A recent Cornell study describes how Facebook users are increasingly dependent on its utility. In fact, the study asserts that users don’t leave Facebook for lack of utility: they leave for fear of addiction. While the propensity for Facebook to cause addiction is questionable, its utility most certainly is not. The Facebook ecosystem (which includes Instagram and WhatsApp) offer unprecedented social utility, and Facebook is expanding its native services substantially in 2016.
The changes to Facebook in 2016 are new to Facebook, but aren’t new to the social landscape. Facebook appears to be borrowing the best aspects of other popular services and integrating them into Facebook as a central hub.
For communication professionals, this means that the ways that you can communicate on Facebook are expanding and are increasing in complexity. Imagine a platform with all of the functions of Facebook AND Periscope, Yelp, Google, Yammer, Uber, Amazon Marketplace, Evite and Razoo…that is the scope of increased utility that Facebook appears poised for in 2016.
1. Facebook Live Video (for all)
Comparable services: Periscope, Meerkat
One of the most talked about classes of mobile apps are live-streaming apps such as Periscope and Meerkat.
Usage of these apps remains low, which may give Facebook Live Video an opportunity to become the go-to live-streaming app rather quickly. No additional app is needed to use this feature: the Live Video content prompt is located in the normal “Update Status” prompt in the mobile app.
Introduced in August for public figures only (this service is called “Mentions“), Facebook has started asmall roll-out to US users, and just introduced the service to verified business Pages (to learn how to verify a Page on Facebook, click here). Expect the service to expand to more users in 2016 and for brands to begin experimenting with more live video content.
Multiple studies have concluded that video engagement is higher on Facebook than on any other platform(including YouTube and Instagram), so this is something to pay attention to in the coming months.
2. Facebook Professional Services
Comparable services: Yelp, Google reviews (aka Google My Business)
If you haven’t noticed, Facebook actively prompts you to review the places you’ve been. If you check in at or tag a location, odds are Facebook will ask you to elaborate about your experience…and (of course) this is purposeful.
Facebook wants to be a recommendation engine. Mark Zuckerberg alluded to this right before he rolled out the first iteration of Google Search suggesting that a Facebook user could search for a sushi restaurant and get inferred recommendations from their contacts.
Now it seems that the personalized recommendation may be generalized for a more Yelp-like experience.Facebook Professional Services recently did a soft-launch and the resulting product is currently more akin to Google reviews than to the robust reviewing community of Yelp.
That said, the utility is evident and for my search (Indian Restaurants in the Cincinnati area), there were more Facebook reviews than Yelp reviews (Yelp’s stock price decreased upon announcement of this feature).
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