By Michele Weisman & Cara Friedman Today, Facebook unveiled some exciting new products and partnerships to its 750 million active users. All three new products are related to easier communication. If you haven't started using Facebook within your organization, you may rethink that decision after hearing about these new products. Here is everything you need to know about Zuck’s big announcement:
1. Group Chat
The multi-person chat feature was inspired by the chat functionality inside Facebook groups. This new feature will be incorporated in the new designed of Facebook Chat and will be rolled out to users today. Essentially, you are able to include more friends in your conversation.
2. New Chat Side Bar
This new feature allows users to easily initiate conversation. The design includes a sidebar that lists the people you message most and adjusts with the size of your browser window.
3. Bring Your Conversations To Life With Video Chat
Although video chat is nothing new, it’s still not an everyday activity for most people. Often it is too difficult to set up or have a stable connection. Today, Facebook fixed this problem by announcing their partnership with Skype and introducing video calling. Video calling will be available in over 70 different languages, so friends can stay in touch all over the world. This feature will be available to all 750 million active users over the next few weeks, but if you can’t wait that long, you can get it now.
Zuckerberg ended the announcement on an exciting note. He alluded to more possible partnerships to come. We could also be seeing some old Facebook features getting an upgrade. However, it looks like Facebook's next big focus is going to be on apps and mobile. We are excited to see what Facebook will roll out with next.
The people present were given an opportunity to ask some questions. Mashable’s Ben Parr asked what Facebook thought of the similarities with Google+. Zuckerberg stands firm and says that Facebook has been working with Skype long before Google+ rolled out. They also mentioned their long standing relationship with Microsoft as a factor in their partnership (Skype is owned by Microsoft).
Another audience member asked Skype's CEO, Tony Bates, how Facebook will help Skype. Essentially, the new video chat keeps people on Facebook and gives people no reason to use Skype on its own at all. Bates said that their goal was to reach a billion users and this strategic partnership with Facebook would help them get there. He also mentioned the possibility of offering Skype paid services through Facebook.
The announcements of the new features are extremely exciting for a number of reasons. Making Facebook chat easier to use and adding a video element will keep people on Facebook for even more hours than they are on now. It also may be a good reason to start using Facebook in the workplace. If you aren't already using groups for your business, you might find the group chat option useful instead of sending a bunch of emails back and forth using the dreaded "Reply All" button. Video chat is also a great way to connect multiple offices. Face to face communication beats out computer mediated communication any day. Making video chat easier will only benefit companies.
What do you think of the Facebook Live announcement? Share your thoughts in the comments below!