Bots, bots, and more bots! Facebook’s annual developer conference, F8, kicked off April 18 in San Jose, CA. The highlights? A slew of advancements in artificial intelligence, virtual reality, video, Messenger, and more. Lucky enough, I was able to convince my favorite boss in the world to let me attend!
While in San Jose, I geeked out, ate awesome food, met a few new, cool people, danced to Chance the Rapper, created a Facebook Spaces avatar, recorded a 360 video, danced to Chance the Rapper, and got to see Mark Zuckerberg live, in person.
Below are a few highlights from the conference.
Augmented Reality: Similar to Pokemon GO, you now can leave notes, images, and tips around your house or throughout the office via Facebook’s new AR platform. This feature is not only limited to gaming; you can also create virtual art in the real world. Welcome to the future, friends. As Zuckerberg said, “This is going to be a thing in the future—people standing around looking at blank walls.”
Facebook Workplace: Is imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? Is Facebook now going after Slack? Our team joined Facebook Workplace to check it out. Here is what we’ve found so far.
Quick and easy integrations with G Suite
Easy to navigate due to the familiarities with Facebook
Efficient communication through chat and groups with our team
Facebook Spaces VR: Virtually jump into a family dinner or a possible vacation spot with Oculus Rift. While the WideFoc.us crew is based in Denver, many of our team members have extended family in San Francisco, Seattle, and the oh so sexy, Iowa. Want to attend a birthday party, but have no summer money to travel? No problem. You can now join your family REAL-TIME during special events while sitting in the comfort of your own home. Facebook Spaces also comes in handy when planning a vacation. Explore far-off destinations and virtually plunge into the beaches of Portugal or explore the island of Halong Bay.
Camera Effects Platform: Facebook’s new Frame & AR Studio will be huge this year, through both the Facebook app and Facebook’s stand-alone Messenger app. Similar to Snapchat and Instagram Stories, the two platforms allow you to post stories in real-time about your experiences throughout the day. What’s different here is that you can incorporate an AR component into your posts when sharing the world through your phone.
Developers Circle: This is a new community for Facebook developers. Guess how many are outside of the US: 90%, 80%, or 60%? If you guessed 80%, you’re correct! Unfortunately, not all developers have the same access to current educational tools. This new platform allows for the global community to connect through meetups, workshops, and hacking sessions. Combining resources and knowledge allows global growth. Have you joined yet?
Places Graph: With more than 140 million locations tracked, Facebook’s Places Graph API has become the forefront of local business marketing, and this feature is now free. The program was developed internally on Instagram and Messenger. Facebook’s new API and SDK methods provide access to its rich placement data.
According to the company:
We’re providing free access to over 140 million places around the world, the same data that powers Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. We’ve created Search, Current Place, and Place Information endpoints, so you can find places relevant to your users and provide helpful information about each location. The Places Graph ties query limits to the size of your customer base and is integrated with the Facebook SDK so that it’s easy to get started and scale quickly.
Messenger + Chat Extensions: By far, one of my favorite new Facebook tools, Messenger bots, launched in full force at the conference. Every entrance to every session was marked with a board outside asking the user to check-in via Facebook Messenger’s “parametric code.” This code launched us into a fully functional Facebook Messenger bot conversation that allowed us to interact with the session, ask questions, provided access to beta tools, and they even gave away a bit of free swag. In addition, Facebook Messenger Extension was also introduced, which encourages relationship building, conversation, and other functionality.
Facebook chat extensions allow you to interact with apps such as Open Table, Spotify, Mastercard, Nike, The Food Network, and M, Facebook’s AI assistant, who helps you schedule meetings, set locations, request a ride, send money, and more.
Have you noticed a trend?
Video: The most important aspect of every new feature was a prominent video component. Video was so important at this conference that Facebook gave every person in attendance a FREE 360 camera. The camera allows for an experience that creates 360-degree, spherical videos, which you can livestream to viewers in phone-based VR headsets.
Conferences like this allow WideFoc.us to stay ahead of the game when it comes to social media strategy! We’ve been brainstorming how these new Facebook tools will help our clients break through the noise and drive real results. If you’re not taking advantage of Facebook messenger bots, video, and other beta features, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org today.
-- by Carrie Gottschalk
Carrie Gottschalk is Senior Strategist at WideFoc.us, and excels at creating effective social advertising campaigns for our clients. In her free time, she’s an avid traveler, a Denver foodie, and she dedicates her marketing and PR prowess to the nonprofit Denver Active 20-30 as a board member.