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Facebook Outlines a Range of New Video Tools, Including Messenger Rooms for Group Video Hangouts

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced a range of new video tools across Facebook’s family of apps, in order to meet demand and evolving use-cases during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Zuckerberg made the announcements via Facebook Live stream, noting that with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic set to carry on for some time, live video is likely how we’re going to see a lot more announcements and events. 

Here’s what’s coming to Facebook’s various video tools.

First off, on video calling – which Zuckerberg says is the most used type of video interaction in its apps around the world. Catering to this, Facebook will soon double the capacity of group video calls on WhatsApp from 4 to 8 participants.

WhatsApp video group calls

That exceeds the on-screen video chat limit in Messenger, which displays up to six participants at a time, but you can add up to 50 people to a Messenger video chat, with the remainder in audio-only mode.

Zuckerberg praised the security measures of video calling on WhatsApp, and said that group video calls have been a highly requested feature among users.

Over on Messenger, Facebook is adding new effects tools to improve or alter your video chat presentation. Facebook’s adding 360 virtual backgrounds to change the look of where you are in video calls.

Facebook Messenger virtual background

While it’s also adding ‘Mood Lighting’ effects, again to alter your video chat presentation.

Facebook Messenger mood lighting

Zuckerberg also discussed the recent expansion of Messenger Kids into more regions, noting that its messaging app for younger audiences now has over 7 million active users, and has seen 3.5x growth during COVID-19.

Facebook’s also looking to assist singles during the COVID-19 lockdowns with a new tool that will enable Facebook Dating users to invite potential matches into video chats.

Facebook Dating video

But the biggest addition announced by Zuckerberg is likely a new Messenger Rooms option that will be hosted in Facebook Messenger, but will be made available across all of Facebook’s apps, providing a new option for people that want to set up virtual, unplanned hangouts to catch up.

Facebook Messenger Rooms

As you can see here, Messenger Rooms looks a lot like Zoom – and that’s likely a key inspiration.

Zuckerberg noted that Rooms taps into the rising popularity of virtual meeting spaces, but will be different to other offerings because people won’t need to schedule their Rooms up front – “like you do with more typical enterprise services”. Instead, you can start a Room at any time, and an active listing of all Rooms that you can join will be displayed at the top of your Facebook News Feed – even above Facebook Stories.

Messenger Rooms

Zuckerberg says that this will be great for ‘neat, serendipitous, spontaneous interaction’ – and definitely, you can see the value here. With your friends and connections able to set up Rooms, and list a topic of discussion, you’ll be able to join whenever you want, and catch up via Messenger video.

Up to 50 people will be able to join a Room at a time, and there will be no time limits on how long a Room can run for. At this stage, however, Rooms will not be available to Facebook Pages, so you won’t be able to create a separate Room meet-up under your Page/company name, you’ll need to do so via a personal account.

Zuckerberg also notes that there will be very specific privacy controls and invite options for Messenger Rooms, while you’ll also be able to schedule your Room meet-ups, if you’d prefer a more structured process. 

You’ll also be able to send Rooms invites across Facebook’s apps – while Zuckerberg also says that even people without a Facebook account will be able to join via URL.

Messenger Rooms

Rooms is now being tested with a selected group of users, with a broader rollout planned “in the coming weeks”.

In addition to this, Zuckerberg also announced that Facebook is bringing its Live guests option back to Facebook Live.

Facebook Live guests

Facebook removed the option to go live with a guest on Facebook last December, which, in retrospect, was unfortunate timing, given the current shift to video tools to connect amid COVID-19. Now Facebook will bring the option back once again – so for all those readers who’ve been asking where it went, it’ll be restored very soon.

Zuckerberg also noted that the Facebook Events team has been redeployed to work on how live video can be utilized for events, and they’re focused on creating new experiences, including the ability to charge fees for viewers to join live video functions on Facebook.

Facebook Live events

Zuckerberg says the capacity to charge video event fees will help artists and SMBs, and businesses that rely on in-person services to support them. More info to come soon.

And lastly, Zuckerberg officially announced that Instagram Live is coming to desktop PCs.

Instagram Live desktop

We reported on this earlier this month after several people noted that they were able to view Instagram Live broadcasts on the web. But now, it’s official – you can view Instagram Live streams via the web by logging in on the desktop site.

In addition to these announcements, Zuckerberg also shared some new video usage stats, and provided an overview of Facebook’s ongoing efforts to assist in the COVID-19 relief efforts.

On video usage, Zuckerberg says that:

  • More than 700 million people are conducting video calls on Facebook’s apps daily. The number of video calls has doubled during COVID-19, and some categories, like group video chat, have gone up 10x or more in the period.
  • Sales of Facebook’s Portal video connection device have grown by more than 10x during COVID-19. Zuckerberg says they’re working hard to make more Portals to meet the demand.
  • Every day, more than 800 million that engage with live video across Facebook’s apps. Zuckerberg notes that, of all its video options, the fewest people are producing live content, but it attracts the most viewers. Worth noting in your approach.

There’s a heap to take in, and we won’t know the full detail of each new addition till they get fully released. But soon, you’ll have a lot more Facebook video options to consider.

Some great opportunities to connect.

Socialmediatoday.com

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Key Notes on Building Your Brand via Your Social Profile Visuals [Infographic]

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Key Notes on Building Your Brand via Your Social Profile Visuals [Infographic]

Looking to give your social profiles a visual refresh for the new year?

This could help – the team from Giraffe Social Media recently put together an overview of the whys and hows of building your brand via your social profile visuals.

There are some good notes here – a key consideration is consistency, which ensures that you’re building your brand with every post and update.

Check out the full infographic below.

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Publicis Performance Marketing Unit Acquires Influencer Platform Perlu 01/30/2023

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Publicis Performance Marketing Unit Acquires Influencer Platform Perlu 01/30/2023

Publicis Groupe-owned performance marketing agency CJ, which specializes in affiliate marketing, has acquired Perlu, a Syracuse, New York-based influencer networking and technology platform.
Perlu’s platform enables companies to activate, network, and collaborate with a community of influencers.   

Perlu will initially retain its name and organization as it is
integrated …



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Reports Show that Facebook Usage is Up, as Meta Continues to Develop its AI Targeting Models

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Reports Show that Facebook Usage is Up, as Meta Continues to Develop its AI Targeting Models

While Facebook is no longer the cool app, especially among younger audiences, it remains a key platform for many users, and its capacity to keep people updated on important updates from friends and family is likely to ensure that many continue to return to the app every day for some time yet.

But more than that, Facebook usage is actually increasing, according to internal insights viewed by The Wall Street Journal, which also include some interesting notes on overall Facebook and Instagram usage trends.

As per WSJ:

Data gathered in the middle of the fourth quarter showed that time spent on [Facebook] was up worldwide, including in developed markets, over the course of a year.”

Which seems unusual, given the subsequent rise of TikTok, and short form video more generally. But actually, Facebook has been able to successfully use the short-form video trend to drive more usage – despite much criticism of the platform’s copycat Reels feature.

Indeed, Reels consumption is up 20%, and has become a key element in Meta’s resurgence.  

How is it finding success? Increased investment in AI, which has driven big improvements in the relevance models that fuel both Reels and its ads, which are also now driving better response.

On Reels, Meta’s systems are getting much better at showing users the Reels content that they’re most likely to be interested in. You’ve likely noticed this yourself – what was initially a mess of random clips inserted into your Facebook feed has now become more focused, and you’re probably finding yourself expanding a Reels clip every now and then, just to see what it’s about.

Reels has actually been too successful:

“Because ads in Reels videos don’t currently sell for as much as those sold against regular posts and stories, Reels’ growing share of content consumption was denting ad revenue. To protect the company’s earnings, the company cut back on promoting Reels, which lowered watch time by 12%.

So again, while Meta has been criticized for stealing TikTok’s format, it’s once again shown, just as it did with Stories, that this is a viable and beneficial pathway to keeping users engaged in its apps.

You might not like it, but replication works in this respect.

But for marketers, it’s likely the development of Meta’s AI targeting tools for ads that’s of most interest.

Over time, many performance advertisers have been increasingly recommending that marketers trust Meta’s AI targeting, with newer offerings like Advantage+ driving strong results, with far less manual targeting effort.

Advantage+ puts almost total trust in Meta’s AI targeting systems. You can choose a couple of targeting options for your campaigns, but for the most part, the process is designed to limit manual impact, in order to let Meta’s systems determine the right audience for your ads.

Which may feel like you’re ceding too much control, but according to Meta, its continued AI investment is now driving better results.

Heavy investment in artificial intelligence tools has enabled the company to improve ad-targeting systems to make better predictions based on less data, according to the interviews and documents […] That, along with shifting to forms of advertising less dependent on harvesting user data from off its platforms, are key to the company’s plans to overcome an Apple privacy change that restricted Meta’s capacity to gather information about what its users do outside its platforms’ walls, the documents show.”

That’s likely worth considering in your process, putting more trust in Meta’s targeting systems to drive better results. At the least, it may be worth experimenting with Meta’s evolving AI for ad targeting. 

It’s not all good news. Meta also notes that while time spent in its apps is on the rise, creation and engagement is declining, with fewer people posting to both Facebook and Instagram than they have in the past.

That’s particularly true among younger audiences, while notably, usage of Instagram Stories is also in decline, down 10% on previous levels.

So while Meta is driving more engagement from Reels, which draws on content from across the app, as opposed to the people and Pages you follow, that’s also led to a decline in user posting.

Is that a bad thing? I mean, logically, engagement is important in keeping people interested in the app, and Meta also relies on those signals to help refine its ad targeting. So it does need users to be sharing their own content too, but if it can get more people spending more time in its apps, that will help it maintain advertiser interest.

In essence, despite all of the reports of Facebook’s demise, it remains a key connective platform, in various ways, while Meta’s improving ad targeting systems are also helping to drive better results, which will keep it as a staple for brands moving forward.

If you were thinking of diversifying your social media marketing spend this year, maybe don’t reduce Facebook investment just yet.

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