Facebook has changed a lot since it first surfaced over a decade ago. It has become a place for local and world news updates rather than just friend and family member life updates, according to Buzzsumo, it is a key ingredient in content going viral and it has changed the way we communicate through Messenger and status updates. That doesn’t even begin to touch what Facebook has changed in the marketing realm and the crazy thing is, it’s still evolving.
With the start of 2016, we have seen the introduction of Reactions, the launch of Facebook Live, and the introduction of Facebook Sports Stadium just to name a few. Depending on how you look at it, Facebook is either a marketers dream or worst nightmare with its constant updates but no matter what it’s important to stay current with all that is happening. Below are the top 3 Facebook rollouts from 2016 that every marketer should know.
Content Discovery On Mobile
Facebook is about to take content discovery to the next level with a way for the masses to publish content directly on Facebook through Instant Articles. Currently, the Instant Articles page on Facebook reads “On April 12th at Facebook’s F8 conference, we will open up the Instant Articles program to all publishers—of any size, anywhere in the world. We invite you to register your interest below.”
Facebook has the platform to reach millions if not billions that many publications want and need for their mobile content. If you try to visit most publications websites on a mobile device they are often times slow to load and look terrible. Facebook has created a beyond successful mobile app that loads faster, looks nicer and has the appeal of advertisers that can’t be matched. So there really is no point in trying to recreate it, it’s much easier to bring your content where people are already going. This is exactly what the very successful content curator BuzzFeed got right a few years ago as FastComapny first reported: “Instead of trying to lure eyeballs to its own website, the way most publishers do, BuzzFeed would publish original text, images, and video directly to where its audience already spent its time, some 30 different global platforms, from Facebook to the Russian social networks VK and Telegram. Rather than write one definitive article and publish it on every platform (the de facto standard in the media business), BuzzFeed would tailor content specifically for the network and audience where it’s being viewed.”
Nearly a year since Facebook opened up Instant Articles to about 9 different publications some have reported positive results:
- The Washington Post reported there has been a significant increase in repeat visits within seven days compared to when the Post was publishing to the old Facebook Newsfeed.
- Slate, a political publication currently publishes 70% of its content on Instant Articles and has reported that engagement with its articles increased over old Facebook — Facebook visits have increased 25 percent post Instant Articles launch, which he attributed in part to the new format.
- LittleThings, a site for uplifting and feel good stories says that people are sharing Instant Articles about 15 percent more than old Facebook articles.
With almost every brand experimenting with the content marketing this is exciting news and hopefully, something that many can and will take advantage of in April. For more information on how to prepare and what to expect once “accepted” into the program check out The Social Examiners post, Facebook Instant Articles: What Marketers and Publishers Need to Know.
Mobile Ad Experience
If there is one reason why publications are investing their content into Instant Articles it is for the access to a fast mobile friendly site. If there is one reason why brands are going to invest in Facebook Canvas it is for the new quick loading ads that are exclusively available through this mobile ad format.
We’ve all experienced slow load times when clicking an ad on Facebook and we’ve all closed out of an ad because of it. With the creation of Canvas, Facebook is hoping to eliminate those wasted dollars spent on premature window closing as now users will experience 10 times faster load times than with the standard mobile web. Although this may seem like a small change, this will be huge because it addresses just one of the many areas the mobile experience is currently lacking.
Besides that advantage of being quick loading, Canvas is also another feature on Facebook that helps bring the newsfeed to life. It gives marketers the ability use storytelling through images. As soon as the user taps the ad, the ad will take over their entire screen and the user is now in control. The user can swipe through images, zoom in for details and tilt their phones to view panoramic shots.
Like most of Facebook’s recent rollouts, it’s all about keeping the user inside of Facebook which obviously benefits Facebook’s ability to collect more data. Brands benefit from the faster load times that could lead to increased conversions, the advanced visuals that could lead to higher engagement and the ability to add CTAs directly to ads that link to the checkout page. These all seem like some pretty big wins for brands too and something that many will want to take advantage of.
The consistent theme throughout Facebook’s blog post, Relevant & Effective: How to Get More Value from Your Ads, is that their ad system is built based on the premise that ads shown on Facebook should be relevant to the people that see them and maximize value for advertisers.
Although the announcement spent most of the time explaining how ads are shown on Facebook (through an auction process where a value is assigned to each ad based on 3 factors: bid price, the probability of the desired action, and quality/relevance of an ad). I think the most important information comes from the tips on how to increase your ads reach by improving your relevance.
- How much is the outcome worth to you? You should set your bid according to how much the users action is worth monetarily to you. Is an email form filled out by a lead worth $5 or $25?
- Be specific with your audience. It’s good to use website retargeting or lookalike audiences. Beware of audience overlap as Facebook does not like to show similar ads to the same people.
- The relevance score is calculated by positive and negative feedback such as likes, clicks, and shares on ads. Remember relevance is a huge factor in who sees your ad so keep track of that score.
- Images are more important than the text used.
Another part of the post spent time on the announcement of the Delivery Insights tool that will be available through Ads Manager in the coming weeks. Delivery Insights tells advertisers how their ads are competing at auction and provides recommendations on how to tweak the ad to make it more competitive. This should remove some of the questions you have when creating ads. The best thing to do is to continue to A/B test Facebook ads to see what gets your ads relevance score up and users executing your desired task. As you continue to test what works best for your brand, Delivery Insights should come into play to provide some more specific guidance through the ad process.
Now for a bit of a bonus round. Facebook has also announced some other advancements this year that could affect marketers in the future.
In March 2014 Facebook announced the acquirement of Oculus VR and on March 28, 2016, Facebook announced that it had started shipping the Oculus headset. Although the focus of the headset seems centered around game conceals, we know that with the addition of Facebook 360 Video they have something bigger planned for Facebook users as well. Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus certainly made headlines and was validation to the rest of the industry that VR was here for good.
In early March, it was also reported that Facebook acquired the face swapping app, Masquerade. Face swapping has been a widely successful filter on the social platform Snapchat and it looks like Facebook won’t let them be the only ones to have this technology. While Facebook plans to keep Masquerade as a standalone free app they also have plans to integrate the technology into the Facebook video experience.
Wrap It Up
Facebook has already had a busy year, and we are only closing out month 3. With each new rollout there are a few common themes we continue to see:
- It’s mobile-centric– with the knowledge that we now use mobile as our “first screen” we can’t ignore the bad user experiences anymore.
- It’s all about making current tools faster– there are other social platforms we could be spending our marketing dollars on.
- It’s about keeping the user on Facebook– They already have billions of people logging in each day, they know they have the audience marketers need.
Facebook seems to guide every enhancement with one question: how do we continue to stay relevant for users? If I had to make a prediction on what the next big focus for Facebook could be, I would say it will be all about Messenger. After all, messaging one another is probably the only thing we do more on our phones than browse.
How do you feel about Facebook’s recent rollouts? How much of your marketing budget goes towards Facebook and its resources? Do you think Instant Articles will help content discovery on Facebook?