Facebook is quickly positioning itself as the top social platform in terms of innovation and even risk. Case and point, this year’s F8 Developer Conference. Now, for those not in “the know,” the F8 Developer Conference is an annual event hosted by Facebook that allows developers and businesses to learn about new products and technologies coming to the platform.
This year presented us with tons of exciting announcements and improvements in current programs including augmented reality, chatbots, Facebook Live, Facebook Analytics and so much more. Today, we are going to take a look at three of the top announcements made over those two days in April.
1. Augmented and Virtual Reality
Augmented reality is when an image is applied to the user’s view of the real world (see also: Pokemon Go), where virtual reality is a completely computer-generated simulation of an environment. While these topics can be quite broad, most of the technologies promised include advancements with their camera tool and a new Spaces VR app.
Speaking of Spaces, when Facebook acquired Oculus back in 2014 many were curious what would come from it. Well, thanks to F8, we now know. During the conference, Zuckerberg announced the new Spaces app will allow users to essentially “hang out” in a virtual environment making it seem as though you are in the same room. How does this benefit marketers? Let’s say you are promoting a hotel; you could essentially let potential guests take an immersive tour of the rooms, amenities and common spaces prior to booking. A clothing retailer could also allow customers to “try on” outfits before making a purchase. While Spaces still needs time to build up a following, the possibilities could be endless.
Augmented reality, on the other hand, has many more immediate possibilities with the advancements of their camera technology. This can take shape in the form of sponsored frames or masks (much like Snapchat). Hopefully, in the future, there will be more opportunities for users to just click on a particular product and get a pop-up that not only has information on the product, but a link to your website to make a sale or conversion. As you can see, these two items have a lot of potential and will definitely keep marketers on their toes in terms of improving content and messaging strategies.
2. Messenger Bots
While chatbots within the Messenger app aren’t anything new, this year’s F8 Conference touched on plenty of advancements within the current tool. The first update to note was the introduction of Chat Extensions which allows multiple users to engage with a business’s bot at the same time. For example, you and your friends could research and book reservations at a restaurant with the OpenTable bot.
Bots are great to help automate a lot of the daily tasks that social media managers may encounter. It also gives marketers the opportunity to include call-to-action buttons, like “Shop Now” or “Make a Reservation”, taking your followers one step closer to conversion. The second advancement is the Discover Tab which makes it easier for users to find other businesses and bots to message based on their interests. This will definitely challenge marketers to think of unique ways to increase their visibility within this new Discover Tab.
Lastly, we have a process called “Smart Replies”, which allows pages to automate most of the customer service practices. This is a great resource for smaller businesses that deal with a lot of frequently asked questions. It gives them the ability to free up more of their time to be more strategic in their messaging and content while not feeling bogged down with the community management side of things.
3. QR Codes
Did you ever think you would see that pop up in discussion again? Neither did we, and yet, here we are. Now, of course, these aren’t quite like the QR codes we’ve seen in the past, but essentially, they do the same thing. You open the Messenger app, scan it with the camera and are taken to that business’s bot to receive more information on the product or event. This is Facebook’s way of increasing a brand’s visibility in the physical world. It’s also a great way to create added value to your customers and tailor messages to a particular group.