Facebook’s 2019 F8 conference got off to a bold start this year, with Mark Zuckerberg delivering a keynote speech in front of a banner reading “the future is private.” Following months of backlash over privacy concerns, Facebook chose to focus this year’s conference on features that will help users feel more secure on the platform and, in turn, encourage them to share more. These include features like Secret Crush—a Tindr-like service that allows users to romantically link to their current Facebook friends—as well as a newly redesigned feed emphasizing Groups. (One could also include Instagram’s test to hide like counts, a move that made headlines and inspired strong reactions from users both for and against the update.)
Whether these new features will ultimately succeed remains uncertain, but one thing is clear: Facebook’s focus on privacy is intended to rebuild consumer trust and help the platform springboard into new territories, making it feel less like a townhall and more like a “living room.” F8 left marketers with a few clear opportunities, but also many open questions about how the updates will impact the way consumers use the platform in the future.
Opportunities for marketers
Social commerce is becoming table stakes:
‘Shop Looks From Creators’ and the WhatsApp product catalog updates both emphasize the success of social shopping experiences across the Facebook ecosystem. Businesses large and small have more opportunities than ever to reach consumers with products across Facebook’s suite of products, and this is shifting consumer mindset from “nice to have” to “expected behavior.”
New camera features are also bringing new opportunities for brands to enhance storytelling, including:
- More viable branded AR: All brands and creators have had the ability to create AR filters on Facebook since last year, however, Instagram has only tested this functionality with a few key partners (i.e. Kylie Cosmetics, Taylor Swift, etc.). At F8, Facebook announced their overhauled AR Studio for Facebook and Instagram, including free templates and eye tracking capabilities. AR has evolved past its beginnings as a throwaway trend to become a powerful tool that’s helping businesses drive awareness and sales. While brands may have been somewhat hesitant to leverage AR because the filters were only shareable to Facebook, the Instagram rollout will likely make the AR experience more worthwhile as user adoption there is more common.
- Instagram releases ‘Create Mode’: Instagram is shifting the way consumers think about creating Stories with Create Mode, which allows users to construct stories without first starting with a visual or video. Stories continue to gain in popularity for users but not all brands have been able to break out of the ad-focused creative bubble to create authentic experiences on the platform. With the focus on creating text- and GIF-based Stories, it’s more important than ever for brands to craft Stories-specific narratives.
Groups are the new News Feed:
On Facebook, the News Feed continues to own the majority of the platform’s impression share and ad revenue. However, as users shift to Groups due to streamlined discovery and new ways to participate in relevant conversations, it is likely that brand Pages will see an accelerating decline in reach. That said, we still think there is an opportunity for brands to be a part of these more private communities on the platform. Instead of thinking about how the brand reaches a broad audience in the News Feed, marketers need to take a more targeted, personable approach so as not to disturb the community’s ecosystem. For example, this could mean working with influencers to moderate/lead branded or interest-focused Groups.
While the industry continues to contemplate the question of whether users are moving away from Facebook, we foresee that the platform could very well become even more ingrained in our consumer’s everyday lifestyle. As Facebook-owned platforms become more integrated, Portal becomes more connected with Amazon’s capabilities, and new features like ‘Meet New Friends’ emerge, users will be connecting with Facebook in ways that are more authentic to their needs as consumers and humans living in 2019. Further marketing implications remain to be seen, but this could mean that marketers will have a better understanding of consumers, what they care about, and their use for social than ever before.
360i’s Associate Director of Social Marketing Amy Donnelly, Senior Social Strategist Marie Goldstein, and Social Media Marketing Manager Derek Arguello contributed to this post.