Five f8 2015 Announcements Marketers Should Care About

Facebook’s annual developers conference, f8, kicked off today with an announcement-filled keynote continuing last year’s themes of Stability and Control.  Much of the conference will focus on introducing developers to new ways to build on top of the Facebook Platform (not to be confused with the Facebook apps you and I log into every day) but a few of today’s announcements could impact how brands engage consumers on the social network.Facebook Family of Apps

Streamlining Sharing to Facebook Owned Apps

Facebook is clearly committed to its siloed app strategy, which Mark reiterated in his opening speech, saying the company is committed to giving its users even more apps to share the different types of content they want to share with different groups of people intheir lives.  To enable this seamless sharing, Facebook is making it easy for developers to create apps that let Facebook account holders share pretty much anything to any of Facebook’s growing list of apps.  No longer will users be limited to sharing to their newsfeed. Now, developers will be able to offer up the ability for users to share to their Timeline, via Messenger, via Groups, and, while he didn’t explicitly call it out, could sharing to Instagram be on the horizon?Share to any Facebook app

Does this mean publishing to Instagram via the API is finally coming and we’ll no longer be limited to publishing directly from the mobile app?  Community Managers here at Ignite are crossing their fingers!

This also means brands might see an uptick in shares around topics that used to get little engagement.  I don’t want to share a new PMS medicine with my entire friends list on Facebook but there are certainly a few friends who might be interested in hearing about it over Facebook Messenger.  Previously, this type of private sharing occurred over email and text messages.

Richer Content Coming to Facebook Messenger App via Messenger Platform

Facebook seems to be placing big bets on their Messenger App, now opening up the ability for Developers to create apps that allow users to generate and share rich media content in these private message conversations via thenew “Share Sheet.”Gifs on Facebook Messenger

Assuming Facebook doesn’t limit the types of developers that can create these rich media apps, brands have a huge opportunity here.  Remember when you had to send an “Elf of Yourself” via a link in email that your friends had to use to navigate to a website to view? Not anymore!  Brands could create apps that generate rich media content that can be shared via Facebook Messenger and viewed directly within the Messenger conversation string (assuming the viewer had the brand-created app installed as well.) If the recipient hasn’t yet installed the app, there will be a quick option to download it immediately. Think Emoji’s on steroids here!

Facebook has been focused on their App Installs paid media as an extremely powerful unit. This looks to be another opportunity to show that success to app developers and brands. ESPN and Bad Robots are key launch partners they mentioned, so prepare yourselves for waves of March Madness GIFs from your friends via Messenger.

With a large chunk of the keynote focused on Messenger, it’s also clear that even Facebook knows 1-1 conversations are more important to social media users than ever. Arguably, Snapchat- their biggest “competition” in this space, is built on users sharing this type of rich content. Is this a direct jab at that platform?

Move Over Salesforce and Call Centers, Facebook Suggests Brands Should Use Messenger Business as Their CRM and Communication Tool

The story here centered around one of Facebook’s beta partners (and one of my favorite discount e-retailers) Zulily.  By enabling developers to integrate apps, brands like Zulily will be able to manage all customer communication via Facebook Messenger.  Everything from order confirmations, to real-time tracking of package delivery, to post-purchase customer service conversations can take place within a single, threaded Messenger conversation between the customer and the brand. No more having to wait on hold for hours on end and repeat your order number to a new customer service rep on the other end of the line every time you need help.Order Confirmations via MessengerOrder tracking via MessengerCustomer buying via Facebook messenger

The jury’s still out as to whether customers will feel comfortable with such intimate conversations with a brand from their social identity but, if Facebook Messenger does become a preferred method of customer service for consumers, social media teams will need to get more synced up than ever with their customer service teams. And if consumers end up loving it, more and more brands will feel pressured to use the service to compete.

It’s also a somewhat risky move, since Facebook seems dedicated to a new offering or publisher segment each year (remember when it was all about the news apps and platforms?) it’s difficult to know what the next shiny segment will be and if Facebook changes their focus and brand invest the time and dollars into the Messenger platform, will they feel the strain of that shift?

PREDICTION: Facebook kills Timeline posts by others in yet another move to control and monetize how brands use the social network.

Forget YouTube, Embed Facebook Videos

Quick! Move all your old videos from YouTube to Facebook and start posting all new videos to Facebook natively, then embed those Facebook videos on your website and other digital channels so you get all the engagements everywhere.

embed a video

Okay, just kidding. That’s what Facebook will tell you to do because all that engagement you get on your video on Facebook will carry over to the embed location and vice versa.  But before you make the switch from YouTube to Facebook as your video hosting platform of choice, consider what you’re giving up.  YouTube videos rank extremely well in search and YouTube itself is one of the world’s most popular search engines.  Superior search optimization coupled with video discovery features like Related Videos that serve up relevant content for viewers, still makes YouTube the best place for good video content to be discovered organically.

Spherical Videos Coming Soon to a Newsfeed Near You!

Of all the announcements, this is the one I’m most excited about!

Spherical videos have been around for some time now and are a fantastic way to create sticky and engaging video content that lets the viewer control their point-of-view and explore 360 degrees of awesome. But if you thought creating compelling video content was costly, try creating one of these babies.  The example Zuck shared during the keynote required 24 cameras(!!!) shooting from various angles just to get the videos themselves, and then you need special software to turn all those videos into a single, interactive piece of content.

Still, giving brands the ability to publish these interactive and immersive videos directly to the Newsfeed has just opened up a whole new opportunity for those looking to break through on the Facebook.

When this rolls out, brands will be able to create an experience just like this that consumers can engage with directly from their Facebook Newsfeeds.  No need to build an expensive microsite to host it or spend limited ad dollars trying to drive traffic to a brand new website! Although you’ll now have to spend Facebook ad dollars to ensure anyone sees it, but that’s not the point of this post 🙂

F8 Keynote Leaves Us With More Questions than Answers

In typical Facebook fashion, the announcements left us optimistic yet curious.  There appears to be quite a bit of opportunity weaved throughout these updates for brands to engage consumers in new ways on the social network but we’re also holding our breath to see what all these new opportunities are going to cost brands in production resources, time, new tools, and (of course) ad dollars.

What do you think?  Are these updates exciting opportunities for brands or just another nail in the proverbial coffin of organic engagement on Facebook?

Ignite Social Media