According to Facebook, the interactions on its social media platform as well as all other platforms are increasingly headed in the direction of making greater use of messaging tools. For this reason, Facebook announced some major new features at the recent F8 conference where it periodically previews upcoming updates, additions and enhancements. Given the fact that Facebook considers messaging to be of primary importance, it stands to reason that there would be a number of developments in this specific area. The most important of these updates and announcements from the F8 conference are described below.
New desktop app for Messenger
This new dedicated desktop Messenger app will be downloadable from both Windows and MacOS, and will allow you to conduct group video calls, and to collaborate on various group projects, or simply to perform other tasks while still chatting in your Facebook Messenger. It seems likely that group video calls would have the most relevance and benefit for business applications, since it would provide the ability to live stream directly from a desktop to an audience at a remote location. As many as six other individuals can be included in Messenger group video chat, but as many as 50 can subscribe to the conversation without appearing on screen. It’s likely that this desktop app will be rolled out to the masses later in 2019.
Limit Messenger content to specific groups
This enhancement is a direct result of Facebook’s increasing concern about privacy, and the general shift toward a more limited social media conversation, rather than broadcasting messages which everyone can see. By limiting Messenger interactions to specific groups which include only your close friends, you’ll have much more control over who sees your Stories, posts, and messages, and you can share little snippets from your daily life with only those individuals you want to share with.
This could also give rise to greater usage of Stories, since you’ll know in advance that only those groups of your close friends will have the ability to see your content. It is expected that more of the various Messenger creative options will come into play, and it will likely also encourage your friends to engage with you more openly and with each other, so that stronger connections can be built between friends, and with the Facebook platform itself.
Since 2017, Instagram has been researching this exact same capability, which would limit the audience for Instagram Stories, while also trying to develop a feature which would identify close friends. This enhancement is thought to be close to rollout but has not been launched yet. However, the fact that both Facebook and Instagram have been simultaneously developing this capability should accentuate the fact that there is a growing shift towards conversations which are more enclosed and more private.
As users become more cautious about what they say in public, it becomes more important to have the capability to conduct private conversations among friends. Facebook has already announced that it will launch the Close Friends option later this year, and that will facilitate the more enclosed conversations in Messenger.
Templates for Messenger lead ads
This is an enhancement strictly intended for use by business accounts, and it involves adding lead generation templates to Facebook’s Ads Manager. The intention is to make it easier for businesses to reach out to potential customers by adding those templates into Ads Manager, where they can easily produce ads that will direct customers to a simple Q&A in Messenger where the businesses will be able to find out more information about potential customers.
There’s also a feature which will make it easy to schedule an appointment with businesses such as medical facilities, hairstylists, or other appointment-oriented businesses, right through a simple Messenger conversation. The flow of this action involves taking users directly from the primary Facebook app into a Messenger setup, where they can easily book an appointment of some kind, without the business individual having to become involved.
This may end up being a great way for Facebook to gain additional exposure to businesses with regard to the usage of Messenger bots. Although this feature itself is not powered by bots, it’s basically the same kind of process, albeit on a reduced scale. Any business which gives it a try and likes the results, may be encouraged to investigate other messaging automation processes. At a bare minimum, it will help a business to build its Messenger connection list, so that future promotions and notifications can easily be conveyed to a wider audience.
Messenger group video viewing
Facebook has long been seeking to capitalize on communal video viewing, so that users would have the opportunity to enjoy video content on the platform in tandem with their closest friends. Throughout the viewing, anyone in the group would be able to exchange messages and discuss what they’re viewing, right while it’s happening.
The template which would facilitate this group video viewing is Watch Party, which was rolled out last July and has since hosted more than 12 million sessions for various groups. According to Facebook, these group video sessions have generated eight times more exchanges and comments than ordinary videos have. Taking it a step further, Facebook has also announced that it is rolling out a new option that will allow users to view video content in Facebook, from within an established chat group hosted by Messenger.
Business catalog for WhatsApp
As a further enhancement to Facebook’s ever-increasing arsenal of business tools, the WhatsApp messaging platform will have a new product catalog option that will allow views users to see what’s available from various businesses they’re connected to, without ever having to leave Facebook. In practical terms, when you happen to be chatting with a person from a specific business, you would be able to open the business catalog, right within WhatsApp, so that various products can be showcased and seen by interested individuals. It seems very likely that Facebook will be introducing additional business tools in the same vein in the near future, so the platform can capitalize on increased business account usage, as well as the already burgeoning usage of WhatsApp.