This past week, Facebook held its annual F8 Developers Conference in San Jose, California. While social media is generally seen as a way to interact with friends and family, this year’s F8 focused heavily on helping businesses better engage their audiences through better connectivity. Some emerging tools reminded me of things other platforms are doing (not surprising), while some really caught my attention and piqued my interest.
What does all of this mean for you and your business? Let’s break it down.
Camera Effects Platform
On the surface, this looks like a continuation of their pretty blatant Snapchat rip-off, with frames and stickers that you can add to photos and videos taken with the camera function of the Facebook mobile app. But there’s a little more to unpack here:
- Facebook is allowing anybody to create their own frames to share with Facebook users, either in a targeted location or anywhere at all. This is similar to Snapchat, which also allows all users to create free frames as long as they’re not branded–that is, not using company logos or branding elements. Businesses can do this in Snapchat, but only for small localized areas, and for a fee. At the time of this writing, Facebook frames with logos or branding do not appear to be allowed, but there was also no requirement to keep it localized to a small area. When creating in Facebook, be prepared to wait up to a week for your design to be approved, although mine went through within 24 hours.
- Augmented Reality (AR) effects are now possible with your smartphone camera. This tool is open for beta applications at the moment, as developers start to experiment with this emerging technology. This means your Facebook Live videos can now include location-specific animated frames and interactive objects that react to movement, providing a deeper, more engaging experience. This is still in development, so you won’t see a huge change in Facebook content yet. But it’s a really exciting way to get AR technology in more hands, without using expensive glasses.
Remember when Facebook forced its users to download a separate app in order to use Messenger? I certainly resisted (for a while!), but it’s clear that they’ve had a fairly ambitious long-range plan:
- Messenger is adding an option for users to browse for places and businesses near them. This means that it will become easier for your potential customers to find you, just like they find their friends. Look for a new “Discover” tab in the updated app; it’s in early rollout stages now. To make sure your business is included, go to your Facebook page’s settings and enable the “Discover Visibility” option under Messenger Platform.
- Messenger is taking QR codes to the next level. New parametric QR codes can be scanned right in the Messenger app, rather than using a separate tool. Scanning this code takes the user to a targeted bot within Messenger itself, rather than leading them off-app to a separate website. Businesses can also track a number of different pieces of information, such as where a particular code was scanned and which codes are scanned most frequently.
- Messenger will be using artificial intelligence to help you communicate more quickly. Smart Replies for Pages will help you quickly answer your most frequently-asked questions, such as when you’re open, where you’re located, and how to contact you. This service will first be made available to restaurants, with rollouts for other types of businesses coming in the future. We’ll be sure to update you when that happens!
At this most recent F8 Developer Conference, Facebook indicated that they are continuing to develop services that can help you grow your business. Facebook usage is up to 1.86 billion people per month (and growing!). We believe it’s essential for any business to have a presence there. In fact, the first thing we do for clients who come to us is help get them up and running on Facebook if they’re not already using it. If you’re not on Facebook yet, I would highly encourage you to give it a try. And if you’re already there, keep an eye out for these upcoming tools.