These 10 Key Pieces of Facebook News in February 2014 will Affect You!

February is about to come to an end, yet Facebook shows no signs of slowing down its updates.

Last month, I shared 7 key pieces of Facebook news. This month, they added at least 10 more important updates! Let’s get to them.


1. Paper, the newspaper killer?

If you haven’t heard, Paper is Facebook’s new baby. Some people see it as a replacement Facebook mobile app. Others see it as a strategic move into the publication industry. I see this as reinventing what’s already in the news market (Think Flipboard and Pulse).

If you think Facebook was going to launch Paper and see what happens, you are wrong. Within a few days, Facebook introduced a share button that mimics Twitter’s retweet symbol. This could play out as a smart move to take advantage of curation habits happening on other social media platforms. Introducing such a feature also indicates that Facebook wants to disrupt the publication industry.

Regardless, launch of the new Paper app is likely a win for Facebook. Hopefully, it extends Facebook’s usage among existing users.

First, launching Paper allows Facebook to make bold changes to its app without sparking the kind of furious response we have seen with minor Newsfeed updates.

Second, Paper gives Facebook a fresh look, rekindling users’ interests in it.

Third, Facebook expands its market to compete head-on with the news curation and publishing apps.

2 weeks after its launch and experimenting with the app, I found it not as useful as the original Facebook app. I have curated my news and content feed using Pulse. I prefer Pulse’s UI to Paper’s and Flipboard’s, which are similar. I believe that Paper could convert Flipboard users but not others like me. Users have also reported lag in the updating of newsfeed when you first open the application.

I’ve tried “forcing” myself to use the news section, but to no avail. I don’t find the news section as specific as I would like. The news topics are too broad. What do you think?


2. 6 Important News about Facebook Ads

And you thought there would be only 10 key pieces of news? Sorry, but I lied.

Anyway, here are the 6 important updates, in no order of importance:

  1. Perhaps the biggest Facebook update for advertisers is the launch of Website Custom Audiences (WCA). You can now target your previous website visitors with Facebook Ads. Jon Loomer wrote extensively about this feature. You can read them here, here, here, here, or here. I started experimenting with WCA a few days ago, and I wrote an update earlier this week on common mistakes you may make when you setup WCA if you aren’t careful, read it here
  2. Facebook marketers can now view real-time campaign data on Power Editor. Previously, marketers had to either download the campaign data from their ad accounts or use the Facebook ad manager. Nothing earth-shattering here. Just greater convenience for marketers who use Power Editor
  3. Facebook launches “Core Audiences” to its self-serve ad tool. Basically, the update includes partner categories and a few other features already made available to marketers who use Power Editor. Again, nothing worth paying special attention to
  4. Facebook makes billing easier for advertisers and itself. Instead of billing advertisers every other day, Facebook will bill advertisers when their campaigns hit their threshold or at the end of the month, whichever happens earlier
  5. Facebook also updated Power Editors’ UI. It’s better and easier to use, but nothing exceptional to note
  6. I purposely left this till the end. You might have noticed that there was a video that went viral and it claimed Facebook Ads as a fraud. You can see it here. But really, there’s nothing worth your time to watch the entire video. On the surface, the video has basically shown that to make sure the best results out of Facebook Ads, you should use the latest targeting features and laser-focus on your most relevant group of target audience. Those without a clearly defined group of target audience will surely lose out. On hindsight, the video creator has also brought to light a poor industry practice of click farms which has negatively affected Facebook Ads’ promotion of Page Likes. If you’re a marketer, you can do your part by not buying fake likes. When there’s no revenue to earn from such cheap tactics to gain “social proof”, the industry will naturally die off. It’s a lofty ideal, but one worth promoting


3. Facebook tweaks its Newsfeed to “increase reach”?

When you tag another Page in your Page’s post, Facebook will show your story to fans of the tagged Page. Jon Loomer has offered a preview of what’s to happen: the unethical marketers will surely find ways to take advantage of this. And he’s not too optimistic. Even with his advice or warning, some marketers will find ways to squeeze in a barely relevant tag to increase their reach.

After reading Facebook’s update, I also realised something: this tweak to Facebook’s News Feed is a self-adjusting one.

Read the following example from Facebook:

[blockquote source=”Facebook”]For example, if many people who like Dwight Howard also like the Bleacher Report, it suggests that these two Pages are connected. If we see that people who like both the Bleacher Report and Dwight Howard are liking the post above, that’s an indication that it may be relevant for people who only like Dwight Howard.[/blockquote]

The first of the two sentences suggest what we already know: an increase in reach if we tag relevant Pages.

Followed by the 2nd sentence, which means “if you tag a Page in a post and only your fans engage with it, then it will signal to Facebook that your post is not of interest to the Fans of the tagged Page.”

Let me add my prediction of the likely result: Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm will penalise your Page. Your post will receive less reach in the future if your posts with tagged Pages consistently are not of interest to other Page’s fans. Of course, this is my interpretation and not what Facebook explicitly mentioned. Adding on to what Jon already mentioned, you may game the system and reach more people in the short-term, but be ready for the potentially lower reach if your posts are found not to be of interest to other fans.


4. Facebook buys Whatsapp? They must (not) be crazy!

This is definitely the largest yet insignificant piece of news to all of you. Yes, Facebook did burn $16b on Whatsapp, but the exact reasons are unknown. Some people have speculated about possible reasons for the acquisition - namely taking out a key threat, buying a promising company to scale its revenue growth, and acquiring a large user base. Whatever the reason is, the acquisition news is not as important as its hype, at least not until we hear of further strategic developments.

[UPDATE] A week after Facebook acquired Whatsapp, the application is launching a new feature - free voice calls for users. It is possible that Facebook acquired Whatsapp to simply diversify its revenue sources.


5. Facebook continues to update Groups

Facebook revamped its Group Discovery Page. I see this as both potentially beneficial for people who use Facebook Groups extensively and for Graph Search purposes. In doing so, Facebook makes Groups more visible, offers suggestions to Facebook users based on geographical locations and friendships, and encourages the use of descriptive tags. These groups will not only lock users into a stronger network effect, but also allow marketers to find them in more ways, through a common identity.


6. Say goodbye to Facebook email

After 2 years, Facebook has decided to pull the plug on its email service. It will redirect email messages to your original email account.


7. Facebook launches Call-To-Action Buttons

Again, Jon wrote about it here. I’ve tried it several times over the past 2 weeks, but the performance have not necessarily improved. Since the only way to create a Facebook post with Call-To-Action buttons is through the use of Power Editor, I decided that the extra efforts are not worth it. Instead, I will keep to the original posting methods, until further developments urge me to try it again.


8. Facebook Places start to appear on Google Search Results

Did you know? Facebook Places has apparently started to appear on Google Search Results. Even the ratings are shown on Google Search Page. Don’t get me wrong, this has nothing to do with collaboration between the 2 tech giants. Rather, Facebook engineers have used schema markups to show the results on Google.


9. Good news for marketers: updates to Facebook Pages & Insights

There are 2 key updates. First, it is easier to manage a team of people administrating your Facebook Page, because you can see who posts what on Facebook. Second, you can also monitor your competitors’ Facebook Page, and even get notified when a post becomes popular!

10. Good news for marketers: Facebook launches 51 Gender Types

In launching 51 gender types while the hot debate about LGBT communities go on, it seems like Facebook wants to create a free world. That’s not important to us though. But such level of detail adds to power of hyper-targeting on Facebook Graph Search.


Did I miss out on any important news? Share with me below!

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