Here are the main points every marketer should know about Facebook’s 2018 F8 conference.
Yesterday marked the end of Facebook’s two-day F8 conference in San Jose. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Facebook’s (very public) data privacy issues, there was an increased lens on this F8, Facebook’s 11th. After all, half the world has now seen a stiff and semi-terrified Mark Zuckerberg testifying in front of Congress.
But Facebook took it all in stride, even making a joke about Zuck’s Congressional testimony. In fact, they were remarkably serious, thorough, and open about how they’ll be treating privacy and data going forward. They were clear about establishing boundaries and increasing transparency around the data they collect, so there will be no surprises in the future.
This is a great thing for marketers. Facebook is in a place where they need to win users’ trust back, and increased safety and privacy will help restore that trust. The more users trust Facebook, the more comfortable they’ll feel interacting with brands on Messenger.
Facebook made a lot of announcements at F8, including a new dating vertical where users can seek “long-term relationships” instead of casual hookups, and the launch of their VR headset Oculus Go. They’ll also be enhancing their safety check-in feature and focusing more on Facebook Groups. But what are the key takeaways for the many marketers who use Facebook and Facebook Messenger to engage people and build long-term customer relationship?
We watched F8 in its entirety so you don’t have to. Here’s what you need to know:
(1) Chatbots will be better than ever.
Messenger is still dominating the chatbot market: Facebook announced that businesses and brands now trade 8 billion messages a day with people. That’s up from 2 billion messages a year ago. Facebook will be focusing on growing Messenger with an array of new features. It’ll be enhancing chatbots with immersive augmented reality (AR) filters, automatic language translators, and upgraded artificial intelligence (AI) features that will make it easier for businesses to engage with customers over the long term. Facebook will also be cleaning up Messenger’s design by stripping out the camera and games tab.
(2) AI will help Facebook combat data leaks and fake accounts.
Facebook uses AI to augment all of its products, but AI’s most important role, Facebook explained, is to keep its community safe. Facebook’s Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer spoke about how valuable AI has been in targeting hate speech, bullying, and terrorist content on the platform. Now, Facebook is focused on combatting fake accounts, spammers, and disseminators of fake news, which means marketers can trust that the people they’re speaking to are real humans, not bogus accounts. That will make Facebook even more potent and reliable as a marketing tool.
(3) Instagram and WhatsApp will get a major upgrade.
Instagram is finally getting video chat, as well as a new filter to protect users from bullying and hateful comments. And WhatsApp is adding stickers and group video calling. With 450 million daily users of WhatsApp Status, eclipsing Snapchat Stories (who has a paltry 191 million users), it’s evident that WhatsApp is a hugely promising platform. WhatsApp’s business features, which launched on Android earlier this year, are also thriving. Though Facebook didn’t announce anything regarding chatbots launching on Instagram or WhatsApp, it would seem like the next step for businesses to connect more deeply with people on those platforms, too. Marketers should be monitoring Instagram and WhatsApp to see what comes next.