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3 min read

Facebook Changes for the New Year

Come January there’s some brand new changes coming to Facebook and as a marketer, it pays to be aware of them if you’re to do your job to the best of your ability. With that in mind, today we’re going to be looking at what these changes are and what you need, if anything, to do about them.

Facebook announced the coming changes back in November and these cover “new features and controls to help you get more out of Facebook” according to the original announcement.

They cover:

  • Privacy basics – which gives users tips and how-to guides for better controlling privacy.
  • New data and cookie policies.
  • Updated T&Cs.
  • Improvements to ads – based on the apps and sites used off Facebook.

The updates to the T&Cs and data and cookie policies have really been put in place to ensure that the new features are covered and that information is available to help you to work out how to use them more effectively. Privacy basics is designed more with the end user in mind in that it allows them to learn how to secure their account and simplifies the process of sharing with selective audiences.

The social network is also currently testing a Buy button which allows users to discover products and purchase them through the site, Facebook says that it is currently “working on ways to make transactions even more convenient.”

Ad Control for Users

For marketers, perhaps the most important changes come around the new control that users will enjoy over the ads that they see. With the rise of personalisation in marketing, research has shown that people who see irrelevant ads are more likely to leave a site and become irritated by it. The modern internet user is one that sees ads every day in every format imaginable. As such, they want to see ads that are relevant to them as many users of sites such as Facebook are sophisticated enough to know that such ads are based on their browsing habits.

However, the problem that it seems many have experienced is that ads appear differently depending on the device that the user is accessing the site with. For example, if a user is browsing on a mobile device and ads on their desktop have been delivered based on location, then naturally these will be different on a mobile when the user is located in various places. Further to this, if a user has opted out of certain types of ads on their desktop, this may not apply to ads on their phone.

Now, Facebook allows users the ability to choose what ads they see on every device that they own and to opt out of certain kinds of ads completely through the Digital Advertising Alliance (US).

If you’re not based in the US you can opt out through the Digital Advertising Alliance of Canada or the European Interactive Digital Advertising Alliance or through your mobile device settings for the Facebook app. You can’t go directly into your Facebook settings though and opt out there, instead, you’ll need to click on the arrow on an ad and select Manage Ad Preferences. This will bring up a list of all of the interests and pages that you like on which Facebook bases which ads to show.

From there it’s just a case of deleting any interests or likes that you don’t want to see related ads about. This in itself will probably prove to be a mammoth task as most Facebook users like Pages which they don’t particularly have an interest in but perhaps has run a competition in the past or posted something that the user found worth sharing or liking. However, you will still see ads, and just as many as you did before, but these will be based on the basic demographical information that you’ve provided on your profile.

What This Means to Marketers

The new T&Cs is really targeted at making the experience a better one for Facebook users, but it’s also highly useful for marketers in that it means, in an ideal world at least, that ads can be more highly targeted. This fits in nicely with the further targeting options that the site has recently introduced which should roll out to marketers outside of the US within the next few months.

Whilst it’s true that from the end of January we’ll see less organic reach for our posts, it’s also true that the new targeting options should help us to reach the audience that’s most relevant to our businesses. The post targeting option doesn’t allow you to gain reach outside of your followers on your Page, but then not everyone on your Page gets shown your posts anyway. The new option allows you to target those that have liked the Page that have the interests that you choose.

What the new measures should mean is happier users who choose what they want to see and as such, only those that are really interested in your products should get to see the ads you create meaning that there’s better chance of a sale, or at least an enquiry.

The new Facebook privacy options and terms are all about the user on the surface of things, but they are also about the advertisers as these are of course the people from whom Facebook make their money. Facebook already provides powerful advertising options and great targeting, as well as the best social insights over other social sites so it seems that it’s going to get better in the New Year. For marketers who have not yet advertised on Facebook, it’s definitely worth giving it a try once the new features kick in. Even if you’re not planning on placing an ad, you can still play with the new post features.

It’s going to be a good year for the social network I think and it’s likely that we’ll see plenty more marketers discovering just how powerful a platform it can be when targeting users by interests and by their activity on your sites and others.

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