Last month Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg published a blog laying out a more privacy focused pivot for Facebook. Tuesday at the F8 Facebook Developer Conference, the guy who has spent the majority of his life convincing us to share our thoughts publicly with the world, explained how the social media giant is now going to keep that same information under wraps.
We are listening.
“I believe the future is private,” is one of the first things Zuckerberg told the audience. He acknowledged both his and the company’s reputation and worked to set the tone for the rest of the conference.
To mark this supposed next era for the company, he and his team of execs unveiled a barrage of product updates.
Here are some key highlights:
- A re-design for Facebook that places more emphasis on Groups. There’s now a “Groups” tab at the Center of the app moving engagement from public to more private ones (even at the expense of the newsfeed). This re-design is also will supposedly people expand their social circles with a new feature called “Meet New Friends” connecting people with common interests. Android and iOS apps are getting an update right away; desktop expected in a few months.
- Big revamps to messenger including a desktop version, sped up and smaller version for mobile (taking up less phone storage space), a way to watch videos with your friends while on a chat or messaging, and more. All is being tested and expected to roll out later this year.
- Instagram will have updated camera features making it easier for more creativity. It is also adding ways to share content beyond just photos and videos such as quizzes.
- Instagram is exploring hiding likes. This will really impact influencer strategy. If a test in Canada goes well, likes will be entirely hidden permanently. Content will be promoted in different ways and it appears comments will be critical.
- Facebook is expanding its dating service idea to 14 additional countries and making it easier to connect with your crush through a secret matching feature.
- A version of WhatsApp for it’s Portal home speaker (they are coming for you Amazon).
How are we feeling about these changes?
While the products are exciting, we are paying very close attention to how these changes could affect brands. What we do not fully know yet is how putting this firm privacy stance will impact brands who have highly sophisticated targeted ads and we know Facebook has not done much in the way of group advertising at this point.
Casey Newton of the Verge perhaps said it best in his post-event blog where he notes it’s not necessarily the products, it’s the way Zuckerberg talked about them.
The Facebook CEO was sure to not only emphasize privacy and Facebook’s “next chapter.” But also, went on to make a point of saying he believes a private social media platform will be needed by people in their lives.
All is Not Lost for Advertisers
Despite concerns about the rollouts impact on current advertising, there are some initial good signs that Facebook is thinking about new creative ways to connect brands and people.
One of the announced changed to Instagram is the ability to shop directly from creators. Starting in May, you can shop inspiring looks from the creators you love without leaving Instagram. Instead of taking a screenshot or asking for product details in comments or Direct, you can simply tap to see exactly what your favorite creators are wearing and buy it on the spot.
Lead Gen and WhatsApp Growth
Other positive sign for advertisers, messenger is adding lead gen ads and templates within Facebook Ads Manager and WhatsApp is finding ways to expand so that businesses to use it as their main website. “In several countries, more people have a WhatsApp account thank a bank account. What if we could make sending money as simple as sending a message?” Ami Vora, VP of Product Management at WhatsApp said.
Finally, Facebook is growing its augmented reality (AR) efforts. It may not be quite where Snapchat is yet, but anticipate it to come and advertisers to be given play.
While attendees and marketers are still feeling a little unsettled about the lack of details on the company’s plans to encrypt messaging and how these changes will fully impact ads as we know them today, one thing is for sure: Facebook is still collecting information on you and it will be used somehow. They need to continue to monetize their efforts and knowing you, or an audience for a brand, will always be a big piece to that puzzle, we suspect, even in a privacy driven next generation.
For more details visit Facebook’s newsroom