized experiences and make the whole bot thing worthwhile. The real takeaway here is the growing influence of Messenger and messaging apps. Mark Zuckerberg told us in 2014 that messaging is the only thing people do more than social networking, so we can expect to see Messenger become an increasingly important tool for businesses and regular users alike.
With the release of Facebook Live API, the platform says developers and marketers can find new interactive ways to integrate their content with Facebook Live, and vice versa. The Live API can stream from devices ranging from phones to desktops and drones, and it allows marketers to mix multiple video and audio sources into a live broadcast. With all the new features, it’ll be interesting to see how ambitious brands will alter their strategy to better incorporate live streaming and in-the-moment interactive content. If video content is your thing, you can check out more Live tips for marketers here.
Facebook really wants you to create and share more video content in general. Last week the platform released the Rights Manager tools, which lets marketers create rules about how specific videos can be used, and enables them to protect their content by monitoring for possible copyright infringement. For marketers who manage multiple business accounts, there’s a new way to crosspost videos easily across various Pages. Facebook also released a new mobile video browsing hub with search and share features, which looks like an effort to become a video content discovery and distribution channel.
Facebook is also making strides to become the only site everyone uses for news, blogs and written content now that Facebook Instant Articles are available to all marketers. Most marketers use Facebook to share content that leads readers back to their website, or another outside page that can take forever to load on a mobile device. Many users will simply give up on a page with a long load time, and other users may not be willing to leave Facebook entirely just to read an article. With Instant Articles, Facebook asks marketers to share their content directly on Facebook so that their readers can click and enjoy content straight from their News Feed, even with a slow connection.
So why should marketers care? Facebook argues that Instant Articles receive 20 percent more clicks and 30 percent more shares than mobile web articles in News Feed. If you’re having trouble dragging traffic to your blog, Facebook wants you to publish right where your captive social audience is already scrolling. Instant Articles also has its own set of advertising options for marketers, who can add their branded content and integrate with tools such as WordPress or Medium, for a seamless publishing process. Users will probably welcome the change for a better mobile reading experience, but it’ll be interesting to see if marketers will agree to trade higher website traffic for a bigger reach on Facebook’s “rented” space.
New smaller features, such as Quote Share and a Save button, indicate that Facebook is trying to help users and marketers to curate shareable web content. The Save feature could be especially helpful if marketers no longer have to choose between sharing great content at inopportune times, or using outside apps like Pocket or Feedly to save items for later sharing.
With all of these new tools and developments, Facebook continues to own its title as the number one social media platform for marketers and advertisers. If the future of digital marketing lies in interactive video content, messaging and even more content curation, then Facebook wants to be your one-stop shop.
The image-centric app for online shoppers announced an update that loads the home page feed three times faster. That means more pins in front of more eyeballs, scrolling on and on FOREVER. Pinterest users love window shopping, which has made the app very advertiser-friendly in recent years. Now that slow mobile load times won’t scare users away, marketers should take another look at the benefits of promoting their products and content on the app.
As more users are posting and sharing videos, Instagram unveiled new video channels in Explore. Users still see videos based on their interests, but the new video channels give marketers more opportunities to reach new users and get extra mileage out of their video content. Also, if you log in on your desktop, there’s a new “Discover” button that looks like a compass in the top right corner navigation. This feature suggests accounts to follow based on who you like and users you may know. Still can’t share a picture or video from your desktop, though.
We’re used to watching Vines in a loop, but the platform recently announced that they know users have different viewing preferences. With the new Watch button, users can “see the story of a channel” as that channel’s Vines all play back-to-back. But if you miss the looping, don’t worry – you can tap and hold the Vine to make it all loopy again.
You can now bedazzle your snaps with delightful 3D stickers. Do with that information what you will.