“The Future Is Privacy”
Last week at F8 2019, Mark Zuckerberg kicked off the two-day conference by sharing the company’s march toward a privacy-focused future where people and communities can feel comfortable connecting with others across the social platform’s family of apps and services.
With privacy at the core of its products and operations, Zuckerberg presented six guiding principles that will drive the future of social forward:
- Private interactions
- Reduced permanence
- Secure data storage
With these principles as the basis of the social network’s future, company leaders then introduced major announcements and key product updates to its line of apps and services.
Fidji Simo, Head of the Facebook App, sparked joy when she announced the rollout of FB5, Facebook’s latest design, built on simplicity, speed, and reliability. This fresh new digital makeover places Groups at the center of the platform, making it easier for people to discover and connect with others who share similar interests. As part of the new design, people can now stay up-to-date with the communities they’re involved with by tapping on the Groups tab to access a Newsfeed dedicated to the Groups they are a part of so they can explore the latest posts without jumping from group to group.
Facebook also announced its latest dating feature, “Secret Crush” – an opportunity for people to discover potential relationships by matching with a crush who opted into Facebook Dating. If people are not fully invested in romance, they are welcome to explore “Meet New Friends” and create new friendships and meaningful interactions on the social network.
In addition to enabling discovery of new communities, relationships and friendships, Facebook introduced the new Events tab, making it easier for people to see what’s happening around the area, connect with local businesses and make plans for their next adventure. Businesses can benefit from the new social design by publishing upcoming events for people to meet up, connect and experience together.
At F8 2019, Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, unveiled the new donation sticker available on Instagram Stories. As people share their stories on the mobile-first platform, they can now share the opportunity for their friends, family, and followers to donate towards the cause that matters most to them, with 100 percent of the money raised on Instagram going towards the nonprofit of their choice.
Also new to Stories, Instagram is introducing Create Mode, a new camera design that allows people to share their story without having to take a photo or a video. People can engage with their friends and family through stickers such as polls, questions, donations, countdowns, music, emoji slider, location, hashtag, time, weather or a selfie sticker.
“Do you like what you see on your feed?” As part of Instagram’s test with a small group of creators, people can now shop directly from creators’ posts by tapping the mentioned products. This enables potential customers to purchase the item natively without having to leave the social app. It’s all part of the long-term investment Instagram is making in a simple and secure shopping experience from browse to buy.
Instagram announced its push towards authenticity by no longer displaying the number of likes of a user’s post. This test is designed to encourage followers to focus less on the number of likes and more on the content that’s being shared. This is a part of the direction Instagram is taking to create a less pressurized environment for people to freely and comfortably express themselves.
As mobile users, we scroll through our feeds at a rapid pace. Sandbox’s goal when thinking about social content is to create thumb-stopping user experiences with our ads. There are a few ways we can do this:
- Vertical Content – When an image takes up more of a user’s screen, they are less likely to be distracted by the next post in their feed. This split second can make all the difference in noticing our advertising content.
- Design for Sound Off – The majority of social users are watching video without sound. While having sound as an option is great, it’s important that users are still able to get the message whether their sound is on or off. Note: Stories have a higher rate of sound-on experiences.
- Static + Video – When companies use static and video together, those assets receive a 17 percent higher conversion lift than static alone. For an audience with users who prefer different experiences, this is a great option. A few simple ways to add motion to your static images can be as simple as animating the brand, showing a demo or highlighting key features and benefits of the product. Adding logos and branded content is also a smart idea, especially within the first three seconds of your users are most likely to look at creative first, then copy, then page name (brand) and lastly the CTA.
- Play With Formats – Facebook now allows brands to customize their creatives by placement. Ensuring we can create the best user experience no matter where our ads are seen will be a great improvement to our creative strategy.
Messenger celebrated its share of product updates and releases at F8 2019. Most notably, Asha Sharma, Director of Messenger Consumer Product, announced the platform’s latest project “LightSpeed” – designed for a faster, lighter and reliable Messenger app experience. This project will be a fundamental redesign of the platform’s code base with the goal of launching well under 2 seconds so people can seamlessly connect with their friends and family.
Seamless connectivity also expands across devices. At F8, Sharma announced that the new Messenger Desktop app is now available for both Windows and MacOS. Whichever device. Whatever operating system. This expansion gives people a chance to adopt the platform and connect with others in more ways than just one so they can enjoy their conversations in the comfort of their device.
As the company works toward a digital living room experience, Messenger will be rolling out the ability for people to watch videos together in real time. This means that people can share, comment and react to their favorite cat videos with their friends and family while either messaging or on a video chat in the new Messenger platform.
Last but definitely not the least, businesses can now connect with potential customers through lead generation templates available on Ads Manager. This rollout makes it easier for people to connect with businesses and the ease of booking their appointment within the Messenger app.
Aligned with the overall goal of privacy, Ami Vora, VP Product Management at WhatsApp, emphasized private messaging as the heart of the platform. This is applied throughout the messaging service through end-to-end encryption so people are safe to share their status with their family members and/or complete transactions with local businesses. Vora shared a case study on how a small business in Brazil closed 60% of its sales through WhatsApp. To improve the customer experience on the messaging app, WhatsApp now has business catalogs available for customers to view and purchase their favorite product on the platform.
As Facebook focuses on bringing family and friends closer together, Portal has taken the video chat experience to the next level. With the Smart Camera, the call truly becomes a cinematic experience by automatically framing all people in the room with a 140-degree angle, panning and zooming to wherever the conversation moves. The best part, with end-to-end encryption users can be sure that conversations are secure and private. It even comes with a plastic camera cover for added security for when it’s not in use.
Portal creates the most immersive experience by allowing users to talk and share as if they’re in the same room. For young ones, there are interactive children’s stories that can be read with AR effects to really make the most of getting into character. Portal comes with Alexa, too, so users can listen to the same music or even podcasts with each other from miles away for a virtual party. If friends and family aren’t on Facebook, it’s WhatsApp-compatible too.
Through Stories on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, people can freely enjoy their creative expression through the power of augmented reality (AR). These experiences are made possible through the creation platform, Spark AR Studio. Announced at this year’s F8 conference, Spark AR now supports both Mac and Windows operating systems. The latest update also introduces new features and functionalities for designers to create and collaborate with one another to deliver incredible AR experiences across Facebook’s family of apps, products and services.
VR isn’t exclusively meant for gaming and entertainment. As the company expands its technology across industries, Facebook announced its solution to support large scale enterprises through Oculus for Business. Whether it is used to train surgeons or simulate a production process, Oculus for Business integrates a new way for businesses to operate in the workplace.
Spotlight on Stories: Creative Considerations for Effective Stories Ads
Stories present a unique option to reach users in a more authentic and engaging way. With more than 1 billion stories being created each day, this poses a huge opportunity for brand discovery. According to Facebook, 58% of people become more interested in a brand after seeing them on stories. On top of that, one in two users has visited a site to buy a product they had previously seen in a story.
Creating effective stories should be fun! Since the content is ephemeral, there’s no need to worry about annoying an audience with too much content. This is a great opportunity to show off brands or products with a full-screen, immersive experience. Creative is the key here since 56% of brand sales lifts can be attributed to creative alone. To make stories the most effective they can be, here are a few things to consider:
- Authenticity: This is one of the best outlets for showcasing behind-the-scenes or lower cost production creative. People want to see the real brand behind their stories, something they can relate to. Don’t be afraid to play around!
- Interactivity: Creating stories that use the tools provided, like polls or stickers that require direct interaction cause people to watch stories for longer and to stay engaged. Note: Be sure that your stickers add value instead of clutter, as this can also have the opposite effect.
- Speed: Stories are meant to be fast, so be sure that the key message is simple to understand and can be moved through quickly without losing value. Splitting stories into scenes can be really effective. Try shorter, succinct scenes that create a beginning, middle and end with fast-paced, bite-sized narratives. Don’t forget to draw attention to the call-to-action!
As Facebook moves in a direction that celebrates genuine connections, interests and more intimate experiences, stories are the perfect fit for brands to get on board with. Especially since stories are one of the more mobile-friendly options for social media on nearly every platform, including Facebook’s family of apps: Facebook, Instagram and now WhatsApp via their new status feature.
Other key takeaways from this session reminded us to always stay on brand. Whether that’s through logos, fonts or colors, consistency helps our content become instantly recognizable. Text captions can also help convey our message when used tastefully. When practical, quick cuts and movements can also help draw user attention. We look forward to continuing to use new ways to enhance our creative approach.
Andrew Simbol – Senior Social Media Strategist
Rachel Krumwiede – Senior Community Manager