POV: Facebook F8 Conference 2016

Mindshare Point of View

This week, a mix of marketers, developers and thought leaders descended upon the San Francisco waterfront to hear what’s next and noteworthy from Facebook.  While the announcements ranged from the here and now (Messenger and Live Video) to the future-forward (VR, AR and lasers), central to each announcement were these common Facebook pillars:

  • Consumer-first
  • Utility at every touch-point
  • Deeper experiences to enable more connected world

Details and Implications:

  • Messenger: Messenger was the fastest growing app last year, with over 900MM Monthly Active users worldwide and over 60 billion messages sent daily.  Facebook will invest more in the channel this year to create a hybrid communication/service portal.  While Facebook spent most of last year testing services such as live chat, ride sharing, and order receipts, we anticipate that their opening up the channel to bots will enable deeper in-messenger experiences with implications for travel, ecommerce, and content distribution.
  • Right now, businesses can use Messenger as a community management or customer service channel; however, direct-to-consumer brands should consider how Messenger could compliment their current omni-channel strategies.  Facebook is testing paid ads in Messenger; while it could be a tactic to reach customers in an intimate, mobile-first environment, it will still be paramount for brands to bring utility and a true value exchange to the platform.
  • Video:  A major player in the consumption and sharing of video content, Facebook announced a few video updates to enable users to have deeper and more immersive experiences on the platform: Live and 360-degree video. Facebook will launch a new tab to enable the discovery and cataloging of live video, in addition to new tools to make Live Video more engaging.  For brands, Live Video can enhance tactics such as tentpole events, influencer partnerships, and corporate keynotes.  For deeper storytelling and to foster content creation, Facebook also announced new hardware for the capture of 360-degree video, the Surround 360. These types of videos can be used in scenarios where surround-sound storytelling can deepen brand messaging and for live events with clear implications for the entertainment and travel industries.
  • Deeper Publisher Engagement: Building on the first bullets, F8 underscored Facebook’s partnerships with the publisher community.  From enabling content distribution in Messenger to Live Video, Facebook is providing new avenues for users to interact with their favorite media properties such as Buzzfeed, CNN, and Tastemade.  Instant Articles, another tool in the publisher toolkit, is a seamless way for people to digest, share, and engage with longer form content in the Facebook environment. It also provides ample opportunities for brands, from creating sponsored editorial to running surround media (i.e. banners and video).  These new tactics are excellent ways to borrow equity from relevant publishers and drive contextual relevancy for brands. From live game shows to curated messenger content, expect publishers to bring new Facebook-driven syndication and integration programs to the marketplace.

Summary/ POV

F8 demonstrated Facebook’s commitment to fostering connectivity.  While the implications of the platform’s long-term goals in regards to VR, AI, etc. are unknown for brands, there are tactics we should consider now to drive deeper connections.  While the offerings are new, the big questions remain the same for marketers: how will they use these new channels for scale, utility, and the ever-important value exchange?