Sunday, September 30, 2018

Top Facebook Updates That You Can’t Afford to Miss – September 2018 Edition

Introduction

If your head is reeling from this list, don’t worry– it’ll be here if you need to come back and check it! We are aware that this is a long article, but we sincerely believe that the information will be helpful.
It’s a long list, and each one of these updates can affect businesses and brands in some way, even if it’s small. We have certainly noticed it and with these changes and updates, we thought we do our research and bring you the latest news and insights that come with it. Trying to stay on top of it can be a challenge, especially when it comes to targeted marketing, we were pleasantly surprised with the statistics from last week, but concluded that keeping active and engaged on a facebook page does make a difference.

Take note of any changes that you need to make immediately (like checking how your business Pages look on mobile), and prioritize those to tackle them first if changes are needed.
No social media platform consistently makes as many changes as regularly as Facebook does.
Every month, this post is filled with new features and updates coming to the platform in huge numbers.
This month is no exception!
We’re getting a lot of changes that are mainly driven by how users and marketers are utilizing the platform.
How are Facebook user behaviors changing? We’ll look at this in the first section, and we’ll also focus on how Facebook’s team is changing with them.
We’ve got everything from big roll-outs of already-released features to new insights for marketers, so this is one update you don’t want to miss.
In this month’s edition to our Facebook Updates post, we’re going to look at a lot of big changes happening to Facebook and what they mean for businesses and marketers on the platform.Facebook Users Are Changing Behaviors
Facebook has been under a lot of scrutiny this year, and that’s contributed to some changes in user behavior that have shifted quickly.
The Pew Research Center polled 4500 people to determine what exactly these changes were, and here’s what they found:
  • More than half of users over the age of 18 have adjusted their privacy settings in the past year
  • 42% of Facebook users have taken a break from Facebook in the past year, with up to 26% even going as far as deleting the app from their phone
  • 74% of users have either modified their privacy settings, reduced how often they check Facebook or deleted the app from their phone.
  • Younger users (ages 18 to 29) were most likely to have deleted the app from their phones
While these numbers don’t look great, there isn’t a cause for panic. Facebook still has around 1.47 daily active users, and mobile usage is still increasing across the board.
Ultimately, creating mobile-first content is still important,  and mobile ad placements are still driving results.
As Facebook earns back trust and users adapt to further changes, these behaviors may shift again, after all. We’ll keep you updated.
And now let’s dive into a whole lot of Facebook updates for September 2018.Watch Party & Creator Studio Roll Out Globally
Both Facebook Watch and the Creator Studio are rolling out on a global basis.
The Creator Studio is available through the Business Manager, and allows users to manage their content and social presence for ALL Pages in one place. Do everything here from check your Page’s insights to make video publishing just a little easier.
Facebook Watch launched a year ago in the US, and it compiles videos from Pages and creators that you follow into one place for users.
Users will be notified if the Pages and creators they follow have new content available in the Watch tab, encouraging them to head over and view it.
This places a bigger emphasis on video content, and it’s a good reminder to step up your video game if you haven’t already.
If you don’t have these features yet, you will soon. The rollout is happening now.

Admins Can Now Pixel Groups

Groups have been growing importance and in popularity on Facebook as community building and the desire for valuable content both increase. Plenty of businesses have their own exclusive groups to build relationships with and help their customers in some way.

Now, thanks to a new update, Admins of groups with more than 250 members are going to be able to get real and quantifiable data about how their groups are driving specific actions.
They’ll be able to track their groups with the help of a pixel and see information on user growth, in-group activity, and engagement with their websites.
This will be a big enhancement on the data we get from groups, and being able to get on-platform insights about off-platform actions will make it just a little easier to determine how our groups are affecting our actual businesses.

Canvas Ads Get an Overhaul

Canvas Ads have been renamed “Instant Experiences,” and with the new name comes new capabilities.
The full-screen, interactive mobile experiences are now going to have several new ready-made template options, some of which will have new functionalities. They include:
  • Instant Forms, which is brand new and works like lead gen ads, allowing users to fill out a quick form to learn more about your business.
  • Instant Storefront, which allows businesses to display products in a grid-format, making them easy to view and purchase
  • Instant Lookbook, which makes it easier for businesses to show use cases of the product
  • Instant Customer Acquisition, which prioritizes driving specific actions by featuring clear CTAs and showcasing different offerings
  • Instant Storytelling, which focuses on using images and videos to tell your brand’s story
Note that all templates are fully customizable, and you can completely rework, add, or delete components in each to create the exact Instant Experience you think will convert best.
Canvas Ads weren’t used frequently by a lot of businesses, so the rebranding could be an attempt to change that. Easily the biggest news here is the new Instant Forms template, allowing advertisers to add a lead form to their experience.
Since these ads are designed to be immersive and engaging, following it up with a lead form instead of just asking users to purchase outright is a huge advantage that will allow more businesses to use them in diverse ways.
Looking for some ideas on how to use these ads? Check out our Tips for Creating Amazing Facebook Canvas Ads in 2018.

New Tracking Events Rolling Out Soon

Facebook knows that its tracking pixel is an invaluable tool for many marketers who use it to understand user behavior and to make very big (and very expensive) marketing decisions. To help even further, they’re rolling out eight new standard events that advertisers and businesses can add to their tracking code.
These new standard events are:
  • Contact
  • Customize Product
  • Donate
  • Find Location
  • Start Trial
  • Submit Application
  • Schedule
  • Subscribe
These new standard events are going to be a huge asset to many businesses and reduce the number of complicated custom events you need to create and keep track of. They should be rolling out within the next few weeks.
In the same update, Facebook also reported that they’re going to be replacing cost metrics for on-site activity with cost metrics that reflect actions happening in omnichannel selling all across the globe.
Together, these two updates are going to provide more big-picture views that will help you to make better and more informed marketing decisions moving forward.

Stories Ads Come to Facebook (it’s for real, now!)

It’s what we expected early on: Stories Ads are a huge part of Instagram, and now they’re coming to Facebook, too.
Matt Navarra shared on Twitter the email Facebook was sending to some of its marketing partners to offer their clients the ability to test Stories ads on the platform so they can get everything up and running.
The first feedbacks from the companies who tested Facebook Stories ads are very positive.
Wallaroo Media, which first began testing the format about a month ago, found that some of its Facebook Stories ads within its $20,000 ad spend have outperformed other ads in other placements.
Simon Lejeune, head of user acquisition at flight-booking service Hopper, told Digiday he’s paying $2.3 per thousand impressions compared with around $5 for Instagram Stories during the same time period, for similar targeting and creatives.
Hopper test had such good results that they are prioritizing designing ads for the Stories format, then adapting them to the other formats.
To make it easier for business to modify their assets for vertical video, Facebook is creating a button that will convert their existing video ads to the Stories ads format (vertical video).
We don’t know when Stories Ads will be coming to Facebook yet, because testing is still in early stages. But keep a close eye for Ads in your Stories. Facebook typically releases features relatively quickly after testing begins, so they may be rolling out on a wider basis by the end of the year if not sooner.

Advertisers Given More Information About Ad Placements

When you choose to run ads for the newsfeed or in Stories, you know exactly where they’re going to show up– in users feeds, on your own. When you opt for other placements– like those in in-stream videos or the Audience Network– however, there can be a bit more of a gamble.
Your ads will show up alongside other content, either in the middle of another video or on another site, so it’s harder to ensure you’ll find the right audience or have a placement that you want to associate with your business.
As it stood before, advertisers did have the option to block their content from appearing in certain “sensitive” categories or alongside specific publishers.
As of this week, advertisers are going to be able to see a complete list of possible placements where their ads could appear when they’re creating the campaign.
Once the ad has run, they’ll also be provided a full list of what placements their ad actually did show up on.
This kind of visibility will be a huge asset. If you’re particular about where you do and don’t want your ads to appear, having that list will let you know if you’re ready to go full-steam ahead or if you want to restrict placement and targeting options a bit more.

Facebook Snooze Is Here

Early this summer, we talked about a feature that Facebook was testing that would allow users to snooze certain content.
Now, we’re seeing a slow roll out of the feature to users in the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
As it exists now, the new Keyword Snooze feature allows users to temporarily hide posts by choosing keywords they don’t want to see. Only posts containing the exact word or phrase will be hidden from the user. Content from feeds, groups, and Pages containing the keyword will be hidden for 30 days.
Facebook is serious about ensuring that users are only seeing content that they really want to see, so much so that they’re now letting them opt out of specific topics through keyword elimination.
So far, Facebook has noticed two trends of keywords that are snoozed frequently. T
he first is “copy and paste,” to eliminate those awful somehow-go-viral posts that tell people they’ll find the love of their life or be violently murdered if they don’t share (there’s not often a lot of in between).
The second is keywords that are seeing a sudden spike overall related to trending news.
With this information at hand, the best bet to maximize reach is to create valuable content that users want to see and to not worry too much about big trends.

Conclusion

Facebook users are changing how they use the platform, and Facebook itself hasn’t missed a beat.
All of the new updates are reflecting big moves to focus more on the types of content users want to see, including video and community-building while giving them the option to opt out of what they don’t want to see.
Simultaneously, we’re getting new features and gaining more information about what’s happening with our marketing content and the actual real-world effects they’re having.
Everyone is getting new features that will improve their experience on the platform, making it a better fit for us all.
In recent months, most of the new Facebook updates have focused on increased security for users and transparency from the Pages they’re exposed to. Facebook has since tackled a lot of the loopholes some Pages were using and found new ways to improve the platform for everyone involved.
That’s why, even if it is not strictly marketing oriented, we’ll start this edition of our updates with one of the biggest Facebook investigations (at the moment) and consequent removal of more than 650 Pages, groups and accounts on both Facebook and Instagram.
Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook, explains that they removed 652 Pages, groups and accounts that originated in Iran and targeted people across multiple internet services in the Middle East, Latin America, UK and US.
The investigations started this past July, when FireEye, a cybersecurity firm, gave Facebook a tip about “Liberty Front Press,” a network of Facebook Pages as well as accounts on other online services. By analyzing publicly available website registration information and the use of related IP addresses and Facebook Pages sharing the same admins, Facebook identified several accounts and Pages fromLiberty Front Press network and the connection of this network to Iranian state media.
Accounts and Pages linked to “Liberty Front Press” typically posed as news and civil society organizations sharing information in multiple countries. They mainly posted political content focused on the Middle East, the UK, US, and Latin America. In 2017, they increased their focus on the UK and US.
The first network of “Liberty Front Press” accounts Facebook found were created in 2013. In total, they had 74 Facebook Pages, 70 accounts, and 3 groups on Facebook, as well as 76 accounts on Instagram. They invested more than $6,000 in Facebook and Instagram advertising, paid for in US and Australian dollars. The first ad was run in Jan 2015, and the last in August 2018. Some ads might still be visible, but most have been blocked since the launch of Facebook political ads transparency tools.
Another set of accounts and Pages, the first of which was created in 2016, not only they posed as news organizations, but they also engaged in traditional cybersecurity attacks, including
attempts to hack people’s accounts and spread malware. Apparently, they didn’t advertise on Facebook or Instagram.
The last set of accounts and Pages that facebook’s investigation uncovered, largely shared content about Middle East politics in Arabic and Farsi. They also posted about politics in the UK and US in English. The first account was created in 2011, in total the network had 168 Pages and 140 accounts on Facebook, and 31 accounts on Instagram for a total of 813,000 followers. They totalized more than $6,000 in spending for ads on Facebook and Instagram, paid for in US dollars, Turkish lira, and Indian rupees. The first ad was run in July 2012, and the last was run in April 2018. Facebook’s review of the organic content coming from these accounts is still in progress.
Concludes Gleicher:

Facebook Adds New Creative Tools in App’s Ads Manager

Marketers who are frustrated with needing to edit and add creatives to images before uploading them to the ads manager (which often requires multiple tools or apps) will be thrilled to see the newest creative tools available in the ads manager app.
The ads manager mobile app now lets users edit their photos in-app, including cropping, utilizing templates, adding color filters, and slapping on new shapes, stickers, and even logos.
There’s also a really handy text overlay tool that allows you to add text to an image, and then immediately check to make sure it isn’t violating the 20% rule.
If you’re using the Ads Manager mobile app, there’s a good chance that you need to create content on-the-go and don’t want to use multiple apps to edit your images before creating campaigns.
This will speed the process up significantly and reduce the number of tools brands need to use before running their ads.
Make sure to get good use out of that text overlay too, too; that will work in your favor.

Mentorship In Groups

As someone who uses professional groups on Facebook a lot, I can attest that they’ve long been a resource to partner up mentors and mentees.
Facebook is catching on, and they’ve developed a fantastic Mentorship program for Groups.
This program allows group admins to create mentorship programs, like “how to start a freelance writing career,” and having program steps like “make a website” and “pitch a client.”
Interested users can sign up as a mentor or a mentee, and then they are paired together. They go together through the group’s guided program, so the group is staying relevant and central to all this, but get one-on-one help from each other.
These programs can be for personal or professional development, and they’re going to be an incredible asset to groups who use them well.
They’re a fantastic community-building tool, and it keeps learning and growing within your group and makes it even more valuable.

Watch Party Rolls Out to All Groups

Watch Party is a feature that rolled out quietly and still seems to be underused as a whole.
It allows admins and moderators in a group to select any public video that is hosted on Facebook, to share it in the group, and then to host a “watch party” where everyone watches the video in synch and adds commentary in “real time.”
Watch Party is now rolling out to all Facebook Groups, and according to Tech Crunch, it’s coming with two new features for everyone.
  • Users will be able to suggest videos, which will give admins and group moderators new ideas for engaging content their audience wants to see.
  • It will be possible to have more than one co-host, allowing multiple people to add new videos to the queue and facilitate discussion.
Watch Party may be coming to Pages eventually, but this isn’t going to be happening right away and it’s still in the earlier stages of testing.

Updated Video Ad Metrics

If you run a lot of video ad campaigns, you may have already seen some of these changes, which are rolling out globally now.
Facebook is updating their current video ad metrics to better align with how users actually watch video ads on the platform, focusing more on how much total time a video is watched.
Facebook notes that these changes are made after looking at how users are watching different types of video across the platform.
These changes include:
  • Measuring unrepeated sections, which give a more accurate look at newsfeed ads (which allow you to rewind) compared to non-skippable ads (which don’t). This will also give businesses a better idea about how much of a video users actually saw.
  • How many times a video actually plays, which is different than an impression.
  • The elimination of video percentage watched and the 30-second view.
These video metrics aren’t a huge game changer, but understanding what these new metrics mean exactly and how they’re different will allow you to better track your ad data across the board.

New Ad Solutions for Gaming Marketers

If you have a game app you want to promote, or you love playing games on mobile apps, keep reading. If not, you can go ahead and skip to the next section.
Facebook has just released new ways for gaming marketers to connect with potential players.
One of the coolest (in my opinions) new options is the ability to let users test out your game in an in-app preview before they download it.
They’ll see a quick video demonstrating the game, and a “Tap to Try” prompt.”

New Look for Mobile

Mobile users are going to be seeing some big changes in certain parts of the interface. This includes a newly redesigned navigation bar, which will show “shortcuts” to the items that users are accessing most frequently.
Depending on the user’s personal usage of the app, this includes additions of shortcuts to their own profile, friend requests, Groups, Watch, or Marketplace. These will be joining the News Feed, Notification, and Menu icons that are already there.
This will be rolling out to users over the next few weeks if they don’t already have it.
What matters marketers the most, is that Facebook Pages are getting a new look for mobile users.
Recommendations are going to be more prominent so that mobile users (who are on the go and more likely to need these reviews urgently) will be able to access them immediately.
It’s also going to be easier for users to interact with these businesses, including booking appointments or viewing menus from the business’s Page on the mobile app.
This aligns with a new “Local” feature, which will allow users to browse local businesses in the area to see what catches their eye.
The new Page redesign is significant for businesses.
Make sure that your CTAs are optimized to send users to tools that can put them in touch with you quickly.
You should also make an effort to collect more reviews if you don’t have a lot of them now that they’re more prominently displayed, especially since they can give you an edge in the “Local” listings.

Facebook Follows Through on App Shut Downs

This past May, Facebook mandated that all apps undergo an app review process by August 1st. Well, August 1st has passed, and Facebook actually held up their end of the bargain.
All apps that weren’t submitted for the review process have had their access removed.
This was done in an effort to increase transparency, and to make sure that the apps that had access to user data weren’t using it in any way that violated Facebook’s terms of service.
If you haven’t submitted your app for review, it’s not too late to do so; do it now.
The removal hasn’t affected apps that are still in the queue to be removed and filed their status before the August 1st deadline.
It’s also worth noting that Facebook has restricted third-party scheduling of posts to personal profiles.
This is only for personal profiles, however; you can still use third-party scheduling apps like Hootsuite to post to business Pages.

Workplace Focuses More On Team Building & Collaboration

I always joked that one day Disney was going to rule the world, but maybe it’ll be Facebook instead, at least when it comes to the communication world.
Facebook’s Workplace has made a lot of changes in the past month, releasing new features that are focused on team building, collaboration, and personalization all at once.
Team members can have individual profiles on Workplace, which will contain work anniversaries, birthdays, and personal details that are approved by the admin, allowing team members to get to know each other a little better.
There’s also a new one-click connection that allows team members to quickly chat with each other, made even easier with the new directory search feature to find anyone in the team that you need to.

Workplace also recently acquired Redkix, which is a Slack-competitor email startup that combined calendar, messaging, and email all into a single app.
Long-term, we might see Workplace try to replace Slack as a business’s communication hubs.

New Tap to React Feature in Stories

Facebook Stories is testing a new sticker type, which will allow users to “tap to react” when viewing them.
This is another way to increase engagement on Stories, which can give you a better gauge of how users are perceiving and viewing your content.
Engagement rates, after all, are better than simple views, because you know that users aren’t just happening to see the Story but actually paying attention.
We’ll let you know more details when this one rolls out for everybody.

New: Info & Ads Feature for Pages

Facebook recently released a new Info & Ads feature for Pages.
This allows any user to view all the ads any Page is currently running– even if they aren’t following that Page or a member of the ad’s targeted audience.
This will help with transparency, and it also gives users the ability to see the general history of a Page.

New: Crosspost to Instagram

Facebook recently dropped a new feature that allows Pages to crosspost single-image posts directly to Instagram. You must upload a single image, or the cross post option won’t be available to you.
This is convenient and easy, which is always a nice benefit.
That being said, you shouldn’t rely exclusively on this feature to manage both profiles.
Keep in mind that Instagram and Facebook have different sets of best practices, including hashtag usage and even potential peak usage times.
If you want to properly create carousel ads or crop images to fit your Instagram properly (or have different text at all), you’ll need to upload the content separately. (Go Back To July Summary)

New: Facebook Tests Augmented Reality Ads

At the 2018 F8 Developer Conference, Facebook announced that they’ll be testing augmented reality ads in Messenger with select brands, and this week they announced that something similar would be showing up in users’ feeds.
Select advertisers like Sephora, Michael Kors, Wayfair, and Pottery Barn will be the ones getting to test these ads, and the goal is to roll them out to more brands throughout the year.
These ads currently allow users to use Facebook’s native in-app camera to see how products (like sunglasses or a certain lipstick color) would look on themselves.
Augmented reality (AR) has huge selling potential.
It doesn’t require potential customers to invest in technology that many can’t afford like virtual reality currently does.
And, as we all know, dynamic, engaging ads are a great way to capture user attention and reel them in.
This ability being added to Facebook Ads will make the platform even more competitive and effective, especially since users don’t have to leave the app to access the features.

New Facebook Workplace for Good

Workplace for Good is a new, free version of Facebook’s Workplace that’s been created specifically with non-profit organizations and educational institutions in mind.
This will help these organizations to communicate and organize more efficiently on Facebook. It will be open to anyone with a Workplace account and will help them to create and manage their own online communities.
Features include:
  • HD video calls
  • Instant messaging
  • High-tech and file-sharing integrations
  • Chatbots that can help do everything from access payroll to timetables (Go Back To July Summary)

New: Fundraising Tools

Nonprofits have more good news, as Facebook has recently rolled out new fundraising options.
After RAICES (refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services) raised more than $20 million in just 11 days, Facebook knew they had to offer new capabilities.
Now, Pages that represent public figures or brands can now donate directly to nonprofit fundraisers. Users can also now make recurring monthly donations to a nonprofit fundraiser.
This will increase nonprofit donations across the board on-platform, which could make it a more appealing option than crowdsourcing sites. Social proof, after all, is a powerful force, and showing your friends that you support a cause you say you do could be a big motivator for more donations.

In Prototype: “Your Time on Facebook” Tool

There is now a prototype version of a “Your Time on Facebook” tool, which will show users how much time they spend on the mobile Facebook app.
They’ll be able to see average time spent per day, and total time spent within a 7-day time span. It also will let users set a daily reminder that alerts them when they’ve reached a pre-set time on the app.
This seems oddly selfless for Facebook, but it’s matching digital wellness initiatives that we’ve seen being released by YouTube and tested by Instagram.
We’ll keep you updated when we know more about this one.

n Testing: Tools to Make Facebook Less Intrusive 

In addition to the feature above, which could result in users spending less time on the platform, Facebook has released two additional features that are designed to help reduce exposure to certain aspects of the platform.

Keyword Snoozing will let users keep out of their feed posts that contain certain keywords.

This is a huge asset to users, because I know I used third-party tools in the past to keep some political content out of my personal feeds during the elections.
I wish this had been out before the season finale of Game of Thrones, which was spoiled for me almost instantly because now you can even hide keywords like “spoilers.”
When you click on a post’s right hand drop down menu, you’ll be able to choose “Snooze Keywords.” They’ll pull a list of keywords directly from the post’s ext, and you can choose what you want to hide for 30 days. It will keep the content out of your feed, and (hopefully) out of your sight.

It seems like Facebook is also testing a new mute button for notifications, which will work like a Do Not Disturb button.

This could keep users from being sucked into the app when they’re trying to avoid the app, making it less obtrusive.
This could be a play to encourage users to keep the mobile app and not delete it, so it may not be entirely self-sacrificing on Facebook’s part.
There are no confirmations of plans to roll it out, but we’ll keep an eye on this one.
These features likely won’t affect brands much, but if you notice that certain types of posts containing certain words are having non-existent reach, you might want to switch it up in case your followers are snoozing a certain keyword.

In Testing: Subscription Groups

Facebook is currently testing a new paid subscription group model that will give admins the ability to create subscriber-only subgroups that grant members access (and exclusive content) for a monthly fee.
Members can sign-up and manage the subscriptions to these groups through the mobile app, and they can leave the groups at any time.
The ability to offer exclusive, paid content to certain groups is a great way to monetize an active Facebook community that you’ve built.
Speaking from experience, several groups that I’m in would be well worth it.
That being said, you don’t want to risk losing a connection with your core customers who are happily engaged but may feel betrayed if you start charging them just for group membership.
It’s something that will have to be tested carefully.
This new group model is being tested by a small number of group admins, so there’s no widespread information about how well this would work or if many users would be willing to pay for access to certain groups.
The test groups aren’t currently being charged any fees by Facebook, though there are payment processing fees that the admin will have to pay.
It will be interesting to see if this stays consistent over time.


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