Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to my very first post in a series dedicated to marketing/media/tech news which I am calling ‘The Bounce”. I know, the title is super lame, but hopefully I can make up for it with some high-quality content about the marketing world. Let’s get started with Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement late last week about the future of advertising on the social media juggernaut known as Facebook.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, announced in a blog post on January 11 that he’s given Facebook’s product teams a new goal going forward to focus on helping users find relevant content and have “more meaningful social interactions” while using the platform. His decision will mark “a major change to how we build Facebook”, Zuckerberg said.
Changes to all Facebook products will be implemented in the coming months, with the most obvious changes happening to the News Feed. Users can expect to see fewer posts from businesses, brands and media. Content that does appear from these entities will be held to the new standard — that it should help users have more meaningful social interactions. The changes are likely to result in people spending less time on Facebook, and for some engagement metrics to drop.
The move shocked many in the tech world, and was enough to get Wall Street a little rattled (Facebook shares dropped 5% early in the day on January 12….the biggest decline since November 2016), mainly because a decrease in engagement could mean a decrease in Facebook’s ad revenue.
So why would Zuckerberg, who was named the world’s fifth-richest person by Forbes magazine with a net worth of over $56 billion, put a cap on his possible return from advertisers who are eager to publish on the social network?
For starters, Zuckerberg set a personal goal for 2018 to make sure Facebook isn’t being misused. Practically, that means fewer sponsored posts and more personal content on Facebook. Zuckerberg said that users’s News Feeds will now contain more stories, photos and videos from friends and family, and fewer from advertisers.
“The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being,” Zuckerberg said. “We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long-term measures of happiness and health. On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos — even if they’re entertaining or informative — may not be as good.”
Facebook has also come under fire for its role in allowing “fake news” to run rampant on the platform, without a true way of authenticating published content. There is also a growing backlash against the amount of time that consumers are spending on social media.
Alright, so this is a big win for Facebook’s reputation and for all of us end-users, right? But what about the brands who will be shunned by Facebook’s algorithm? Aren’t they the ones getting a bad deal? Maybe not.
See, rather than publishing content, marketers and agency partners will soon be guided to publish quality content. Rather than pushing out numerous social media posts, auto-play videos, banner ads, and retargeting ads, marketers will soon be encouraged to create content that the users actually want to engage with. If done correctly, the content will pass Zuckerberg’s “meaningful social interactions” test, reach its target audience, create a positive experience for the user and in turn develop a healthy and prosperous relationship between the brand and the audience. The best advertisers are already doing this, but certainly the more that begin to take this approach, the better it will be for marketing as a whole.
It’s Facebook’s world, and we’re just living in it. Here’s to hoping that world is a little more authentic in 2018.
“Best way to sell something: Don’t sell anything. Earn the awareness, respect and trust of those who might buy.”
Rand Fishkin, CEO and Founder of Moz