Facebook has made the world both a smaller and more crowded place. With two billion users in the fold, the site can feel cluttered from time to time. News feeds run rampant with large chunks of text, videos and photos from around the globe, as well as targeted ad after targeted ad. With so many different elements popping up at once—and with no clear rhyme or reason to them—it’s easy to get lost in this sea of social media posts.
For marketers, this is both a pro and a con. Although Facebook’s algorithms offer advertisers tremendous opportunities to reach target audiences in mass numbers, the platform’s overwhelming news feeds often make it difficult for ads to make an impact on consumers. Making brand impressions on Facebook is tough, but can it still be done?
SME asks a range of social media experts for their opinions on Facebook’s cluttered yet still powerful presence:
Q: Facebook, in theory, is working hard to clean up your feed. What’s the best thing about Facebook right now from a personal usage perspective or as a marketer?
Andrea Hofer, Global Social Media Manager at Philips Healthcare: The fact that Facebook has to worry about fake news demonstrates its power as a player in shaping public perception. Twitter is doing work in this area as well. Their new Moments feature (collections of tweets around newsworthy topics) is curated internally by a Twitter team to make sure the news is not fake. Facebook’s power for me is in its ability to keep me in contact with my weak connections. I can read about my high school peers’ struggles with parenthood or look up a couch to crash on in the cities former coworkers have scattered to. People don’t vanish from your life anymore.
Jennifer Forrest, Director of Social Media at DEG Digital: From a personal user perspective, the most interesting aspect of Facebook right now is the headway it’s making in live video. As a marketer, it is the ability to use an incredible amount of data within the platform to target users with content, without it feeling obtrusive.
Stephen Monaco, Founder of Future Marketing Institute: The best thing about Facebook right now from a marketing perspective is the ability to use flex targeting to serve ads to prospective customers with laser precision. The best thing regarding personal usage is the knowledge exchanged within closed Facebook Groups.
Jason Falls, Founder of Conservation Research Institute: The best thing about Facebook from a user perspective is they’re still not selling our data out. It frustrates the crap out of me because I spend most of my time trying to analyze what people are saying online and about 2/3 of the conversation online is on Facebook. So I can only accurately report on the other third. For the longest time people claimed Facebook was a big privacy violation network. The truth is, they use your data to allow their advertisers to target more granularly — which theoretically makes the user experience better and supports the company — but that’s about it.
Drew Neisser, CEO of NYC-based Renegade LLC: Putting on my marketer hat, I continue to be in awe of Facebook’s ability to reach tightly defined targets and motivate them to take an action whether that is to watch a video, download an app, click to learn more or even buy a product. I have little doubt that Facebook will remain an important marketing channel for just about any business for many years to come.
Q: What’s not working?
Joel Comm, Author, speaker, brand influencer: Unfortunately, Facebook’s approach to dealing with #FakeNews is partisan and not balanced. I still love Facebook as a platform and am a big fan of Facebook Live. But I am concerned at their approach to dealing with content.
Josh Steimle, CEO of Influencer Inc: Facebook has gotten clunky, like a house that started out with a few rooms, but has undergone 20 additions–each of which made sense at the time–but which now adds up to a big mess. Sure, it’s still a great platform for users and marketers, but it would be nice to have an overhaul that takes into account where things are today and builds for current use, as well as the future, so we don’t have to deal with this cobbled-together blob with too many options, many of which aren’t placed where you would expect them to be.
Hofer: The diluted value of news feed content. One could blame the ad-focused algorithm but sometimes the ads are better targeted to me than the rest of the content. I should be glued to it; after all, if I were to get an actual distillation of the fascinating things happening in the lives of all my connections, I’d visit at least daily. A good fix would be tagging. When I push live a post, let me select from a few tags like “life event” “party/celebration” “baby pics” “travel” “sports” “politics” etc.—maybe even with image/text analysis pre-selecting the most likely option. If I could filter out politics ALONE, my feed would be a much happier and more engaging place.
Forrest: The worst thing about Facebook right now is just the general overconsumption of media. With Twitter, you get bite-sized bits of information that are easier to consume. With Facebook, it’s this wide-eyed look that’s cluttered and almost too much for your mind to handle. Facebook’s newsfeed is in need of another overhaul, which could help make media more manageable.
Monaco: The worst things will always be people posting every single humdrum thought that passes through their mind, and photos of what they had for lunch!
Falls: The worst thing about Facebook is I’ve hidden approximately 12,743 posts with a certain politician’s picture in the post because he makes me sick to my stomach and its algorithm hasn’t yet figured out to stop it.
Neisser: My feed is a mess right now but I hold myself partially responsible as I’ve welcomed way too many acquaintances as “friends.” Time to be a little more disciplined with my Likes so I see more stuff from my family and the friends I really care about and less from those that shouldn’t have been there in the first place!
While many appreciate Facebook’s sheer reach, the social media site appears to have a lot of content to clean up. Simple changes to Facebook’s presentation, such as news feed filter options and layout changes, could help users get more out of the experience. These tweaks may also lead to greater brand impressions on Facebook for marketers. Until then, we’ll have to do all the sifting mentally as we scroll.