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More changes on Facebook

 It’s been a tumultuous year for Facebook. Over the past twelve months, the company has been mired in various scandals, dealing with critique from various policy think-tanks, publications, and even the U.S. Congress. In response to this increased scrutiny, Facebook has made significant structural changes to its sorting algorithm and its ad platform. The previous round of changes favored, among other things, influencer marketing, and Facebook’s live streaming platform, Facebook Live.

Since then, Facebook has implemented another series of changes which are broadly regarded as somewhat restrictive to marketers. It’s becoming increasingly challenging for advertisers to reach their target audiences on Facebook, as news feed changes are less-than-kind to brands trying to appear on their followers’ timelines, exacerbating a long-term trend of declining organic reach.

What are the recent changes?

Facebook is by no means a dead-end for marketers. It’s still a huge force in digital marketing, and with 2.27 billion monthly users who spend around 950 million hours on the app per day, its reach cannot be understated. However, marketers’ increasing suspicion is not without good cause—on multiple occasions, Mark Zuckerberg has personally remarked that he is willing to sacrifice some usability for advertisers in exchange for an improved user experience. The new changes will render certain existing tactics less effective, and savvy marketers should be prepared to reform their marketing strategies. This begins with gaining a comprehensive understanding of the new changes:

  1. Facebook is placing significant restrictions on third-party access. As of August 1st, 2018 external apps are no longer able to publish posts directly.
  2. The “Partner Categories” ad service—the utilization of third-party data for better ad targeting—is no longer available, since it was allegedly compromising users’ privacy.
  3. Clickbait or engagement bait are further penalized in the new News Feed.
  4. Multimedia content with embedded links is given preferential treatment by the algorithm.

How will this affect me?

Success within the ever-changing landscape of Facebook is dependent on understanding what kinds of content and interactions are going to make it to your audience, and behaviors will lead to your brand being buried deep within the feed, effectively out of sight. 

  1. Don’t post clickbait or engagement bait.
  2. Continue to work with influencers and micro-influencers to showcase your brand outside typical avenues.
  3. Use campaigns that require a lot of audience participation, like submission-based contests.
  4. Use multimedia content such as videos, GIFS, live streams, images. Avoid purely text-based posts.
  5. Encourage your employees and customers to share experiences with your product independently, instead of always posting from your brand page.
  6. Incorporate links to Facebook in signatures of all company correspondence and landing pages.
  7. Pivot some of your marketing budget out of feed-based programming and focus more on running Facebook Ads. 

With every round of Facebook changes, it’s important to remember that when one door closes, another one opens elsewhere. The changes largely affect the ability of companies to achieve organic reach via the News Feed while Facebook Ads, a premier platform for digital advertising, is untouched by the changes.

An exciting new development is that Facebook is set to open up its messaging tool to marketers. In addition to Facebook Messenger, Facebook also owns WhatsApp, and it’s been announced that both APIs will be available to advertisers. It’s unclear exactly what this will look like when implemented; however, we can refer to existing messaging marketing platforms like LinkedIn for examples of how marketers could potentially take advantage of the ability to directly message customers.

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