The Future of Facebook Marketing

The Future of Facebook Marketing

In 2008, there was a thirty-minute delay between the creation of a Facebook post and its appearance on News Feeds, and the company had just removed the infamous is that used to be appended to every status update (e.g. “[Insert angsty teenager’s full name] is: walking this empty street, on the boulevard of broken dreams”). Considering how much the platform has evolved in the past ten years, the next ten seem just as, if not more, pregnant with possibility for this social media giant. Mark Zuckerberg and his team are in fact looking ahead to 2028, and they shared their vision during Facebook’s Q3 earnings call two weeks ago. Switching gears, the company plans to move away from the News Feed and focus its efforts on developing its Stories, video, and private messaging features in order to keep social interaction at the heart of Facebook users’ experience.

With 2.27 billion active participants currently (not including Instagram and WhatsApp users), Facebook has become one of the core marketing platforms in today’s social media-dominated world; consequently, the anticipated shifts will significantly affect the businesses that use it. You may feel like your organization is still figuring out how to optimize your visibility on News Feeds, how to create effective organic posts on your Page and paid ads through Facebook’s marketing tools. But, as usual, the Internet waits for no business and continues to change, at a faster and faster rate—which means marketers have to stay on top of the trends, drink lots of coffee, and change with it.

Stories, in particular, has become a priority for further development. Inspired by Snapchat, this feature allows Facebook users to take photos and videos, edit them with fun filters and lenses, and share them with friends. Part of its appeal is that these ‘stories’ vanish after 24 hours. Presently, Instagram and WhatsApp boast the most Stories users among social media sites with ephemeral messaging, and more than 1 billion stories are shared across Facebook-owned platforms daily. Based on the patterns we’re seeing, Stories seems set to overtake the News Feed as the main channel through which people share their lives with each other. The company thus intends to invest in this area and expand its capabilities, to the point of switching Facebook’s nerve center from being, in Zuckerberg’s words, “News Feed-first to stories-first.” Even the current placement of Stories on the News Feed—right on top, making it the first thing users see—speaks to the direction in which Facebook is headed.

This shift in focus is not all that surprising, in light of Zuckerberg’s announcement this past January that Facebook would be moving to curtail how much advertising appeared on people’s News Feeds and would instead strive to facilitate meaningful relationships between friends and family. His words heralded a renewed emphasis on the brand identity of a company whose reputation has suffered due to scandals involving hate speech, leaked user data, and disinformation (e.g. the 2016 presidential election). Reiterating the company’s values during last month’s call, Zuckerberg noted that Facebook would specifically deemphasize content that encouraged passive consumption. “We build social products that help people interact. There are lots of places in the world that you can go to consume content, but we're the Internet service that people use to help connect with other people,” he said.

On the other hand, Facebook will emphasize content that encourages active user engagement, in keeping with its decision to devote itself to community growth in the coming decade. “When we say communities, we mean both helping people connect with people who share their interests—which is a major need in people's lives—and also building out specific services for bringing people closer together,” said Zuckerberg. This commitment to community-building is something that socially engaged organizations like credit unions can use to their advantage when advertising on Facebook.

 So, what does all this mean for marketing? It’s too soon to tell, but one certain impact will be the need for businesses to create absolutely gripping, hyper-engaging content in order to win real estate on the News Feed and for them to explore ways to advertise outside it. Most organizations have not yet ventured into advertising on Stories, which only became an option this August anyway, but it pays to be a pioneer—in the Q3 earnings call, Sheryl Sandberg brought up a Taiwanese company whose ads on Facebook and Instagram Stories drove up 20% more leads than its other digital campaigns.

For the moment, live video is another promising tool that has caught the attention of consumers recently, and one that is already on its way to becoming mainstream. Businesses should also keep an eye on Facebook Watch, a video-on-demand service launched last year, especially as Facebook begins running more in-stream video ads across platforms. Other exciting changes, such as virtual and augmented reality platforms and sponsored private messages, are on the horizon as well. Moreover, it’s still important to push engaging feed ads, for the News Feed is unlikely to ever disappear completely.

The future of marketing is intimately tied to the future of Facebook, at least for now, so any organization that wants to succeed must keep up with the trends. We at The Pod are here to help you stay ahead of the curve and adapt your marketing strategies accordingly so that you can effectively reach your target audiences, no matter what that future holds.