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How to reach them now?

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How to reach them now?

Facebook news feed doesn’t bring news anymore. At least not the way we used to.Future trend report by Foster + Svensson unveils Facebook news feed tests in Serbia.

We all got used to read news, gossips and to find out about our friends, family and brands we like on Facebook. It’s very simple, just visit front page and all news are there. By time, such news was changed, were we saw less friends and more brands. Facebook became ad space, using users content, using our content and all that in order to generate its revenue. It was a kind of win-win situation: clients were getting more business, agencies were paid for the creation of ads and community management, Facebook was paid for social media ads and users – users were in between, giving its generate content free of charge.

Using users content is not a new thing, and it’s not something what Facebook is solely doing. It’s a core of social media itself.

LinkedIn is using our data and business profile and became largest HR platform. On the other side, Uber is largest cab company without single car. Same applies with Booking.com where they rent hotels, apartments and rooms, while not having any real estate. It goes the same with Airbnb and others like Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, TripAdvisor, etc. All of them are running their business based on our data which we give them free of charge. And in return, we do receive excellent service, but with ads included. We, users, started noticing that there is no free social media. We have to give them something in return. But, what is the price of it? How much will be tolerated? Will social media channel become boring for us? Can we escape?

In Q4-2017 Facebook started with an experiment. What will happen to users if ads, or paid content is no longer visible to users. Less advertised or brands posts, and more posts from friends and family. More core content, which was the essence and main thing why we all opened Facebook accounts.

Such experiment was rollout in Serbia, Bolivia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Slovakia and Sri Lanka. Facebook decreased number of posts coming from Pages, where posts from friends were in focused and published more frequently. People started noticing and started to think about Facebook and social media channel itself. Should we come back and continue to interact with friends more, since there are no ads anymore? Is this salvation from companies and ads? Is this real thing or another fake news?

On the other side, the one created for brands, companies and marketers brought topics for discussion, for thinking, but also for immediate reaction. How shall we reach our consumers, our target group and our potential customers if we cannot target them through Facebook anymore? Does it mean that companies will need to return to websites, to display network ads, or any other format in order to bring back consumers? For sure we do, but social media was very helpful to us. How people will see now what we are offering to them? Does it mean that companies will struggle to present its products, while digital advertising agencies will struggle with offer of social media services? Too many questions, still no clear answer. At least not yet, not from all of them.

In most cases, and unfortunately, community management (as we all know it) is based on simple foundation of small budgets from clients, less creativity from agencies as set-off, and even less interaction from consumers. Visuals, some short copy, maybe an external link or a video and that’s it. We expect that this is a good thing, that someone will buy our product if they see a nice photo and a witty copy. And this we call a campaign. Well sorry, but no. This is not a campaign. This is a news.

Such community management is finally over, and not because clients and agencies are willing to change something drastically, but because Facebook will impose them to do.

Both agencies and clients will need to be smart enough to trigger emotion among people, among the one we call target group. This very post is made of elements we need to create, now simply needs to be in form of campaign, something which will pull-out smile out of people, an interest in topic, or anything else which will trigger action from both sides. Something people will discuss about, something which will trigger interaction, something on which Page will also interact with its followers.

The experiment of Facebook where Explore Feed was tested as a separate page is finally done. At least what we noticed in Serbia. Users see less feeds from Pages, and more posts from their friends. “Closer together” is an old and new thing from Facebook, where they want to additionally bring users together with their friends, as they did in the beginning of social media era. There is no doubt that Facebook will simply drop its profit from ads, sponsored posts and Pages itself, but will rather bring brands to be more innovative in getting closed to its consumers. To interact between.

Even though such changes will not be liked by many, Facebook confirms that Pages with larger user interaction will secure its positioning and space within News Feed. One of the examples of getting such is a “Live video”, where users are able to watch live broadcast from camera or mobile what Page is transmitting.

Do we really know what is Big Data and how to use it?
Data analytics also remain. A strong tool to collect, digest and use big data, for the creation of campaigns. This is the essence of any data. Not just to possess it, but to intelligently use it for the purpose of new campaigns and offers. Same applies for analytics of previous campaigns, where brands and companies could understand more about their offers of products, in order to bring new which will be even better. Something that unfortunately both clients and agencies usually forget to use.

However, companies like Big Four, audit, consulting, or companies providing strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations services are using such collected and processed data to offer its clients solutions which will bring product profitability. The main reason why clients are offering its services at the first place. In most cases, advertising agencies are focused on creation of campaigns per brief, on creative, design, while not paying attention on data which could be gathered from client. For sure legal framework exist when it comes to collection and creation of personalized database, but agencies need to move forward together with their clients on process of data. If Facebook will be the one to teach us how to do it, to impose such use in order to protect their main asset (user personal data), then we both agencies and clients have to comply on new rules and trends starting as of now.

What Facebook really wants?
Even though Serbia is not so targeted, “fake news” are one of the issues and concerns on western markets such as USA, UK, France, Germany and Italy. By decreasing number of Pages posts and being less visible on our news feed, Facebook will try to eliminate amount of fake news.

It is not believed that Facebook will cut its profit, just to protect its users by disconnecting them with Pages. News will still exist, but on a different level, where from us, agencies and clients, it will be expected to be more innovative, more creative and more intelligent in providing news and feeds to our users.

Now, because space in News Feed will be limited, Facebook will show more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means Facebook will show less public content, including videos and other posts from businesses. When rolled out on all, both clients and agencies will notice decrease in posts reach, video watch time and referral traffic. This impact will for sure vary from Page to Page but driven by factors including the type of produced content and how people interact with it. Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment, could see even bigger decreases in its distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.

This new move of Facebook doesn’t mean that Pages and content they produce will be eliminated from the news feed. No. Facebook wants content and also wants its core and essence of the social media – to connect people with other people, to connect people with other brands. To be closer together.

The goal of this tests conducted by Facebook is to understand if people prefer to have separate places for personal and public content. Facebook will hear what people say about the experience to understand if it’s an idea worth pursuing any further. As confirmed by Facebook in media, “there is no current plan to roll this out beyond these test countries or to charge pages on Facebook to pay for all their distribution in News Feed or Explore. As with all tests we run, we may learn new things that lead to additional tests in the coming months, so we can better understand what works best for people and publishers”, its stated in Facebook media response on clarifying recent tests.
Seems like Facebook is listening to its consumers.
Now it’s our turn. Do we listen ours?


Vladimir Suvodolac, Managing Director, Foster + Svensson

Foster + Svensson Intelligence, Serbia office
Facebook Inc. Newsroom: https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2018/01/news-feed-fyi-bringing-people-closer-together/
Facebook Inc. Media: https://media.fb.com/2017/10/23/clarifying-recent-tests/