At Facebook’s F8 developer conference in San Francisco, the company announced a variety of new products and features for developers. We were there for it all, and here’s what you need to know as a marketer.
1. Zuck Laid Out a Big Vision for Facebook’s Future
Mark Zuckerberg kicked off the conference with a look at Facebook’s ten-year roadmap. It’s an ambitious vision for building the Facebook ecosystem, with products like video and Messenger, along with innovative Facebook-driven technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality.
What this means for social marketers: Haven’t thought much about dark social or attribution from messenger channels? Time to change that. Messenger and WhatsApp are a huge component of where the communication between you and your customers (or soon-to-be-customers) is headed. Consider investing here.
2. New Announcements for Facebook’s Messenger Platform
Much of the buzz this year is around the new announcements for the Messenger Platform. Zuck called Messenger “the next big platform for sharing privately.” Facebook has lined up a variety of platform features for developers to integrate apps and leverage Facebook technology. A few of the highlights for Messenger:
Bots for Messenger. Facebook launched a new set of tools and a send/receive API to allow building of automated response “bots” on Messenger. These bots aim to replace traditional customer service channels like 1-800 numbers, support sites, and email.
In addition to direct channels to the 900 million Messenger users, this allows businesses to easily give customers persistent identities through all interactions, from “automated subscription content like weather or traffic updates, to customized communications like receipts, shipping notifications, and live automated messages.”
Powered by the Wit.ai Bot Engine. After Facebook acquired Wit.ai early last year, we’ve wondered exactly how this technology would be leveraged. It’s now clear that Wit.ai is going to add a powerful set of capabilities for developers. Businesses will be able to train bots to do tasks and respond to messages, which will be especially useful for common questions or repeatable tasks.
Sponsored Messages. There were not any direct announcements about capabilities for sponsored content on Messenger, but the team made it clear they’re exploring this as a product offering.
What this means for social marketers: Facebook and its Messenger want to become the go-to locales for brand-customer interactions. In the next year, you’ll see more and more brands sign on. Is this a good fit for your brand? Are other social networks best suited for interactions with your customers? Thanks to Facebook’s major technical strides, these questions require serious examination now.
The Wit.ai bot functionality will help customer support teams provide an even better experience for customers. I would expect that, as Messenger expands, sponsored messages will become a (seriously attractive) offering for brands.
3. New Tools Now Available!
Live Video API. Facebook opened up Live Video capabilities to developers with a new API. This allows developers to incorporate Live directly into their current publishing workflow in another application. It also allows you to go live from another standalone camera.
Instant Articles. Previously only available to a select group of publishers; now anyone can leverage the ability to have lighter versions of articles load much faster within Facebook. They’ve built solutions with a variety of tools like WordPress and Drupal to make getting started with Instant Articles insanely easy with your existing CMS.
Quote Sharing Tool. This allows you to easily share a few lines of text from an article or web page directly into a Facebook post. It works on the web or in an app.
Account Kit. In addition to Facebook’s current sign-in product that allows an app or service’s users to sign in with their Facebook profile, now Account Kit allows phone number and email.
What this means for social marketers: Facebook wants its Live Video to become an integral part of your marketing strategy. Any brand will find it worthwhile to experiment with Live Video, especially now that you have the ability to “go live” from a standalone camera.
Tools like Instant Articles and Quote Sharing continue to make Facebook a content-sharing platform, and they give media publishers, e-commerce brands, and influencers a way to get their message heard.
And, with the Account Kit, if your social marketing goals are demand generation-focused, you can get more bang from your lead buck.
The gist here? Facebook Messenger is here to stay in a major way, and new features will make it an integral part of customer service and marketing organizations; and, new tools like Live Video and Instant Articles should definitely become a part of your social marketing strategy on the Facebook platform, even if just for the joy of experimentation. Who knows what you’ll find?
What excites you most about the #F8 announcements? Let us know over at @SimplyMeasured on Twitter.