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F8 Gives Marketers More Insight into Facebook’s Plans for the Future

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We saw a lot of exciting developments come out of Facebook’s annual F8 Developer Conference last week. At the conclusion of the two-day event, it was apparent Facebook is no longer just a social platform, but a growing portfolio of apps and products – that now includes Instagram, WhatsApp, Groups, Messenger and Oculus Rift – that form a network of consumer touch points, which Facebook is building out to deepen its value proposition for brands and consumers.

As Facebook continues to focus on content discovery for its core platform, it is also building out capabilities across its full suite of applications, and touch points that will allow developers – and marketers – to engage consumers in different environments and connect the dots between data and experiences to help them invest smarter.

The following summary includes the most important updates and takeaways for marketers from this year’s F8 Developer Conference.

Key Updates

Businesses on Messenger Supports 1:1 Conversations and Commerce
Businesses on Messenger creates a one-to-one stream of communication. This provides a highly personalized customer service experience, very much akin to an in-store experience. Once a consumer makes an on-site purchase, they will have the option at checkout to receive real-time shopping updates via Messenger including receipt delivery and package tracking. Push notifications will keep consumers up-to-date on the status of their orders, and customers can even follow up with a business to provide feedback or receive on-going support, all while receiving a quick turnaround.

  • Availability: Zulily and Everlane have signed on as launch partners, and these integrations will launch in the coming weeks.
  • Marketer Implications: This functionality streamlines business-to-consumer interactions by connecting separate communication streams (e.g., email confirmations, shipping confirmations, and on-site live chat) into one place to allow for more consistency and a better customer experience. Marketers will be able to use Messenger to alleviate some of the pain points of post-purchase communications and customer service, from order to feedback loop.

To maintain consistency across communications, brands should extend their brand personality, tone of voice and customer service best practices into these interactions, as well to unify customer service center and social messaging.

In addition, the recent launch of peer-to-peer payments may have future implications for consumer-to-brand payments. While Facebook hasn’t indicated plans of moving in this direction, it would be no surprise for this functionality to be added to allow for brand-to-customer refunds and payments.

Embedded Video Player Allows Video Publication on Any Website
A new Embedded Video Player will allow publishers to embed Facebook video directly onto a website. The plugin will allow users to not only watch video, but also to interact with the content directly from the player.

  • Availability: Available now
  • Marketer Implications: Embedded videos will allow marketers and publishers to extend video views and interactions on video content beyond just Facebook’s own network. This opens up a wider potential audience, and makes it possible for brands to more broadly track conversations around content.

With Parse, Facebook Enters the Internet of Things
Developers can now easily use Parse to build a whole new category of apps for connected devices that can control everything from a garage door to a home’s air conditioner. This is significant, as it’s the first of the major tech players that has made a move to standardize the Internet of Things. Up until now, most connected devices have used proprietary protocols that require using a specific app for a specific device. With Parse, device manufacturers can not only connect to Facebook users, but using it as the backend allows the device to connect to other devices on the same global network. Reliable global connectivity, plus robust Facebook analytics and access to the social graph will make connecting to people, places and things as simple as adding a “Like” button to a website.

  • Availability: Available now
  • Marketer Implications: Combining multiple devices and data streams through a centralized application will give Facebook deep insights about consumer behavior. The data that this will allow Facebook to collect is staggering. Marketers will be able to further hone in on marrying the right message with the moment in which it will best serve the consumer.

Spherical Video Coming to News Feed
This update marries virtual reality technology with Facebook’s content delivery system. Until now, experiencing virtual reality content required tracking down and loading content into a device – a cumbersome process. Through Facebook, consumers will be able to subscribe to virtual reality content providers which make the format more mainstream.

  • Availability: Not yet available
  • Marketer Implications: 3D-hacked videos have spiked in popularity. A 360-degree video experience would take this idea to the next level, and allow for brands to provide an interactive, immersive experience. Brands could tap into this format to allow consumers to explore or test drive products before making a purchase.

Other Updates

App Integration with Messenger
Facebook is providing a new way for apps to integrate with Messenger so people can better express themselves with GIFs, photos, videos, audio clips and more. For developers, this means more opportunities for growth and engagement.

Share Sheet Provides a Consistent Experience for Sharing Content Between Facebook and Apps
Previously, there were more than a dozen ways to share to Facebook from apps on mobile and desktop – which made sharing tough for people and developers. The new Share Sheet provides a simple, consistent experience for sharing from apps to not just Facebook, but Messenger, and Groups as well.

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App Invites Help Developers to Organically Grow Apps through Recommendations
According to a Nielsen study, 36 percent of all apps that people discover are word-of-mouth recommendations from family or friends. Facebook’s new App Invites function uses the social context of Facebook to create a similar experience, helping developers grow their audience organically. App Invites can be personalized by the sender, and will appear in a new install channel, rather than in the Timeline or News Feed.

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Facebook Analytics for Apps
Facebook Analytics for Apps helps build better apps and experiences for people. Brands and developers now have a single place where they can seek to understand an app’s audience, measure how people use an app across devices and improve marketing campaigns. Currently in closed beta testing, there is also an attribution feature being tested within Facebook Analytics for Apps that will allow marketers to view customer actions based on from which ad network they were acquired.

LiveRail Drives Better Results and Experiences
Mobile app publishers can now use LiveRail’s monetization platform to manage video and display ads. Additionally, LiveRail is enabling publishers to use Facebook’s approach for delivering the right ad to the right audience—meaning better results and better experiences for consumers.

Extending the Facebook Experience Off-platform
Facebook is updating its overall functionality to better the experience of engaging with content off-platform. In addition to the embedded video player, this also includes a more streamlined version of the Comments Plugin that will be optimized for mobile and compatible with more sites, allowing for a more holistic conversation across networks. The platform is also rolling out “Native Share” and “Send” buttons that will make it easier for users to extend social conversation from within mobile apps.

Cover photo via Marketing Land.

Shalini Agrawal, Media Supervisor; Jwala Gandhi, Social Marketing Manager; and Layne Harris, Vice President, Innovation Technology contributed to this post.