GDPR concept, vector illustration. General Data Protection Regulation. The protection of personal data.

Unless you live under a rock, you probably know Facebook is facing its biggest obstacle yet. The recent Cambridge Analytica scandal is the tech giant’s glaring black-eye of 2018, a scandal which prompted the #quitfacebook hashtag and a two-day Senate hearing on the subject. In order to skirt potential regulations from the U.S. government, Facebook has changed its algorithm yet again.

Marketers, advertisers and users know how often Facebook changes its algorithm, but this one is different. It will certainly be the most highly monitored change due to the immense pressure the company faces from users, advertisers and global governments.

The most substantial change to Facebook’s newsfeed is their new algorithm called Ranking; a group of algorithms used to determine how interested a user will be in each post. The newsfeed will be significantly more user-friendly and less page-friendly, as Ranking considers person-to-person interactions to be more valuable than person-to-page interactions. People and pages within a user’s network, meaning friends and liked pages, will receive the biggest boost. Ranking’s algorithms can be broken down into three categories.

  1. Inventory: This category is made up of stories you have yet to see that were either shared or published by friends and pages you follow.
  2. Signals: This is broken down by story age, who posted it, and community feedback. If the Facebook community has negative reactions to a post, it moves down the feed, if it receives positive feedback, it moves up.
  3. Predictions: How likely a specific user will engage with the post.

These three categories are then rolled together to create the post’s “relevance score.” Relevance scores increase or decrease based on an individual’s habits, a post’s age and community feedback. Stories and posts are then ordered by the relevance score. The higher your relevance score, the sooner a user will see the post.

User time spent on the social media giant is expected to decrease, while user-to-user and user-to-page interactions within a user’s network is expected to increase. This will certainly affect advertising on the platform. Fortunately, advertisers should not lose much sleep over these changes if they use proven, authentic and genuine strategies.

The change is designed to promote posts with the most user engagement within the network. Per usual, the best way to reach a wide audience will be old-fashion sharing, and unless the post is boosted, sharing is the only way to breach the newsfeeds of users not following your company’s page. Posts can grow their relevance score by generating more likes and comments. Posts operating under the new algorithm should go for the engagement triple crown: likes, comments and shares. But, and it’s a big but, the change will bury post using click or engagement baiting, the typical “Like this if..” or “share with 10 friends to win…” type of posts. Advertisers must strike a balance and create posts to promote user engagement, without engagement baiting.

More recently, the European Union (EU) finally implemented their General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). According to the EU’s website, the law is designed to harmonize data protection privacy laws across Europe, protect and empower EU citizens and reshape the way organizations approach data privacy. While this law is for Europe, citizens across the globe value these regulations. The GDPR sets the standard for any future data regulations across the globe and is likely to affect U.S. businesses through global websites like Facebook.

These new restrictions have the pessimistic marketer sweating, but optimists should be eager to take advantage of these regulations. Remember, people want to hear from you and want to buy from you. The GDPR changes none of that.

To start, this regulation will likely lead to shorter email lists and less clogged newsfeeds. But this is good! This means people get more say in subscribing to your email lists, leading to higher conversion and open rates and a more engaged audience. An engaged audience will give you better feedback, are more likely the super-consumers companies value and will use your product more frequently. Their feedback will help fine-tune your product faster than before and shape a company’s products to benefit the target audience.

Consumers are more skeptical than ever and they value transparency. They’re not dumb, they know how they landed in your email list. Now is the perfect time to market transparency and honesty, something consumers value in today’s digital world. Tell consumers you WANT to know them so you can supply them with the right content and deliver the product they want as easily as possible.

Social media and online communications are still in their infancy with significantly more opportunities for success than failure despite the recent consumer privacy setbacks. While this scandal is another obstacle for social media and advertising, many roads have yet to be paved.

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