Facebook and Instagram Changes: 5 Things You Need to Know

Just when you think you’ve locked in a social media strategy that works for your food brand, the social media giants change the game yet again. Facebook and Instagram made some recent social media updates to their notoriously mysterious algorithms. As they begin to take effect, we know they will have lasting impact on food marketing reports and social media advertising. So, they should not go by unnoticed.

Here are five of the most important changes to be aware of right now. Taking swift action to update your strategy ensures your food marketing investment remains optimized.

Changes to Facebook Ad Targeting

As of September 2018, Facebook will have removed nearly 5,000 targeting parameters. With these options no longer available to advertisers, the platform has somewhat restored user privacy after being rocked by scandal [Cambridge Analytica] this past year.

Without insight into third-party shopping data like purchasing behaviors, income, and other offline behaviors, even the best food marketers can feel like their hands are tied. However, there is reason to believe these insights will come back. According to Entrepreneur, “the main lesson from the data scandal is not that people do not want to share this information, it’s that people just need to know what exactly they are sharing and why.” A sentiment that could be put at ease with the adoption of GDPR (General Data Protection regulation) which some believe will soon be enforced beyond the EU.

While we’re all waiting for more detailed targeting data to become available again, there is still a lot you can do to target an engaged audience. For instance, you can leverage the platform’s remaining demographics and interest data to build audiences relevant to your brand. You can also leverage your brand’s CRM data to create “lookalike” audiences. This approach can target users with similar affinities to your existing customer database. And, don’t forget about Facebook Pixel if you’re not using it already.

Changes in Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories have been a game changer for food and CPG brands. Without disrupting the ever-important Instagram grid, Stories offers a fun, short-lived, and interactive channel for content. Food marketers have used stories with success, especially when supported with a reasonable investment.

Due to recent updates on Instagram, when you promote posts they are automatically placed within your Stories. This is often not an optimal placement. Currently there is no way to opt out or customize this placement. However, moving forward we expect an option will be built-in. Until then, build better cross-format content with your creative teams. Or, just boost anyway but realize how this impacts your reporting.

Your team has seen or will likely see upticks in impressions but a decrease in engagements. This is due to users not having the opportunity to publicly like, comment, share, or otherwise engage with Stories beyond simply viewing the content. However, these forced Instagram Stories provide a new opportunity for brand exposure at a reasonable rate.

Facebook Messenger Push

In the last couple months, Facebook has encouraged its advertisers to engage with customers via their instant message platform, Facebook Messenger. New features have been rolling out at a quick-fire pace to include things like in-chat payments, language learning tools, and other accessibility features meant to easily convert conversations into sales.

For years, Twitter has been the go-to for customer care, with its ability to encourage more meaningful interactions with brands through 1-on-1 dialogue. Facebook Messenger has been keen on trying to capture some of that dialogue for itself. However, a lot of the newest rollouts are still in beta and need further refinement. With all of the new advancements in AI technology involved, this will be an interesting space to watch as brand interaction shifts from the news feed to direct messaging.

The “Instant Experience”

A brand-new social media update that brands large, and small can be excited about is the new Facebook Instant Experience. Canvas ads were a game changer a couple of years ago for Facebook. This new placement builds on that success by offering a slightly different full-screen mobile experience. It offers food marketers a new space to customize, acting almost as a micro-site. Brands can feature photos, videos, text, and multiple URLs users can access without leaving Facebook.

We are very excited to work with our food and CPG clients to utilize this placement. Through this we can feature full-product lines, recipes, and other updates to further engage our custom audiences. We expect these new, updated placements will amplify the custom-created storytelling that social media marketers and consumers love so much.

Content is Still King, and Being Nimble is Key

As Joe Marinucci put it, it is important to remember that “despite all the headlines about Facebook’s algorithm changes, it didn’t wipe out brands that effectively used organic content – it weeded out those that didn’t.” Knowing organic reach has been on the decline for brands, especially food and CPG brands, content has had to adapt to become more relevant, natural, and consumer-focused.

It is crucial for your social media teams to implement up-to-date, back-end strategies on your social platforms to keep your creative executions in front of highly-engaged users. Great content is seen only when your social and media teams are working together to fully optimize your strategies. With social media updates rolling out constantly, being nimble is key to ensure that ad dollars are working for everyone.

More Social Media Updates to Come

In the ever-changing social media landscape, we believe engagement will look quite different in the very near future. It will go far beyond a “heart” or a “like”. We foresee new, more meaningful metrics that will help us better understand what consumers look for in brand messaging.

The future demands a more integrated marketing infrastructure. While a silo model may work for being the most effective in one niche area, an agile team is faster to pivot, test, learn, optimize, and repeat. Especially when paired with a specialization in the industry and creative content expertise, like food marketing.

Being nimble and specialized helps teams cut through all the other verticals. With this approach they can quickly identify the right metrics and data to deliver lasting, meaningful business results.

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Carina Ost Social Media Supervisor EvansHardy+Young
Carina Ost, Social Media Supervisor

Specializing in social media and influencer marketing, Carina brings extensive freelance writing and community building experience to her agency role, overseeing social strategy and the rollout of Lamb Weston brands, Grown In Idaho and Alexia brands.