8 Takeaways for Marketers from Facebook’s f8 Developer Conference

Written by , Head of Digital Strategy for ExactTarget Marketing Cloud for EMEA:

Mark Zuckerberg presented at Facebook’s third f8 Developers Conference in San Franciso earlier this week and he highlighted a few interesting trends. The social network is definitely maturing and getting more serious. Listening to him talk made me feel like this event was a major turning point for Facebook.

“My goal for the culture of Facebook is to build a culture of loving the people we serve, that is as strong if not stronger than hacking at Facebook.” Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook f8 (April 30, 2014).

You can read our latest post for the specifics of the new features that were announced, but this post is my eight takeaways for digital marketers from what I think was a landmark event for Facebook.

1. Facebook Wants To Be The Bridge Between Mobile Operating Systems
Zuckerberg talked a great deal about how Facebook is helping to reduce silos by augmenting its suite of developer tools. Facebook aims to do this by helping mobile apps run cross-platform (eg. Apple’s iOS, Microsoft’s Windows, and Google’s Android). Facebook is looking to be the glue that helps stick them together.

It means that brand marketers will need to rely on Facebook even more, especially for understandingcustomer journeys and gaining that elusive “single view of a customer.”

2. Zuck’s Law Is Still Going Strong
With resemblance to Moore’s Law, Zuckerberg suggested a few years ago that the rate of social sharing would double every two years. While sharing has slowed down over the last 12 months in Facebook’s major geographies, I think the announcements (like the mobile “Like” button) will reignite that social sharing growth.

3. Privacy Matters
As part of Facebook’s maturity, Facebook is allowing anonymous logins through apps connected to Facebook. This highlights a crucial industry trend, especially considering the success of Whisper and Secret. Allowing anonymous login shows that Facebook is listening to its users more carefully, and respecting their desire to be more in control of the amount of information that they share.

4. A New Attitude Needs a New Motto
Facebook’s famous “move fast and break things” mantra has been officially retired. It was originally inspired by Zuckerberg’s admiration of Bill Gates who once joked:

“‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ doesn’t apply anymore. If it ain’t broke, it’s obsolete.”

As Facebook grows up and tries to keep its stakeholders happy, Mark announced their new internal motto: “Move fast with stable infrastructure.” Granted, it is not as sexy, but it is one of those subtle changes that speaks volumes. Many announcements, like their guarantee of a two-year stability for core APIs, all revolved around stability and infrastructure, showing they are serious about building the confidence of the developer community.

5. Every App Should Have Social Compontents
Research earlier this year showed that 86% of time spent on mobile devices is now in apps and not on browsers. Compare that to the Adevenwho suggested not too long ago that 60% of apps on Apple’s App Store have never been downloaded (450,000 of them).

Zuckerberg claims that the most successful apps (the ones that have been downloaded more than once!), all have strong social components within them; think identity and personalised targeting via the social graph, sharing, push notifications, etc. This acts as a good reminder for any mobile developer that the best apps are powered by communities, not large media budgets.

6. Facebook’s Mission Statement
Mark emphasized Facebook’s mission and reminded everyone at the f8 conference that every business enterprise needs to stand for something larger than itself.

Every company needs to find a purpose. Making millions in profits doesn’t inspire anyone. Improving lives and bringing the internet to the most remote areas of the world does.

7. How Facebook Will Beat Google
Zuckerberg stated that between 5% and 10% of posts on Facebook are people asking questions to their friends that Google could never answer.

These are questions that require a social context you can’t find through a search engine algorithm. This reveals part of Facebook’s strategy to shift away from communication and towards building their “knowledge base.” Facebook also looks to be taking on Google in the ad wars, with its newAudience Network launched at f8.

8. Facebook Wants “Integrated, Not Disruptive” Ads
Zuckerberg used f8 as a platform to help marketers and the developer community understand that if they were respectful of users, they would make more money. Internally Facebook’s mobile focus is based upon a build first, then grow, then monetize mentality. Too many brands, marketers, and developers don’t follow this model or try to rush the process, at the expense of a positive user experience.

At the moment, Facebook’s average revenue per user is $5.85 in the U.S. and $2.44 in Europe. Interestingly, it is only $0.70 in the rest of the world. There is a huge opportunity for Facebook to considerably grow revenue and profits, but the takeaway from f8 is that you build a strong community first, and figure out how to monetize it properly later.

Zuck certainly seems to be doing and saying all the right things in my opinion. It’s a tough balancing act (satisfying employees, fans, brands, and shareholders), but I think Bill Gates put it best: “Mark just wants to make sure that Facebook is the next Facebook.”

For my full opinion on f8 and these 8 takeaways, read the original post on the ExactTarget UK Blog.