Groups, Marketplace, Watch: Meet the Future of Facebook

Facebook may soon start to look very different for users.

At the F8 Conference last week, Mark Zuckerberg presented the biggest redesign of the platform in years.

If you associate words like Newsfeed, Bussiness Pages and Timeline with Facebook, think again. These traditional Facebook features were completely skipped over during the conference.

Instead, the future of Facebook lies in Groups, Marketplace and the Watch.

It's important for marketers to pay attention. Any changes Facebook makes to its interface are bound to affect advertising on the platform.

Here are the main highlights from the F8 Conference and what changes we can expect to see going forward.

White is the new blue

Facebook is getting rid of the blue that has become the signature color for the platform.

The new app design is dominated by a white overtone, with a brighter blue circle reserved for just the Facebook logo.

The predominance of white is intended to give the app a less cluttered feel.

And in case all the white is tough on your eyes, Facebook is introducing dark mode.

Facebook Groups

In addition to toning down the blue, the new Facebook will place groups center stage in the new interface.

As Zuckerberg noted:

"This redesign makes it easy for people to go from public spaces to more private ones, like Groups. There are tens of millions of active groups on Facebook. When people find the right one, it often becomes the most meaningful part of how they use Facebook."

At the moment over 400 million people use groups, but by placing groups in the center of the interface, Facebook's goal is to get all 2.38 billion users of Facebook in groups.

Facebook wants people to join groups that represent their identity and specific interests. These could include groups centered around gaming or mental health.

Here is an example of how Facebook is choosing to market the new groups feature with one centered around dads.

Facebook Marketplace

Another feature that Facebook wants to develop further is Marketplace, a section of Facebook that has remained under the radar since its inception but with huge room for growth.

Marketplace has 800 million monthly users and acts as a more humane version of Craigslist with real people behind the posts.

Facebook's goal is to create a space where anyone can easily sell anything for as little effort as possible.

Got an old couch you no longer need? Put it up on Marketplace and get some extra cash for it within minutes.

To make things even easier, Facebook will allow users to purchase items directly in the app through Venmo.

In this way, Facebook is entering the eCommerce game and aiming to become a viable Shopify competitor.

Facebook Watch

The final feature Facebook is putting center stage on the new interface is Facebook Watch.

Never heard of Facebook Watch? No worries, most people haven't.

Facebook claims that 75 million people use watch to view video content for at least one minute a day, but that represents just 4% of its users.

By putting Watch in the center of the new app redesign, Facebook is doubling down on its commitment to video.

The goal is to have Facebook Watch become a realistic competitor to YouTube and Netflix.

Facebook Dating

Facebook is joining in on the dating game, hoping to launch Facebook Dating in the United States by the end of the year.

At first glance, dating would seem like an uphill battle for Facebook compared to the giants of Tinder or Badoo.

These apps succeed specifically because they keep your love life seperate from your friends and family.

But Facebook is hoping the very fact that your Facebook page is dominated by people you are close to will make it a better dating app.

To this end, they have launched a Secret Crush button, which will let users silently express their affection for a Facebook friend without them knowing about it unless they do the same to you.

If you friend has also 'liked' you, then you will both get notified and can start messaging each other.

TechCrunch quotes Facebook Dating product manager as saying:

"I have 2,000 Facebook friends. I'm not best friends with all 2,000 people, and there's a good chance that one of them could be a really good match with me. I trust them, I appreciate them and I know we're compatible. The only thing missing is knowing if we're both interested in being more than just friends without the fear of rejection if you were to do this in real life."

Facebook Dating could succeed where Tinder fails, by giving users the ability to match with not just strangers, but friends.

Why the FB5 redesign matters for advertisors

Newsfeed, Timeline and Business Pages were barely mentioned during the conference.

This suggests that marketing and building your brand on the platform is going to switch away from these classic features which we usually associate Facebook with.

As Techcruch aptly summarized:

"Maybe given the lack of direct competitors in its league, and the absence of a mass exodus over its constant privacy scandals, it was the outdated product itself that was killing Facebook. The permanent Facebook. The all-you-do-is-scroll Facebook. The bored-of-my-friends Facebook. Users were being neglected rather than pushed away or stolen. By ignoring the past and emphasizing the products it aspires to dominate tomorrow - Groups, Marketplace, Watch - Facebook can start to unchain itself from the toxicity."

Facebook's demographic is not getting any younger, and without diversifying into a younger crowd, it risks going the way of Myspace.

These new features are ways for Facebook to stay relevant.

Facebook Watch is an appeal to creators to upload their content somewhere other than YouTube.

Facebook Groups takes a page from Reddit's playbook. Create close online communities with like-minded people sharing the same interests, hobbies and beliefs.

And Marketplace is Facebook entering the ecommerce game. Amazon, eBay and Shopify look out.

We are so used to Facebook involving staring at a Newsfeed stuffed with random posts from old friends you don't care about anymore.

But this Facebook could soon be a thing of the past. Facebook Groups, Watch and Marketplace is the future for the platform.

All three of these features have massive monetization potential. All three are currently under-utlized. And all three have huge room for growth.

As for Facebook Dating, there are no plans to monetize it yet. But as Tech Crunch writes, that is not the point:

"After years of scandals, Facebook needs to prove it deserves to be your social network. Mindlessly browsing the News Feed has proven to be exhausting and at times detrimental to health. But if the app can introduce you to your future spouse, or even just a summer fling, you might keep a place in your heart for Facebook too."

Facebook is the biggest digital advertising platform after Google. Any change Facebook makes will ripple across the online advertising industry. Marketers should pay close attention. Because the Facebook of today will most certainly not be the Facebook of tomorrow.

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