As evidenced by recent blog posts, this a time of the year for reflection. We reflect on the events of 2013 and how to take our learnings and apply them to a better, stronger 2014. I won’t get too philosophical, especially since this is my first post on FBPPC, but that’s the approach that I’m taking with this blog post to call out five big changes in 2013. Some focus on the paid side of things while others are usability changes. Find anything missing from this list? Feel free to comment and share more updates that you were excited (or skeptical) about this year.
#1 – New Retargeting Capabilities
No longer will we need to utilize Facebook Ad Exchange in order to retarget. Everything can be done right within the Facebook UI. How, you ask? Custom Audiences. The beauty of this is the ability to target mobile devices, which obviously accounts for an extremely large impression share. Many advertising platforms (cough, cough, Google AdWords) spent 2013 talking about cross-device, multiple screens and with this update, Facebook makes retargeting across multiple devices possible. On top of that, advertisers have more control and opportunity to optimize within the UI. This update gets two very enthusiastic thumbs up.
#2 – Graph Search (obviously)
While some may argue that Graph Search is Facebook stalking on steroids, the ability to search on Facebook with this level of granularity is actually quite helpful, especially when on the mission to search for something specific. For example, I was looking for a picture to frame for a friend’s birthday. Sounds like a simple task, right? Well, I was on the hunt for a specific picture with myself, the birthday girl and two other friends. I instantly resorted to Graph Search and was able to say, “Hello Facebook. I am looking for photos of me and friend a, friend b and friend c.” Not only can I do that, but I can narrow down the time frame and location.
Just when you think that it can’t get any more “searchable,” on September 30th, Facebook announced the ability for users to search for “status updates, photo captions, check-ins and comments.” I have not yet been included in this rollout but can definitely recognize the benefit from this expanded feature. As more expansions continue to roll out with Graph Search, my mind spins in 1,000 different directions thinking “Okay – well, then what? What else are we going to be able to search?”
#3 – “Free” tool for Businesses…Dwindling Away
I need to first give credit to Ad Age for sharing this valuable information earlier in the month. Apparently, Facebook avoided dancing around the topic of organic listings getting pushed further down above the fold (sound familiar, AdWords advertisers?) and said, “We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s post to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.”
What does that mean? It’s time to open up the pocketbook and either start spending in Facebook (if you haven’t already) or perhaps consider allocating more dollars to Facebook that the year prior. To pull another quote from the Ad Age article, “markerters are told they should consider paid distribution to maximize delivery of your message in news feed.”
This extreme honesty and admittance from Facebook is huge. It definitely challenges me to think about how I use Facebook for clients or need to revisit how we use this tool to acquire fans, leads and revenue. Moral of the story: if you aren’t paying to be in the space now, you will have to. What happens when everybody starts to pay to stay competitive? Costs. Go. Up.
#4 – Algorithm Update: High Quality Articles More Prominent on the News Feed
December has been quite a busy month for Facebook – almost too many updates to keep track of. On December 2nd, Facebook announced that users will start to notice links to articles more often and especially on mobile.
What does this mean? A few things. Example #1: Let’s say that you read an article from X source. Facebook, in an effort to complement interest in articles, will give you more options of articles to read based on your current selection. On a more personal note, you’ll also start to see conversations commented on by your friends bumped up higher on the News Feed so that you don’t miss out.
Pulled directly from Facebook’s announcement, “Our testing has shown that doing this in moderation for just a small number of stories can lead to more conversations between people and their friends on all types of content.”
Thoughts? Do you think that this will catch on or may be too overwhelming?
#5 – Promo Policy Changes
Right before Labor Day weekend, Facebook made another exciting announcement with a number of changes regarding promo policies. Some of the biggest changes making promotions easier and more relevant:
- Promotions can be administered on the Timeline and in Apps
- Collect entries via comments, Page post likes and messaging the Page
- Accurate tagging required in promotions
- Pages prohibited from “tagging or encouraging to tag themselves in content that they are not actually depicted in.”
- What does that mean? Users can submit names of a new product or service as a chance to win a prize, but they cannot tag themselves in a product picture as an entry
This was a great win for advertisers. Think about it – by hosting a contest on a timeline and friends see their friends entering via posting on the Timeline (which per the previously mentioned update is much more likely these days), engagement should go through the roof. This not only presents the opportunity to increase contest engagement, it also increases potential new Page Likes, which can directly trickle into revenue.
When I think about signing up for Facebook in 2005, how I used it as a college student and now in my career, I’m amazed by the power that this platform holds, the changes over the years, and the opportunities that we have as advertisers and individuals to connect with others.
My five big changes of 2013 skim the surface. You all know that this list could easily be 25+ changes – but I’m pretty sure that readership drops off beyond 1,000 words. Regardless, think about it: if this is what we have at our fingertips by 2013, what does 2014 have in store?