What F8 Developer’s Conference 2011 Holds for Brands and Users

f8

F8 is Facebook Developer’s Conference where changes and new solutions for the platform are in focus. People constantly speculate on what the next big thing on the platform will be. And this year, speculations on the changes have been in line with the directional motto of “Read. Watch. Listen”. From “Open Graph” last year, to “Socialize the Internet” this year, Facebook has sure come a long way! According to Facebook, we can expect to see a few robust changes to the platform.

After the F8 happens tomorrow, September 22, we all would know for sure what Facebook has in store for us. But so far, some crucial changes have already been implemented making way for more in the Conference. In the following, we will go through what this means for users and brands, both in relation to the changes that have already been implemented and in relation to the “assumed” changes.

What’s in it for users?

Easier and better access to content by Friend’s activity ticker: Facebook has announced that major changes are being done to promote the inflow of content into the platform and make it easier for the users to absorb it and share it further.

Read, Watch, and Listen will be reportedly integrated into Facebook’s current user interface in the form of clickable buttons, with a “Want” button soon to follow, as said by posts on TNW and TechCrunch.

It´s almost certain that Facebook is going to launch a music and media platform, basically where you can watch videos and listen to music (possible partnership with a company like Spotify). Your friends will be able to see what you are watching or listening to, from their home page and from here access the same content. As of this morning, this change has been implemented, see the image below.

News Feed: A change to how the news feed is organized has also been done. “Top stories” from when you last logged in re now featured in the top of the news feed (marked with a little blue triangle in the left corner). New/recent stories are featured below and the user needs to scroll about 1 1/2 page down to see recent news. When going through my own news feed, it became evident that no news from any Facebook pages where featured among the top stories, even though I  “Like” somewhat 100+ pages. If it’s the future that brands can’t get featured in top stories through pages, it will become quite a challenge.

The EdgeRank algorithm is now standing its real test – will users feel that its serving them the right content or will they miss the latest news?

The following is from Facebook´s update about the News Feed.

What is in it for brands?

News Feed changes: As mentioned above – if brands can’t get featured in top stories, there will be a decrease in the value of a wall post made from brand’s – just how many users will scroll down to recent? But remember the design is probably not rolled all out yet, the above picture may not show everything.

Friend’s activity ticker:The real time “see what your friends are up to box” in the right side is very interesting. It seems to provide a prominent place for the interactions your friends have with brand pages, and when browsing through my own, it became clear that it was not only friends but also interactions from some of the pages I follow.

Friend Activity: This tab shows people how their friends are interacting with the brand on Facebook. In a more theoretical sense, it influences users to interact with the brand and alters their thoughts towards it.

Some of the more uncertain features….

Social Sharing: The introduction of these buttons makes it easier for users to follow, organise the content and also look up for, more if they wish. I believe that it has more in it for brands than for users. Now brands would be able to get better insights into user data and the kind of content they are looking at.

Social Gaming: Facebook plans to build on the success of its now-popular social gaming mechanic by incorporating a live-updating sidebar of friends’ content consumption activity. F8 rumours also include more robust planning for mobile platform products for Facebook.

The idea is to make users stick to the platform, get them to spend more time on it and make Facebook a part every activity they do. One of the ways to get the users to stick to the platform could be, as mentioned above, through the launch of a music and media platform. If users find everything they need on Facebook, they would naturally spend a lot of time on Facebook and maybe use it as a dashboard that is open all the time.

What is in it for Facebook?

Three key things! Get the users to stay longer!  A more prominent platform for Facebook Credits! Get data, data, data and more data about the users!

What is on my personal watch list?

Personally, I am always looking forward to F8. It’s always exciting to get a glimpse of where Facebook is heading. I think Facebook is ready to put a real effort towards the one thing that can make it an even more powerful platform (if not yet the most powerful): creating a trust worthy economical system!

When you see a local artist using his Facebook page and ordinary wall posts to create auctions and sell a bunch of pictures, you know he is doing something that Facebook does not allow – but imagine if companies could start seriously selling products on the platform through an economical system that the user trusts! The future and true power for a platform like Facebook, lies in the trust of its users credit card, are Facebook ready? Are the users? I know companies in all sizes all over the world are!

We will be following F8 closely, so follow our blog for more updates. Later today we will go through the recent changes.

Also, here’s an interesting video which sums up all the changes, take a look and let us know your thoughts:

Get Ready for the Bots – on Facebook Messenger

2Facebook Messenger was released 5 years ago and now has over 900 million users. Originally receiving a flood of negativity towards a standalone messaging app, compared to one simple Facebook app, users seem to be warming to it. The decision to make it standalone does make a lot of sense, since messaging is a big part of people’s lives nowadays and Facebook even bought the domain messenger.com to launch a version for web browsers last year. Their 900 million users will more than likely be merged with Whatsapp’s 1 billion users, which means that Facebook will have the personal phone number of every single user – sounds like $19 billion well spent.

 

Open for Business

So that’s humans covered. Where to go next? Facebook is now venturing into their next Messenger-based project: bots. If you haven’t been keeping up, Facebook launched Messenger Platform last month, which holds within it, chatterbots. Luckily, these bots are not machine learning bots, such as the disaster that was Microsoft’s Tay. They do have some humorous replies if provoked but they ultimately steer the conversation back to the subject they’re designed to cater for. Thanks to their highly advanced Send/Receive API, these bots are able to reply with actual structured messages, including links, images, hotel reservations, the weather etc. You may immediately compare this to Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Google Now and Amazon Echo, but what sets bots on Messenger apart is the fact that businesses can develop them, which in turn gives them another way to develop customer service. Simply put, bots could end up changing the world by replacing humans in such job sectors. Without the bespoke customer service integration that Messenger bots provide, the above voice-activated services will most likely not be able to solve business-related queries themselves. Having said that, the way bots behave is very reminiscent of the way Siri does. Maybe they’ll talk to each other one day and we’ll get the best of both.

 

Customer Service and Added Value

So how can these bots work for brands? Well, eventually, every major company in the world will have an account, which will be a first port of call when contacting their company. The reason this is almost definite is due to Facebook’s already-mammoth-sized network of users. It doesn’t get any bigger than Facebook when advertising to individual people, so connecting Messenger bots (as customer sales reps, for example) is extremely attractive. Messenger codes, one of many things taken from Snapchat, will also make it easier for businesses to connect with their customers. One industry example is how bots will almost certainly change how banking works for the consumer, replacing an app or web-based system with a dialogue with a machine that is able to understand your every need. The option to send money within Messenger itself is highly likely too, like Snapchat allows. This could also eliminate the hassle of speaking to a bank’s voice recognition system when calling by telephone – no more time (and money) wasted by the dreaded “I didn’t catch that. Please try again.” These voice recognition systems are essentially bots done badly, but they’re based on voice, which is a lot more difficult to translate into zeros and ones. Plus, you cannot autocorrect your voice (yet). I can see this whole system being replaced by bots – it could even connect you to a human advisor with ease, as you’re most likely already using your phone. Even if you’re using the desktop version or Facebook Chat, I’m sure they’ll figure something out. Besides banks, what other markets will benefit from this? Restaurants, travel and possibly supermarkets with online shopping services are big industries for it to thrive. The healthcare industry could also be a large portion – Healthtap have already created their bot, which isn’t surprising considering one of the first ever chatterbots was called DOCTOR and simulated a psychotherapist. In fact, the potential amount of markets are endless for this stream of interaction – just like it is with human customer service.

 

At the end of the day, customers are moving towards messaging as their preferred choice of customer service. And as generations progress, it will no doubt become the standard – a phone call will most likely be reserved for long, meaningful conversations with friends and family, which in turn will add even more meaning to them. The phone call will no longer be taken for granted, but talking to robots will be.