On March 6, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced his “privacy-focused vision for social networking” in a lengthy note posted to his page.

Although Facebook’s official message is upbeat, focused on improving the user experience and providing a privacy-focused platform, skeptics point to Facebook’s recent U.S. Senate hearings following the 2016 election and conflict with European regulations on user consent, copyright and privacy as the motivating factors for these changes.

Regardless of Facebook’s motives, and new stronger privacy policies, you are probably keen to understand how these changes will impact your ability to reach Facebook users.

What’s changed on Facebook in 2019

Facebook and Instagram will both be placing a greater emphasis on organic reach, but businesses will find that their pay-per-click (PPC) strategy will remain their most effective means of attracting prospects.

Here is a quick list of the major changes to Facebook so far in 2019:

  • A stronger focus on user privacy and control
  • A new logo and user interface redesign
  • Facebook Messenger app upgrades
  • A heavier focus on community groups
  • Improvements to Facebook Ads Manager and Business Manager
    • Including a “cost cap” bidding option, inventory filter, and steps taken to manage “problematic” content
  • Brand Lift: a feature that help businesses understand the impact of their ads on audiences through paid tests
  • Granular ad relevance diagnostic metrics
  • Augmented Reality (AR) Ads (which would enable users to virtually try on different consumer products)
  • Playable Ads (interactive games)
  • Press and Hold Ads (video ads play only while a user is pressing an ad image on their screen)
  • Page recommendations
  • Video metrics updates
  • Stories Ads and an ability to ad 3D photos to Stories
  • More integration between Instagram Stories and Facebook
  • Facebook Video Creation Kit – create videos using photos from your Facebook page
  • Spark AR Studio – Facebook’s new camera effect platform
  • Facebook Spaces – a platform that allows users’ avatars to interact in a virtual reality

Facebooks changes include a cleaner user interface, and Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp (Acquired by Facebook in 2014) and Instagram will all now offer their users encrypted, private messaging, ad opt-out choices, ad targeting transparency and other improvements on privacy settings. Facebook is promising stronger end-to-end encryption, meaning even Facebook won’t be able to read your private messages.

Creating Brand Advocates

Facebook has also replaced “Page Reviews” with “Recommendations” in order to capitalize on the Yelp concept and open up review services for consumers and businesses. Users may now review businesses within Facebook, and leave tags, text, and photos with their feedback.

To enable this feature, you will need to add the “Recommendation Box” to your Facebook Business Page. It may also be a good idea to leverage your email marketing to invite your client newsletter subscribers to use your Facebook Recommendation Box and share a positive review of your business.

The focus of Facebook’s advertising shift seems to be centered on creating brand advocates that interact in smaller, more highly engaged communities. More than ever, it is important to track your analytics in order to properly identify ad audiences. Be sure to succinctly define the demographics of your target market when you are seeking to engage social media users through PPC advertising.

Short videos, 3D images and similar highly-visual content is currently yielding the best results for Facebook and Instagram advertisers.

Changes to Ad Management

Facebook Business also announced the following May 2019 changes to their Ads Manager:

1. Introducing ad relevance diagnostics

Over the coming weeks, we are introducing a new, more granular set of ad relevance diagnostics in Ads Manager to replace relevance score; these will measure performance across three dimensions — quality ranking, engagement rate ranking, and conversion rate ranking.

Learn more: How to use ad relevance diagnostics.

2. Removing ‘Create Multiple New Ad Sets’ from Ads Manager Guided Creation

The ‘Create Multiple New Ad Sets’ option, found in Ads Manager’s Guided Creation workflow, is no longer available. If you were previously creating multiple ad sets to compare audiences, try a split test instead. The ability to duplicate ad sets and edit in bulk is still available.

Learn more: Create a split test in Ads Manager.

Heavier Focus on Groups

Group recommendations will now be a frequently featured option for Facebook users. Facebook Groups may emerge as the best way for advertisers to circumnavigate PPC ads and find organic growth, however the content available through Groups will need to be increasingly “share-worthy.” Groups are closed communities, so the content should be highly engaging and relevant enough to a unique subset that they would want to invite others with similar interests.

Granular Targeting Strategy

These changes are challenging businesses to seriously consider the needs and preferences of their target audiences. Buyer personas will play heavily into the future of Facebook advertising as the mark moves further away from organic reach toward more sophisticated target marketing strategies. In order to remain competitive in this changing landscape, lean on demographic information from your existing client base and consider how your business has solved the needs of your existing clients as you map out Facebook ad targeting for future client acquisitions.

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