As Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page on January 4, “The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook has a lot of work to do — whether it’s protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent.” Along with this, Facebook will start to show users more posts from friends and family, and fewer from publishers and brands.
Although some are already portending doom and gloom, the reality will be a little less dramatic. Here are a few things that the industry can expect now that Facebook is focusing on a more quality and secure user experience (which, subtly, will require advertisers to pay more to reach desired audiences):
1. Feeds will be less cluttered
The industry has already noticed a significant decline in organic reach, focusing on friends and family will continue this trend. Advertisers will have to experiment, identify what works, and refine their marketing strategy accordingly to find the perfect mix of paid and organic. Do event photos work better than press releases? What do your users want to see in their Facebook feed?
Advertisers will need to maintain a clear view of what’s driving users to their brand. The declining influence of organic posts on Facebook means marketers will focus more heavily on paid strategies, especially video ads. They will also need to ensure a well-balanced cross-channel approach to their advertising strategy, uniting both paid and social advertising and allocating spend where it will drive the most return on investment.
2. However, ads may stand out more in a cleaner feed
With more content coming from users, high-quality professional ads may pop in a way they do not today. In this case, the increased incentives will force brands to look at their ad offerings to make them more appealing, more engaging, and better suited to a people-first platform.
Facebook’s spring cleaning fake news and high volume/low impact advertising will provide greater brand safety for advertisers on Facebook.
As a result, a simpler news feed can be considered a negative thing for advertisers; however, it could be a blessing in disguise. Less click bait and fewer attention-grabbing headlines create an opportunity for a brand’s message to rise above the noise of baby pictures and travel stories. It does mean that advertisers can expect the higher cost per clicks (CPC’s) but will reap greater engagement in return.
3. Video: red hot in 2018
Video represents the biggest opportunity for continued Facebook advertising growth, with its new and engaging paid media formats like in-stream video ads. And, expect to see growth of Facebook Live and Facebook Watch for organically reaching audiences with paid content versus organic posts.
Video is not just red hot due to its massive popularity. According to Animoto, 64% of users are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video. With that statistic alone, it’s definitely time for advertisers to ramp up their video advertising if they have not already.
4. Facebook Messenger will keep the conversation going
Facebook Messenger now offers advertising solutions; with over 1.6 billion users, it’s the most popular mobile messaging app in the world, and Facebook’s news feed change won’t affect the emerging advertising opportunities that Messenger presents.
Note that a majority of Messenger users opt to have push notifications turned on. And, Messenger ads perform better than email, since they’re more personal and engaging.
Beyond the opportunity to expand the reach of paid ads, now businesses can use Messenger to engage in 1:1 personalised conversations with prospects and customers. For example, someone looking for a flight could click a few automated responses, such as, “Where are you going?”, and interact with a brand for a top-notch customer experience.
Facebook Messenger is just the beginning; thinking across channels, Google also provides a similar capability with click-to-message ads that prompt SMS interactions with customers. Plus, we can expect to see Facebook expand advertising into WhatsApp in the near future.
Lastly, companies can add a Facebook Messenger plug-in to their website that can serve as a direct customer service and lead generation portal. Hey Snapchat, Amazon, and LinkedIn - your turn to make a move.
In sum: not to fret...
As with all changes in the industry, advertisers who stay flexible and roll with the changes will be best equipped to benefit from them. My advice? Stay aware, refine strategy as needed, test and test again, and keep exploring new and meaningful ways to attract customers.