The Top Facebook Updates You Need to Know: December 2020

New Facebook updates are always in the works, which is to say there are always new opportunities to get ahead of your competitors.

Facebook gaming
Source: Facebook

Big changes to Facebook gaming this month

It’s unfathomable to me that anyone would want to play a game that isn’t Animal Crossing, but if you personally would like to spend some time not paying a greedy capitalist racoon an ever-increasing mortgage, I’ve got good news: Facebook is making some big changes to its game offerings and would be happy to serve your entertainment needs.

This month, Facebook announced the launch of several new cloud-streamed games that are available both in the Android app and on browsers in the U.S. With no download required, these games are playable instantly and don’t require any special hardware or controllers.

Notably, this feature is not available on iOS at this point in time — due to a conflict with Apple’s cloud gaming and App Store policies — but for those who are just dying to play WWE Supercard, mobile browsers are a neat workaround.

Importantly for brands, this new technology offers a new advertising opportunity: cloud playable ads will support interactive demos from a game’s native code. This feature is currently available on Android and iOS in the U.S. (Developers can learn more about cloud playable ads here.)

New Facebook Gaming Play destination screenshot
Source: Facebook

The new free-to-play cloud-streaming titles include Asphalt 9: LegendsMobile Legends: AdventurePGA Tour Golf ShootoutSolitaire: Arthur’s Tale, and the aforementioned WWE Supercard. More games will be added to the library in the coming weeks. You’ll find them under Facebook’s redesigned Gaming tab, which includes new discovery features for finding new games.

For games running on the HTML5, the platform has been completely refreshed with new automated performance standards, as well as an enhanced review process. Facebook has also implemented additional editorial feature units to help players discover new games.

Screenshots of Player Name user flow
Source: Facebook

Another new feature for Facebook gaming is the introduction of player names. Choose a special avatar to represent yourself in your gameplay, if that cute profile pic from your brother’s graduation isn’t exactly striking fear into your opponents on Asphalt 9. Additionally, developers integrating Facebook Login for Gaming may now enable cross-play between their downloaded games and the Facebook cloud edition. (Developers can sign up for the closed beta here.)

Check out the new games on Android or via your browser here.

Messenger gets an upgrade with new features

Screenshot of Watch Together on Instagram and Messenger

Source: Facebook
Rumours have been swirling and quiet beta rollouts have been, um, rolling for months, and now the truth is out: new Messenger and Instagram features are finally here.

Update your Messenger app to access the highly anticipated Watch Together feature, which (as previously reported) can be used to stream content while you’re in a video chat. In your next Messenger video chat, simply swipe up to view an options menu and select Watch Together. Here, you’ll find TV and movies to view, including Facebook original content like Post Malone’s Celebrity World Pong League.

With this latest update, you’ll also have access to chat themes to personalize the backdrops and colors of your conversations — yes, there’s tie-dye, thank goodness — as well as selfie stickers, animated message effects, and custom emoji reactions.

Read more about the new Messenger and Instagram messaging features here.

Drives feature launched for the holidays

To gather clothing, food, and other necessities for people in need, U.S.-based Facebook users can now implement the Drives feature. Part of Facebook’s Community Help hub, Drives allows you to rally your community around a cause, encouraging and tracking non-monetary donations.

To create your own Drive, open the Community Help hub and click “Request or Offer Help.” Here, you can select “Create Drive,” and fill out the form to set a collection goal — whether that’s 100 backpacks for school kids in need, or 1,000 cans of soup for a local shelter. The Drive will appear in your news feed like any other post, with a progress bar tracking donations to date. This post will also appear in the Community Help hub, so others in your neighborhood can also discover your worthy cause.

As with all posts in Community Help, Drives are held to Facebook’s Community Standards and will be taken down if they feature insensitive or promotional content.

Visit Facebook’s Season of Giving campaign page for more information on the platform’s charitable features.

Screenshots of Community Help page on Facebook
Source: Facebook

Facebook takes stock with a new Community Standards report

Facebook community standards report illustration
Source: Facebook 

As a very wild 2020 winds to a close, it looks like the world’s most-used social media platform is taking a moment to reflect. The Facebook news room this month is chock full of progress reports, community updates, and commitments to general good behavior, pulled from its latest Community Standards Enforcement Report.

The team dropped a report in mid-November that measures their progress on combating hate speech, marking the first time they’ve included the metric on the quarterly report. There’s some interesting information here about just how the company balances free speech with public safety, using a mix of AI technology, staff, third-party experts, and user reporting. You can read the full hate speech report here.

Facebook has also reinforced its commitment to being open and honest about its processes, with the release of a Transparency Report that covers the first half of 2020. With information about how Facebook safeguards data and works with governments, it’s a thorough rundown of what’s going on behind the scenes. Read more about Facebook’s transparency here.

Or, just dig into the full, big, juicy Community Standards report here to get the full picture.

October 2020 Facebook updates

Facebook Shops introduces discount feature

Some say the holidays are about family and togetherness. Others say it’s about shopping. We’re not here to pick sides, but we are here to reveal the juicy news that Facebook Shops have introduced a new discounting feature… so perhaps for us, the holidays are actually about gossip?

If you’re a Facebook Shops owner, you can now offer deals to buyers as they pursue your digital storefront.

Put individual products on sale, create automatic discounts for qualifying orders, or activate promo codes. Discounts can also be applied to your entire store or specific collections.

Whatever sweet savings you’re offering, you can let your customers know by adding a banner to your shop.

For now, discount features are only available for shops in the U.S., but if they hit it off, expect the same functionality in Shops worldwide soon.

Learn more about setting up discounts using the Facebook Commerce Manager here.

Facebook discounts feature

Facebook Messenger API now supports Instagram messaging

With this update to the Messenger API, businesses can now integrate Instagram messaging with a variety of apps to more efficiently connect with customers. Facebook Shops messaging features are available on this API update, too.

Messages sent by customers through Instagram profiles, Stories, or Shops can now all be accessed (and responded to) on a single platform. It’s another step Facebook is taking to pull its range of communication tools under one umbrella.

Heads up: This updated API is currently in beta (exclusive, oooh!), so only a limited number of businesses and developer partners currently have access. But early results are showing high response rates, quicker resolution of customer issues, and deeper audience insights.

PS: Due to this API update, Hootsuite is part of the beta program that will provide select customers with access to Instagram messaging in Inbox early, before making it available to all Hootsuite customers in 2021.

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