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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.