These Facebook News in April 2014 will affect you!

It’s nearing the end of another month, how time flies! This time, instead of aggregating all the major and minor updates from Facebook, I’ve picked out a select few which will affect you.

We’ll start with 5 new potential ad targeting capabilities which will be very powerful.

1. 5 Potential ad targeting abilities to look forward to


(i) Meet your friends who are nearby

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Perhaps the largest piece of news from Facebook this month, it seems like Facebook is becoming more integrated as a day-to-day utility for the end user. It’s no wonder it is coming to the mobile phone - recall that more than 50% of users access Facebook via mobile.

This opt-in service will hopefully free users of their fear of being “tracked”. Given that it’s opt-in, it’s hard to argue otherwise. A first look at the service shows that you can choose who to share your location with and until what time you wish to share your location. But Facebook needs to exercise flexibility and allow users who opt-in to switch the location tracking service off when they need some privacy.

After all, even when ads come on, it’s no use to businesses if users don’t feel comfortable when they see it. In other words, users want to control when and where they are pushed notifications, like when they are shopping or looking for a suitable cafe to hang out nearby. In such situations, users are likely to welcome ads from nearby businesses. A win-win.


(ii) Facebook wants to know where you’re going this summer

TravelingToNewYorkNewYork These Facebook News in April 2014 will affect you!
Low and behold: Facebook’s collecting data from users who are travelling. If you have set up a Facebook Ad campaign before, you might have noticed that Facebook allows the option to show ads to people who have travelled recently. I’m not sure where the data came from - it’s probably from a partner organisation. Facebook’s new prompt for users to share where they want to go signals that businesses have found success with similar ad targeting and they want this targeting ability to go mainstream.

Is this going to be successful? It depends on the desire of the user to “show off” their travel plans and experiences versus that of a privacy concern. I think the former will dominate until fresh privacy concerns hit again. For now, it seems like (remaining) users have gotten used to the way Facebook is - laden with targeted and sometimes intrusive ads.


(iii) Ask for recommendations from your expert friend!

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Everyone has that one friend who knows all about the latest movies, trends, and gossip in town. So why not ask your friend to recommend you something of interest? Need a book to read? Ask your friend! Want to know which movies are worth catching? Ask your friend! Where should you go for an anniversary dinner? Ask your friend!

Facebook has released a feature that allows you to ask for recommendations from your friends! (I think they could call it “Ask your friend!”) I would not be surprised before new options to reach people who recommended “AAA” titles appear. Sit tight.


(iv) Get directions from Facebook

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Yes, you heard it right - Facebook enters the Maps arena, but not quite how Apple messed up their iMaps and motivated Google to up their game. Graph Search’s new look now includes a “Text me Directions” feature, where users can request for directions to be sent to their mobile phones via text messages.

1 thing is for sure - Facebook wants to become users’ mobile utility, like the Swiss Knives but for the civilian’s day-to-day living.
Maybe you will be able to show ads to people who are either passing by or going somewhere near your business location. And you might be able to do so in advance.

Imagine this: You need to go to a place for a business meeting and you need directions because you have never driven there before. As you ask for directions on Facebook, they also show you an ad from a restaurant that you can grab breakfast from. Awesome right?


(v). Good news for local businesses

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Facebook started featuring Pages on the sidebar of local audiences. They might monetise this column one day and allow local businesses to advertise in this specific section, but it’s still too early to think about that. Instead, you need to make sure that you have filled in the physical location of your business on your Page and hope that your business will be displayed in that column to your local customers!


2. Facebook disinfects the Newsfeed

For a long time, upright marketers have been complaining about the ways unscrupulous Page managers have been earning cheap engagement from photos of kittens and gag faces that bear little to no relevance to their Pages. Such tactics have squeezed other Page updates out of the Newsfeed and become one of the contributing reasons for lower organic reach.

Actually, the lower organic reach has also pushed the borderline marketers to resort to such tactics in order to maintain their engagement levels.

I’m glad Facebook has decided to wipe out some of these tactics. I think both Facebook and businesses will benefit from greater levels of policing to get rid of these kind of stuff eventually. For now, we can sit a little easier.


3. The sidebar will become more effective?

Facebook seems to want to make better use of its sidebar assets and re-attract businesses to advertise on the sidebar. They have started to revamp some of the sidebar ads to feature a larger visual, resembling a link post on the Newsfeed. There will also be fewer sidebar ads shown at any one time - so you can expect both the effectiveness and cost to increase. Probably nothing will change to social ROI unless effectiveness increases more proportionately to cost.


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