I have two addictions — Firstly, how social media is used for business, and secondly, how social media business is done! It’s been a whopper of a week with Spotify share prices suffering thanks to Joe Rogan, et al., and then Meta’s dramatic drop in share price! If there’s one thing I know, having a little understanding of the latter is as important as understanding the social media algorithms in detail!
With every privacy scandal, every announcement in changes of algorithm, removal or addition to the platform, each hint that says only advertisers get a chance, or ‘hey we’re here for the micro-businesses too’ their share price is affected.
The other thing that affects it is the revenue result announcements, and unfortunately, this week when these results were published for 2021, although Meta’s results showed growth, it also showed Facebook itself was not performing as well as it could! For the first time since its conception, the results dropped in terms of daily active users. Now, the drop was minimal in terms of percentages but it represented one million people, and it seems it was enough to contribute to the drop in share price! (I’ll pick up on this point again further below!)
What I’ve learnt in recent years is that when Facebook sees a drop in share price, it’s fairly quick to announce changes that steady the ship. With a reported crash of 25–26% in one day, I can tell you without a doubt, we will see strategies deployed in the coming weeks and months that will counteract the many reasons that have contributed to the drop.
So here are just a few of the reasons I’ve seen cited and my personal thoughts on what Meta might do to improve Facebook’s performance.
The loss of one million daily active users — What does this mean for Facebook?
Is it that people just don’t feel the need to check the platform daily anymore? Is it that in a year where the trend is omnichannel that our attention is so stretched across multiple channels that Facebook is now one of many, as opposed to the priority?
Facebook has counteracted the threat of other platforms in the past by essentially buying them or reverse-engineering them — for the ones they’ve bought (Instagram) this is now a sister brand rather than a competitor. Facebook has long been losing younger audiences to Instagram and Snapchat (and now of course TikTok as well) and has continued to try and win them back by incorporating some of the draws of others into the platform. It just never really works does it! Even now, Stories on Facebook… they’re just not really being utilised, are they?!
From a business perspective, the organic algorithms are much easier to make work on other platforms and more and more new businesses are essentially avoiding Facebook, and instead beginning their brand awareness journey on Instagram. ‘That’s what everyone uses now days isn’t it?’ is a phrase I hear again and again! If Facebook can readjust this and perhaps give the page owners who don’t yet have an advertising budget a little more wiggle room, then this in itself could see a ream of disgruntled users returning to the platform!
Is TikTok to blame?
With every new platform comes a shift of 21-year-olds and under flocking from their current social platform of choice to this new-fangled thing. ‘TikTok’s just for kids!’
However, this entertaining platform, which encourages us to be as creative as we can with our video content, has seen huge growth. In September 2021 it was reported that App users in both UK and US were now spending more time on TikTok than on YouTube.
What happened? Other rivals have appeared as I mentioned earlier, and Meta (or Facebook as it was then) responded tactically and won! Did the powers that be just not see the potential in the platform? At one stage, TikTok and Instagram Reels seemed like they were level-pegged, but then the innovation stopped. Was there a lack of focus? Did this content not translate into Facebook quickly enough to keep users coming back?
TikTok has essentially now monetised its audience to encourage them to bring more users to the platform. Could Facebook also start to investigate a refer a friend style approach? Honestly, I think that’s unlikely, but I do think there will be a further push in terms of Instagram to increase loyalty to the platform there, and we’ll start to see more opportunities for users to create and engage with more innovative and creative content on Facebook.
Advertising on Facebook has just become so hard!
Disclaimer… I haven’t seen this mentioned anywhere so far… yet. So this is pure opinion! (All of this has unravelled over the last 18 hours and I was asleep for a chunk of that so forgive me, I still have a ton of stuff to read!)
Using Facebook Ads has just become tougher and tougher. We had all the iOS changes to battle with and so had to redesign everything to make sure we were achieving the same results. For many advertisers, this simply wasn’t possible, and they looked to alternative advertising options. (YouTube ads are very exciting right now! And LinkedIn Ads are something we’re being asked to support with far more than we ever have before!)
So we solve that and head into the holiday season, and well, all those automated rules Facebook has to decide what ads get approved or not have seriously had the gremlins! It’s just too hard to go through appeal after appeal for an advert, with a bot!
Add into that the number of accounts that have been permanently closed by Facebook for no reason, a mass of data that advertisers have scrupulously curated and invested in that can never be returned.
When you run Facebook ads you are in the platform daily — it’s almost impossible to not get caught up with what’s in the newsfeed! So, think of those advertisers, those teams of advertisers who have essentially shifted their strategies because of the many obstacles that have been in their way over the last 12 months!
What does this all mean to us as Marketers?
My expectation is that Facebook will become more of a focus again.
We’ll see improvements in Ads manager from an infrastructure perspective to counteract the poor experiences we’ve had and some general targeting/data/UX improvements too. Bringing more revenue into Meta will help appease the shareholders. This may also bring forward the advertising plans that were tabled in the past in terms of WhatsApp!
We’ll see business pages and groups gain more in terms of functionality and benefits in the algorithms to help increase usership and the use of Facebook for community purposes.
We’ll also see some of the currently restricted functionality that allows individuals to monetise their presence, start to become more widespread. (‘Supporters’ exist as sub-groups where users can pay subscriptions for supporter-only content, and a Stars feature where users purchase currency in Stars and gift them to content creators usually during live streams as a thank you or to access off-platform benefits). These are perfect personal brand tools!
We’ll see further adoption of content creation opportunities in-platform for both Facebook and Instagram. With the investment and focus made in the Metaverse, my feeling is that everything has been thrown at that and everything else has been neglected. It’s time to refocus!
I’m getting ready for a barrage of changes that will be quick to roll out and clunky for that reason. Hold on to your hats gang — we’re in for a bumpy ride!