#SocialThrowback: A year of supremacy for Facebook

2016 was yet another year where Facebook inched slightly closer towards internet dominance. There were quite a few useful updates too.

Mohammad Kanchwala
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Facebook in 2016

Take a look at how Facebook set the social media industry abuzz in one of the most eventful years.

There might have been a handful of days when Facebook didn’t make news – be it a new update or raw controversies for getting “inspired” by competitors. 2016 was yet another year where Facebook inched slightly closer towards internet dominance. There were quite a few useful updates too.

The United States go Live on Facebook

Facebook rolls out the highly-anticipated Facebook Live for iPhone users in the United States, entering the Live stream race with Twitter’s Periscope. The social networks’ increasing focus on video on their platform now gets a serious development.

Reactions launched

Facebook responds to years of requests for a dislike button with a new update. Allowing users to display a wider range of emotions, Facebook introduced five reactions, namely love, haha, angry, sad, and wow.

“Not every moment you want to share is happy. Sometimes you want to share something sad or frustrating,” Zuckerberg said. “Our community has been asking for a dislike button for years, but not because people want to tell friends they don’t like their posts. People wanted to express empathy and make it comfortable to share a wider range of emotions.”

The number of advertisers on Facebook crosses 3 million

Facebook continues to revolutionize the social media marketing industry as more and more companies log in on Facebook for their marketing and advertising duties.

An increase of more than 50% in a year, Facebook shows no signs of slowing down and more than 70% of the 3 million advertisers are from outside the United States signalling the transformation of the social network into an advertiser’s dream come true.

Live filters on Facebook

Competing with Snapchat, Facebook acquired MSQRD, a face tracking and 3D face placement app in March, 2016, incorporating their technology into Facebook’s core app to offer Snapchat like filters for a much more fun and lively Facebook-ing experience.

Another (failed) attempt to arrest Snapchat’s popularity

After offering filters in an attempt to urge users to indulge in and share more playful photos on their platform, Facebook draws inspiration from its rival once again to try their hand at ephemerality.

Slideshow by Facebooks gathers all the pictures and videos posted by a user in the last 24 hours to create a colourful montage, in a bid to experiment and hopefully captivate the younger audiences. Needless to say, if you haven’t used or heard about Slideshow, its performance can be judged easily.

Facebook goes multilingual

To effortlessly connect users from all over the world, celebrities and others who do not speak the same language, Facebook added support for 45 new languages on their platform. It was also a potentially positive move for global businesses on Facebook to speak to more people than ever before.

Messenger follows its parent and sibling, crosses billion user mark

Becoming one of the only two instant messaging apps, Messenger cemented Facebook’s dominion over the category, joining WhatsApp that leads the race with 1.2 billion users.

Gaining over 200 million users in around seven months’ time, Messenger is quickly snowballing into one of the most successful apps in the market. To celebrate this rare feat, Facebook announced a balloon emoji for all the Messenger users.

Launched in 2011, Messenger took off rather slowly but is surely taking flight, as it becomes the second most popular iOS app, while the Android version has been downloaded over 1 billion times; 17 billion photos are sent on Messenger each month and 1 billion messages pass between people and businesses. Further 380 million stickers and 22 million GIFs are sent every day.

Instant Articles introduced on Messenger

Facebook’s Instant Articles, much protested against by publications and websites for thinning down the already diminishing web clicks and referrals, was made available by Facebook on Messenger, another move from the company to confine users within the Facebook ecosystem.

Working with the IOC, making history

For the first time in modern history, the International Olympics Committee partnered with Facebook to hand them exclusive broadcast rights of behind the scenes drama, interviews, and other Olympics action from Rio, using Facebook and Instagram’s wide range of features.

Facebook also struck a ground-breaking deal with NBC, for the sole media rights holders of the Olympics, to air the highlights from the Rio Games on their platform.

To celebrate the partnership and the spirit of the Olympic Games, Facebook introduced country specific profile picture frames, masquerade filters, and a chatbot on Messenger to dole out information and news. On Instagram, a dedicated section was introduced to feature all the action from the Rio Olympics.

Facebook fires team of human curators, employs AI, suffers embarrassment

Due to accusations of bias on the grounds of political and moral beliefs surrounding their team of human news curators, Facebook chose to lay off their entire team of curators, turning to Artificial Intelligence for their duties.

Expecting a more neutral and unbiased curation of the Trending Topics, Facebook was left disappointed and embarrassed as the AI stuttered soon, by mapping a fake news story to the top of Trending Topics.

The company faced tons of criticism from all quarters for their failure to identify, manage, and eliminate fake news stories on their platform, a struggle that plagues Facebook, to this day.

Number of Advertisers on Facebook grows to 4 million in six months

In March, Facebook announced that the number of advertisers on the platform had reached 3 million; within six months’ time the figure grew by more than one million, making Facebook the most popular platform not only among people, but also, among businesses.

The platform’s success as an advertiser’s heaven is not a coincidence, but the by-product of Facebook’s consistent labour by offering a number of services such as dynamic Ads, Lookalike Audiences, and Geo-Targeting to effectively target, measure, and accomplish marketing and advertising goals.

Facebook launches Messenger Lite

Identifying low internet connectivity, and the unavailability of smartphones in various parts of the world, people from these regions being potential users, Facebook undertook and launched Messenger Lite to remove such hurdles from their paths.

With a file size of less than 10mb, Messenger Lite was introduced with the aim of appealing and gathering more users from South America, South East Asia, and Africa, all regions with weak internet connectivity.

Facebook encourages person-to-person selling with Marketplace

With Marketplace, Facebook signalled their entry into the e-commerce sector, encouraging person-to-person selling on their platform. By the company’s own admission, more than 450 million people use Facebook’s Buying and Selling Groups due to which Facebook developed this dedicated commercial feature.

Facebook’s online Marketplace was launched with high hopes but was soon misused by users to sell several questionable items which led to Facebook apologizing and assuring users that they would try to prevent such incidents in the future.

Jobs on Facebook

Businesses on Facebook were given the capabilities of listing any job openings with complete information, under the Jobs tab. Interested candidates can apply by clicking on Apply Now, which would send their application to the business through a message on Facebook.

From there on the conversation, or even an interview could be carried out further using Facebook’s video chat feature - a seamless integration from Facebook.

Unified Page Manager for businesses on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger

Simplifying the life of a Social Media Manager just a little bit, Facebook offered the Pages Manager that clubbed together Facebook, Messenger and Instagram enabling businesses to keep track and respond to messages on the three platforms, all in one place.

Facebook began testing the app with a handful of users, with plans to eventually roll the app out to a wide number of users.

Teaming up with NatGeo to launch Live 360

To further the undisputed status of Facebook Live, the company fused together Live streaming with Facebook 360 to change the way stories are displayed on social media.

Video being the object of focus for Facebook, the company is pushing towards encouraging users and businesses to share more immersive and engaging video content on their platform.

The feature was launched by broadcasting Live footage from the Mars Desert Station Facility in Utah, depicting the simulated living conditions and emergence of space scientists from their pods.

Group Live Video on Messenger

One-on-one is good, but Groups are better, which Facebook understands, and is willing to work towards. Since the essence of Facebook is to share everything with friends and family, the company decided to incorporate Group chat into Live Video chat on Messenger.

The article is a part of our #SocialThrowback series, where we take a look at what moulded the social media industry in 2016.

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