Last week, thousands gathered in Silicon Valley for Facebook’s annual F8 conference. Although the conference is largely for developers, its announcements can help marketers better prepare for upcoming changes to the algorithm, updated features, and app redesigns.

Here are our biggest takeaways from the event:

1. “The Future is Private”

The overarching theme of this year’s conference? Privacy. Which may seem a bit rich considering the company’s past year of privacy scandals. The irony wasn’t lost on CEO Mark Zuckerberg as he chuckled saying, “I know that we don’t exactly have the strongest reputation on privacy right now, to put it lightly.” However, it seems they’re ready to start a new chapter for their services, centered around six principles: private interactions, encryption, reducing permanence, safety, interoperability, and secure data storage.

2. Facebook: Redesign and New Features

In an effort to “make communities as central as friends,” the Facebook app will undergo a complete redesign for both desktop and mobile experiences. Along with a cleaner and more modern look, the app will also place less importance on the News Feed, centering around groups and events instead. An improved groups tab, new tools to better suggest new groups to join, and updates to Health Support Communities and Professional Communities will give users a more personalized feed, putting “your communities at the center.”

Events will also receive a new tab that will feature an improved map view, allowing users to easily see local events and events their friends plan to attend.

Also of note, the previously announced Facebook Dating tool will be expanded to 14 more countries (with US coming later this year). It will include a new feature called “Secret Crush,” which will allow users to privately match with friends who have mutually expressed romantic interest in each other (think Tinder, but with your Facebook friends).

3. Instagram: Shop From Creators, Camera Redesign, and Private Like Counts

Instagram is also rolling out new updates and features designed to improve user experience. Starting soon, users can shop looks from creators without leaving the app. Creators will be able to tag products in their posts, a feature previously only available for select brands. Instagram will begin testing the feature with a small group of creators in the coming weeks but plan to allow Creator Accounts and Business Accounts full access soon.

The Instagram camera is also undergoing a redesign in an effort to be simpler and easier to use. It will include a new “Create Mode” space where users can share interactive stickers (such as quizzes, countdowns, questions, etc.) to Stories without the addition of a photo or video. Instagram will also be adding a donation sticker that will allow users to raise money and awareness for nonprofits on their Stories.

In addition to reducing the focus on follower counts, Instagram will also begin testing private like counts, removing the number of likes shown below each post.

4. Messenger: Improved Connections with Close Friends and Businesses

Messenger is rolling out a refreshed design and new features to make it easier than ever for users to connect with the people they care about most. The app will include a dedicated space where users can share updates, see Stories, and send messages to their close friends and family, including a new feature that will allow users to watch videos together in real time within the app.

Facebook will also be adding lead generation templates to Ads Manager, allowing businesses to better connect with potential customers through Messenger. Businesses can create ads for Facebook that will drive customers to a simple Q&A within Messenger. The process is similar to a bot, where customers can answer automated questions from the business, share more details, and even make an appointment, all without the business having to do anything.

Facebook also announced a new Messenger Desktop app for users who would prefer to connect beyond an internet browser. And finally, a completely re-engineered, lighter and faster Messenger app will roll out later this year, which will take up less storage space and offer quicker launch speeds.

From refreshed designs to new features, both Facebook and Instagram seem to be prioritizing privacy, altering the way many users currently experience the apps. As changes roll out in the coming months, it’s important to consider how your marketing strategies could be improved to better meet consumers in the ever-evolving social space. Not sure where to start? Let us know!

Watch highlights from the Day 1 Keynote here: https://bit.ly/2SFqokR
For more information and announcements from F8 2019: https://bit.ly/3dhvr2S

Written by Michelle Osbourn