Digital Dash: Facebook panic pt.3 & more

1. Two weeks on from the big News Feed freakout: don’t panic, but do prepare
2. Apple launches Business Chat, goes to battle with WhatsApp, Messenger, Twitter & co.
3. Blast from the past: DuckDuckGo is back with more bad news for advertisers
4. Ready to be stalked while you shop? New project from Adobe Labs is both creepy and convenient
5. Snapchat frees Stories – you can now share and view them outside the app

1. Two weeks on from the big News Feed freakout: don’t panic, but do prepare

It’s been a fortnight since Mark Zuckerberg’s major News Feed update royally set the cat among the pigeons, and the fallout is still dominating digital headlines.

If you need a quick recap, you can read our first thoughts here and our one-week-on update here.

The good news is, we’re still not jumping aboard the panic train. And you shouldn’t either. This will mostly be a case of knowing what’s coming and working with it/around it as much as you can.

The best way to respond to the new News Feed is this:
• Be prepared to flex your content and potentially your strategy
• Sharpen your paid media game
• Expect a decline in organic reach
• Always keep your posts fan-focused and on brand

Some more details have come to light since our last blog though. Here’s what you need to know:

Personal profiles are included: although the update announcement focused on business Pages, it’s been confirmed (so we hear) that posts from personal profiles will also be subject to the new algorithm, as the analysis will occur at content level. This will put a stop to marketers pushing business content through personal accounts to try and cheat the system.

Are ads really safe?: yes, as far as we know. Although it’s expected that costs will go up as more businesses accept they need to pay to play. We have heard whispers that ads could be impacted by some of the same new ranking factors as organic content, perhaps in terms of relevancy scores, but this is currently unconfirmed.

Creating News Feed gold: make ads that generate a lot of meaningful discussion. Although this will be much easier for some businesses than others, it’s a sure-fire way to guarantee exposure.

The contest debate: Facebook’s cracking down hard on ‘engagement bait’ – posts asking for likes, comments or shares – but it’s not 100% clear if contest content such as ‘post your photo in the comments’ barrier to entry will be included. We’ll keep a close eye on this one.

Watch out for Watch: it’s suspected the changes could be the start of video transitioning from News Feed to the new Watch platform, which is hotly tipped to be the next big thing in streaming.

Don’t forget ‘See First’: trying to game the algorithm is a bad idea, but there is an official way users can override it – by clicking ‘See First’ in News Feed Preferences and selecting a Page or person. People who do this will always see posts from their chosen accounts at the top of News Feed.

Posts with links to external pages will be demoted: expect to see a drop in organic referral traffic.

Groups aren’t necessarily an easy fix: Group content also relies heavily on News Feed coverage.

News Feed’s fate relies on what we all do next: it’s possible that brands – in trying to adapt to the changes – could create a News Feed saturated with low quality live videos, posts begging for comment-based conversations and Group content. If that happens, it will only be a matter of time before the next big algorithm update is announced.


2. Apple launches Business Chat, goes to battle with WhatsApp, Messenger, Twitter & co.
People are getting fed up with calling business helplines and would much rather drop the company a quick message. I blame hold music.

A recent Facebook-commissioned study by Nielsen showed that 56% want to text rather than call when it comes to customer service. 67% said that they expect to message more businesses over the next two years.

The trend towards digital chat-based customer service is really hotting up, with standalone chat apps like WhatsApp and Messenger – typically known for personal conversations – joining the likes of Facebook and Twitter as places to communicate with companies.

And this spring, Apple’s iMessage will join the ranks with a feature called Business Chat.

First announced back in 2017 at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, Business Chat will roll out in just a few months and will let users have conversations directly with customer service reps.

Apple_Business Chat

Discover, Lowe’s, Hilton and Wells Fargo are among the first to sign up.


3. Blast from the past: DuckDuckGo is back with more bad news for advertisers
It seems like 85 years ago that DuckDuckGo was last on our radar. It was actually about 3.

In that time, the pioneering search engine, which doesn’t sell or store personal data, has quietly built up a loyal audience of users.

And now it’s ready to offer even more protection to the public.

As things stand, DuckDuckGo is a fortress: while users are searching on the site, they know their information is safe.

But there’s a problem. As soon as they navigate to a website, their data’s fate lies in the hands of that company’s privacy policy – and it’s very possible there will also be tracking code to contend with (e.g. from Facebook or Google).

To overcome this, DuckDuckGo is releasing a browser extension that will detect and block tracking code, send users to the secure version of a site and also provide a privacy rating.

While misuse/abuse of personal data is something we’re totally against, it’s a little frustrating when all data collection is painted in the same negative light. Yes advertisers benefit from user tracking, but in many cases, so do the people the ads reach. And as tracking technology becomes more and more sophisticated, this is increasingly true.

Ultimately, an ad is practically useless if the person who receives it feels annoyed and violated. The aim should always be to use audience intelligence (gathered with consent) to present someone with useful information, relevant to them in the moment, which they will value and appreciate.

Obviously this isn’t always the case. There are too many marketers out there whose approach is not nearly strategic or customer-centric enough.

But the risk with ad blocking and tracking code blocking is that eventually, websites might be able refuse entry to a visitor with those technologies enabled.

And that will just be a whole new shitstorm.


4. Ready to be stalked while you shop? New project from Adobe Labs is both creepy and convenient
IRL grocery shopping is always a headache. You’ve got to drag yourself down to store, remember what you need, contend with a load of other shoppers feeling just as gloomy as you… the list goes on.

But Adobe Labs is here to make life a little easier.

Its latest retail innovation project, outlined here in AdWeek, will enable the real-time tracking and categorisation of in-store shoppers.

People will be pinpointed using data from Internet of Things sensors, beacons and branded apps, then broken down into data segments (through Adobe Analytics) to identify things like how much they typically spend, what products they tend to buy, and more.

This means that they can be targeted with hyper-relevant coupons, ecommerce style. It’s hard to deny that a message like ‘Hey, those cookies you love are ½ price today!’ wouldn’t brighten up any grocery dash.

Adobe_store tracking 2

But the level of data detail actually goes way beyond snack preferences. A store manager, for example, can pinpoint a single customer on a live map, and click to reveal in-depth demographic info. We’re talking things like where they live and if they’re married. This will also help managers keep an eye on operational matters such as stock levels and checkout lines.

Adobe_store trackingWith an advertiser hat on, this is the stuff dreams are made of – the more intel you have on a customer, the better your targeting. But with a shopper hat on, that doesn’t stop it feeling really creepy.

Pretty sure DuckDuckGo wouldn’t approve.


5. Snapchat frees Stories – you can now share and view them outside the app
If Snapchat was a boxer, it would be the kind that gets knocked down again and again but never knocked out. Just when you think things are taking a turn for the worse, it leaps back up with a savage right hook (which the opponent tends to make note of and quickly copy).

It’s well known that Instagram’s shadow looms large over Snapchat, and the latter app is not only losing existing users but struggling to attract new ones too. Not a good combination.

But a clever new feature might just mark a turning point; it’s the ability to share public Stories (Official, Our and Search) outside of the app via email, message or on other social platforms.

Snapchat_stories outside appEach story will come complete with a special sharing link that appears when holding down. When clicked, the user will be redirected to Snapchat’s website. On Twitter, the story will even play natively.

It won’t be possible to share anyone’s personal story publicly. Which is probably for the best.