Back in April this year we shared the latest from Facebook’s annual F8 conference - from chatbots in messenger, sponsored Messenger ads and instant articles available to all publishers, we were excited for things to come. But Facebook doesn’t sit still and whilst many of these updates are still in development, Facebook has unveiled a bunch of smaller updates worth noting for both advertisers and users alike.

Facebook Canvas goes Organic

Back in February 2016, Facebook launched its Canvas ads worldwide allowing advertisers to take over a mobile screen with creative ads that load almost instantly (less than one second load time to be exact). Designed to offer a richer experience, Canvas ads remove the constraints of traditional ad formats providing advertisers with more options to play with to enhance the user experience. From slideshows, videos and images to a scrollable interactive interface, Facebook users are provided with a more interactive advert they may be more engaged with.

Facebook Conference

After launching Canvas paid ads back four months ago, Facebook has revealed it will now allow all page owners to use Canvas ads for their organic page posts in this latest attempt to get people to use the platform. With Instagram and Snapchat users growing every day, Facebook are recognising the need to up their game when it comes to engaging a younger audience and this latest move wasn’t unexpected.

Canvas posts live on Facebook (mobile only) and they load up to ten times fast than a standard mobile web page. Facebook has confirmed that Canvas posts won’t be ranked favourably simply because they are Canvas posts but the algorithm will take into consideration the time spent by users on the post. In the four months since Canvas ads launched, users have spent an average of 31 seconds engaging with them. By offering Canvas posts organically, it gives the impression that Facebook isn’t as concerned with ad spend and more about retaining the largest share of time users spend on the platform. Just this year, average time spent on Facebook per day has increased from 46 minutes to 50 minutes showing users are more engaged and Facebook hopes to increase this further in line with other social networks such as Snapchat and Instagram.

The question is, will people engage with organic Canvas posts? Only time will tell.

Facebook Slideshow

Over the last couple of years, memes, videos and links to articles seem to have dominated our Facebook news feeds and the platform has seen a drop in personal posts being shared. In a bid to encourage greater usage for personal content, Facebook has introduced Slideshow to mirror Apple’s Memories and Google’s Movie Assistant.

 

If you have taken more than five photos or videos in the last 24 hours, Facebook will give you a suggestion to create a slideshow of your memories. When you select images, Facebook will automatically create the slideshow for you which can be personalised with themes, music and transitions.

Facebook has looked at other photo and video based social networks such as Instagram and Snapchat and has watched these networks grow and grow over the last few years. We live in an age where taking photos and sharing with our networks has become the norm and the introduction of Facebook Slideshow will let users stitch together these special moments in a unique way which will engage others.

Slideshow Video

As well as the average user being able to create a slideshow, Facebook has brought it’s slideshow feature into the advertising platform too. More and more people are viewing videos on their mobiles nowadays and it has become one of the best ways to inspire and engage an audience with brands. YouTube alone has more than 1 billion monthly users, ‘how-to’ video searches are 70% year on year and YouTube has the greatest reach of all networks for people between 18-49 indicating the power of video.

Slideshow video ads are lightweight, optimised for a mobile world, use less data and load faster than average video adverts - perfect for retaining the attention of the user. Combining both images and videos, text can be added to portray the brand’s message or you could turn existing videos into slideshows to reach a wider audience. For more information on Slideshow ads, check out Facebook’s guide here.

New 'Like' button & Extensions

Yes, you guessed it, Facebook is on a major engagement drive competing with newer platforms popular with a younger audience such as Snapchat and Instagram. Just last week, following updates to Pinterest’s web-sharing button Facebook has opted to change their sharing logo in a bid to increase engagement.

 

“The Like and Share buttons both use the Facebook "f" logo today. Our hypothesis was that more people would understand the thumbs up icon on the Like button, so we conducted qualitative and quantitative tests to measure them side-by-side. The results revealed an increase in engagement, so we are switching the Like button from the Facebook “f” logo to the thumbs up icon.”

Yue Cai, Software Developer at Facebook

Yes, a relatively minor change, but recent Facebook tests have suggested a 6% increase in engagement since the switch so it seems to be paying off.

After launching Instant Articles, those using them will be able to add comments and like and share buttons to the end of the articles as well as two new extensions ‘Share to Facebook’ and Save to Facebook’.

“Sharing and saving great content are two things that people love to do when browsing the web. Improving this experience for people drives greater engagement and distribution of content for sites and keeps visitors coming back for more.”

Spokesperson at Facebook

So with all these updates it will be interesting to see if they impact engagement with users. What do you think? Let us know.