Facebook’s annual developer conference, dubbed F8, typically provides the company an opportunity to unveil a whole slew of new features for the upcoming year.
In 2015, Facebook premiered the Messenger Platform—the first potential step in eventually converting the communications tool into an eCommerce solution for the millions of small businesses already utilizing the social network for mobile-optimized storefronts.
At Facebook F8 2016, expect there to be a big focus on Instant Articles, which will officially roll-out to all publishers on April 12th. This Google AMP-esque mobile format, which was introduced to select major publishers in 2015, could help countless small publications and blogs reach a new audience on Facebook, especially for those whose sites still are not taking advantage of responsive design (despite Google and Bing warnings last year). For those publishing on WordPress, there is an official Automattic plugin for Facebook Instant Articles, to help ease the transition onto the new platform.
Also expected to be discussed during Facebook F8 2016 is the recent expansion of Facebook Live video, the Periscope competitor which was blown-out last week from just a minor feature limited mainly to celebrities, to a rumored new focal point of both iOS and Android apps. Facebook Live was integrated into Groups & Events last week as well, and Facebook has given the streaming platform its own map-based desktop home so people can find broadcasts occurring around the world.
On Friday, TechCrunch reported that Facebook chatbots could be a big topic of F8 2016 as well. These chatbots would further aid businesses small & large by potentially replacing 800-numbers for customer support-related inquiries—bringing further eCommerce capabilities within the Facebook ecosystem. While little has been discussed of these Facebook chatbots as of yet, I suspect we’ll be hearing more following F8 over the next few days.
Though Facebook F8 is sold old, the dev conference can be streamed online here. The events kick-off with a keynote address at noon CST tomorrow, April 12th.