Just last week, Facebook wrapped its annual F8 conference in San Jose, CA. They billed the event as “a two-day conversation about technology and human connection”— an event, now in its 10th year, which is attended by hordes of developers, creators, marketers, entrepreneurs, and innovators from around the world.
We’ve scoured all of the reports and here are the headlines that matter.
Overarching Themes: Privacy and Positivity
After a year plagued by bad PR, consumer backlash, and controversy over whether Facebook has been intentionally invading its users’ privacy and encouraging social and political division, CEO Mark Zuckerberg, stated that “the future is private.” In his keynote speech, Mr. Zuckerberg announced the new direction his company is taking in recommitting to its mission— which is simply to “help people connect with close family and friends.”
While the Facebook platform itself was at the center of a lot of the headlines, the company announced some significant changes to their other social media networks as well— most notably, Instagram.
So, without further delay, let's dive into all the news that we, as social media marketers, care about most.
Facebook Undergoing a Radical Redesign
One of the biggest announcements made at the conference was the complete and total redesign of Facebook's feed— which will affect both the mobile app and the desktop version of the platform. The new version will be the most drastic change to Facebook's design in five years.
This redesign is the direct result of Facebook’s pivot to focus more on private communities. In his speech, Mr. Zuckerberg underscored the need for intimacy and privacy, shifting from the feeling of a "social media town square" to a "social media living room." This means that the News Feed will play a much less prominent role and may be abandoned altogether.
As a side note, one of the original architects of the News Feed, Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox, left his post in March after Zuckerberg announced his new vision and direction for the company, signaling that the News Feed era is officially over. Based on how much negative media attention the News Feed has caused for Facebook in the last few years, the decision to minimize or eliminate its role entirely might be a good one— but for marketers, it raises the question: what replaces News Feed from an ad product perspective?
Instagram Wants You to Feel Good
In an effort to reduce the potential negative impact of social media on the mental health of the world’s youth and otherwise impressionable users Instagram announced a test to hide your “like count.” It wants its users to feel the freedom to post more “authentic content” and "focus on the videos and photos they share, not how many likes they get," and in doing so, create a safer, more accepting space that helps to curtail the self-esteem issues users might develop when they only see perfectly curated images and videos on the platform.
Although the like count will still affect how Instagram’s algorithm ranks a post in your feed, you will only be able to see who liked the post, but not the number of likes in total. A test is currently taking place in Canada but if they are successful, they are likely to be rolled out worldwide. No word on how they plan to measure success.
While getting rid of the like count may turn out to be great for users and beneficial to Instagram’s public image, it could have some negative side-effects for influencers and marketers. Many Instagram influencers still rely on like count as a metric to motivate paid collaboration with brands. In the commentary to TechCrunch, an Instagram spokesperson said:
“We understand that this is important for many creators, and while this test is in exploratory stages, we are thinking through ways for them to communicate value to their brand partners.”
In the same vein, the platform is also testing some new features to battle bullying, including:
- A “Manage Interactions” feature which allows users to customize the way specific users interact with their profile.
- A new “nudge” feature which warns users if they’re about to make what appears to be an abusive or offensive comment.
- An “Away Mode” which allows users to take a break from the app when needed.
All these features are still in testing. More to come.
Stories Stickers That Save
To keep the good “feels” going, Instagram also introduced the Donation sticker for Stories. The sticker allows users to donate money directly to the non-profits and causes they care about. If you participate, you are able to see how much you've raised by swiping up on the Story, and the full amount of what you see there will go straight to the non-profit organization you choose. We believe this feature is rooted in a deep understanding of Instagram’s Gen Z and Millennial dominated user-base. It shows they know how the future of fundraising and advocacy will evolve. This feature is currently only available in the U.S. but may be rolled out globally in the future.