Tag Archives: Apps

10 Key Takeaways from F8 2015

Written by: Tom Edwards
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I attended the F8 Facebook Developer Conference 2015 last month, and below is a recap of the 10 key takeaways from the annual developer conference that outline the current and future state of plans of one of the world’s largest tech companies.

F8 2015 Top 10

Current State

The primary theme was that Facebook is a “people first” company. Facebook is now positioning its core offerings as a family of applications that are designed to align with how people are naturally using technology to engage and share.

F8 2015 Current State

It was quickly noticeable that each platform now plays a very specific role in the Facebook ecosystem. WhatsApp will continue to be a modest messaging platform, while Instagram will maintain a focus on simplicity and creative expression. Facebook Messenger is quickly being positioned as the primary mechanism for one-on-one communication, and direct connection to businesses and groups continues to be of great importance for 700 million people who want to collaborate around specific topics.

Meanwhile, the core Facebook experience is focused on further extending its video capabilities while setting the foundation for their future — to support more deeply immersive forms of content, such as virtual reality.

Enhanced Messaging

One of the larger announcements from the conference was the expansion of Messenger as a third-party development platform. This is an important move for Facebook, especially since WhatsApp confirmed during the conference that they will not be providing API’s anytime soon on their product road map.

F8 2015 Enhanced Messaging 1

Third parties can now reach and engage over 600 million active users. With the Messenger Platform it is possible to drive discovery, engagement, and attribution through images, videos, GIFs, and sound clips.

Applications can either be stand-alone apps designed to enhance conversations, or it is possible for a brand application to create a workflow to share content through messenger and deep link into the messenger optimized experience in their native application.

F8 2015 Enhanced Messaging 2

Facebook also announced the beta launch of businesses on Messenger, which is how Facebook envisions brands and consumers engaging directly through enhanced customer service. They hope that this will add value to the consumer through templates that can showcase product details and enhanced order details.

Embedded Video

Facebook users are viewing over 3 billion videos per day, and Facebook took another step toward challenging Google-owned YouTube for market share by launching a new embedded video capability.

The new feature supports view-count synchronization, full-bleed video, and includes social actions in video such as “like” and “share.” Also important to note is that the desktop version is Flash-based and mobile is HTML5.

F8 2015 Embedded Video

In recent Facebook briefings there have been discussions about Q3 introducing sequential storytelling into the fold. This is one area where the current embedded video option is lacking compared to YouTube. YouTube currently has the ability to create annotations, and now has “cards” to create connections between assets.

Importance of Advocacy

With all of the talk about Facebook and their other brands’ lack of organic reach, it was confirmed that for users, the News Feed is still what determines the content that is served. This confirmed that peer-to-peer sharing remains the most viable option for content-centric brands.

Another central theme was tied to the sharing of content and, with that, the importance of creating relevant and engaging content that inspires consumers to share. It is also important to create content that is tailored for the specific audience and to utilize the ideal application from the Facebook family delivery and discovery.

F8 2015 Importance of Advocacy

While most social brand personification strategies have taken a back seat now on Facebook’s primary platform due to the shift toward reach and frequency, leveraging consumer and employee advocates — as well as groups — are still viable means to distribute a message outside of paid advertising.

State of Plug-Ins

Social plug-ins have been a staple of the Facebook ecosystem for years. The Facebook social plug-ins team outlined their intentions to redefine the experience of many of the standard plug-ins in order to create a richer mobile experience.

The first step will be to relaunch Facebook moderation tools to allow greater flexibility and an optimized experience for moderation that includes bulk actions and custom lists — and is being rewritten from scratch.

F8 2015 State of Plug Ins

The team also outlined they are testing a new form of comment mirroring that aggregates comments from external news articles to the Facebook page, and vice versa. This is a significant point to consider, as this will align different audiences and shift the potential engagement that happens on-page.

Instagram

The Instagram team reiterated their focus on being community-first, and maintained that simplicity matters above all else when it comes to their product roadmap and the overall experience of the application.

The team confirmed that the Instagram News feed is 100 percent deterministic, meaning that the content posted from your followers will appear in your feed. Based on this feedback, the idea of potentially adding features such as a “regram” button is not currently part of the plan, as the goal is to keep the experience as uncomplicated as possible.

F8 2015 Instagram

They reiterated that Instagram is not a distribution platform for brands. “Likes,” “follows,” and comments will not necessarily drive additional visibility within the platform due to the deterministic feed and the lack of any type of “regram” functionality. For brands, the ideal approach is to curate against existing behaviors, and create a relationship with passionate fans that showcases their view of the brand as the core asset in order to fuel your branded experiences.

Omnichannel

In recent years, Facebook has increased their focus on shopper and direct response capabilities. They stated that they view omnichannel as the future of commerce, and that they are positioning their cross-channel approach as the ideal for brands.

Facebook highlighted the size of their network, the persistence of logged-in identity, and their cross-platform approach as to why they should be considered as a holistic omnichannel offering.

F8 2015 Omnichannel

A key point of discussion was tied to cross-screen attribution without proxies. With their SDK and conversion pixel, they stated that they have the ability to capture accurate measurement tied to their real users.

Future State

The most intriguing aspect of F8 was the insight into the future of Facebook strategy as outlined by Mike Schroepfer, CTO, Facebook. In his keynote speech, he discussed the three core areas of focus for the near future: Planetary connectivity, natural interfaces, and immersive experiences.

F8 2015 Future State

In the near future, services that scale and planetary connectivity are key areas of focus for Facebook. One of the key initiatives is tied to the Aquila, their unmanned solar drone. The drone is designed to stay aloft for three months at a time, in order to deliver connectivity for remote regions.

Information overload was also an area of discussion for the future of Facebook. The goal is to build contextual systems that deal with information overload. One approach is the use of artificial intelligence built around the concept of convolutional neural nets that essentially create deeper associations between content elements at a faster rate than a simple algorithm.

The last of the three core pillars of the future state of Facebook is tied to the importance of creating and enabling the consumption of immersive content such as virtual reality. One of the crucial direct points was the fact that 3D spherical videos will be supported in the Facebook News Feed. This is setting up for the immersive virtual reality experiences that are to come.

Parse + IOT

Facebook’s Parse was also a primary area of focus. Facebook acquired Parse in 2013. Since then, they have been working to leverage the platform as a service that offers to provide additional rapid development services to mobile app developers, such as user management, push notifications, and analytics at scale.

F8 2015 Parse + IOT

Now with over 400,000 apps built on Parse, the Facebook team is extending Parse to connect Internet of Things experiences. Facebook wants to make it easier for developers to leverage data from connected devices into their applications.

Many other tech heavyweights are investing in IOT data solutions. Apple, Google, and recently IBM have all been vying to unlock the key to leveraging IOT data.

Facebook’s approach is to connect devices and software that share common elements in order to increase the probability of systems working together. This could then lead to Facebook becoming the data aggregator between devices, software, and data used to create unique experiences across devices.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality played a key role throughout F8 2015. Facebook referenced virtual reality as the next evolution of content experiences.

They showcased different applications from their teleportation stations that showcased what was happening in Menlo Park, as well as their more immersive Crescent Bay demos that showed off the full capability of the Oculus Rift.

F8 2015 Virtual Reality

Facebook also spent a portion of their presentation simply showcasing the physiology associated with virtual reality, and why the timing is now right for progression in the field: The cost of technology to create affordable consumer products is feasible, the experience is compelling, and there is broad industry participation as well as a long-term commitment to advancing the technology.

Facebook did a great job of balancing the short term vs. the future state, while ensuring that they are bringing their developer partners along the way. By shifting toward the family of apps strategy — as well as building toward connected devices and immersive experiences — Facebook is in a position to remain relevant well beyond whatever happens with the core Facebook platform.

 

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360 and check out this post on iMedia Connection.

Stats of the Week

Written by: Digitally Approved
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Every week we compile lots of interesting stats here at Fanscape. As we approach the middle of the year, we thought we’d share some stats from the first half of this year.  The University of North Carolina posted a blog citing a Brief History of Social Media and for this year they noted:

  • YouTube tops one billion monthly users with 4 billion views per day, and launched paid channels to provide content creators with a means of earning revenue.
  • Facebook user total climbs to 1.11 billion.
  • Twitter has 500 million registered users, with more than 200 million active.
  • Apple boasts over 50 billion app downloads
  • Yahoo purchase Tumblr blogging-social media network, with 170 million users and 100 million blogs.
  • Flickr has 87 million users and stores 8 billion photos, while Instagram has 100 million users storing 4 billion photos.
  • LinkedIn has 225 million users, while MySpace has 25 million users.
  • Pinterest has 48.7 million users, while WordPress hosts 74 million blogs.
  • Dropbox has more than 100 million users with 1 billion files uploaded daily.
  • Google+ has 343 million users.
  • Reddit has 69.9 million monthly users, with 4.8 billion monthly page views.
  • There are 156 million blogs.
  • An Australian survey found 34 percent of social network users logged on at work, 13 percent at school, and 18 percent in the car, while 44 percent used social networks in bed, 7 percent in the bathroom, and 6 percent in the toilet.

Compiled by: University of North Carolina

Top Travel Tips

Written by: Digitally Approved
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Getting there is half the fun, right? Rarely. If you are like us, you are always searching for the best deal and the best advice when you are planning your vacation. There are a tremendous amount of resources out there to help make this process a little less painful and a little more enjoyable. Social websites, blogs, and applications have proliferated over the past few years and we’ve done our fair share of testing many of them.

If you’re looking for reviews from people who have “been there,” WhereIveBeen is for you. Want to sidestep the Internet cafes and use your mobile phone or laptop, the Wi-Fi Finder is the must have app. Wondering if you chose the best seat on that transatlantic flight? Seatguru.com is for you. In search of exclusive hotel deals, don’t forget to visit the Hotels.com Facebook page. Running through the streets of Rome and need a bathroom, SitOrSquat will be your best friend. Having a little staycation, don’t forget about your daily steals on GroupOn and LivingSocial. Whether you’re headed out on the open road, hopping on a plane or spending a little quality time with the family poolside, let Fanscape help you make the most out of your vacation time with 10 more of our favorite travel apps and resources.

TripIt (Free: Android / Blackberry / iPhone / Online)

TripIt makes order out of the paper trail (virtual or otherwise) that has been created by planning a trip. It is a hub for all of your travel plans to reside – from flights to room reservations to rentals. After you’ve created a free account, simply email your confirmations to plans@tripit.com and TripIt processes the information and creates a master itinerary for you. The service also connects you with local weather, directions and city guides to help you make the most of your vacation or business travel time. This information can also be shared with your friends, family and associates. The “Pro” version offers travel alerts, frequent flyer mile tracking and exclusive travel benefits. And at $49 per year the Pro version could be a life saver for the well-traveled business person.  USA Today’s AutoPilot (iPhone.iTouch only), is a very similar service, but is designed to sync up with TripIt.

Yelp (Free: Blackberry / iPhone / Online)

True, Yelp has been around for a while now, but there’s hardly ever a time where this doesn’t come in handy when trying to figure out where to eat – at home or away. If your taste buds feel adventurous you can always try UrbanSpoon, but Yelp and its more than 11 million user-generated reviews can help you find the perfect restaurant, event or special offer. Businesses can set up accounts, but it is the users who provide the reviews in an unfiltered and unbiased manner – allowing for us to pick places based on real-life experiences.

Around Me (Free: iPhone only)

If you like to go where the day takes you, or even looking for the nearest gas station, try Around Me. It let’s a traveler or even a local quickly find information and businesses based upon your location. For every listing you can see the location on a map or view from where you are.

Travel Channel GO (Free: iPhone only – coming soon to Android and Blackberry)

The Travel Channel’s GPS-enabled travel tool allows you to explore the world and experience a city like a local – discovering the best things to do and see. Discover nearby places that were featured on the Travel Channel and get tips from trusted Travel Channel hosts. You can also share travel hot spots and experiences with your friends as well as fellow travelers.

Trip Journal ($0.99 iPhone / Android)

This is one cool app. Google Earth integration allows for friends and family to follow your routes, locations, full screen photos, video and blog entries. The app is also integrated with Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and Twitter, making this a f-u-n and highly interactive app.

VRBO.com (Online)

VRBO – Vacation Rentals By Owner – is a fantastic site to find some of the best privately owned vacation rentals, homes, condos, cabins, villas and apartments. They have a blog that’s brought to you by the VRBO bear highlighting some of the actual rental properties available. You can search for a rental and even list your own property.

CruiseCritic.com (Online)

If you are a fan of the cruise ship lifestyle, CruiseCritic.com is a must visit site. This site offers editorial content, offers and news. What’s great about this site is its member review section. The member reviews are extensive and honest – providing specific information on cruise lines, particular ships and destinations as well as ratings on different aspects of the experience such as entertainment, excursions, family and children’s options.

TripAdvisor.com

TripAdvisor is like a trusted friend – helping you plan and have the perfect trip. Hotels, flights, restaurants and rentals, the site has’em. Unsure of where you even want to go? They also offer recommendations based upon your preferences. They’ve taken to the social space with a Facebook page and Twitter account than is the perfect complement to its website – offering discussions and relevant travel news for those about to depart.

Jetsetter.com

Get yourself invited! Jetsetter is a private online community geared for the more sophisticated traveler that provides its members with great insider access to special sales to some of the world’s greatest resorts and destinations. If you’re familiar with Jetsetter’s sister site,  discounted high fashion shopping hub, Gilt Groupe, you’ll understand that once you’re invited to be a part, you’ll have access to some great merchandise at fantastic prices.

Gadling

This travel blog is part of the AOL family of blogs and is chock full of travel information and pictures. The great thing about this blog is it isn’t centered around one city or one component of travel, but rather covers just about everything – from deals to healthy road trip snacks. Interested in info on the Opryland Hotel, they have that too (psst, it’s re-opening on November 15th).

As we mentioned at the start, there are an incredible amount of travel resources at our fingertips – all devised to help simplify our lives. The more socially plugged-in we become, the easier it gets for us to make the best travel decisions and purchases. The result is a more carefree and enjoyable experience. Just what a vacation should be.

iPad apps that are worth checking out

Written by: Digitally Approved
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Now that we’ve all had a little time to play around with the iPad and the wide variety of  apps that are now available (crazy fun, right?!?), Fanscape’s Manager of Digital Communications, Ryan Garcia, is sharing some of his favorite apps (so far) with us.

New York Times Editors Choice –Free

A great way to check out the best of the best from the New York Times.

Tweetdeck –Free

This popular Twitter management system is ready and available for the iPad

STREAMING:

ABC Player – Free

Watch some of your favorite ABC shows for free using this app Streams Lost, Grey’s Anatomy, and my personal favorite Modern Family.

Netflix – Free (with unlimited membership)

If you’re a Netflix subscriber this is just one more way to stream television and movies.

GAMES:

Scrabble – $9.99


What makes this unique is its ability to pair with up to four iPhones which have downloaded the free tile rack app and “Flick tiles from your device onto the board”

N.O.V.A. – $6.99

A first person shooter you Halo fans will love.

Special iPad optimized controls:

  • Curve your grenade’s trajectory with the new 2-finger-based throwing move
  • Perform multiple surgical kills at once with multi-target acquisition
  • More intuitive than ever, thanks to numerous multi-touch controls on-screen

More apps are on the way. I’ll keep you posted on the ones I’m all about.

About Ryan Garcia

Ryan Garcia brings his flair for marketing and promotional creation and execution to Fanscape in his position as Manager, Digital Communications. His unique marketing perspective helps him deliver strategic campaign execution that includes digital media relations, social media marketing, blogger and influencer relations as well as digital promotions.

Prior to joining Fanscape Garcia hels posts at Columbia Records, Flux.com and Tagworld.com.

Best of ’09 – Apps

Written by: Digitally Approved
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When it comes to Apps, Gadgets, Sites and Tweeters, 2009 was a pretty good year. Some just got started and some really made their mark in our public conscious. That being said, I’d like to share with you, in four different installments, what we here at Fanscape believe to be some of the best of the best for 2009. I’ll kick things off with the Apps.

Stella Artois Le Bar Guide

This great iPhone app gives Stella fans that are craving a freshly tapped pour a quick and easy way to find the closest locale to get their drink on.   The app has it all, including a simple way to get yourself a Le Taxi after you’ve tipped back a few.

FourSquare

We spoke about this great app/site before and simply can’t get enough of it.

FourSquare Home pageThe best part, it’s not just for iPhone users.

Whopper Sacrifice Facebook App

When Fanscape CEO, Larry Weintraub, wrote in his Smart Marketing blog about Clearing Up The Clutter,  he was talking (in part) about the social networking trend of un-friending and un-following. In 2009 Burger King took it to a rewarding level.  Sadly Faccebook killed this app earlier in the year, but what a great idea – A free Whopper when you un-friend 10 “friends”.

Pandora App

You like music? You Like free personalized streaming radio? Not a whole lot more needs to be said here. Go get yourself the Pandora app already.

Pandora for BB screen shotUrbanSpoon App

If you’re anything like me, when your friend(s) asks you where do you want to eat and all you can come up with is “I don’t care,” then the UrbanSpoon app will quickly become your best friend.

Give it a quick shake and you’ll be discovering restaurants you’ll want to care about.

Next up: Gadgets of ’09