Facebook’s F8 Conference 2016

FACEBook’s 2016 marketing must-knows

Every year Facebook hosts its F8 Developers Conference, a platform for CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his product team to unveil the latest in innovation for developers. Zuckerberg kicked off F8 2016 with a bang, detailing a 10-year plan to completely change the way people interact with brands and each other. This vision includes advances in mobile messaging, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and global connectivity; a number of which were trends Media Supervisor Barrett Goetz noted in his recap of SXSW 2016.

roadmap_final

True to form, each of Zuck’s big ideas have an altruistic streak, but that doesn’t change the bottom line – everything boils down to increasing investments and ad spend on the world’s largest social network. So, what should marketers know about this year’s F8? Below are the biggest takeaways from the developer conference.

 

1. Messenger platform + Chatbots

 chat bot

Photo source: Facebook

The Facebook Messenger app is the second most popular app globally on iOS – behind only Facebook itself. On the first day of F8, Facebook announced and launched the “Bots for Messenger” beta, which allows developers to build bots that will send and receive messages to and from a brand’s customers. This enables brands to reach the over 900M Messenger users in a more intimate, personal way, and allows users to get weather updates, confirm hotel reservations, get receipts from recent purchases, or even send someone a personalized bouquet of flowers – all from chatting with brands’ bots.

While conceptually this looks like an awesome future, early reviews indicate there are still some kinks to work out.

KEY TAKEAWAY:

This technology may well be the next big thing for brands – however, it could take some time to pick up steam. For now, marketers should pay attention to the ongoing technology innovation and consumer user experience to determine how it would align with your business when the time comes for mainstream use.

 

2. Live video 

The future of online video is here, and it’s live. Also launched on the first day of F8 was the Facebook Live API, “a new way for developers and publishers to join forces to build immersive and interactive live video experiences on Facebook. With the Live API, media organizations can seamlessly incorporate Live into their existing broadcast setup and also create new ways to interact with their viewers.”

Livestreaming is nothing new, and most major media brands have already tested Facebook’s live video services. The idea here is that Facebook Live is now a priority for the media giant – they’ve opened up the API to developers, providing increased functionality and allowing third parties to integrate it into their broadcasts.

So, what does this mean for marketers? Video itself has become a major contributor to social media user experiences over the past few years. Gareth Capon, CEO of Grabyo, a leading social video production and publishing firm, says: “This is a significant moment in the online video market. Social platforms have moved from being the second screen for television to being the destination for live video consumption.”  Need even more proof? The NFL itself just announced a $10M deal with Twitter to livestream 10 Thursday Night Football games next season.

KEY TAKEAWAY:

Live video is definitely going to become a well-established facet of social media. Sean Cullen, EVP of Product and Technology at Fluent, notes: “Users are said to share 10 times more comments on a live video feed than on a regular one.” As a marketer, if you have the means to integrate live video into your online presence, it is highly recommended that your brand jump on this wave soon.

 

3. Social VR 

Facebook F8 Conference

Photo source: Mike Schroepfer, CTO of Facebook, shown during demonstration at F8 Conference 

 

The final big takeaway from F8 2016 was Facebook’s demo of what it calls “social virtual reality”. While VR has been a hot topic for a while now – especially Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus – the social platform is looking at its uses beyond novelty. Facebook’s main focus concerning VR, as announced on Wednesday, is “connecting two or more real people in a virtual world”.

The whole reason Facebook is interested in VR is that it’s still an extremely niche market, the technology is incredibly expensive, and it’s currently seen as a very anti-social activity (with users effectively blocking out the real world and existing alone in a virtual one). Although appearing negative on the surface, this is exactly where Facebook sees an opportunity: harnessing this up-and-coming technology to connect the world and make it accessible to the mainstream – and opening up more doors for investment in its company.

KEY TAKEAWAY:

Your priority right now may not be building your own 360-degree camera, but you should still be checking out VR content platforms like InstaVR and trying some initial testing, especially if an immersive visual experience aligns with your brand, products, and services.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Every year marketers look forward to the discussions, announcements, and inspiring innovation that come out of F8, and this year did not disappoint. Facebook is showing absolutely no signs of slowing down, and while it’s still a waiting game to see how and when many of these announcements come to fruition, it will be crucial to keep up with these developments as they continue to unfold.

 

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