How Facebook Changes Have & Will Continue to Affect Marketing

2018 has been a big year Facebook and it’s only just begun. With so many Facebook changes happening on the platform, one question we get asked quite a bit is how will this impact our digital marketing efforts? The answer may surprise you.

First, what are the Facebook changes?

Facebook has rolled out several different changes over the last two quarters, but they all fall under three major concerns for the platform.

  1. Increasing Transparency
  2. Transforming the News Feed
  3. Protecting Privacy

Increasing Transparency

In the battle against “fake news,” Facebook has rolled out several updates to improve transparency. These updates likely won’t impact your business unless you publish news or content about political issues.

  • Facebook changes now require political advertisers to go through an additional authorization step.
  • Facebook changes now require individuals who manage pages with high follower counts to go through an additional verification process.
  • Lastly, Facebook is adding an “About this article” icon to all news posts that allow users to determine if the publisher is a legitimate news source.

If you’re a legitimate publisher and have always been honest with your audience, then these changes will have no impact on your business, aside from dealing with a few more bureaucratic steps.  

Transforming the News Feed

Right now, Facebook is running YouTube ads with what seems like a heartfelt message. They want to make Facebook more about meaningful connections.

In reality, they have been and will continue to decrease the visibility of organic content from business pages.

What does this mean for businesses?

  • We’re likely going to see a lot less organic reach than we ever have before on our business pages.
  • Facebook paid ad CPCs are going to go up as more competitors realize they have to pay-to-play.

What can we do to combat this?

  • Keep creating great, relevant content. You don’t need to reach the world, you need to reach the folks who are interested in your brand, products, and services. Those people will find you if you keep creating the type of captivating content they’re looking for.
  • Diversify paid media strategies. It’s never a smart strategy to have all of your dollars in one platform. Facebook is an obvious platform to invest your marketing dollars in because it’s the most popular social networking platform out there and the targeting features are unmatched, but there are others. Instagram and YouTube are great because we do see things shifting more toward images and video and learning what works for your brand on those platforms can set you up for future success. However those ads also typically come at a premium. One underrated platform we personally love at Concept Co. is Twitter. In our experience costs have been extremely low and the performance has surprised even us. So if you hear us pitching Twitter campaigns, now you know why!

Protecting Privacy

In an effort to protect user privacy, Facebook has made a number of changes that include:

  • Asking users to review how Facebook uses their data
  • Allowing users to turn off face recognition technology
  • Limiting ad categories that can be displayed to teens
  • Updating their terms of service
  • Offering rewards to people who report data abuse
  • Restricting data access to apps
  • Making privacy tools more accessible
  • Shutting down partner category of ad targeting

What does this mean for businesses?

  • Possibly less possible paid reach. If less people share their data with the advertising platform, then marketers who are targeting specific data points may not be able to reach as many people.
  • Higher CPCs. If there are less people to reach, then competitors will brands will be competing to reach a  smaller group which could drive up costs.
  • Longer app review times. If you tried rolling out an app while these policies were being put in place, then you’ve likely already experienced this headache. But moving forward Facebook will have more strict guidelines on how apps use personal information and enforcing these guidelines will take more time on their end, which gets passed on to the app developer.
  • Inability to target partner categories. Partners were third party data sources that had demographic and behavioral information that advertisers could target within Facebook.  This was a feature primarily used by big spenders since 15% of your spend went to the data alone, however if you were using this feature, you will no longer be able to.

What can we do to combat this?

  • Diversify paid media strategies. As said before, we should never be putting all of our eggs in one basket. If you’re maxing out in terms of reach and performance on one platform, then it’s a good sign that you should invest in others.
  • Increase lead time to app development project plans. So much is going on with Facebook and there’s been a flood of companies addressing privacy issues in reaction to it. Plan for unexpected issues.
  • Explore your favorite data partners. If you were running ads targeting partner categories, then research that partner and make an attempt to work with them directly or one of their other audience partners.  

In Summary

Everything is changing, but what we do doesn’t really have to. We’re still creating relevant, captivating content to get the attention of the people who matter most. And we’re still living by the philosophy of not over-investing in any one channel. When you’ve been in digital for as long as we have, you learn that nothing is guaranteed… especially these platforms that none of us own. Take advantage of them while they’re here and working for your business, but also focus on making the properties you do own (your website, your email list, etc) more valuable. Keep marketing, keep selling, and don’t sweat the small stuff.