Campaigns marketers have had a week to digest the latest changes to Facebook’s News Feed and at least one practitioner is predicting digital strategy will have to change dramatically in 2018.
Brand marketers, meanwhile, have been vacillating between panic over the “nuclear bomb” Facebook dropped Jan. 11 to shrugging off the change as the latest in a run of tweaks. “Businesses already have to invest in ads on Facebook to get their content in front of their audiences,” one marketer told Adweek.
In fact, some campaign marketers also fall into the latter group, and started preparing clients months ago by encouraging them to shift their budgets into other products.
“Worried that your followers will miss out on key calls-to-action or important events? Run a campaign to increase the overlap between your Facebook followers and email list with a campaign so they never miss a thing,” Julianne Hyer, an email consultant with Beekeeper Group, wrote for C&E last November.
In his post Jan. 11 describing the News Feed change, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote: “I'm changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”
Now, posts from friends and family will be prioritized over “public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media,” he said.
Chris Nolan saw this change coming and has been telling her clients to shift spending away from the platform because they won’t find an audience there with Facebook’s reprioritization.
“Political campaigns aren’t going to be able to rely on Facebook for audience capture the way they have for the past two cycles,” she said. “If there are fewer stories to share there’s going to be less fake news, and there’s also going to be less activities around this stuff.”
Nolan, who favors direct-to-publisher digital ad placement, notes that this is likely part of a longer term strategy by the company, which has been in the crosshairs of DC lawmakers and federal regulators.
“This is not temporary. It is a seismic shift in their orientation. Political advertising is less than 1 percent of Facebook’s bottom line, but it’s 100 percent of their bad PR.”
That shift by Facebook means that campaign and advocacy marketers need to start exploring alternatives. “We’re telling clients now that they need to be careful about their Facebook engagement and we were looking for other options,” she said. “Facebook is not a go to anymore. Everything you know about political advertising is going to change in the next year.”
Joe Clements, of Florida-based Strategic Digital Services, believes it’s still possible for campaigns to get engagement out of the News Feed. But the content they’re posting needs to change.
"We have the same goal the Zuckerberg announced in the conference. We both want to 'prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people,’” he said. “We see video, live video and high quality content winning out. For us, it will be good not to have to compete with Like and Share if you love cats posts. We also see this as a Facebook double down on requiring FanPages to spend money to gain reach."
Brian Ross Adams, a Los Angeles-based digital consultant, is also worried that the change will translate into his clients having to pay more for the same results.
“This won't make it impossible to reach targeted voters, but it will likely make it more expensive,” he said. “However, everything is relative. The cost to reach 10,000 voters will still be exponentially cheaper than reaching those same voters via mail.”
Meanwhile, one of Facebook’s rivals in the campaign space couldn’t resist taking a jab after the announcement. “Facebook moving away from news makes sense. Twitter has won that battle,” Jenna Golden, who led Twitter’s political ad sales, tweeted after the announcement.