F8 2018 – What It Could Mean For Events

Facebook’s Developer Conference Announcements

IMAGE: SCREENSHOT / FACEBOOK.COM

Each year, Facebook hosts “F8” which showcases their latest technologies, platform updates, and provides a window into where they are focusing on next. Facebook has impacted the event industry at every level for years as it is the largest social media platform in addition to its complementary mission of bringing the world together. While much of 2018 has seen Facebook mired in scandals related to user data and privacy concerns, this was Facebook’s first big public push past those issues.

There were many updates listed across the Facebook family of applications, but I’d like to focus on a few that have the potential to impact the live events industry the most.

1. Facebook Dating

IMAGE: SCREENSHOT / FACEBOOK.COM

Facebook has joined the likes of Tinder in an effort to help create long term relationships through a separate section of Facebook that users can opt into. Mark Zuckerberg emphasized that this new feature will put privacy first and allow users to create separate sub-profiles that list only first names while only including the information they wish to share with others who opt-in. It’s likely that Facebook’s deep data well and powerful algorithm filters will give it a big advantage in matchmaking.

How could this affect events?

Since there are 200 million Facebook users who have marked themselves as “single”, this is a big and obvious place to start matching people together who would not have met otherwise. This technology could easily be adapted to suit all manner of networking needs including industry-specific b2b connecting or even as a means to pair influencers with brands. Facebook has always been a place for friends and family to stay connected. As they move into advocacy of introductions, look for the potential for niche lucrative pairings to herald a new way to adopt this concept (think VCs and start-ups). If they can find you a husband, surely they can find you a client or mentor, right?

2. Messenger Update

IMAGE: SCREENSHOT / FACEBOOK.COM

In a fast bid to slow the momentum that Snapchat had been gaining, Facebook added functionality similar to that app across their entire family of products to different levels of cohesive success. In the process, Facebook Messenger became a bit awkward and felt more like a social media app than a messaging platform. This new update will simplify its look and feel while focusing on fast interactions by making the bells and whistles less prominent. Maybe the high adoption rate of Messenger Lite told them this is what consumers wanted or perhaps they feel the battle against Snapchat isn’t as much a priority these days.

Two new features show promise for brands as well. Facebook is beginning to roll out translation through Messenger which is especially exciting for brands with globally diverse audiences. Messenger is also adopting sponsored augmented reality effects through the app as well. One of the first partners to take advantage of this will be Sephora which will allow users to try on makeup virtually through the app.

How could this affect events?

With over 30,000 messenger bots utilizing this app, customer service (including event way-finding) has found a home here. Even without bots (especially now since Facebook has temporarily shut down new apps from utilizing the API) events can get a tremendous value from Messenger as an instant portal between attendees and the production team. The addition of instant translation will make this communication portal even more appealing in an increasingly global marketplace. Simplifying the design means a higher adoption opportunity across a broader age spectrum as well. Since Facebook has a more diverse cross-section of users, a more inclusive design should facilitate a higher likelihood for usage in an event setting. Lastly, AR built into the app could the provided branded fun that Snapchat users enjoy to those who would never download that app, which would intern create more FOMO moments being shared.

3. $200 Oculus Go

Facebook has made it’s Oculus VR headset cheaper while creating new software aimed at bringing VR into the mainstream. In addition to hardware, Facebook has further developed  previously mentioned software like Oculus Rooms for virtual meet-ups, Oculus TV, and Oculus Venues for live events. Facebook is also expanding its augmented reality offerings like 3D photos (coming to the Facebook app very soon).

How could this affect events?

It’s almost a cliche to bring up AR and VR when attempting to understand the future of live events. What’s got in the way of that future being realized is a hardware frontrunner and an approachable price point. As Facebook tries to address these two big problems, it is also doing its part to develop software everyone will want to use. Right out of the gate, they are focusing on meetings and live events. Sales and planning events will be the most obvious early adapters to VR in our industry as I’ve seen with AllSeated’s VR.

Oculus Venues could be revolutionary for the live event industry beyond even what live streaming has accomplished. The app is focused on sporting events, comedy shows and concerts shot in VR but where it goes from there will depend on consumers as well as early adopters. Content will initially be supplied by partners like NextVR which has relationships with some of the largest sports organizations such as the NBA, NFL, and WWE. Designing events for both live attendees and virtual ones with add another dimension of creativity, technology, and opportunity for those who adopt VR for their goals.

Facebook Matters

Facebook is more than a platform to get the word out about your event. It is a connection tool that has positioned itself like another Word Wide Web on top of the more open version. When Facebook disrupts, the effects are always large. Keeping up with where they are and where they are going should always be on your radar…especially if you sharing their mission of bringing people together.

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