Mark Zuckerberg stood up on Tuesday during his keynote at the F8 conference and painted a vivid picture of how Facebook plans to connect all of us (even the 4 billion currently without internet access) via innovation, virtual reality, messaging, bots and live video. His vision is for us as a global nation to experience the world in a richer way.
For a fuller picture of what’s in store, here are the five things that you need to know about Facebook's 10 year vision that they shared at F8.
In December, with the launch of Messenger for Business, Facebook showed that they are serious about private messaging. Fast forward 4 months, and Messenger now has 900 million monthly active users sending 60 billion messages a day. "Messaging and private communication will unlock platforms for all kinds of connectivity," shared Zuckerberg.
Rather than downloading a new app for each brand that customers want to connect with, the future of customer experience is messaging a business as you would message a friend, and getting quick responses.
Messenger as a platform connects consumers with brands via personalized interactions. Help your customers learn about your brand's product or service, find basic information and make purchases automatically. This is a seamless transition to human agents when they need support.
This led a small number of businesses to trial Messenger for Business with great success. Conversocial, one of Facebook’s Marketing Partners, helps #SocialFirst brands such as Sprint deliver stellar customer service over Messenger. You can read more about Sprint and their Messenger strategy here and how the rise of one-to-one messaging is changing the way Sprint engages with their consumers in real-time.
Pages now have usernames with @ signs similar to those used for tagging friends. This gives each page a unique identity. Other updates include a feature called Messenger Links and Codes, where businesses can share a clickable link or scannable QR-like codes that open a Messenger conversation. Expect to see this rolled out on the Messenger platform to help you reach your customers more easily in the Facebook domain.
One of our own customers was amongst those who gained first mover advantage in Messenger. Great Western Railway were one the first businesses using Messenger as a platform to deliver customer service to their passengers in the UK. You can check out our Messenger case study with Great Western Railway to see how they’ve been using the platform to serve their social passenger with real-time responses to their train enquiries.
2. Bots Bots Bots
The most anticipated announcement from the F8 conference is the rollout of "bots," a new transactional user interface inside Messenger. Via the Messenger Platform’s new Send/Receive API, bots can send more than just text. Our CEO, Joshua March, wrote about the rise of bots in his 2015 blog a New Model for Customer Service (automation on the one side, humans on the other) citing the example of Amazon, and the power of automation and self-service. Amazon invests heavily in their technology to create a seamless ecommerce experience - from tracking packages, canceling, and changing payment methods in a few clicks of a button.
For example, a customer booking a hotel in Messenger can type a keyword such as "Seattle," which would trigger the bot to ask what date and the customer can then type their chosen date in the conversation. The bot can also serve an interactive carousel of hotels available on that date with images and buttons to click for booking. Messenger has now set themselves up to be a new primary UI for basic transactions. It is important to note that the bot does not deliver customer service, and brands still need humans for anything more than clicking buttons and occasional basic text entry into a customer conversations.
Facebook Messenger has already begun to integrate "bots" - programs that let you chat with them via Messenger and respond to you, just like a customer service assistant would. The recent KLM bot sends your KLM flight confirmation, your boarding pass, check-in reminders, and flight status.
It’s essential for brands to remember that it should be easy and seamless for a customer to go from bot to human help when they need to deliver the best social service possible to their consumers through Messenger. The bot shouldn't be pretending to be human, should be clear it's transactional, and should always be fast and simple to get to a human if you have any questions.
3. Facebook Live Video
Bots or no bots, Facebook already showed its big investment in live video last week, debuting features to make it easier for users to find and share clips on their profiles.
It wasn’t long before live video was heralded as the "future of TV," thanks to an exploding watermelon streamed by Buzzfeed last Friday. What does that mean for developers and brands? Simple. It’s now a platform that has potential to compete with YouTube and Periscope. Facebook announced that they have now opened the API to stream video live through your pages.
4. Payments on Facebook
Major ticketing websites are following their users onto Facebook. In a move designed to boost sales, Ticketmaster and Eventbrite will start selling directly on Facebook by the end of April.
Initially, general admission tickets for a limited number of events will be sold on the site, with an eventual plan to expand the listings. Facebook, which is already working with Uber, Lyft and Everlane, is expected to open up to even more brands. With Messenger's ability to deliver transactional receipts from brands to customers, expect more from Facebook with payments in the future.
5. Virtual Reality
Though virtual reality has been an ancillary business for Facebook, the Oculus-owner boasts several VR sessions on the technology at F8. We can expect more partnership announcements, starting with sports and entertainment companies, to emerge following F8, including users creating their own VR content.
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