Facebook has always something new in the works. Sometimes it is great, sometimes it causes outrage (like when they redesign the interface) You’ll want to keep updated with the new releases so you can get ahead of your competitors.
On this page, we are going to post updates, regularly. We’ll bring you the most important Facebook updates of each month. Bookmark this page so you can check it often.
Table of Contents
- December 2020 Updates and What’s Next for 2021
- November 2020 Updates
- October 2020 Updates
- September 2020 Updates
- August 2020 Updates
- July 2020 Updates
December Updates & What to Expect for 2021
2020 is finally coming to an end. A year full of challenges that pushed digital transformation on the speed track. Facebook and Instagram improved and updated, by bringing more features and innovations. Let’s see what updates they brought in December. And as we are summarizing this year, let’s see what can we expect for 2021.
1. Make your own music with Collab
After launching the invite-only beta in May, Facebook opened the music-making app Collab to U.S users. Now you can join your friends and create short music videos combining up to three separate clips. Let’s get the band together again!. I will do the guitar!
The videos are posted to the public feed, so other users can view and build their own collaborative music from your own. The in-app tool syncs everything to prevent lags or timing problem. That means you can create music even with strangers. For now, it is free to download and is only available on iOS.
Even better, you can add music from your keyboard, guitars and electric drum kits into recordings —time to get the family for a jam session, hubby in the drums, one kid in the keyboard, the other in the electric guitar and I in the acoustic, all set!— The goal is for soon to integrate the app with Instagram so the videos can be exported to Instagram Stories.
So it’s a one, two,
one, two, three, four, go! Enjoy it!
2. More for Businesses – New CRM tool
Facebook acquired CRM tool Kustomer, with the goal to help businesses communicate with and manage customers. The app uses AI to streamline customer management processes, reducing costs and improving customer experience.
You can see multiple conversations from several channels in a centralized dashboard. This enables you to detect and automate responses to frequently asked questions. This is another step on Facebook’s focus on business and retail, after the integration of Shops and other updates (that I hope you’ve been following, if not, scroll down).
3. Privacy and Personalized Advertising
Facebook posted in their news a summary of their approach on personalized advertising and privacy protection. Their approach, they say is
Our approach is to be clear about how our apps work and give you control over your experience, so we’ve worked with policymakers, regulators, academics, civil society, businesses and other stakeholders over the years to build tools that show you how your information is used and let you manage it.FAcebook news
Personalized advertising is one of the signature features of Facebook. It helps users discover new products and brands. It also levels the field for small businesses, allowing them to reach potential audiences without the need for a big advertising budget.
However, there is a concern about if online advertising can impact your privacy. Facebook provides users with tools that explain how they personalize ads. For example, the Why Am I Seeing This? lets you understand why are you presented with a particular ad. You can also access Ad Preferences, and manage which ads you see and which ones you want to hide.
Do you want to know which apps and websites send Facebook information about your online activities? Do you want to clear this information? Go to Off-Facebook Activity and you can do it. This will help you stop getting ads for a new air fryer if you are not longer looking for one.
4. New Datasets to Help Small Businesses During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The pandemic is still not over, and the effects on the global economy will last for years. According to research, the global economy can suffer $80 trillion in losses due to the pandemic. On December 10, Facebook launched four datasets that may help support economic recovery: Business Activity Trends, Commuting Zones, Economic Insights, Future of Business.
As countries look to forecast when and how their economies will recover, these datasets can help identify which areas may need the most support. For more information, check on Facebook Newsroom.
What’s Next for 2021?
In 2020 there were various updates that set the stage for the 2021 Facebook:
The new design got a mixed reception, with users that love it (I love the dark theme option mostly) and others that hate it (I hate everything else about the design). Anyway, it is not going anywhere. The design showcases the two main activities that users perform every day, visiting Groups and Events. Therefore, when planning your strategy for next year, keep in mind to include posting to groups and organizing events for your audience.
Reduction of 20% in Image rule for Facebook Ads.
Before September 2020, if you had more of 20% text in the main image in a Facebook ad, you got penalized. This changed and from then on Facebook no longer penalize ads. However, they still encourage advertisers to have less text in images since they’ve found that those ads perform better.
Using Hashtags on Facebook?
In September, Facebook started testing tag listings inside the post composer. This is good news as it could be a good way now that Instagram and Facebook are closer than ever.
The Bottom Line
Facebook and related apps (Instagram/Whatsapp) are already part of our daily lives. With the average U.S consumer spending over half an hour a day on Facebook, you cannot ignore this platform in your marketing plans. The platform will continue improving its features for businesses, so it would be good to take advantage and plan your social media strategy accordingly for this 2021.
November Updates -2020
The holiday season is already here! Facebook is bringing more features to help customer and businesses. Here below are our favorites:
Facebook Shops Discount Feature
Just in time for the massive wave of holiday shopping coming this 2020, Facebook introduced a new discounting feature. If you are a Facebook Shop’s owner now, you can offer deals and discounts to buyers.
Carry on sales, or create automatic discounts for order, or give promo codes. You can apply the discounts to your entire store or specific categories.
How do you do it? First, go to the Facebook Commerce Manager and set up the discounts. Then let your customers know by adding a banner to your shop.
New Messaging Features Now Available on Instagram and Messenger
We mentioned in our previous post that Messenger features would come to Instagram. Now, Facebook Messenger API supports Instagram messaging.
That means that business on Facebook can reach their customers through Instagram profiles, Stories or Shops. Businesses can interact to their Facebook and Instagram customers via a single platform. For now, the API update is currently in beta but already shows promising results.
Other Facebook features like Watch Together, are also coming to Instagram. To enjoy it, just start a video chat in Instagram or Messenger.
In Instagram tap the media button in the bottom right and select the tab TV and Movies.
In Messenger swipe up, select Watch Together and then the TV and Movies tab.
Vanish mode now available on Messenger
This update allows you to write messages that will disappear once you leave the chatroom. You can also send GIFS and reactions. Vanish mode only works for one-on-one chats among people that is connected on Messenger or Instagram. The system is also optional. If you worry about your security, it is good to know that the feature notifies you if the other party takes a screenshot of the chat.
Expanding Brands Collabs Manager
Facebook is trying to create communities that can group around a cause that also gets supported by brands. How? By including Public Groups in its Brands Manager. FB connects brands with communities that care for related causes. This gives Group Admins the chance to earn money by creating branded content.
Facebook launched new games and a new destination for them on Facebook. You will notice right on your Facebook app and on the browser a Gaming tab. Those cloud-streamed games are playable on the Gaming tab or from the News Feed. All games can be played from the phone or with a mouse and keyboard on desktop. Some games available will include:
- Asphalt 9: Legends
- PGA TOUR Golf Shootout
- WWE SuperCard
Facebook is also introducing gaming-themed avatars for players and cloud playable ads.This would mean that now companies can launch interactive demos on Facebook.
At least, Facebook admitted that it can predict the future, or at least its users. Facebook is launching a crowd-sourced predictions platform, Forecast. This platform enables users to gather answers to questions on different topics, like business, politics, and sports.
How does it work? The platform uses a “prediction market”, which means that people can trade on future outcomes by using virtual points. For now, it is available in USA and Canada.
Fresh ways to find videos on Facebook watch
Some days it seems you can go down the rabbit hole and watch Facebook videos without end, right? Well, now it is even easier to find Watch videos according to your preferences.
How? Facebook now lets you follow Topics and uses your preferences to personalize the videos that show up in your feed. Find Topics to follow in Watch, there are hundreds, like Cooking, Crafts, Beauty, and more.
This feature also helps you find new pages to follow. Although it is only available in the US for now, it is expected to be launched in other markets soon.
More features in Watch
Besides the new Topics, in a number of markets you can have the latest in entertainment, sports and news in Watch. Facebook added two sections : “What’s Happening” and “Featured”, so you can follow relevant news and streaming events. For instance, the Emmy Awards or the LatinX.
Other sections show you what other users are loving : Most Haha’d This Week and Most Loved This Week.
The goal of Facebook to support local businesses is rolling with new hyper-local neighborhood groups feature. For now, it started in Calgary, Canada this month.
How it works? Facebook aims to connect geographic communities to empower local businesses and communities. The interesting part is that the groups are generated automatically, so they don’t have group admins. Facebook will suggest which neighborhood group to join according to your location. You can invite other neighbors to join the group.Your profile will show an abridged version every time you post in the Neighborhood group to protect your privacy.
October Updates – 2020
1. Season of Support for Small Businesses
When most retail shifting to e-commerce, this upcoming holiday season can be a tremendous challenge for small and medium businesses (SMBs). Over 80 million small businesses use Facebook Pages to promote their products and services. With such a large percentage of SMBs users, Facebook is coming up with strategies and campaigns to help them survive the pandemic crisis.
As part of the effort, Facebook is launching the Season of Support. This campaign, which covers October, November, and December, will provide 11 weeks of free training and resources to SB worldwide.
The package for the Season of Support offers include:
- Personalized marketing plan for your business
- Tips on posting and boosting posts
- Video training
- Promotional help
- Toolkits for holiday sales
The idea is to boost your online presence, engage your audience, and increase holiday sales. Strengthening your social media marketing can be a winning strategy. According to a study by Deloitte, 40% of customers go to social media channels to look for product and services recommendations.
2. Keeping People Informed about COVID-19
Facebook supports the efforts of the global health community to keep people informed during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes supporting industries affected by the global public health crisis. One of the key issues of this crisis is the amount of misinformation that goes through social media channels. As inaccurate information may cause harm, Facebook is implementing measures to ensure the accuracy of COVID-19 related content.
- Creating a centralized resource center for emotional health on the Facebook app. The aim of this center is to provide tips and resources for coping with emotional health challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Launching the COVID-19 Information Center. This page, called Facts about COVID-19, aims to debunk common myths identified by the World Health Organization.
- Allowing ads and selling for disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer. Back in March, Facebook banned ads and commerce listings that sell medical face masks to prevent people from exploiting this public health emergency. Although this ban is still in place, they lifted the ban on hand sanitizer and wipes as of last month.
3. Connecting Netflix, Zoom, and More Features to Portal
Facebook Portal enables smart video calling in an array of device sizes, from 8” displays to the TV screen. You can add AR filters and masks to make your calls more fun. In addition, it has Alexa built-in and works with Facebook and WhatsApp calls.
As of October 2020, Facebook is adding Netflix and Zoom integrations to Portal. The Portal version for TV already offers video streaming services, but now is adding Netflix for the streaming service subscribers.
Adding Zoom on Portal aims to help with working and learning from home. This has the additional advantage of freeing your laptop to multitask or take notes on meetings.
4. Facebook’s Principles Against Influence Operations
The increased online activity is opening opportunities for malicious agents to manipulate public opinion. Facebook developed policies against coordinated inauthentic behaviors. They also built automated tools to detect and remove fake accounts.
Fighting against influence operations takes a coordinated effort. Therefore, Facebook is working with regulators to apply sanctions on organizations that engage in influence operations (IO). This month, Facebook recommended several principles against influence operations:
- Increasing transparency in political ads
- Reporting on Inauthentic Behavior
- Imposing economic or criminal penalties on people engaging in IO campaigns.
- Increasing information sharing across tech companies, civil society, and government.
5. Instagram’s Birthday: More Shopping
In the spirit of Instagram’s 10th Birthday, the app is launching new features and more. For instance, as of October 5th, you can shop straight from IGTV.
IGTV Shopping enables customers to tag shoppable products directly on an IGTV video. Until now, small businesses relied on links below the fold to sell their products. Now they can sell straight from the video.
Instagram announced that they’ll launch e-shopping features also in Reels by the end of this year. Reels is a new Instagram feature for creating short videos with music. Learn more about Reels in our article: Instagram Reels: All That You Need to Know About the New Tik Tok.
That means almost every feature of Instagram will have an e-commerce aspect. E-commerce stores and Instagram businesses should take advantage of this, growing their audience and using the direct shopping features.
6. New Messaging Features for Instagram
There is an update that makes it easier to connect and share across Instagram and Messenger accounts. You get Messenger features such as customized chat colors and watch together now on your Instagram. No need to download, just update. You can also message, call, and reshare posts cross-app.
Some key features of the new Messenger experience on Instagram:
- Cross-app communication- Use either app to send messages and join video calls.
- Watch together – Watch Facebook Watch, IGTV, Reels, movies using either app.
- Cross-app sharing – Share posts across both apps
- Effects and filters – Change chat colors, add selfie stickers, custom emojis or animated message effects.
Instagram users don’t need a Facebook account to use the new Messenger and message across apps. You have control of who can and who can’t message or call you. For instance, a Facebook user can choose not to receive messages from people on Instagram.
It is important to note that they do not collect the information shared across messages for ads.
7. Updates to Facebook Messenger
There are new updates to Facebook Messenger in communication, ease of use, and personalization.
Cross-app communication: Besides the mentioned cross-app communication with Instagram, you can also have Messenger conversations within Portal.
More ways to personalize the chat: There are new chat themes, and custom reactions. There are also selfie stickers and emojis for each theme.
Easier to connect: Facebook Messenger integration with Portal helps people stay connected from afar. Working and catching up in a virtual room, or watching streamed content together. This also opens the opportunity to connect virtually with small businesses and shop online.
The Bottom Line
The next quarter will be full of exciting opportunities with Facebook apps and Portal. We’ll keep updating you as these new updates and initiatives start to roll. Keep in touch.
September Update – 2020
1. Small Businesses and Consumer Use of Digital Tools
Last week, Facebook released the Global State of Small Business Report. This study updates on how small businesses are faring against the pandemic.
July findings include:
- Businesses that reopened reported lower sales and less employment.
- The ones that closed stated financial issues as the reason.
- Adopting e-commerce is an advantage for small businesses. Companies that made 25% of their sales online reported higher sales.
A report by Deloitte shows changes in purchasing patterns and the use of digital tools. Some findings include:
- 48% of respondents reported an increase in online spending.
- 40% used more social media and messaging for browsing and purchasing.
- 73% of consumers choose a small business for new purchases.
2. Project Aria: Wearable Augmented Reality
Project Aria aims to create a pair of glasses with augmented reality. The glasses add a 3D layer of useful information on top of the physical world. The project is in its initial stages, and it will take a while to develop a marketable product. You can still, check how these VR glasses could work in this video:
Some features will include:
- Spatial awareness like VR headsets
- Computing location from GPS. This allows the glasses to give you directions.
- Take high-resolution pictures
- Capture multichannel audio and eye images
Why is this important for business? If the person is at a store, the eye-tracking cameras scan the store contents. If you are looking at a product, the display shows the price and relevant information about it.
3. Updates on Facebook Groups Safety
Facebook Groups help you connect with other people with the same interests. There are close to 620 million Facebook Groups. Some public and some private. But even private groups need to follow the rules. Community Standards apply to everyone.
Facebook’s AI can detect problematic content and remove it even if no one reports it. Last week, Facebook updated the guidelines to ensure the safety of groups.
Facebook Groups help you connect with other people with the same interests. There are close to 620 million Facebook Groups. Some public and some private. Being private doesn’t exempt a group from following the rules. Community Standards apply to public and private groups.
Facebook’s AI can detect problematic content and remove it even if no one reports it. Last week, Facebook updated the guidelines to ensure the safety of groups.
This is what they’re doing:
1. Stopping recurring offenders
The new policy stops the admins of a group that was removed from open a new group.
2. Ensuring all groups have an active admin
Groups with an inactive admin receive suggestions for new admins. If no one wants to be the new admin, the group is archived.
Image Source: Facebook
3. Combating misinformation in groups
Facebook created a network of independent fact-checkers. For groups, the task includes:
- Removing groups that violate Community Standards
- Remove groups that share misinformation from recommendations
- Label the questionable content, notifying people when they try to share it.
4. Facebook Business Suite
During the pandemic, small businesses turned to e-commerce to stay afloat. They had to reach customers online. Facebook offered a cost-effective way to do it. Shops help small businesses to sell straight to the customer.
Facebook Business Suite is a new interface that allows businesses to manage their pages across apps. You can:
- Post to Facebook and Instagram at the same time
- Manage messages and notifications
- Check the metrics both for Facebook and Instagram profiles.
You can go further by using UniclixApp. With the Social Media Manager, you can schedule and manage your content calendar for all your social media channels.
5. Messenger Watch Together
It is not easy to socially distance from family and friends. Movie night is not the same. Facebook tries to bring people closer via the Watch Together feature. Enjoy Facebook Watch videos together while seeing your friends’ reactions in real-time.
With the pandemic, the demand for streaming content grew. Facebook made available for US viewer’s music videos, shows, and specials. Users can explore by genre, artist, or mood.
Using Watch Together is easy. Start a Messenger video call and select Watch Together. You can select a new video from “TV & Movies”, or previously watched. Select music or the most recent cute dog video. Start watching!.
Image Source: Facebook
6. Facebook Campus
Back to school, this year was different, also for college students. As campuses shift to remote learning, students feel disconnected from college life. Facebook Campus is a section of the Facebook app designated for students.
The student has a Campus profile, different from their main profile. Only people within Campus can see the content shared in it. Key features include:
1. An exclusive News Feed. News from college, classmates, groups, and events.
2. Classmates directory
3. Create study groups and chat rooms for classmates. You can chat with your study group in real-time.
7. Automatic Caption in Facebook Live
The pandemic increased the use of messaging, voice, and video calling. People use video calls to check with friends and family while social distancing. But people with hearing disabilities don’t have easy access to this information. Automatic captions help them get the information they need.
Now, Facebook enabled automatic closed captions for Facebook Live. The supported languages are English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, and French. In times of the pandemic, this helps get public health messages across. That way, viewers that don’t have audio access or hearing loss can get the information.
August Updates – 2020
1. How to Ensure your Content Appears on Recommendations?
When you open your Facebook, one of the first things you see is the recommendations. Facebook suggests Groups, Pages, and people.
But how does Facebook choose what to recommend to you? Until August this year, the recommendations guidelines a mystery. On August 31, Facebook made public the Recommendation Guidelines. Both for Facebook and Instagram.
While Facebook can allow some content to be on the platform, it won’t recommend it. Although the content is not graphic, you won’t see it in You May Like. Some examples may include content describing or showing:
- violence or self-harm.
- sexually suggestive images.
- people using regulated substances.
- questionable health claims,
- deceptive advertising
- misleading business
How Facebook recommendation guidelines affect your marketing strategy?
You risk your content not appearing in recommendations if:
- The content includes clickbait or engagement bait.
- Your post promotes a contest.
- Reshared content from other sources without added value.
- Anonymous news.
The same rules apply to Instagram content.
2. Facebook Ad Preferences Settings Redesign
Now you can choose your ad preferences with a new settings design. The new interface consists of three tabs- Advertisers, Ad Topics, Data. You can choose what to share and what to hide from advertisers. You can also tell Facebook what ad topics you want to see.
Rob Leathern, Facebook’s Product Management Director, explains it in this tweet.
3. Shop and Sell made Easy with Facebook Apps
Mid August saw the launch of the Facebook Shop. This is a new section in the Facebook app for browsing and shopping for products.
During the pandemic, online shopping increased exponentially. Companies realized then that giving customers an easy online shopping experience was critical for survival. Facebook Shop aims to help customers discover new businesses and shop for new products.
Small businesses are the ones that can benefit the most. Features include:
- Improved layouts for storefronts.
- New sellers can automatically create new Shops
- a Commerce Manager to track results.
- Customers can message in real-time through Messenger, Instagram, or WhatsApp.
- Live Shopping allows people to shop in real-time. Companies can set a Facebook Live and sell straight from the video.
4. Limits to Forwarding on Messenger
Sharing content that we like with friends is an integral part of Facebook. But the need to slow the spread of misinformation made Facebook put a limit on it. Now you can only forward a message to five people or groups at a time.
As the pandemic continues, is essential to ensure people get accurate information. Misleading and inaccurate info can put people at risk. While limiting the forwarding won’t fix misleading content, it stops its spread.
5. Have a Paid Online Event Without Paying Facebook Fees
Companies and creators can earn money from online events on Facebook. From your page, you can create, promote, collect payments, and host the event. Businesses can reach their customers even during social distancing times. For instance, you can host trivia events, online classes, meet-and-greets, fitness classes, and more.
The recent State of Small Business Reports showed that cash flow problems are still the most common challenge for SMBs. To support small businesses, Facebook will waive fees from paid online events for the next year. That will allow small businesses to keep 100% of the revenue from paying online events.
Who can apply to this offer? Small companies from 20 countries that comply with the partner monetization policies. You can check your eligibility here.
July Updates – 2020
1. Instagram Shop
Such as with Facebook Shops, businesses from selected markets can sell directly from Instagram with Instagram Shop. Here are some highlights of this additional feature.:
- Integrate Instagram Shop with your e-commerce platform.
- Create a catalog with the Facebook Business Manager.
- Tag or add stickers to make your goods stand out in the feed or Stories.
3. Fundraise on Instagram
You can raise money for personal causes on Facebook through Facebook Fundraiser from January 2020. The feature helped raise more than $65 million for COVID-19 and racial justice.
Now, from July 2020, you can also do it from Instagram. The campaign starts with a test run in the US, UK, and Ireland. Here’s how you create a Personal Fundraiser on Instagram:
- Tap Edit Profile, Add Fundraiser,
- Choose a photo
- Select a Fundraiser Category and add details to your story.
- Enter your details for the payment processor for donations.
- Tap Send and submit the fundraiser for review.
Once the fundraiser got approved, you can start raising money. Check here the list of eligible causes. There is a time limit of 30 days for fundraisers. However, If you need more time, you can extend it.
4. State of Small Business Report
The pandemic affected medium and small businesses the hardest. Coffee, shops, bookstores and independent contractors. Small businesses help create jobs and make the fabric of the community. To check the scale of the pandemic impact, Facebook conducted the Global State of Small Business Report. The survey included small businesses in 50 countries. Here are some of the findings:
1. More than a quarter closed between January and May
- 2. Two-thirds of those still operating complain of a reduction in sales, and had to cut down costs.
- 3. It hit tourism and hospitality the hardest.
- 4. More female-led businesses closed than men’s.
More than 160 million companies use Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp for business. Small businesses form most of Facebook’s community. So, the engineers at Facebook launched several initiatives to help small businesses weather the pandemic crisis. For instance, Facebook Shops, that help businesses sell online. Or the Business Resource Hub, where Facebook companies can get training and advice.
5. Create custom audiences based on previous customers’ interests.
Now, you can target ads to people who checked or purchased your products. Use Facebook’s Ad Manager and in simple steps, you can create custom audiences:
- Click on Custom Audience
- . Under the Shopping category, you’ll see who viewed or shopped your products.
- Use this info to send them ads and remind them to complete the purchase, for instance.
- You can also entice former customers to return to your page and continue shopping.
The Bottom Line
Now that you are up to date with the latest news from Facebook, try using UniclixApp to manage your company’s social media presence. A centralized dashboard and calendar let you post, schedule, and share in all social media channels. Go to Uniclix.com to start your 2 week’s free trial today.