Facebook F8 2019’s updates: The future is private

Wednesday 1st May 2019

 

The 2019 Facebook F8 developer conference took place on April 30th, and as always, it looks as though it was filled with exciting new features and information about Facebook’s apps. We’ve put together a rundown of the conference as well as the most important bits for the travel industry.

The vision

Nowadays, we tend to communicate through group private messaging, and via Stories, which is why Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook’s Founder and Chief Executive) opened the conference with the promise that “the future is private”. There are now plans to turn Facebook into a product that offers this privacy in a way that it has never done before. During the F8 developer conference, Zuckerberg stated that Facebook “don’t exactly have the strongest reputation on privacy right now, to put it lightly. But I’m committed to doing this well.”

Facebook

A new messaging app

A feature that earned a round of applause from the audience was the new Messenger app called “Lightspeed” – which promises to be the best and fastest messaging service out there. This will include a desktop app that allows both written and video chat in a native app, not just the browser, and will be available on Mac and Windows. As the future is private, reduced permanence and encryptions will be the default for all conversations. This new technology could help to make customer service management on Facebook even easier for hotels as the app will be faster and more intelligent, and available for desktop use.

 

The friends tab

The friend tab, located within Messenger, will allow users to see what friends are privately sharing across all of Facebook’s apps. This means Instagram Stories will be shown, as well as newsfeed updates – and all of this will be private content. Users will also be able to co-watch videos with their friends. Zuckerberg implied that this was just the start of interoperability between Facebook’s services and privacy becoming central to how users can interact with friends.

Communities

During his talk, Zuckerberg was confident in saying that communities will soon become a pivotal part of a user’s experience on Facebook. In fact, he said that the Facebook app and website are being redesigned to make “communities as central as friends”. Zuckerberg showed a sneak preview of the new Facebook website and highlighted how a user’s private groups would be one of the first sections found on the page. There will also be a section which will match you to other groups based on your interests. Zuckerberg also claimed that groups will be monitored for misinformation and harmful content, and will be removed if they feature violence or do not comply with the company’s regulations.

Events tab

This feature is likely to be one of the most important for hotels. The events tab will allow users to search recommendations, discover local businesses, look up local events, join local groups, and make plans with friends. Not only will potential guests be able to find your hotel easier when they are searching the local area, but they will be able to see that other guests have recommended your hotel, spa, and restaurant, and follow events that you are hosting.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp Business and product catalogues

Zuckerberg said he believes “it should be just as easy to send money to someone as it is a photo”, and is testing a payment platform on WhatsApp Business in India, which will be rolled out to other countries this year. WhatsApp Business will also feature product catalogues where small businesses can use the social platform to showcase and sell their products. WhatsApp Business makes interacting with hotel guests easy by providing tools to automate, sort and quickly respond to messages, and could be an interesting new platform for customer service management. For now, this is all we know, but we are sure that more updates will follow.

Instagram

Shopping

The new shopping channel in Explore, that enables users to browse products or things that they are interested in buying, has already launched in the US. Facebook are also continuing to roll out the check-out feature within the app which will allow users to buy directly within Instagram rather than completing their purchase on a third party site. And on top of this, users will be able to buy directly from creators too, which means more people can support those who are making the products they love. The ability to sell multiple hotel and spa products within the Instagram app could be a really exciting development for the future of e-commerce for hotels.

Stories

Facebook are rolling out a multitude of new features for the Stories element of Instagram, including a donations sticker which will enable users to raise money for causes they care about, straight from their Stories. There will also be a new Create Mode to aid the structure of building Stories, including the ability to start Stories with stickers or text rather than an image or video. According to official figures, Instagram Stories is now used by 500 million people daily, making it a very powerful marketing tool. Stories posted by accounts a user follows will appear in the bar at the top of their homepage feed, which means that your Stories are likely to reach followers who may not see your regular posts. We have recently written a blog post all about how your hotel can utilise Instagram Stories which you can read here.

The new updates to Facebook are really exciting, and it’s positive to hear that Zuckerberg and his team are embracing the privacy that users are looking for. And when it comes to communities, shopping, and WhatsApp Business, it looks as though there will be changes made to help hotels thrive on these channels.

If you would like more information on the changes Facebook are making, or would like to discuss how your hotel can make the most of Instagram and Facebook, please drop me a message at josie@journey.travel.