So Facebook’s annual developer summit took place on the 30th of April and there are some big changes afoot. Here are the 5 things you need to know about the announcements that look set to change Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp over the next few months.

#1 Private interactions will be the main focus

It’s no secret that we’re sharing less in the newsfeed and users are starting to favour private interactions over public sharing. Messenger, Whatsapp and Instagram messenger will soon be the primary ways people communicate through Facebook’s apps. You’ll be able to call, message and watch videos with contacts in all three apps and this is where you can share status updates and connect with your close friends.

What this means for brands advertising on the platform: Expect placements to be shifted to Messenger, Stories, Audience Network, Watch and IGTV. Facebook want marketers out of the newsfeed. This has been slowly happening over the past 12 months with newsfeed placements costing more and other placements achieving cheaper CPM’s and higher reach.

 

#2 Groups and Events are now front and centre

The algorithm is changing… AGAIN. Instead of receiving status updates from the friends you engage with, the main focus of the redesigned newsfeed will be groups, events and stories. This includes a personalised feed from the groups you’ve joined — with group interaction options showing up while you’re browsing other parts of Facebook, too.

The redesign is also supposed to help people expand their social circles. It includes a feature called Meet New Friends, which connects strangers who have something (like a school or employer) in common. And it’s offering an easier way to find events near you as well. It is truly going back to its roots as a social networking app.

What this means for brands advertising on the platform: There have been discussions for a while now that Groups ads were going to be released. Expect Facebook to allow Groups to build up substantial followings before trying to commercialise them.

 

#3 Facebook Dating is here

Tinder watch out, Facebook dating has arrived. Secret Crush allows you to create a secret list of Facebook friends you’re attracted to, whether or not they have a dating profile. If they’re also using Secret Crush, and they add you to their list, Facebook will notify the two of you that there’s a match. Sounds familiar right!

What this means for brands advertising on the platform: They’ll probably try and market in the same way Tinder have been doing over the past two years. Create matches between brands and users to spark engagement.

#4 Social Commerce is now becoming more and more important

Look this wasn’t announced as a new feature but let’s read between the lines of some of the features announced.

  • Brands can now add their product catalogues on Whatsapp.
  • Influencers, artists and sports will be able to add shopping tags to their Instagram posts.
  • Messenger purchase functionality where you can purchase goods at the touch of a button without adding in any details.

The focus is on allowing more ways for consumers to buy products through their platforms because ultimately this is going to increase ad space bidding amongst brands and retailers.

What this means for brands advertising on the platform: If you don’t have a social performance or retail strategy in play it’s time to get one. Over the past few years it is this layer that is driving tangible results and outcomes on the platform and playing a role in the overall attribution of revenue.

 

#5 Instagram Updates and VR Rollout

Charitable donations, a new camera including a create mode which makes it easier to share content beyond traditional photos and videos, like quizzes, provides more user functionality. They are also testing a feature that will almost entirely hide likes on a person’s feed, so you can “focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.” Not sure how this will pan out. What’s the point of social media if you can’t check how popular you are?! We’re joking, but not sure this is a feature that will be rolled out beyond the initial beta phase.

In addition, Facebook will step into the world of VR connectivity with their Oculus Rift headset designed to engage in 360 gaming and watching 360 video. Whether it will work, only time will tell, but this has been the end game in Facebook’s 5-year roadmap for some time.

What this means for brands advertising on the platform: Not much at this stage as these are generally organic cosmetic changes, but watch this space.

 

All in all, Facebook is moving with the times and not allowing itself to remain stagnant. They know the way users connect with each other has shifted from the newsfeed to Messenger and Groups and they also know that what is currently in the newsfeed isn’t adding much value. And they have made changes accordingly.  They are also seeing that with viewership on the platform impacting brand content, lower funnel commercial functionalities are how they can prove real ROI to brands, especially in this financial climate.

Watch the full video here.

Paul Isbell

Paul Isbell

Strategy & Social Media Director at Redengine SCC

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