Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook, announced yesterday that the social media giant was going to be moving it’s most widely used feature in a new direction. In his post he said, “I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions”. Later in the post he said, “as we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.” The announcement was praised by many Facebook users but, it also drew widespread concern, particularly from advertisers.
So what can we really expect from this shift?
Well according to Zuckerberg, “by making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down. But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable.” If your business advertises on Facebook, in the short term you can expect:
- Lower reach for your ads – since the amount of ads and public content in the news feed are the targets of these changes, you can be sure that if the implementation follows Zuck’s mandate your brand’s ads will be shown to less people.
- Reduced engagement – Industry studies as well as our own data from campaigns that we’ve executed for clients show that news feed ads garner the highest engagement on Facebook. So any reduction in an advertisers’ ability to utilize that ad position will definitely have a negative effect on engagement.
- Higher advertising cost – As a simple function of supply and demand, less ad inventory with the same demand is going to drive up the average cost for Facebook ads. So, you’ll have to spend more to reach a smaller audience.
What can you do?
Right now, we can only speculate about what the real impact will be once implemented…and I’m sure Facebook will go through iterations of testing before implementing any sweeping changes to all users. Change always presents opportunities. As a brand, your strategies will have to evolve. Depending on the changes in cost and ad reach when the dust finally settles, you may need to shift some of your advertising dollars away from Facebook and into other platforms that can provide similar targeting. You may have to find other ways of connecting to your target audience on Facebook, like moderating a group (for example). However, the best thing that you can do is to keep a close eye on your campaigns, monitoring key metrics regularly. Also begin exploring alternative advertising channels.
Facebook stock was down 5% after the announcement. “Bravo” to Zuck for taking what seems to be a stand for positive social change despite the anticipated loss in revenue. We’ll have to see how this plays out in the long run.
What do you think about this latest Facebook change?