Category: Facebook

Facebook Tightens Privacy Controls – How This Could Affect Your Marketing

As Facebook has exploded in popularity over the past 10 years, it has been dogged by issues regarding the privacy of user information. To make matters worse, Facebook also has a knack for sabotaging their own cause, as was the case when a researcher at Facebook released a study on emotional contagion -- the transfer and manipulation of others' emotions via the Facebook News Feed.And that's just the beginning.Earlier this year, Facebook was forced to retire its ‘Sponsored Stories’ feature – an extremely popular advertising option among brands on Facebook – due to an uproar about using user profile pictures and information in Sponsored Stories without explicit approval from the concerned users. In August 2013, it paid $20 million in a settlement of a class action suit filed in California over how its Sponsored Stories program overstepped users’ right to privacy.The F8 conference that Facebook hosted in April this year shone the spotlight on a slew of privacy changes that Facebook was making to avoid similar situations in the future.Read on to see what these changes are and how they could affect your social media marketing.

‘Friends’ instead of ‘Public’ default visibility setting for all posts by new users

In the past, if a user had not specified their privacy settings for their posts, they would by default be open to public viewing. Typically, this would happen to new Facebook users who hadn’t discovered the right privacy controls for their profile yet.This practice has been labeled exploitative and has come under sharp backlash from privacy supporters. Facebook, which till now ignored this altogether, did an about face in May and limited the display of all posts by new users to their ‘friends’ unless specified otherwise.This means two things. One, the user data that used to be mined by various social media apps will drastically drop, hence reducing the ability to tailor your marketing content to user profiles. Two, discovering new content on Facebook will be harder as keyword searches and hashtags will only pick up content specifically labelled for public consumption.

‘Privacy Check’ for existing users

In a corollary to the default ‘friends’ setting for all posts by new users, Facebook will allow existing users to choose their audiences much more easily.People who haven’t updated their privacy settings in a while will get automated messages asking them to carry out a ‘Privacy Check’ for all their older posts and renew settings for future posts.In a nod to the rising use of social media via mobile devices, the Facebook app for iPhone features a simplified audience selector making it equally easy to maintain privacy while surfing Facebook on iPhones.This is increased control over post visibility is another spoke in the quantity and quality of data social apps and advertisers will have at their fingertips.

Users can now alter their Ad Profiles

In an attempt to soothe the growing distrust that users have started to develop towards Facebook thanks to increasingly intrusive Facebook ads, each user will now have access to their own Facebook Ad Profile.Users can now see the records of their likes, interests and usage behavior that Facebook maintains about them. They can also add, delete or modify information on these ad profiles directly.This is a huge blow to advertisers, as it reduces the objectivity of the user profile data that Facebook now offers. The new ad profile data is likely to be less rich, less accurate and less in quantity than before; hence making decisions regarding Facebook advertising even more difficult for brands.

Users can block out your ads

Users can now block specific ads or advertisers that they find irrelevant or irritating, directly from their timeline on Facebook.(Source: Facebook)Facebook serves ads to its users not just based on their profile information, but also based on their browsing behavior outside of Facebook. Many users have protested against this practice calling it overtly intrusive, as a result of which Facebook now offers users an option to opt out of retargeted ads as well.While awareness of this measure is low among average users of Facebook, advertisers can expect to see some drop in the number of quality and quantity of retargeting data available on Facebook for advertising.

Anonymous Social Login

Social logins are popular among users who want a seamless user experience between the various websites they use on an everyday basis. Social login allows users to log in to websites using their social media credentials, doing away with the need to remember dozens of username-password combinations. In the process, it allows the owners of those sites to gain access to the user’s social media information.Acknowledging the uneasiness that many users feel in sharing their profile information with random apps and ecommerce sites in return for the convenience of seamless login, Facebook will now allow users to log in to partner sites in incognito or ‘anonymous’ mode, thus restricting their access to the user’s profile and post information.This feature is being rolled out slowly for now and will apply to all apps and sites in the near future.Great news for users, but definitely bad news for sites that use social login apps and plugins.

More informative App Control Panel

The newly redesigned app control panel offers users a bird’s eye view of what apps have access to their information and what information they have access to.It also helps them modify, add or delete the personal data that can be accessed by external apps easily.Another example of the reduced data access that apps and marketers can foresee once users start using this feature more extensively.

Final words

Facebook has always lived in a grey area between privacy controls and privacy intrusion of its user base. As more and more people become aware of the various ways in which their personal information is up for sale by social media platforms like Facebook, they lash out against what they see as privacy transgressions by digital media.With Facebook taking every step possible to minimize the negative PR that its privacy issues create, the extent and quality of data available to marketers will definitely reduce. Our job as marketers is to ensure that we remain updated about every way in which we can maximize Facebook marketing without getting on the wrong side of our users.Rohan Ayyar works for E2M, a premium digital marketing firm specializing in content strategy, web analytics and conversion rate optimization for startups. His posts are featured on major online marketing blogs such as Moz, Search Engine Journal and Social Media Today. Rohan hangs out round the clock on Twitter @searchrook – hit him up any time for a quick chat.  

Google vs. Facebook: Who Will Come Out on Top? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Facebook and Google: they are, inarguably, the two giants in the Western world (and arguably the entire world) when it comes to technology and the Internet. They make big moves, and they do so with confidence and purpose, even if that purpose isn't apparent to the layman. This infographic from Who Is Hosting This? highlights the "tech cold war" these companies have been in since around 2009, including:
  • Company acquisitions,
  • Developments,
  • Innovations, and
  • "Doctrine."
Who do you think will come out on top? Check out the infographic here: 

Top Tips for Skyrocketing Your Facebook Engagement

Looking to spice up your posts and engage with your audience? We’ve got you covered. Follow these 10 quick steps, adapted from a blog post by Facebook itself, and you’re off to the races!

1. Use images and videos that engage your audience.

Many readers are drawn to visually appealing messages. ‘Rich’ media such as photos and videos will grab the readers attention and aid your posts to stand out on their News Feed.Do your best to share images of your products, as stated above,  readers are drawn in by visuals. Even better, try sharing photos of your cutomers enjoying your products/services.Keep your posts short and to the point - between 100 and 250 characters. Posts of these lengths typically show more engagement, and they support rather than distract from the visuals.

2. Create a conversation with your audience.

Ask your customers to share their thoughts on your product/services. Feedback is key! Listening to your customers will improve your business as well.Take this feedback into consideration and implement it. This can build customer loyalty and show that you value their opinions.Application: This is demonstrated well  in the business model of Modify Watches, a company that creates mix-and-match watches. Modify Watches asks customers for input on watch design and titles and uses this feedback to feed into future designs.

3. Use your posts to share exclusive promotions and discounts.

Offer special promotions or perks to your customers via social media posts. This will keep your customers interested and drive online sales.Application: BarkBox creates posts that share exclusive promotional codes. Their findings have shown that valuable offers, like buy-1-get-1-free or dicounts over 20%, have a higher likelihood of being shared. This helps the company to spread the word about their business.To add a sense of urgency and improve audience engagement with your promotions, include clear calls to action and redemption details, like when the promotion ends.

4. Provide access to exclusive information.

Provide rewards for customers who are connected to your social media pages, and drive online sales by sharing exclusive information and deals with them.Application: For Mother’s Day, PhotoBarn engaged in a 10-day Giveaway of PhotoBarn products on their page.

5. Be consistent and timely.

Your customers and audience will engage more with posts if the posts are related to current subjects, i.e events or holidays.Consistency and timeliness are very important when replying to comments on your posts. The faster the response, the more likely it is that customers will engage in the future.Tip: An inside look on upcoming product sales a couple of weeks prior to big sale events (such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday) can help drive up sales.

6. Plan an editorial calendar.

An editorial calendar can be used to stay in regular contact with customers and keep up with ideas about what to talk about each week/month.Planning can be very helpful when it comes to your business. This type of calendar planning will not only help keep you consistent with your posts, but it will also ensure that the content you’re posting is well planned and interesting.

7. Schedule posts.

Scheduling your posts in advance can help you better manage your time and plan for upcoming holiday events and specials.Find out when the majority of your customers are online by visiting your Page Insights and going to the Posts tab, then use this information to schdule your posts accordingly.You can choose to manage your scheduled posts by going to the top of your Page and clicking “Edit Page,” then “Use Activity Log.”

8. Target your posts.

FaceBook allows you to target your audience for each post. To do this, click on the target icon at the bottom left corner of your Page’s sharing tool and select Add Targeting. This will allow you to target your post based on the audience you are trying to reach such as gender, relationship status, educational status, interests, age, location and language.

9. Incorporate link posts to drive people to your website.

Link posts are now larger and have a clickable area that helps drive people to your website. To try them, follow these steps;
  • Go to your Page’s sharing tool, enter the offsite URL and hit enter.
  • The title, description and image will be taken from your webpage, but you are still able to customize the text and image of the post.
  • Again, Facebook has increased the size of the image for these posts, so you will want to choose an image that is compelling and will blend freely with the News Feed.

10. Review your posts’ performance.

Checking your Page Insights reguarly will help you to undertsand what in your posts is working. These insights can help you keep your posts relevant and engaging. This page will also help you to understand your customers and what type of content they are interested in.About the Author: Grace Turner works at 60 Second Communications, a marketing communications firm working with top brands from around the globe.