The future of Facebook looks bright, and at the recent F8 conference, Zuckerberg painted a picture of what the future of social media and online interactions looks like.
Facebook showcased a number of new products available soon, along with some other concepts which are in the pipeline.
We can expect competitors and other platforms to compete in these spaces, so what exactly does the future of social media look like, and what will that mean for digital marketing?
10 Year Plan
Facebook once again presented the 10 year roadmap ahead for the platform, and it still has a big focus on AI and AR/VR into the future.
Facebook is essentially trying to become more than just a social network, but a way to interact with other people, brands, content, businesses, and machines.
Beyond just interaction, it’s looking to become a multimedia hub where you spend time online, whether that’s with friends, consuming content, playing games, or sharing your own content.
Augmented reality, or AR, is technology that overlays digital images onto the world around us.
Snapchat has already seen a lot of success with AR camera filters, and so Facebook has now come up with the Camera Effects Platform.
Essentially this is a platform for developers to build AR apps to access from the camera within the Facebook app.
This can allow you to build an app like Pokémon Go within Facebook, and giving you access to a built-in audience. And obviously this has a host of benefits for Facebook, too.
If this is a successful concept, Facebook will be competing with Apple and Google for app store dominance, if AR apps are the way to go. Zuckerberg was always disappointed by the fact he never managed to create a successful smartphone OS compared to iOS and Android, and so this is the next best thing.
Zuckerberg has called AR the next major computing platform, and can use it to show such things as menus at restaurants, 3D art from blank walls, and other effects that enhance the world around us.
VR is Still Big
Despite AR looking like a big part of the future of Facebook, it had acquired the VR company Oculus for $2 billion. VR and AR are similar, but do offer different
Facebook Spaces is a VR chatroom where you can hang out with friends in a virtual reality chatroom. Facebook has also stated it will expand this beyond just the Oculus VR device.
The difference with this app is that it ties into your existing friends online, and allows you to hang out without forcing people onto new platforms.
It will also allow those who haven’t invested in VR to join via a normal video call.
Beyond the TV
Zuckerberg has also predicted the death of the television as we know it. Instead, he says the future will involve putting on a pair of glasses that creates a virtual screen for you to watch. In fact, he predicts there’s a lot of physical items we will no longer need and can simply create virtually.
What this would involve is putting on your glasses, and seeing a virtual screen in the living room, which could potentially be bigger than the biggest TV you could have.
All you would need is a $1 app TV and place it virtually on the wall and watch it. Simple, right?
Beyond the Smartphone
If you don’t need a television, who says you need a smartphone or tablet or any other pieces of tech.
HoloLens is Microsoft’s interpretation of this kind of technology, and is already looking to do away with smartphones.
While smartphones are a part of our daily lives now, the next step is still a mystery. But there’s no doubt it will be some form of AR or VR. Whether people will wear computers on their face isn’t quite known, but it’s definitely a possibility if any of these products live up to the hype and people adopt them.
Google Glass may by the wayside, but you can bet that Google will come back with a similar device sooner or later.
If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them
Facebook may be the goliath of social media, but it has plenty of competitors that chip away at them. Fortunately for Facebook, so far no one has come close to challenging their overall social empire, and so they can shamelessly copy any new features or stand-out components of competitors.
One such competitor is Snapchat, that is taking more and more people away from Facebook, especially in younger audiences. Though this is growing.
The AR camera idea is something Snapchat has championed for a while now. Facebook “Stories” from Instagram Stories is a Snapchat feature.
Facebook is also copying a lot off of WeChat, which is a huge messaging app in China.
Facebook’s Messenger has over a billion users, but WeChat has managed to cement itself in the everyday lives of citizens in China. WeChat can pay bills, book tickets, and follow famous WeChat users all under the roof of a chat app. This is what Facebook strives to achieve.
Facebook has experimented with chatbots in order to find further uses for a messaging platform, and surely this will expand in the near future.
New Marketing Platforms
The new Camera Platform opens a new range of ways for businesses to find new customers, and new branding opportunities.
You can restaurant reviews in AR, and one example includes birthday messages created over certain pictures.
Other than adverts, it allows companies to develop ways to use AR and AI in ways we don’t currently use them, which could herald the next wave of apps in a similar way the iPhone app store birthed what we know today.
Facebook for Business
Facebook also wants to take on workplace chat tools such as Slack.
Facebook has made Workplace, and is opening it to more businesses with a new, free pricing tier. Businesses only need to pay for cloud storage and improve admin tools.
Facebook Ad Changes
Facebook’s Audience Network allows advertisers to use the data Facebook has acquired to target banners and custom native ad units across third-party publisher apps.
This gives Facebook a cut of the advertiser payments, and the rest goes to developers in order to monetise ads.
Essentially, this is Facebook’s move to make more money out of the vast amount of data it has stored and use it to advertise elsewhere, rather than to cram it all onto the social network itself.
Overall, it looks like Facebook is here to stay for a long time yet, and looks to herald in the next era of social media, and how we reach customers online.
Facebook is likely to become a name synonymous with many different pieces of software and hardware, whether it’s a VR headset or an AR app marketplace. But time will tell, but what is for certain is that Facebook