Facebook recently held its F8 developer’s conference, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg announcing on stage a look into what Facebook has in store for the future of social media.
Not only do these directly impact how we will interact on Facebook in the future, but many of these new products and features will drastically change how we interact online in general. Facebook has become ingrained into daily life – whether it’s for business, interacting with friends, or keeping up with the latest news or content.
So how will we be using Facebook and social platforms in the near future, and beyond?
Facebook has been pushing its “Messenger” app heavily of late – which is the part of Facebook dedicated to sending private messages. With Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp, it shows that instant messaging is key to the future of Facebook.
Facebook’s Messenger app, released as a standalone app aside from Facebook itself, now boasts over 900 million users – of which send 60 billion messages a day.
Facebook is looking to utilise these numbers, and provide improved online interactions through Messenger, by introducing a range of bots.
Messenger Bots will allow Messenger users to message AI, and get usable results. Examples given include “Poncho the Weather Cat” – allowing users to message the bot, and get an insight into their daily forecast. Other examples include messaging through an order for flowers, instead of calling a company.
This shows Facebook’s intent to improve business interactions in the future, allowing for automated customer support for businesses across the globe. This could include ecommerce guidance, troubleshooting, or more general customer support.
Bots will also allow for specific interactive experiences, and the sharing of content. Essentially, Messenger bots have the potential to replace traditional call centres. Mark Zuckerberg is keen to promote the concept that the public could “message a business like you would a friend”. Moving businesses towards a more personal, human sense of interaction with customers is a key to this online future.
Facebook also announced a new bot engine – with an API which allows developers to create bots for Messenger to search and exchange, allowing for more complex, specialised bots.
With the rise of mobile devices, improved internet speeds, and pretty astounding cameras that now reside in every pocket, video has become a very important format for content, and as online entertainment. So much so, Facebook stated that 70% of mobile traffic will be video by 2021.
Facebook knows this, and has made video content much more prevalent within timelines, and will continue this trend.
Alongside this, live video is quickly becoming the next big thing online. YouTube live streams, Twitch, uStream, and many other websites prove how popular live video content is. Periscope and Meerkat quickly become the “de facto” apps for the more social live video streams, with the apps quickly becoming popular. Whilst the Twitter-owned Periscope largely ousted Meerkat after a while, Meerkat certainly helped grow the concept.
Facebook wasn’t far behind with Facebook Live – allowing users to watch and engage with live videos on the platform. Now, Facebook is showing how much potential it sees in the concept, by opening up Facebook Live to developers.
This shows a clear need to compete with Periscope, and stay ahead of the game. By opening up the Live API to developers, it will allow for new and wonderful ways to share live stream content. Developers will be able to build Facebook Live into specific devices or apps.
The first example was the new DJI drones – allowing for live streaming from the skies. Other than this, Facebook has also developed the Mevo camera – the first camera for Facebook Live.
More ways to Advertise
Facebook is also keen to leverage its user base with improved advertising methods. The potential includes sponsored message ads through the Facebook Messenger platform.
The potential for this includes re-engagement messages through Messenger – allowing businesses to advertise to customers through direct messages, as long as customers had already voluntarily started a conversation.
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)
Mark Zuckerberg has deemed virtual reality as a new social platform – aside from the other potential for entertainment, exploration, and other visual experiences.
The future involves VR as a normal pair of glasses, instead of the rather cumbersome headsets that exist currently.
Facebook acquired Oculus, which make the Rift VR headset, in order to further explore the potential for getting social in virtual reality.
In the same vein, Facebook announced a new surround 360 camera with 17 camera lenses – which will enable video content to be shot in a format for VR headsets. This means when viewing videos in VR, you can spin your head 360 degrees, and see what is going on.
The Near Future
Alongside these long-term plans, Facebook also announced a number of new features which are available soon:
Save to Facebook
A new feature for the platform is named “Save to Facebook” – allowing you to save things you find on the web for later reading.
Essentially, you can now take Facebook anywhere across the web, and choose content you wish to read later.
This content can be saved and then viewed across any device you may have – so if you spot a compelling piece of content on a desktop at work, you can “save” it for later, whether for the commute, or once you’re home. This is similar to products such as Pocket, or Google’s own “Save to Google” functionality.
Many Facebook users share inspirational or amusing quotes on Facebook. So naturally, it’s been implemented to be made easier.
Quote sharing gives users the ability to share quotes directly onto Facebook from wherever they are found.
This has initially been launched in partnership with Amazon – allowing you to share quotes directly from Kindle onto Facebook simply by highlighting and tapping share on Facebook. Easier than the old fashioned copy and paste method. It’s then displayed in a suitable block quote format as a status update.
Instant articles open to all
Facebook’s Instant Articles was previously only open to a few publishers, but has now opened to all publishers. Before only open to a few publishers – now all publishers can use it
Instant Articles allows for fast-loading, distraction-free content shown directly on Facebook. This is an alternative to linking to content on separate websites.
Zuckerberg’s keynote at the F8 conference certainly showed a new vision for Facebook – a company dedicated to connecting the globe in as many ways as possible.
By showcasing real products and tools for a social future, it shows Facebook is here to stay, but perhaps not as we currently know it. Whilst many social networks may fall out of favour, or fail to innovate, Facebook is looking to the future. And what a social future that will be.