Facebook’s Facelift – Major Announcements

James Kouzinas James Kouzinas
Blog | February 25, 2020

“The measure of who we are is how we react to something that doesn’t go our way” – Gregg Popovich.

Businesses, digital marketers and social media users have two options; accept and work with the ever-changing nature of digital platforms or eat the dust of those moving forward. Whilst there has been some significant proposed changes to the nature of Facebook’s applications Post F8 Conference, ex- Facebook founder Chris Hughes has since suggested lobbying to have the social media monopoly broken up.

Socially conscious Zuckerberg is making strides in creating an inclusive platform that aligns with his encrypted ‘digital living room’ analogy. The pivot towards a private social/digital experience was followed with major announcements to each of his networks:

  • A focus for Facebook and its algorithm on promoting and nurturing inclusive communities/groups by making them more central to the Facebook experience. An assumption here might be further reduction in organic reach for business posts and more of a focus needed on advertising options for visibility. I’ll be interested to see what or if the ‘newsfeed’ still exists in the coming years.
  • Facebook’s ‘facelift’, a lighter blue, white colouring with an updated navigational experience.
  • Stronger support for businesses using Facebook with features like appointment bookings, advertising support (automated ads for small businesses), stronger messenger abilities and video editing features.
  • A new announcement for Facebook on building meaningful relationships around dating features. With a commitment to build ‘real long-term relationships’ through an opt in feature that will start to connect the 200 million single Facebook users.
  • Instagram to trial the removal of vanity metrics like follower counts and likes (pilot rolled out in Canada this week). The removal of traditional metrics was justified with a social lens, encouraging users to focus on what really matters. Profiles who build credibility with such metrics are at a disadvantage, most notably influencers who thrive on such metrics when negotiating payment for collaborations. It’s a clever way to address fake accounts and bots. Other noteworthy IG updates include a push for video chat in private messaging, increased augmented reality features, ‘creators’ aka influencers being able to attach shopping tags to their content and a shopping feed as part of the ‘explore tab’. 
  • Creator studio for Facebook/Instagram is a strategic solution to providing more support to creators (‘influencers’). I’m interested to see how features like Creator Studio and Brands Collaboration Manager will affect third-party companies who have built their service around managing the relationship between brands and influencers.
  • Amir Voir spoke to the new Whatsapp features which will look to give businesses tools for stronger conversion with product catalogue functionality.
  • Messenger is being completely re-written to a ‘lite speed’ and with a desktop platform to support its use. Commitment to working towards end to end encryption and ephemeral content. The ability to call and message other users on Instagram and Whatsapp will also be a focus as the company works towards interoperability between platforms. A push for businesses to further utilise messenger to build successful customer acquisition, consideration, and re-engagement experiences.
  • The topic of payments and private commerce was discussed, with the conglomerate wanting the transfer of money to be as easy as sending a photo.
  • All four applications that Zuckerberg owns will work towards addressing the following six key areas:
  1. Private interactions (simple intimate spaces which focus primarily on privacy).
  2. Encryption (private communication can be secure, preventing anyone including FB from seeing it).
  3. The reduction in permanence of content (content removed after time period).
  4. Safety (users kept safe within services).
  5. Interoperability between any of the four networks (use any of the 4 apps to reach friends across different networks).
  6. Security of data storage (sensitive data only stored in safe locations/countries).

“The future is private”- Mark Zuckerberg 2019

Its going to take some time for these changes to become visible. The Whatsapp platform was hacked this week, exposing private user data. Although as a personal and professional user of said platforms it is re-assuring to see steps in the right direction being taken.

Gary V for years has alluded to the pitfalls of having all your eggs in one basket when it comes to choosing social media platforms. The concept of ‘getting one right’ makes sense until that one platform changes how you can interact with your user-base. With the current changes to Facebooks products we are reminded of the benefits of diversifcation.

Chris Hughes’s recent letter to the New York Times talks to the current dominance of Facebook as an entity. Chris labelled Facebook as a monopoly that not only prevents competition but limits innovation and economic growth. In his letter he references the 60% ownership Zuckerberg has in his company, Facebooks board is more of an advisory committee than an overseer. Zuckerbergs appearances in court over the last two years welcomed the integration of government and regulatory bodies, he has started to realise the level of influence he has is building beyond his personal means. Since then the ‘Christchurch Call’ led by Jacinda Ardern has prompted leaders both political and tech to gather and discuss the role they must play in promoting a safer online environment.

It’s still astounding to think that while Facebook dealt with Cambridge Analytica data case last year their earnings per share increased by 40 percent compared with the year before. Last month, the day after the company predicted an earnings call suggesting that it would need to pay up to $5 billion as a penalty for its negligence, their shares surged 7 percent, adding $30 billion to its value, six times the size of the fine.

There was no mention of Facebook’s elusive cryptocurrency at the conference although the past week has revealed the worst kept secret with the BBC news sharing Zuckerberg’s meeting with the Governor of the Bank of England to luanch Facebooks cryptocurrency stablecoin ‘Globalcoin’. I look forward to providing some commentary on this topic in my next article.

Top articles covering the conference and recent changes:

Rebecca Jones

Director of Platform

Nebula Ventures

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