Facebook’s Newest Change Means Challenges
Ah, Facebook. Great but frustrating. Great because it can connect others in ways that go leaps and bounds beyond the “six degrees of separation” theory. Frustrating because it has been subject to much controversy. The controversies of last year, combined with changing trends in social media, have required a change in the culture of Facebook and how it presents itself. What is this change? (Oh, incidentally, have you noticed more ads popping up as messages?)
The best of times and worst of times for Facebook.
It was just reported in AdAge that revenue from Facebook advertising is very healthy, having increased 26-percent and reaching nearly $1.5 billion in its first quarter. (Great.) At the same time, the platform may face a hefty fine filed by the Federal Trade Commission; a consequence of last year’s Cambridge Analytic scandal, among other issues. (Frustrating.) So, both these positive and negative events are indications (even motivation) as to why Facebook is making changes.
Last month, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that over the course of the next few years, the platform was going to have – as Elizabeth Dwoskins called it in The Washington Post – a “sweeping reorientation.” Every type of Facebook post – statuses, updates, and (ahem) advertisements – that are available for the masses to see will in time convert to a private message format which would either become encrypted or eventually disappear, similar to the Snapchat model.
Facebook’s intent: secure, private (and staying relevant).
The general metaphor is how the Facebook experience is transforming from “town hall” expansiveness to “living room” intimacy. Mr. Zuckerberg’s intended purpose for this is to ensure a more secure social media environment, supplemented with stronger privacy measures. And, naturally, Facebook wants to remain relevant and regain the faith of its users, as Ms. Dwoskins pointed out a recent Harris poll which concluded that public trust in this platform had dwindled, dropping from 51 to 94.
Advertising on social media via messenger: a sign of things to come?
Another factor that may be influencing this “Facebook facelift” is the increased trend of “messaging-versus-posting.” Ryan Holmes, founder and CEO of Hootsuite, reported in Forbes that in the last few years, messenger apps have surpassed traditional social platforms. One interesting (and perhaps surprising) revelation is that where Facebook is concerned, there are more users on “WhatsApp” and “Messenger” than the platform itself.
Staying in the game of advertising on Facebook.
The change in the Facebook format therefore demands a change in how brands can promote their goods and services to prospective customers. The once tried-and-true system of collecting user data and selling targeted ads will eventually become obsolete. As a preliminary, Mr. Holmes outlined three practices brands should begin putting into place as the great Facebook transformation progresses:
- Learn the in’s and out’s and overall culture of messaging, which is taking a strong lead
- Strengthen transparency and show the value of what is offered, which correlates to concerns of privacy and trust
- Implement the usage of artificial intelligence (AI) for the purpose of streamlining the single brand-to-customer interaction
- Stay in tune with further changes as the future unfolds (yes, more changes are inevitable)
Despite the changes that are going on, and those that are ahead, social media remains a strong digital advertising venue where brands can make their presence known. Contact EGC to find out more about our social media services.