Vanity Metrics #16

What's on your mind?

This issue is pure utility, which was honestly the point of Vanity Metrics some 16 issues ago. The number of announcements coming out of Facebook this week deserved a roundup. Let’s run through the new features and changes and how it might provide value to you: from a small brand where you work all alone with no budget, to being in charge of wrangling a big brand’s social media strategy/budget into something you might be proud to insert in your next deck up the line. While we’re at it, let’s throw in anything else of note that’s squeezed out this week (this week’s been nuts, so I might miss some things). Let’s get to it.

Press folks, happy to chat on these points below, and my take on it, email and we’ll set it up.

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The Big Stuff

Photo: Matthew Henry

Less than an hour after hitting send on Vanity Metrics #15 last Friday, Facebook went and dropped a bunch of product announcements. Some big splashy new features and some interesting tweaks. Here’s a rundown of everything so far.

Note: last draft was at 10 pm on April 30th, and new features are still dripping out, so I’ll try to keep this as up-to-date as possible.

Messenger Rooms & Video Chat Updates

The announcement with the most fanfare was Messenger Rooms. Facebook disclosed that over 700 million accounts now participate in video chats daily (this includes Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp chats, as well as Instagram and Facebook Live broadcasts). They’ve also seen the service gap they missed: Zoom’s large group video chats. So to plug that hole, here comes Messenger Rooms. Product demo video time! (Side note: big thanks to Josh Constantine, good luck in VC land!)

And as you can clearly see, it’s Zoom, but for the entire Facebook ecosystem. Key points:

  • Start a room for (eventually) 50 participants from either Messenger or Facebook, including Groups - from mobile or desktop. Soon you’ll be able to create/join from IG, WhatsApp, or your Portal device.

  • Rooms are sharable once created and you can add them to your Newsfeed, a specific Group, or an Event.

  • You won’t need a Facebook account to join, but you will need an invite. You’ll only need to provide a name.

  • Admin features allow you to lock the room, kick out participants, and block/report users. And other users can’t stalk your profile. Privacy info is here.

  • No ad display in Rooms (for now?), but Facebook Data Collection policies apply.

Rooms haven’t rolled out to Canada yet, so I’ve not been able to test it.

  • Facebook has also expanded it’s “Messenger Kids” app to more countries, and I don’t know how to feel about children under 13 being brought into the Facebook ecosystem, but judge for yourself.

  • Messenger-based video “Virtual Dates” in Facebook’s Dating app is on its way. You do you.

Live Video Updates (there’s a lot)

For influencers and brands, Live is a more apt tool to be using than Rooms. No limits on users, more control over the broadcast, and a video-on-demand after the stream’s end allow for much more usability. I’ve seen many organizations embrace live streams recently for education, cooking, music, and more. And Facebook knows it, so it’s unloaded a few key features recently.

  • Facebook has resurrected “Live With” on Facebook, which allows you to add another participant to your live stream. This is great for interviews, as Pages can invite other users (not other pages) to join.

  • Events can FINALLY be marked as online-only, and will soon have live streams integrated. As live streams cannot be promoted (boosted or otherwise), you’ve always had to find cheap workarounds to help drum up buzz for live streams. No more!

  • A big related point: Pages will soon be able to charge a fee to access live streams. Maybe you’re giving a concert, teaching a course, or hosting a “personal” workout session. Time to monetize that sucka. As Pitchfork points out, “The company has not detailed the Facebook Live payment system or when it will come into effect, so its commission rate remains to be seen”. Keep an eye on this feature.

  • Audio-only versions of live streams will be available for those with bad connections or no Facebook account. Audio streams will be available via URL, and in some cases, a toll-free number. This is a great solution for those in remote communities with limited internet connectivity.

  • The stand-alone Facebook Gaming app is now available to watch live streaming games, launch Facebook games, and participate in tournaments. This could be a great resource for indie game developers looking to introduce a new title to the world.

  • From Vanity 15: IG live streams are now available through the desktop site. Nice and big.

  • You’ll now be able to save IG live streams as IGTV broadcasts. A very handy feature for those that see value in live streams and IG is the better alternative to Facebook. Expect to see the same features (boost/promote) come soon.

  • You’ll soon be able to use your Portal device to start live streams to your personal accounts and Pages. Side note: I think you’re seeing Facebook’s renewed push of Portal devices because they’re a no-brainer to set up and use. There have been lots of complaints that older demos (grandparents) have trouble setting up or using more complex solutions, like Zoom.

  • Finally, the Stars program has been expanded to more Pages and countries. A similar feature to other streaming platforms, you can buy and dole them out to your favorites. Creators earn one cent per star.

I have always been a big proponent of live streams for brands. It was one of the services I focused on when we launched Hub and Spoke in late 2016. The technology has grown a lot in 4 years, but the authentic moments of engagement you can achieve for your brand are still there.

The Small Stuff

  • Similar to Facebook, Tik Tok has also begun to roll out donation stickers. Unlike Facebook, hosts can only direct funds to approved charities through Tiltify, a 3rd party fundraising platform. You can see the current list of charities and instructions on how to add donation stickers here.

  • Tik Tok has also opened up web access, which is a boon for social managers. With web access, you can now upload videos and log in to metrics. Uploading videos is a great way to provide more polished content, but remember that can be a double-edged sword on a platform that’s currently loved for its authenticity, not it’s quality (see Vanity Metrics #11).

Ryan LaFlamme has worked in social media marketing and advertising for longer than the job had a title. He formed the independent social consultancy Hub and Spoke in 2016, and can be found hanging out on Twitter @ryanlaf Now accepting new clients and speaking engagements.