Updated: Jan 7, 2020
So, I'm a big dork. I'm sure you all know that by now. It's my parents' fault, honestly. My dad was a techie before they were called techies. He was creating his own websites before drag-and-drop builders even existed. He had a GPS when they first became available to the general public, but the thing was the size of a toaster and you had to tap in latitude and longitude coordinates for every turn of your road trip. Can you imagine? He programmed our very own video game on a Commodore 64 computer. I was too young to remember it, but apparently the soundtrack was "Michael Rowed The Boat Ashore" for about 20 minutes nonstop. Oh, and my mom's not free from blame either - she basically created her own position at my elementary school as a computers teacher. She was instrumental in getting the Gates Foundation to donate a bunch of computers to this tiny 60-student Catholic elementary school. We had a whole lesson on how to do color printing by sprinkling colored powders on the wet ink as soon as it came out of the printer. You know, the kind where you tear the holed strips off each side?
So, yeah. I'm a big dork. I've fully committed to it now by subscribing to Wired magazine and listening to podcasts that talk about the latest trends in tech and web development.
There was an article in Wired that was about 10 pages long that detailed the state of Facebook's last two years. You might have heard - Facebook got into some pretty shitty PR. And that bad PR is one of many moving parts that led to a huge amount of changes in the way things are done over at FB - which, in turn, means a lot of changes to how businesses can use the platform to promote ourselves.
A lot. Of Changes.
When I realized just how much these things were going to affect my own social media marketing, I realized - oh...I have clients who use social media marketing who probably don't know this stuff..
So down the rabbit hole I've gone for the past few days, finding out as much as I can stand about the changes in Facebook over the past year that have a significant impact on how we use social media marketing.
(This is my phone's view of me making use of my research time by parking my chubby butt on the treadmill while I watch news videos about this stuff...)
Ok, enough witty buildup. I'm throwing together a bullet list of what happened, how it affected Facebook algorithms, and what it means for our business marketing. Here ya go. You're welcome. I hope it *sparks* your work:
The Facebook Corporation dealt with some mega bad publicity, such as:
Hackers infiltrated a silly Happy Birthday video gimmick and were able to steal personal data from all of the Facebook users who shared the video...
The now infamous data-selling scandal that put Mark Zuckerberg in front of the Senate - did they or did they not sell data to the Trump campaign?
Conspiracy theories (with lots of news stories sharing it) that FB algorithms decided which content to promote or suggest were actually biased toward certain political candidates, showing only content that showed those candidates in good light
A live-streamed video of a shooter rampage in New Zealand
The FB VP of Global Policy, Joel Kaplan, was buddy buddy with Supreme Court judge Brett Kavanaugh, who made headlines for sexual abuse allegations (among other nasty things that people go to jail for). Facebook's Kaplan was seen all over the news at Kavanaugh's trial and let's just say folks REALLY didn't like to see that as a potential sign Facebook supported Kavanaugh)
Fake news and click bait drove us all batty last year - and people got sick of it being the only crap in our News Feeds on Facebook. So much so that Facebook's user base has been at a standstill for 3 quarters. No new users means no business growth. Which means bad things.
TONS of higher-up execs at FB have quit or been fired in the past two years. Yeah. It's bad.
So Facebook has had to spend OODLES of cash in the past two years to deal with it:
FB went through several new PR directors and directors of communications, including pricey folks who worked on President Obama's campaign and even a former deputy prime minister of the UK. Imagine their paychecks....eeh.
A whole new artificial intelligence (AI) program has been developed from scratch in order to re-balance the content that's being shown and suggested, to moderate hate speech, conspiracy theories, click bait, fake news, porn, and illegal activity. You think having an app developed for your puny business is expensive? Try imagining how much this AI for Facebook cost....
FB hired over 30,000 people to be human moderators of content posted on Facebook every day. Thirty THOUSAND people at $28,000 annual paychecks. Do the math.
And there was a big investors' meeting in July of this past year...so with growth at a standstill and the amount of money FB has forked over to re-brand basically...let's just say Mr. Zuckerberg had to do something major to make sure investors didn't pull out and the #deleteFacebook movement didn't come to fruition.
So, in order to get Facebook back to a platform for "meaningful conversations", a revised version called Facebook5 is what we're using now.
There's a push for privacy and meaningful conversation, according to Mark Zuckerberg:
Here's how they're doing it. And why it affects us because their solutions aren't all very elegant and simple:
The new algorithms that determine what you see in your News Feed are now heavily biased against news articles. In past years, news sites said they would see about 40% of their traffic as coming in from Facebook. Now? Only 25%. Wired magazine tracked their loss of user views as being down 90%. NINETY PERCENT!
So if you tend to share news articles as a way to showcase your work, check out your reach in the analytics of those posts. Chances are, folks aren't seeing those posts.
2. The AI and human moderators have targeted some words in our posts and ads that you're going to be surprised about. They're attempt to focus on "meaningful conversations" means they are passing over any of our posts that call out to our fans to "Like" "Comment" and "Share".
Your attempts to boost engagement by asking folks to "like" your page, "comment below" or "share to win!" are all going to be dropped. Any ads with these words will be disapproved or not shown, too. And the human moderators know about using thumbs up emojis to suggest "likes" so you can't get away with that either.
3. Their attempt to eliminate toxic content, click bait, and fake news has led to some REALLY narrow parameters in our advertising. Want to see the list of words social media managers are warning us not to use in ads?
using all CAPS
Using too many emojis
Using a photo that doesn't match the text, such as a photo of a happy child with text that's talking about selling jewelry.
Yeah, seriously. "You" is a flagged word now. Let me explain - if you run an ad that says
"Are you feeling stressed? We can help!"
"If you're overweight, our nutritional specialists can give you a free consult"
"This fitness coach can help you get back into shape with one free call"
"Ever tried essential oils to help you feel less anxious?"
Your ad will likely not be approved. Or, if it's approved, it won't reach many people's feeds. Why? Because you're shaming people. You're calling someone out on their personal condition and telling them they could use a change. That's a slippery slope to hate speech, which is a sensitive subject over at ole FB according to their discriminatory practices in the Terms of Service you probably haven't read:
You've also got to be careful with photos that include people in them. The AI can't always determine what's a half-naked person in bondage versus a half-naked person in a belly dance class. So your ad gets banned.
Before and after pictures are a big no-go as well. You're promising results, and FB says "Nope, that could be false advertising and click bait." Sorry Catherine Johnson Fitness, but if this were your ad, it would be banned:
Hey CoordiKids - watch out. Those graphics could easily be misinterpreted by a robot as child abuse:
I could go on with almost every one of us Ladybosses - Vie's body image motivation campaigns have to be incredibly craftily worded to make sure they don't get flagged. Essential oils reps, even wedding photographers:
Oh, and realtors - you have it bad too, because "house" and "housing" and "homes" are all flagged to avoid some sort of credit/housing/employment ad regulations.
Usually if your ad doesn't get approved, you can hit the "appeal" button and a human will check and realize you're legit and they'll let it go through. But beware....
There's a wave of ad accounts being banned (most of which never get un-banned), thanks to repeated use of these flagged words or images in advertising. So if you have an ad that isn't approved, be very careful of your future ad creation. Delete the unapproved ones so they're not sitting in your ad manager as a red flag to moderators.
Phew. Ok that's all for now. This is way too long as it is. Did anyone even finish reading it? Comment below! Just kidding - I don't care if you comment. I don't blog for SEO, I blog for blogging sake.
I WILL say that if you like this type of educational post that summarizes things that affect how you run your business, you should really check out the Ladyboss Nation Members' Academy, because that's where I'll be sharing this type of info with you from here on out. Bite-sized business guidance delivered to your email via blog, podcast, or video. Plus, you'll get group coaching on the phone with me once a month. All for $42/month (and there's an awesome deal for charter members - sign up before December 31 and you get 3 months for the price of one. Check out the schedule of coursework to see what those first three months are about: www.theladybossnation.com/membership
THAT would *spark* MY work.