The powers that be at Facebook recently held their annual developer conference from which we got a glimpse at the future of Facebook and Instagram. Let's take a look at some of the major announcements and how these might impact your social media marketing efforts.
A new design is on its way
It seems a complete redesign of the Facebook desktop and mobile platforms is on its way. We are set to see improvements in user experiences by way of bigger buttons, a top bar with quick access to different Facebook functions and Facebook stories placed above the News Feed. But it's more than just aesthetics, the redesign will be set around your groups and communities will become more important than they already are.
Facebook noted that the new design “puts your communities at the center.” It does this by providing quick access to groups from an ever-present left-hand sidebar and adding a groups quick button to the top of the app. This quick button will take Facebook users to a groups discovery screen where users can see recommended groups, the groups their friends are in, as well as a place where they can manage the groups they’re already a part of.
The new groups functionality shows us that Facebook is moving away from the News Feed and transitioning to a more friends-and-family focused platform. This transition will also see Events moved front a centre in the redesigned Facebook with a dedicated events tab at the top of the desktop experience—clicking into this tab will show you the events your friends are attending as well as public events taking place in your neighborhood.
Social media marketing redesign takeaways
Basically it means you're going to need to adapt your Facebook marketing plans or risk being left in the dust. Organic reach has been trending downards for the past year or so, so now is the time to get that group going that you've been thinking about.
On that note, Facebook released a set of branded groups features last year. These features let brands can create and manage groups under their brand name, keeping employee’s personal profiles out of the picture and linking them to an overarching Facebook page. So for example our group "The Pac" is hosted by our Pacmentality Consulting Facebook page.
At the moment these branded groups are still being treated like standard groups in terms of ranking in News Feed. This means you’ll still get the benefit of expanded reach even if you’re posting self-promoting, page-like content to your group, for now that is. Don't hold your breath on this staying this way for long.
Finally, this move to groups-centric content also shows that no matter how painful it might be, brands and marketers must to embrace Facebook ads. Because without these, your page posts will be seen by few—if any—Facebook users.
Instagram sales will be a thing, maybe
On the Instagram side, Facebook announced that it’s giving influencers and creators the ability to sell products right from their Instagram accounts. From the looks of it, creators will be able to tag products in their posts just like they would another Instagram user. When a tag is tapped, Instagram users can order the tagged product right from the Instagram app—no web browser required.
But there's no word on when this feature will be available as yet Its still in the testing phase with Instagram is starting with a small beta test with well-known influencers. We can also probably assume the feature won't be rolled out to everyone, at least on straight away. So the bigger your followers list, the earlier you might see this feature added to your account.
Social media marketing takeaways from Instagram's new sales feature
Influencers having the ability to sell products through Instagram is massive for influencer marketing. Instead of having to link products in your bio, influencers will instead be able to link directly to their partner’s products right from a photo with a paid placement.
This will make tracking Instagram influencer marketing a heck of a lot easier for brands. Instead of guesstimating, brands can now track exactly how many sales they’ve received through Instagram. This will help marketers prove ROI and make influencers more valuable than ever before.
Probably a good thing with both sides getting something out of this change and the customers getting better transparency too.
Size won't matter
This one stinks a little of trying to prove size doesn't matter, when we all know it really does!
Instagram is testing a change that will see follower counts hidden in a move to create a “less pressurized environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves.”
Testing of this change is currently happening in Canada but, again, there is no hints as to when or if it will be rolled out any further.
Social media marketing takeaways
If it hangs around, this change could see the playing field levelled. The race for the biggest following and Instatribe essentially becomes a non event.
Of course, only time will tell how this plays out. If the test in Canada proves successful, there’s no doubt that we’ll see Instagram roll out hidden like counts worldwide, making the Instagram community feel more inclusive and legitimate.