Facebook is at it again – we’re only a few weeks into 2016, and there are already several new changes to the world’s most popular social network, with some other significant changes set to be released later this year.
While not all of these features are available to all users yet (Facebook has a habit of rolling out new features incredibly slowly) they’re indicative that Facebook isn’t content to just stick with the status quo. These updates show that Facebook is keenly focused on building on its successes, fixing its mis-steps, and throwing in one or two features just for fun.
From the silly (a new Facebook Chess game to play with your friends), to the serious (businesses now have access to “local insights”), to the seriously overdue (the ability to post in multiple languages at the same time), these ten new Facebook tricks should definitely be in your repertoire for 2016.
1. Posting in Multiple Languages
Facebook pages often cater to clients who speak multiple languages, but before now they often had to rely on posting several sequential version of a post in different languages, having different pages for users who spoke different languages, or relying on Facebook’s often-iffy automatic translations.
Now, Facebook offers page owners the chance to create a post in multiple languages so that you can be certain you are saying exactly what you intend in a way that can be understood by everyone who follows your page.
You can enable this feature (its default setting is ‘off’) through Page Settings > General > Post in Multiple Languages > Allow. The default language will be displayed initially, but users will be able to select their preferred language out of a drop-down menu that showcases the languages you have entered.
2. Facebook Chess
Over the past several years a large number of web features have slowly been replaced by Facebook features.
True to this trend, Facebook recently announced the integration of chess into their Messenger service. While the game can initially be a little confusing (it must be played through text commands directed at @fbchess), it can be a great way to pass the time with a friend using the Messenger app or on the Facebook website.
To start a game, send the message “@fbchess play” to any friend you would like to challenge. If either of you are confused, Ben’s article on how to play chess using Facebook Messenger might come in handy!
3. Private Replies to Comments on Facebook Pages
Gone are the days of carefully crafting a polite public reply to an irate commenter on your Facebook page. Now, you can choose to send a private message to any user who comments on your page, allowing you to have a private conversation and address their concerns individually.
The message option should appear immediately next to the “reply” button on the individual’s comment, and the message you send will be linked to the original content. While technically this function could be performed before using a longer series of steps, this update really helps to speed up the process, and enables page owners to be as efficient as possible while providing customer service.
4.Updated Profile Information
This feature (currently being rolled out to users) is actually a renaissance of a feature that Facebook had several years ago before the introduction of Timeline.
You are now given 101 characters to “describe who you are” in a box that appears directly above your public employment and location information. This written summary (which can be viewed publically) can also be accompanied by up to five featured photos (also available publically) that appear down the left column of your Timeline.
It will be interesting to how the Intro summary will be used (after all, it’s fewer characters than a Tweet!), and if it becomes more of a focus for Facebook moving forwards.
5. Music Stories
With music streaming services on the rise, Facebook is looking for ways to integrate music into its interface. One way that it has done this is through a “Music Stories” feature (currently only available on iOS, but anticipated to arrive on desktop soon).
This feature allows users to share 30-second clips of music from streaming services including Spotify, Apple Music, NPR, Deezer, and more. The potential benefits for streaming sites are obvious (an increase in users and exposure), but it will be interesting to see how Facebook moves forwards with this feature – especially since users can currently share an entire song with friends via YouTube videos.
6. Local Insights for Businesses
A new group of features that will make a lot of difference for businesses that prioritize social media outreach are Facebook’s new local insights.
The information provided by local insights includes:
- How many people (with location services enabled) have used Facebook within 50m of your business — including a breakdown of peak times and days of the week
- A demographic overview of the individuals who are using Facebook near your business
- Updates to local awareness ads that allow you to target specific geographic areas with location-specific keywords
- An update that allows businesses with multiple locations to use different “call-to-action” buttons (such as phone numbers or directions) for each location, even if an advertisement is business-wide.
7. Facebook Mentions
Live streaming social media apps like Periscope have become a popular way for celebrities to connect with their fans.
Last year Facebook joined in on the trend with the Facebook Mentions platform, which at the time was only available to celebrities. Now, Facebook Mentions has been opened up to several pages, and there are rumors that this feature will soon be accessible for the rest of Facebook’s users as well!
8. New Search Features
This update is not yet widespread, but has been noticed in beta-testing by Facebook users such as Alexander Kaufman (who took the screenshot above). This feature would allow you to search your friends’ profiles by keyword, giving you even more opportunity to dredge up posts from the past.
While I personally love being able to search my own activity on Facebook (View Activity Log > Search), I don’t know that I’d like my friends to have the same power!
Improving Facebook’s search features have been a key focus for Facebook recently — they are constantly tweaking the algorithms and search commands that users can use, and recently implemented a “friends near me” search (currently only available in a limited basis on the Facebook app), where you are able to see your friends’ locations.
9. New Event Features
Another recent area of focus for Facebook is Events. For a long time, the usefulness of Events was pretty limited – but Facebook seems to have been listening to their users, and is now well on its way to providing a fully functional experience.
Recent low-key updates to Events that you may or may not have noticed include better algorithms for suggesting events based on your friends’ attendance, your location, or your past attendance patterns. As well, hosts can now view read receipts for invited guests and users can now choose to be “Interested In” an event – allowing them to follow updates, add the event to their calendar, and view event information without a conclusive RSVP.
10. Integration of Uber and Messenger
There are a lot of ridiculous Facebook Messenger apps out there, but a recent partnership between Messenger and Uber may be shifting the Messenger apps platform towards more useful functions. Simply download the Uber app for Messenger and link it to an existing Uber account or create a new one.
Once you’ve taken these steps, all you have to do is press the “car” image at the bottom of your messenger screen (it may be hidden behind the “…” button) and you can order an Uber to your current location directly through Messenger – no app switching required!
What Could Be Coming Next?
This has already been a big couple months for Facebook, and our social media predictions have us expecting even more from the rest of 2016.
Is there a feature that Facebook hasn’t added yet that you can’t believe they’re still missing? What do you want to see? Let me know in the comments!