Facebook Changes the Narrative at F8

Facebook Changes the Narrative at F8

Social media

The 2018 Facebook F8 Developer Conference created an opportunity for Facebook to change the narrative about the embattled company. At the annual event, Facebook usually unveils new products and a glimpse at the company’s future. This year’s event just happened to occur only weeks after CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent two days on Capitol Hill defending the company’s approach to data privacy. So you can be sure Facebook was eager to inspire coverage about something besides Mark Zuckerberg going head to head with angry legislators and trying to assure investors that Facebook is improving its approach to protecting user data.

And Facebook delivered with a slew of announcements and demonstrations that reminded Facebook watchers of its commitment to connecting people through an ever-evolving social platform. Highlights included:

  • FaceDate, a dating feature in which Facebook members can make their profiles to non-friends who opt in to look for someone to date. With FaceDate, Facebook is reinforcing its core mission of connecting people, a mission that Facebook periodically updates as it did last year with the rollout of the “bring the world closer together” mantra. It looks as though Facebook wants to bring the world closer together one person at a time and in relationships that go beyond friending. It’s a reasonable move that doesn’t stray too far from Facebook on its best day: connecting people.
  • Augmented and virtual reality: Facebook has been marching down a path of creating augmented and virtual reality experiences for some time, as manifested by the purchase of VR firm Oculus in 2014. In 2016, Mark Zuckerberg placed AR/VR at the far end of a 10-year roadmap. Facebook F8 showed that Facebook appears to be right on schedule. The company released Oculus Go, a lightweight, relatively affordable VR headset that liberates VR from the confines of a stationary computer. Oculus Go is important because it’s supposed to make VR more affordable while delivering a reasonably high-quality VR experience. Meanwhile, on the AR front, Facebook showed off progress with its AR camera for interacting with AR content in the real world. Among other announcements, Facebook disclosed that AR is coming to its Messenger platform.

Facebook also embedded AR into the actual F8 experience, such as with an AR scavenger hunt in which participants looked for objects using their devices. Through the hunt, Facebook tested with the camera (accessible from inside Facebook) by, in effect, relying on F8 attendees as the test group. Although there is nothing inherently new about an AR scavenger hunt, the hunt gave Facebook a chance to test target-recognition technology, which unlocks AR effects without requiring you to tap on your camera app. The feature is not yet available and so F8 amounted to a beta test.

For two days, Facebook succeeded in repositioning itself as a media company shaping the future of social experiences. Some of the news coverage reflects the kind of narrative Facebook wanted to tell at F8:

Never mind that Facebook’s AR and VR experiences still come down to providing developing tools disconnected from consistently good content. What matters is that Facebook changed the narrative. For a larger rundown of everything Facebook announced at F8, go here. And contact us to discuss how to build your brand on Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg Faces Congress: Social Media Grows Up

Mark Zuckerberg Faces Congress: Social Media Grows Up

Social media

I have heard Mark Zuckerberg’s Congressional appearances this week described as the moment when social media began to grow up. And there’s no doubt that the world’s largest social network has started to sound more committed to acting more responsibly with the data of its two billion members, judging by Zuckerberg’s remarks and his prepared testimony. Assigning a $40,000 bounty for the reporting of data abuse certainly makes Facebook look determined to get more serious about addressing data indiscretions.

But despite Facebook’s stated commitment to get better at protecting its users, a simple fact remains: social media is a messy place for brands to live even as social media platforms grow up.

Amid the publication of determined testimonies and bounties, I know these things to be certain:

  • Facebook will not be immune from data abuse. Mistakes are going to happen. Determined and unethical parties are going to look for cracks in the seams. What we can expect to be different is Facebook’s reaction to problems when they happen. There remains an important distinction between a platform having airtight security and a platform that acts rapidly to address problems when they occur. Will advertisers and users appreciate the difference?
  • Facebook won’t be the only platform that experiences abuses of its terms and conditions. As I noted on our blog, YouTube has been hiring more people to train computers to police abuses on its site in order to prevent the kinds of embarrassing incidents that rocked the network in recent months, such as brand advertising appearing alongside inappropriate videos. But YouTube continues to experience lapses, such as a report about ads for adult content appearing on the site, hackers targeting popular music videos, and advocacy groups charging YouTube with illegally collecting personal information from children.
  • Facebook users will complain about data abuses and some will even #DeleteFacebook. But how many will stay off the network permanently after they realize that there’s nowhere else to go?

I’m not saying that brands should simply be patient. Brands and users should expect more vigilance out of all their social networks, including Facebook, Google, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and all the others we call home. But we need to be realistic. These networks, especially Facebook, remain free because they accept advertising. And to play ball with advertisers, they’re going to share user data – which, when done well, brings about a better user experience. But with the sharing of data comes potential for abuse. And let’s not forget these free platforms are pretty much open to anyone who meets their soft requirements, and advertisers have to accept the consequences, both good and bad.

Advertisers, buckle in. You’re in for a bumpy – but profitable – ride. Remember, these networks offer rewards to those who understand how to use them for targeted, timely advertising. Contact us. We’ll work with you to do just that.

Advertising on Facebook? Get Ready for Tough Sledding Ahead

Advertising on Facebook? Get Ready for Tough Sledding Ahead

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Facebook has quickly changed from the brand that could do no wrong to the business that spreads fake news. Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that the company is de-valuing publisher content on users’ news feeds caused a notable drop in its stock value and inspired a CNN article with a once unthinkable headline, “Mark Zuckerberg Is Fighting to Save Facebook.” Facebook isn’t going away. But with the recent admission by former Facebook executives that the social media platform was designed to get its users addicted and that it is ripping apart the social fabric of how society works, 2018 might be the year we see a significant decline in active users.

Although industry analysts have been predicting a reduction in Facebook users for the past few years, the fact that ex-Facebook executives are admitting guilt over the monster they’ve created might finally be the wakeup call that many social media users have been waiting for. If Facebook usage does suffer a significant decline, it’s fair to expect that marketers will also see diminished performance from their Facebook ads. Many advertisers use the Facebook advertising platform as a brand awareness tactic, paying advertising fees based on the number of times an ad is shown versus the number of times someone interacts with an ad. “Reach” (the number of people who saw an ad) is a metric commonly monitored by advertisers, and when the pool of potential audience members declines, so does the effectiveness of their branding efforts.

The most obvious expected drop-off would be among younger members as parents may begin to heed the addiction warning and implement usage restrictions for their children. Currently, advertisers cannot specifically target people under the age of 13 — so there should be minimal effect on paid ad performance if Facebook sees a decline in users age 12 and under.  However, if parents or older siblings start following suit (perhaps by means of setting an example or simply choosing to spend their time elsewhere) the impact could be significant to marketers who have become accustomed to reaching millions of people.

As the Facebook audience narrows, marketers may need to adjust their strategy and opt for conversion-based campaigns versus brand awareness. Measuring the overall effectiveness of a brand awareness campaign is difficult to quantify. But as advertisers start tracking actual results from their conversion campaigns, they may find the cost far outweighs the return and may choose to pull back on their overall Facebook investment.

My advice: keep a watchful eye on Facebook as an advertising platform. Take advantage of the tools we have blogged about (such as Collection ads), but make sure you complement your advertising spend across multiple platforms where it makes sense for your business to be, ranging from Google to Instagram. Get ready for tough sledding on Facebook. For more insight into how to build your brand with digital, contact True Interactive. We’re here to help.

Keep Advertising on Facebook — Carefully

Keep Advertising on Facebook — Carefully

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How concerned should advertisers be about Facebook in light of the credibility problems that the world’s largest social network has been facing lately? The answer depends on how you use Facebook to advertise.

If you rely on Facebook solely to achieve visibility, you should be especially concerned about the recent news concerning Facebook being manipulated with political advertising through the creation of phony accounts. Even if you don’t do political advertising, you have good reason to ask, “How can I be sure I’m not paying for phony accounts to view my advertisement?”

But for businesses that employ Facebook advertising with a cost-per-click (CPC) model, the existence of phony accounts is less concerning because fake accounts are not going to click on your ad.

But however you advertise on Facebook or any other social media, Facebook’s recent woes are a reminder that you should not take a set-it-and-forget-it approach to advertising on social. At a minimum, monitor the performance of your advertising and the integrity of the engagement you are getting from your ads, an example being the inevitability that people will troll your ads with inappropriate comments on social.

Mark Zuckerberg in the Hot Seat

The ongoing news about Facebook being used to spread bogus news during the 2016 presidential race has caused Mark Zuckerberg to vow to improve the integrity of Facebook as an advertising platform, but his actions have been met with skepticism. Big brands have been expressing their concerns about Facebook’s reliability.

The concerns are understandable. At the same time, I think it’s useful to take a step back and look at the big picture:

  • Facebook has 2 billion members. Its ability to create engagement and brand activation remains strong. In a sense, the platform is too big for brands to ignore. For all its problems, Facebook brings incredible scale and shareabilty to any advertising roll-out. For example, with Facebook’s targeting tools, media/entertainment companies can create effective 15-second video spots to promote upcoming events in order to boost awareness. Put another way, it would be foolish for Warner Brothers to react to Facebook’s problems by dropping the platform from its media mix for promoting Justice League with clickable trailers.
  • As noted, a CPC model, while not perfect, helps a brand hold a platform like Facebook more accountable for performance, as click-throughs separate the real people from fake accounts. Yes, click fraud happens. And yes, Facebook has been stung by periodic criticism about click fraud in the past, but Facebook has a way of learning and improving in response. (At True Interactive, we’ve not received any complaints about click fraud on Facebook recently.)

The bigger problem is trolls commenting on your ad. You have to brace yourself for the reality that the more you advertise on a social site, the greater the risk you run of attracting trolls who disrupt the conversation occurring about ad after you post it on Facebook. This risk is especially great on Facebook.

I suggest Facebook advertisers:

  • Keep your Facebook advertising focused on a CPC model.
  • Manage your account closely. Don’t go on autopilot. If your ad is getting trolled, you want to be the first to learn about it on your own.
  • Avoid clickbait or ads, which will act as troll magnets.
  • Keep advertising on Facebook, but be smart about it. Use tools at your disposal such as retargeting and audience segmentation.

You should definitely advertise on Facebook depending on your objectives. But if recent news has taught us anything, it’s this: manage your presence on Facebook. Closely.

Contact True Interactive to maximize the effectiveness of your digital advertising. We’re here to help.