Tag: Facebook

16 Apr

We Need to Talk About Facebook – What’s Next for Users, Advertisers and Brands

Kailey Emerson Facebook, social media Tags: , 0 Comments

Last week, Facebook sent a notice to users directly impacted by the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. “We understand the importance of keeping your data safe”, it began. The notice explained that Facebook has banned the app “This Is Your Digital Life”, the third party tool created by researcher Aleksandr Kogan, who collected and extracted the data of over 80 million Facebook users and sold this information to several political campaigns. Further, Facebook encouraged users to review the apps and websites which currently have access to information on their profile. They emphasize that they are “committed to confronting abuse and to putting you in control of your privacy”.

This is one of just many changes that are expected to come as many Facebook users 

grapple with the fact that their data isn’t quite as private as they thought.

As Facebook moves forward from Cambridge Analytica, there are two truths we must acknowledge:

  1. Data is at the core of what Facebook does, and demographic knowledge such as age, location, and relationship status are only the start. The company brings in $40 billion in advertising revenue annually because it offers brands data that gives them an unparalleled ability to target consumers.
  2. Facebook is able to target ads to potential consumers by using artificial intelligence in order to analyze our behavior across the web. When internet users venture to other sites, Facebook can still monitor what they are doing with software like its ubiquitous “Like” and “Share” buttons. In fact, signing up for Facebook requires opting in to their data policy, which “includes information about the websites and apps you visit, your use of our services on those websites and apps, as well as information the developer or publisher of the app or website provides to you or us”.

It’s increasingly evident that the type and volume of data the platform has been collecting for years may be a revelation for most Facebook users who breezed through the lengthy terms and conditions portion of the sign-up process. What exactly does Facebook know about me? How are they collecting this information? Who has access to it?

Luckily, as mentioned above, there has already been action to combat the ability of third-party apps to mine user data when they are accessed by someone logging into the Facebook to share an article or take a quiz – in fact, the Cambridge Analytica outcry was triggered after The New York Times and others reported last month that a quiz app, “This Is Your Digital Life”, made by Mr. Kogan had collected information on Facebook users.

Which third-party apps might have had access to your profile? Games like FarmVille, Candy Crush and Words With Friends; apps that broadcast your extra-Facebook activities, like Spotify and Pinterest; and apps that were almost explicitly about gathering as much useful data as possible from users, like TripAdvisor’s Cities I’ve Visited app, which let you share a digital pushpin map with your friends.

So, what can you do as a user with Facebook’s new privacy and data features?

  1. Check to see if your data was used by Cambridge Analytica here.
  2. Review the apps and sites that you’ve allowed access to your Facebook profile here.
  3. Explore your ad preferences and related settings here.
  4. Take a look at your Facebook privacy settings here.

If you’re a business owner, you may also be asking yourself how Facebook’s potential changes will affect the ability of your content being seen on the platform, whether that’s organic posts having the reach and engagement they used to or your ads being seen by an audience of your target demographic. How can I target ads effectively when people are beginning to remove their data from Facebook? How will Facebook gather data offsite in a more transparent way moving forward? Will this affect the Pixel I have on my website? How exactly the platform will change over time may not yet be apparent. We can be certain that Facebook will be held to a higher standard moving forward, especially when collecting data across the web for platform users and non-users alike, as the demand for transparent actions increases and the third party apps’ access to data decreases. The Pixel itself is already a relatively transparent measurement. To review, your Pixel is set up through Facebook’s Business Manager and then activated by code you put onto your website. The Pixel can track conversions (newsletter sign-ups, completed online sales, etc) on your website or simply collect information on who visited your website and how long they spent there. You can create an audience based off previous website visitors within Facebook Ads Manager, which is advantageous for retargeting campaigns as well as the creation of “lookalike” audiences constructed from site visits. Taking advantage of the data your Pixel gathers is especially helpful when constructing audiences for your ad campaigns; coupled with meaningful and relevant messaging in your ad copy, the creation of targeted audiences allows brands a clear path forward as the uncertainty of access to user data clouds the future.

As we mentioned to our clients earlier this year, the era of posting multiple times a day is over, and the platform is continuing to prioritize quality over quantity when it comes to allowing businesses the newsfeed space they used to: “Facebook will not measure its success based solely on the time its users spend watching videos,” said Zuckerberg on January 31. “It will optimize instead for meaningful social interactions”. Our content strategists have taken this to heart, searching for new opportunities to tell in-depth stories for our clients and shifting the language in posts and ads we create to minimize any “sales-y” calls to action (“come on down to the store”, “get this”, “stop by my event”).

If you haven’t already done so, now is a great opportunity to produce content that creates opportunities for meaningful conversation to cut through the algorithm. It’s also increasingly important that businesses of all sizes are focusing on customer service replies more deliberately than ever — keep in mind that positive and negative interactions are nearly equally ranked opportunities to drive brand reach.

For now, short video is still king, with intentional organic content close behind. Avoiding an overflow of organic posts (posting just for the sake of posting) is the best place to start when it comes to improving your brand’s presence on Facebook. It’s also important to maintain an intentional, relevant lens with a consistent brand voice when crafting ad campaigns.

No matter the changes that Facebook may make over the coming months, telling stories with your paid and organic content is one thing that’s here to stay.

Kailey Emerson is a strategist for Smirk New Media.

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth blog in a content series by Smirk New Media about the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal. Read the other posts here.

12 Apr

We Need to Talk About Facebook – And Why It Still Works

Emily Martinez Facebook, social media Tags: , , , 0 Comments

So far, this blog series has discussed this issues surrounding Facebook, the platform’s reaction to these issues, and the changes being implemented as a result. This part of the series is taking a different approach. I want to talk about why Facebook is still an effective platform for digital marketing.

Despite the charges, changes, and Congressional questions, Facebook remains a pioneer in digital marketing with an enormous amount of active users and some of the most accessible targeting tools.

THE POPULAR VOTE

Facebook’s number of active users is in the billions. They were the first social media platform to cross that threshold and have maintained steady growth year over year. This platform connects people all around the world and provides a place to consume news, pop culture, and funny dog videos.

Typically, a scandal like Cambridge Analytica would cripple a business, but Facebook has not seen any significant decline in active users. How is that possible? Zuck touched on it briefly while fielding questions in front of Congress, but Facebook is not a platform with just one service. They act as a social network, a news outlet, a digital marketing platform, an online marketplace, and an event planning tool – to name a few – and they will remain relevant for the foreseeable future.

Even though the platform recently reported a decrease in active users from the younger generations, those audience members are still reachable on Instagram, WhatsApp, etc. and Facebook is making changes to increase user experience. Based on those changes, marketing professionals should be fine tuning their targeting skills right about now.

BULLSEYE

When it comes to advertising, Facebook has created an intuitive platform that remains a crucial part of any marketing strategy. Yes, the changes being implemented make it more difficult to get business accounts onto their audience’s news feeds. However, to offset these changes, will simply take a more detailed focus on the targeting tools available and possible pivots in strategy.

While we mentioned consumers’ ability to opt-out of sharing their data in the previous blog, doing so would prevent relevant ads from reaching those users. Instead, those who opt-out will mostly receive general ads for various unrelated products and services.

The tools to successful digital marketing are readily available and targeting allows businesses to get in front of the right audiences. This new era of Facebook will change the way marketers approach ad campaigns. However, the basics remain the same. A good strategy includes the target audience, and Facebook supplies the way to reach them.

Emily Martinez is a strategist for Smirk New Media.

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth blog in a content series by Smirk New Media about the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal. Read the other posts here. Next in Smirk New Media’s We Need to Talk About Facebook series, a look at what’s next from senior strategist Kailey Emerson. Also, watch Allie Carrick and Mike Koehler’s discussion on Zuckerberg’s testimony on Facebook Live.

12 Apr

We Need to Talk About Facebook – Scrambling To Respond

Annie Strom social media Tags: , , , 0 Comments

Facebook is taking swift action to calm growing concerns from Congress and the public about the platform’s approach to privacy and data security. Its response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the resulting changes to the platform will have a profound impact on brands, developers and users moving forward.

On April 10, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg went live at a joint hearing with the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees and on April 11, he testified in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Zuckerberg told Congress Facebook is taking proactive action to prevent incidents like this from happening in the future, but this announcement may be too little, too late. Whether change comes from platform inclination or through government regulation, this seismic shift will constrict and change the way advertisers can reach people online.

Facebook is working to roll out solutions quickly in response to the growing stories surrounding their company and data misuse.

Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Shroepfer wrote a blog post within the last week outlining several changes that are in the works on Facebook APIs to limit the volume of data app developers can collect from Facebook users. With the Events API, for example, apps will no longer be able to access attendees or posts on the event wall, and the Groups API will no longer provide member lists or names associated with posts or comments. Apps will no longer be able to see a user’s religious or political views, relationship status, education, work history, and tons more, all of which was previously readily available.

They announced plans to display all active advertisements on each brand’s Facebook page in response to the Russian interference scandal. This feature is currently only available to users in Canada but will roll out in the U.S. in the coming months.

In September, Facebook rolled out a feature called “Recent Ad Activity.” This feature allows users to see which brands they have connected with in the past, which ads you’ve clicked on as well as how the brand connected with you initially. Below is a screenshot of what it looks like from the user’s perspective.

Facebook has also rolled out some redesigns to make it easier for users to see and adjust their privacy settings. Much of the discussion during Zuckerberg’s Congressional testimony had to do with what users could keep private and whether those settings were opt-in or opt-out.

On the platform’s mobile app, Facebook has tweaked its user experience. According to Time Magazine, “The company says the new layout will streamline the settings into one location “instead of having settings spread across nearly 20 different screens.”

Downloading your personal Facebook data has been the most interesting change so far. Facebook is letting users see just what it knows about them, but downloading all of their data settings. It’s made for some interesting discoveries and will continue to for users who may have been naive about what they let apps and Facebook know about them.

These new privacy-related features are just beginning as public pressure forces Facebook and other online platforms to prioritize privacy and data security more consequentially than ever before.

There needs to be a balance in which users feel safe and protected, but businesses still see potential in opportunities like they do now. Advertising transparency will be a vital component for companies on Facebook to retain their relationship with consumers. With change comes opportunity. With that in mind, advertisers will have to adapt to these changes and pivot their strategy on the platform.

Annie Strom is a strategist for Smirk New Media.

Editor’s Note: This is the third blog in a content series by Smirk New Media about the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal. Read the other posts here. Next in Smirk New Media’s We Need to Talk About Facebook series, a look at why the platform still works. Also, watch Allie Carrick and Mike Koehler’s discussion on Zuckerberg’s testimony on Facebook Live.

11 Apr

We Need to Talk About Facebook – An Open Graph and Bad Intent

Mike Koehler social media Tags: , , , 0 Comments

There’s a theory that’s been around for as long as the Internet – there are two groups who innovate the fastest with new technology: pornographers and criminals.

That theory recently proved true again, and that’s the genie Facebook is trying to get back into the bottle and the reason Mark Zuckerberg is testifying in front of Congress this week. Facebook’s decision in 2010 to allow developers to use the Open Graph platform to launch apps to access the data of users — and their friends’ — is at the heart of the issue that has caused this crisis.

During the window between when this development platform was open and when it was shut down in 2014, a lot of bad guys flooded Facebook with a lot of skeezy apps. Why shouldn’t they – Facebook was and still is the greatest collection of consumer information on the planet. Among the dicey apps was one which promised to give users a psychological profile of themselves. It was created by Alexander Kogan, who then sold the data he compiled to Cambridge Analytica.

In all, 300,000 people downloaded the app and shared their data with the app, and Facebook being how it was in 2013, that meant Kogan had access to millions of users’ profile information.

If you were a Facebook user in those days and you used an app to tell your horoscope, to find out what your Myers-Briggs profile was, if you were an introvert, an extrovert or a Trekkie, you gave permission to that app to take as much data about you as you had opted to make public.

That’s a lot of information – and information about your friends. Millions of data points which can be used to great audience profiles and benefit brands looking to connect with certain people and make them take certain actions, like supporting a candidate.

While your friends’ data is no longer available because of Facebook’s changes, the specter of the platform sitting on this reservoir of personal profile information is still freaking everyone out. But for Facebook, all of those demographics, Page likes and group memberships create the cash which makes the company go.

Yesterday, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) asked Zuckerberg how it was that Facebook made money. The answer from Zuckerberg, “We sell ads.”

Actually what they do is sell the audience. Cambridge Analytica just exploited and innovated off a huge hole in the system which happened nearly ten years ago.

There’s no doubt that there were other bad apps gathering mounds of data during the Wild West days of Open Graph. Their names will bloom up now and then over the coming months. Now that there’s awareness watch out.

Mike Koehler is the founder and chief strategist of Smirk New Media.

Editor’s Note: This is the second blog in a content series by Smirk New Media about the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal. Read the other posts here. Next in Smirk New Media’s We Need to Talk About Facebook series, a thorough recap of how Facebook got here from Smirk’s Founder & Chief Strategist Mike Koehler. Also, Allie and Mike discussed Zuckerberg’s testimony on Facebook Live.

10 Apr

We Need to Talk About Facebook – New Blog Series

Allie Carrick Facebook, social media Tags: , 0 Comments

When news broke that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm hired by several political campaigns, gained access to private information of more than 80 million Facebook users in March, I realized quickly this scandal had the fuel to impact every online platform. After all, online platforms had free rein to make their own rules and went mostly unregulated in the Digital Age.

Today, Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress giving his account of where the company failed to prevent their platform from being used to harm the public interest. Full disclosure, this post was written before Zuckerberg testified, but there’s no doubt his appearance will be significant. Facebook representatives have appeared before Congress many times to testify on various subjects, but this is different. Zuckerberg appeared for damage control.

As I’ve spoken with clients, prospects, and members of our community in the past few weeks, it’s clear there are a lot of questions about what actually happened in this situation, how Facebook will change because of it, and how those changes will impact both users and brands on the platforms. Through this blog series, we hope to provide you with more clarity on the headlines and our perspective on what this means for social media marketing and digital advertising.

Allie Carrick is president and managing partner of Smirk New Media.

Editor’s Note: This is the first blog in a content series by Smirk New Media about the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal. Read the latest blogs in the series here. Next in Smirk New Media’s We Need to Talk About Facebook series, a thorough recap of how Facebook got here from Smirk’s Founder & Chief Strategist Mike Koehler. Also, watch Allie and Mike discuss Zuckerberg’s testimony on Facebook Live.

09 Jun

Animating Facebook: Introducing GIFs

Michaela Lawson Content, Facebook, social media Tags: , ,

Facebook keeps digital marketers on their toes, to say the least. New ways of reaching audiences are constantly surfacing or being redefined. The once photo-dominated platform is now responding more and more to video content. In fact, photos only reach half of the audience that videos can, according to MarketingLand. Granted, the content still needs to be engaging, creative and unique to the audience. Here’s a breakdown of how much organic reach each mode of communication is receiving on Facebook:

Organic Reach on Facebook

But this landscape is ever-changing with Facebook’s announcement that the platform will now be supporting GIF (pronounced “JIF”) animation in the news feed. Now, users are able to express themselves in one of the Internet’s purest forms of expression – short, animated images played on a continuous loop.

These short snippets of hilarity seem endless in all their glory from social media to text messages, GIFs rule communication circles everywhere. Adding this ability to Facebook’s timeline allows users to continue expressing themselves through others’ captured expressions as they deem fit.

However, this option is not yet available for brands, but the inevitable extension to brands will ultimately change the face of organic reach on Facebook again. The use of animated GIFs, however, open new opportunities for businesses to succeed or fail.

GIFs on brand Pages have the potential to:

  • Add personality to tweets and customer responses.
  • Make content more viral and share-worthy.
  • Creative way to feature new products or exclusives.
  • Highlight brand culture with your own content.

Ultimately, Facebook has added another step to the pathway of communication today. And it’s a step that brands are desperate to be a part of to try and reach their audiences with one more outlet of communication.

27 Feb

4 Ways to Use Visual Storytelling on Facebook

Allie Carrick Facebook, social media Tags: , , , 0 Comments

Awesome

By: Kurtis Wiles

When you scroll through your newsfeed on Facebook, what catches your eye? Naturally, the big, colorful squares that contain an image are picked up by our eyes as being important and worth looking at. Pictures are the most easily recognized and engaging type of content in a news feed.

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Haven’t we all heard that phrase too many times? As much as it might pain us to admit it, there is truth in the idea.

Pictures offer us a unique insight into moments that are frozen in time, different colors and shapes that we are attracted to, and an idea that must be seen to be heard. Pictures tell us stories.

Every company has a story to tell. Brand history, customer feedback and internal innovation are all a part of the ever-growing story. So the question becomes,”How do we use pictures to tell our story?”

This question burns into the minds of marketing professionals worldwide who understand the power a single image obtains in generating engagement on Facebook. The best part about “visual storytelling” is that you don’t have to be a marketing pro to learn how to do it; all you need is a story and some imagination.

Here are four ways you can master the art of visual storytelling on Facebook:

Stand-alone visual campaigns

A UK-based insurance comparison site, Compare The Market, created a campaign around the idea that market sounds a little bit like meerkat. They introduced Aleksandr Orlov, a meerkat with a Russian accent and aristocratic heritage. Though Compare The Market doesn’t have its own Facebook page, Aleksandr’s page has more than 800,000 likes.

Aleksandr Orlov – Founder of Compare the Meerkat

Aleksandr’s story (and family) was created through images and clever interactions with followers on Facebook. Who would have thought a meerkat could tell the story of an insurance company?

Develop Community

Many businesses make a point of giving back to their community, but TOMS shoes takes it a step further. The company was founded on the principle that for every pair of shoes sold, they would donate a pair to children in poverty around the world.

Photo: Spread the love. </p><br /><br /><p>Happy Valentine's Day!

TOMS shares pictures of all of the kids they have the fortune of helping. Not only are they impacting people in a positive way, but they are sharing the story of their company’s founding principles and how those principles impact their business.

Photo Collections

A picture doesn’t always need to be created to tell your story; sometimes your story is already in a picture ready to be taken. Photos of your entire team as they work on, and eventually finish, a 3-year project can tell a complete story with short updates here and there to tie it all together.

Bringing together a group of real-life photos can tell a powerful story with little to no work on “creating” the images. The secret is to take a step back and see the story as it is happening before your eyes.

The Walt Disney Animation Studios facebook page is a great example. The picture below posted on the Disney Animation page features all their team members who attended the California Institute of the Arts in the 1970s.

Photo: Learn more about the members (and familiar faces) of the CalArts class that have helped make our studios what they are today. Read more in Vanity Fair: http://di.sn/iXL

Fan-Generated Content

Starbucks celebrates the most important people to their company through visual stories: their customers. The Starbucks Facebook page is full of fan photos that offer a customer’s-eye view of their company. In essence, Starbucks allows their customers to tell their story.

Starbucks Fan

What better strategy to generate fresh, relevant stories about your company than to enlist the free advocacy of your fans?

Photo posts account for 93% of the most engaging posts on Facebook. On average, photos receive 53% more likes, 104% more comments, and 84% more link-clicks than text-based posts.

Visual stories are powerful tools in the world of social sharing and fast-moving content. How will you tell your story?

13 Feb

Our collective gasps – and cheers

Mike Koehler Facebook, Featured, life, social media, the internet is great, Twitter Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

 

Here’s a secret – American Idol helped convince me that social media was changing the world.

The idea of a shared online experience, that people around the world, including those in my social network, could watch and react in real-time to a big event on TV was something that stirred my traditional media heart.
That original moment of watching American Idol and being floored when Kris Allen beat Adam Lambert, then watching Twitter (still just flirting with the mainstream) flood with cheers and moans and other comments was informative. If we could come together online in these red-hot moments of popular culture, we could be together during moments of importance.

In the years and months that follows, we were together during bad weather, revolutions around the world, elections, births and deaths.

All of that came to mind in the past few days with the death of Whitney Houston, the rise of basketball star Jeremy Lin and last night’s Grammys.

Social media is now an inexorable part of any news that shakes our personal foundations, bringing us sadness or joy. When we experience these moments, we are flocking to the web to add our voice but also to find comfort or support in the voices of others.

Does it make a difference to the world whether your posted “RIP Whitney” on your Facebook wall? In the grand scheme of things – no. But being one more stream in the river of information that defines our nation and shapes how we collectively lean on each other.

If that’s the least of what social media does – apart from the rich and deep business applications – then more power to it.