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Facebook Previews the Next Stages of Digital Connection at its Connect 2021 Conference

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Facebook is taking some big steps into the next generation of digital connection, with a corporate name change signaling its evolving focus on the expanding metaverse concept, which it believes will help people, and Facebook (or ‘Meta’), evolve their interactive processes, in virtually every way.

Which could have a big impact on how we work and play – and today, Facebook has previewed a few of those next level features at its annual Connect AR/VR conference, including new AR tools, advanced VR options and other, longer-term hardware projects that are set to become central to the new Facebook model.

Here’s a look at some of the key announcements.

Horizon Home

Facebook’s first step towards owning the metaverse – even though it’s repeatedly stated that no one company will own the space (we all know Facebook will try anyway) – will be building the essential connective layer that will link people within the digital realm. Horizon Home is Facebook’s key push on this front, with the new platform built into the foundation of the Oculus VR experience.

As explained by Facebook:

“Soon, you’ll be able to invite your friends to join you in Horizon Home, where you can hang out, watch videos, and jump into games and apps together.

As you can see in the video, users will be able to send messages, make video or audio calls, and arrange meet-ups for collaborative experiences within the digital realm. Which will soon extend even further with features like ‘Venues’, which will enable users to ‘enjoy the energy of live events from the comfort of home’, including NBA games and other sports within the space.

This is a key element of Facebook’s evolving metaverse push, and while it may not be the most sexy, nor exciting of its new announcements, without this connective layer, nothing else works.

New Games

Another major announcement is the development of a VR version of the Rockstar Games classic ‘Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas’, providing an even more immersive experience for the millions of GTA fans worldwide.

Grand Theft Auto

This is a key next step for VR, because while VR headset sales have been rising, and more developers are coming on board, thus far, there’s been no major, compelling VR titles that have been able to transform it into a bigger, mainstream consideration. The technology is one thing, and there’s an allure in that for niche gaming fans, but the real push for VR lies in attracting the masses, and getting people talking about their VR experiences on a broader scale.

GTA in VR will almost certainly do that, and while it will take some development – and Facebook had no screenshots or examples to share as yet – this could end up being the thing that massively boosts VR adoption.

For context, GTA games have cumulatively sold over 350 million copies worldwide, with the most recent GTA title selling 150 million in its own right. That’s a huge fan base that will be very keen on this next-level experience.

VR for business

Facebook’s also developing new VR tools to better enable home working, leaning into the WFH shift.

Facebook’s says that it’ll soon begin testing its new ‘Quest for Business’ platform, which will enable users to log in to their Quest VR headsets with a Work Account, and will facilitate collaborative work environments, giving you the sense of being in the same physical space as colleagues while working remote.

And that could actually be even more functional than physical desks and spaces, with the capacity to “carry your work from your monitor to Quest 2 and back again”.

“Today we announced that services like SlackDropboxFacebook and Instagram, and many more will soon work in VR as 2D panel apps in Horizon Home, and you’ll be able to download them from the Quest Store.”

Such integrations will provide more collaborative work options, that could revolutionize remote working processes, and improve productivity and engagement.

AR Development

Facebook also shared details of its upcoming AR development initiatives, including new training programs for aspiring digital creators and advanced spatial understanding in AR, which will facilitate new forms of display and engagement.

On the training front, which will help Facebook build a broader range of AR experiences, the company announced a new ‘Polar’ AR creation app, which will help people with no prior experience in art, design, or programming to build AR experiences.

Polar app screenshots

Facebook’s also launching a new certification process within its Spark AR platform, which will also see the addition of new AR creation courses on Coursera and edX.

Facebook AR certification

And finally, Facebook’s launching a new, $150 million initiative “to train the next generation of creators building immersive educational content”.

Elements like this are key in AR innovation, as they expand the pool of creativity beyond Facebook’s own development teams, which will facilitate a far broader range of AR engagement and interaction options across its apps.

World and People AR

Facebook’s also developing advanced AR capacity, with body tracking to facilitate more immersive AR features, and ‘World AR’ geo-anchored experiences.

Facebook World AR

Snap already has variations of both, with Facebook playing catch up on these tools. But each will form a key part of the company’s evolving AR glasses experience, with digital overlays to be revealed through the frames, providing a range of new utility and entertainment options.

On another front, Facebook’s also working with BMW to develop AR features that could eventually help drivers navigate their surroundings.

The race for AR supremacy will heat up over the coming months, and Facebook will be a key player, and it’ll be interesting to see where it can take its AR glasses, as it advances beyond the initial Ray Ban Stories model.

The Next Level

Facebook’s more advanced AR and VR projects include real-time 3D reconstructions of people, providing realistic depictions of themselves in a digital environment, and its ongoing work on wristbands that can detect nerve impulses and use them as a trigger for digital response.

All of these will play a part in the next stage of digital connection, and while it may still seem like a long way off, these latest advances are coming along, and will be here sooner than you think.

The next level of digital connection will take place in the virtual realm, and as we’ve seen with the rising popularity of NFTs and other digital-only projects, enthusiasm for that next stage is growing. And when you also consider the amount of time young people are now spending in Fortnite, Roblox, and other virtual worlds amid the pandemic, and how that will influence their interactive behaviors, it’s not hard to see the next stage evolving within the current capacity.

That will eventually change everything – and for marketers, that will mean all new opportunities to learn, adapt and develop within your approach.  

Socialmediatoday.com

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Twitter Publishes 2023 Marketing Calendar to Assist with Campaign Planning

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Twitter Publishes 2023 Marketing Calendar to Assist with Campaign Planning

Looking to map out your content calendar for the year ahead?

This will help – Twitter has published its annual events calendar, which highlights all of the key dates and celebrations that you need to keep in mind in your planning.

The interactive calendar provides a solid overview of important dates, which could assist in your strategy. You can also filter the list by region, and by event type.

Twitter marketing calendar 2023

You can also download any specific listing, though the download itself is pretty basic – you don’t get, like, a pretty calendar template that you can stick on your wall or anything.

Twitter marketing calendar 2023

Twitter used to publish downloadable calendars, but switched to an online-only display a couple of years back. Which still includes all the same info, but isn’t as cool looking.

Either way, it may help in your process, as you map out your 2023 approach.

In addition to this, Twitter’s also published an overview of some of the major events that it’ll be looking to highlight in the app throughout the year, along with a pitch to advertisers, amid the more recent chaos at the app.

As per Twitter:

We’re moving more quickly than ever, and we’re still the place people turn to see and talk about what’s happening. A great example is the recent FIFA Men’s World Cup. We saw a whopping 147B impressions of event-related content on the platform, up nearly +30% from 2018. We also generated 7.1B views on World Cup video1, with everything from memes to nail-biter outcomes to history being made.”

There’s also this:

Not only is Twitter alive with content and conversation around big moments, but we are also growing. We saw global mDAU acceleration in Q4 to 253.1M, driven by an average sign-up rate of more than 1 million new daily users across Q42.”

That’s the first official usage stat Twitter has shared since Elon Musk took over at the app, and is a significant jump on the 238 million mDAU that Twitter reported in Q2 last year, its last market update before the sale went through.

It’ll be interesting to see if that usage level holds, as Twitter works through its latest changes and updates.

You can check out Twitter’s 2023 marketing calendar here.



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‘Stop the hate’ online, UN chief pleads on Holocaust Day

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A person visits the Holocaust Memorial, in Berlin, Germany on January 27, 2023, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

A person visits the Holocaust Memorial, in Berlin, Germany on January 27, 2023, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day – Copyright AFP Michal Cizek

The UN secretary-general warned of social media’s role in spreading violent extremism around the globe as he marked Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday, urging policy makers to help stop online hate.

Antonio Guterres said parts of the internet were turning into “toxic waste dumps for hate and vicious lies” that were driving “extremism from the margins to the mainstream.”

“Today, I am issuing an urgent appeal to everyone with influence across the information ecosystem,” Guterres said at a commemoration ceremony at the United Nations. “Stop the hate. Set up guardrails. And enforce them.”

He accused social media platforms and advertisers of profiting off the spread of hateful content.

“By using algorithms that amplify hate to keep users glued to their screens, social media platforms are complicit,” added Guterres. “And so are the advertisers subsidizing this business model.”

Guterres drew parallels with the rise of Nazism in 1930s Germany, when people didn’t pay attention or protest.

“Today, we can hear echoes of those same siren songs to hate. From an economic crisis that is breeding discontent to populist demagogues using the crisis to seduce voters to runaway misinformation, paranoid conspiracy theories and unchecked hate speech.”

He lamented the rise of anti-Semitism, which he said also reflects a rise of all kinds of hate.

“And what is true for anti-Semitism is true for other forms of hate. Racism. Anti-Muslim bigotry. Xenophobia. Homophobia. Misogyny”

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Weird of the Week

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Weird of the Week

What happened when six doctors swallowed Lego heads for science, and the results of Santa’s DNA test. Plus, is Dolly Parton really recording an album with Slipknot?

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