7 essential Facebook changes you probably missed in 2017

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With the recent trial of a new News Feed on the world’s most prominent social network- read our reaction to that here– it’s easy to feel frustrated and overwhelmed at the ever-changing nature of the platform. Mainly because it’s overwhelming and frustrating if you’re using it for business.

Just when you think a new campaign or concept is heading straight for the top corner, Zuckerberg’s techies come along and move the goal posts. Smoking Gun is an interdisciplinary comms agency that specialises in social media, amongst other services, and even we struggle to keep abreast of every tweak. Don’t worry, though, we manage, hence bringing you this roundup of 7 essential Facebook changes you probably missed.

 

  1. Custom audiences and better offline outcomes

If you don’t know your way around the back end of Facebook Ads then we suggest you get to know. 2017 saw something of a landmark in the form of ‘custom audiences’, whereby brands can now create their own demographics to target with campaigns, this is supported with a superior level of insights into those audiences.

It’s worrying for privacy police, but pleasing for those after better profits. In another boon to the ad end, it’s now possible for you to link your real world customers to your Facebook demographics, in effect meaning you can target the brick and mortar shoppers with online campaigns, bringing both markets under one very easy to use roof.

  1. Message Objectives

Setting Message Objectives on your Facebook Ads basically means aligning the campaign with a required outcome- for example online product catalogue sales, or store visits. What this gives you is a much better idea of how effective the campaign was in relation to the desired results.

That’s not all, either. Ads using MO are optimised for ‘replies’- or, to put that another way, they will be delivered to the people Facebook believes are most likely to start a conversation with your brand, and engagement is the first (or second?) step in achieving that overall goal.

 

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  1. Canvas options

Not particularly revolutionary, nevertheless it’s a huge change to the appearance of your account, with new and improved Canvas templates helping to create more bespoke experiences for visitors, accentuating what you do best in the best possible way- from a carousel of images and videos, to a single fixed clip, or clickable collection of stills each opening into their own full screen.

 

  1. Autoplay video sound

This has been a real bone of contention for some, but from a brand content perspective it’s a definite improvement. Since February videos uploaded to the Facebook News Feed will autoplay with sound when users scroll past, making them far more likely to grab attention in the visually noisy, but often audibly silent mass of things. The only problem is by now many people have worked out how to stop all forms of autoplay if they aren’t the biggest fans, so the overall impact is diminished but nevertheless greater than it once was.

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  1. Disputed by multiple fact-checkers

Let’s face it, if one platform has come out looking like an unwitting accomplice to the Russian hack of the US presidential election it’s Facebook. Our MD Rick Guttridge even wrote a think piece this summer on the network’s need to take greater responsibility for what’s being shared.

This Spring one of the most effective steps was taken in the form of a new warning which flags up stories that have been ‘disputed by multiple fact-checkers’- an attempt to warn people they may be about to click on a link that should not be trusted. Worryingly, or perhaps reassuringly, there have also been examples of this happening on brand-owned content, and posts from what many would consider legitimate sources.

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  1. Trending for mobile

Facebook’s Trending Topics section followed up its redesign for desktop by debuting on iOS in August, its first appearance on a mobile. Complete with navigational link to make sure you don’t miss it, this only makes getting your brand in these stories more valuable than ever, with featured news given an image, headline, and selection of sources for users to choose from, which also helps democratise the network’s current affairs landscape.

 

  1. Insights for Groups

A long time coming, while we have been able to dig into all kinds of insights in Facebook For Business, this was only recently rolled out in Groups. As such you can now see growth metrics, engagement details, and information about the likes and interests of those in your group. Oh, and it’s now also possible to schedule posts to Groups, too, making many PR and marketing team’s lives a lot easier.

Need help getting your businesses social media efforts upto speed? Call the digital experts at Smoking Gun on 0161 839 1986 or email rick(at)smokinggunpr.co.uk.