Although Facebook has recently had to answer for its misuse of data and continues to deal with repeated negative press, it still remains an undisputed leader in the social realm due to its immense, active user base. The acquisition of Instagram, along with the ownership of Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, makes Facebook a critical tool, both as an individual platform and parent organization, for reaching users across the globe. Facebook’s position in the marketplace and evolution following negative publicity makes it vitally important to monitor and adhere to its platform changes for marketing success. This spring, Facebook hosted F8 – its annual developer conference – to unveil its redesign and discuss long-term goals. Below are a few of the primary announcements from the conference that marketers need to be aware of.
Facebook Desktop & Mobile Redesign
One of the first announcements at F8 was the redesign of Facebook’s desktop and mobile app. This redesign isn’t just aesthetics; it also gives insight into the direction the platform is headed. Within the announcement, Facebook declared that this new design “puts your communities at the center,” which is evident through its heightened focus on stories, contacts, and quick access to your existing groups as well as discovering new groups. These priorities within the layout all come at the expense of the size of the News Feed. The decreased emphasis on the News Feed is a significant move to ensure that the ability to interact with friends and family is the primary purpose of the platform. Facebook’s promise to provide more “meaningful content” following Cambridge Analytica is coming to light within this redesign. With this change, brands need to ensure they have a paid strategy in place since organic content from branded pages will now trend downward.
Shops from Creators
A big announcement for influencer marketing is Instagram’s “Shop from Creators.” This feature will allow Instagram users to shop directly from an influencer’s post. In the current environment, if followers are interested in a product featured in a post, even with a brand called out, they will ask for specific product details by commenting on the post or sending a direct message to the influencer. With Shop from Creators, influencers will soon be able to tag a specific product in their post, allowing users to tap the tag, open up the product details, and select a checkout option to complete their purchase, all within Instagram. This feature will give Instagram influencers stronger opportunities to generate revenue from the content they are posting, furthering their direct connection with brands and continuing the growth of influencer marketing. Shop from Creators is currently being tested among a small group of influencers ahead of a full rollout.
Facebook Messenger, which currently exists in a separate mobile app, will now also receive a dedicated desktop app as Facebook focuses on expanding uses for this messaging platform. This move is directly aligned with Facebook’s overall focus on connecting you with your network of friends and family. This mobile app includes a new option for limiting your messenger interactions to close friends or selected groups, and a group video feature to further the types of interactions that can occur within the thread. From a business standpoint, there has also been an addition of new lead generation templates available to brands within Ads Manager. These templates will allow brands to more easily customize the automated communication within this platform and even allow users to easily book an appointment within the thread. As direct messaging through these social platforms continues to grow, it is increasingly important to keep a pulse on the types of engagements available for brands to directly interact with customers.
WhatsApp Business Catalog
Facebook’s other messaging app, WhatsApp, is also evolving its focus on business tools. The primary WhatsApp announcement is the inclusion of a product catalog. This product catalog element will allow users to view available products from a brand without leaving WhatsApp. Facebook is keen to monetize WhatsApp, as it contains a large existing user base, and has recently announced the expansion of a business version of the app available to iOS. While Facebook continues to focus on streamlining communications for personal engagement and business opportunities within WhatsApp, brands should begin testing these business features for their own potential growth through direct communications with customers.
Instagram Hiding Likes
Another Instagram announcement that was a large topic of conversation following the conference is that they are testing hiding ‘likes’ on Instagram posts. The Instagram team confirmed that this test is in place and its purpose is to create a “less pressurized environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves.” Studies have been conducted to evaluate Instagram’s negative impact on mental health and well-being, as well as its contribution to anxiety and depression. The number of “likes” has been identified as one of the key factors in this negativity – users evaluate their self-worth when they begin to compare the number of likes their post received in comparison to other users’ posts. The test is currently being conducted in Canada and has started a conversation around a new form of engagement measurement. If quantity of likes is not available publicly, then measurement will need to shift to focus more on higher quality engagement metrics – which isn’t a bad thing. This test could potentially extend to the removal of number of followers, thus impacting one of the primary avenues used in evaluating potential influencers and requiring a pivot in how brands shop for influencers.
To learn more about these changes as well as more announcements from F8 and how they impact your business, reach out to your team of experts at Vladimir Jones.