ICYMI – Mark Zuckerberg rolled out the new features of Facebook, Instagram, and other related apps today at F8. Although he started off with the obligatory focus on fake news and security, the greater emphasis was on creating meaningful relationships. Yes, their fight with fake news is important on many levels. Their approach to combatting it, however, is a dissertation I don’t intend to get into here.
Meaningful relationships, as defined by Mr. Zuckerberg, is connecting with people as if you were in the room with them talking to them in person. That is a pretty tall order. Here are a few of the highlights on how Facebook and other apps are rolling out that concept:
- Facebook will focus more on Groups and have its own tab. Groups were noted as the most community-focused and important part to creating meaningful relationships. Whether it is a Group of moms that share trials and tribulations of raising kids, a Group of people sharing what it is like to live with a disease, or a Group of business professionals networking, Facebook believes giving greater options to Groups will create engaged communities. You can now poll members of a group. You can also sell items in your group. Probably the most interesting feature is that the Admin of the Group can add a “join group” to a website or blog to drive people to join your group.
- Facebook is creating a dating section built to bring together potential partners through shared attributes (you choose the attributes). Mr. Zuckerberg noted that in today’s world, one in three marriages starts online. Facebook has millions of people whose status is marked as “single”. And now, you can create a separate dating profile which your friends won’t be able to see unless you allow it. He promises that you will not be matched to someone inside your friend circle. He also promises this is for lasting relationships not hookups (insert eye roll here).
- Instagram will have a completely new design around the Explore options. It will create Explore options that are more customized to the channels and hashtags you follow. Since launching the ability to follow hashtags last December, over 100 million people now follow hashtags. This single feature has the ability to catch people’s eyes in a multitude of ways. Use your hashtags wisely!
- It is clear that some of the features that will be added to Instagram are improved usage of their younger demographics. Instagram will now have live video chat. You can chat one on one with someone or in a group. AR (augmented reality) camera effects will also be added to Instagram. The opportunity to enhance your project or event on Instagram with this new feature is exciting.
- Stories have become an extremely popular feature of Facebook and Instagram with over 450 million people using that feature. Stories will now be added to What’s App as well. Additionally, video chat and large business texting will be added to What’s App.
Will these new features create more meaningful relationships? Maybe? The real win here is for professional communicators and marketers who have the opportunity to reach a broader audience, in new and different ways. It really is up to each and every one of us to make that connection meaningful in our own ways. Facebook is just a tool. We still need a human touch.