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Where Marketers Go to Grow

April 7, 2016 // 7:00 AM

What Facebook’s Latest Changes Mean for Publishers

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The digital ecosystem is undergoing a lot of changes. From Twitter, to Google, LinkedIn, and even Bing, how do you keep track of it all?

Fortunately, we have you covered with an extra set of eyes and ears. The work that we do here depends upon the success of the entire digital universe: we’re always up to speed on the biggest changes and opportunities in marketing as a result.

Recently, Facebook has been undergoing some changes that will be of particular relevance to publishers. Here’s what the following two updates will mean for your audience-building strategies moving forward:

Audience Optimization

In January of this year, Facebook introduced Audience Optimization, an organic targeting tool that helps publishers reach and engage their target audiences. The tool allows Facebook page admins to improve the relevancy of their posts by indicating who’s most likely to engage with them.

The tool gives publishers the following features:

  • The ability to add interest tags to content, to help Facebook connect audiences with topics that are likely to capture their attention
  • The ability to restrict or limit the visibility of certain posts by allowing for targeting based on location, language, or, or gender
  • Visibility into performance of content, down to the post-level, by interest

So what does all of this mean?

In a world where audience attention spans are becoming increasingly fragmented, Facebook is giving publishers the tools that they need to build in-depth, substantive relationships with target audiences. 

You can bettertarget your content to your readers based on what they’re interested in reading and learning about. You’ll also have additional insight that you can use to optimize each of your posts and extend your publication’s reach. Early users of Facebook’s Audience Optimization tool have recognized considerable lifts in engagement, sparked discussions within unique groups, and provided stronger alignment between content and target audiences.

Messenger for Publishers

Publishers will soon have the ability to distribute content through Facebook Messenger.

This capability is big news. Why? 

Similar to email, Facebook Messenger represents a channel for 1:1 communication. Instead of requiring audiences to come to your website or bombarding them with email newsletters, you can ping them with relevant information, in the moment.

While this news is still speculative, meaning that Facebook neither confirms nor denies this upcoming feature release, the social media leader is suspected to be testing new features behind the public eye. For instance, TechCrunch reported that Facebook had begun testing a tool for developers that allowed people to do things like request an Uber, directly within conversation threads.

Given that Facebook Messenger reaches over 800M people, the distribution potential for publishers would be massive. Rather than competing for attention spans over email and in search, media companies can more actively reach out to and engage with their target readers.

And who knows what the future holds? In the future, publishers may be able to integrate Facebook Messenger into their sponsored content offerings. Facebook has yet to announce what’s planned.

Looking into the Future

Facebook’s changes reflect a larger industry trend around personalization and the importance of building 1:1, personalized relationships. 

It’s more critical than ever for media companies to create more lovable content. From email to social media, readers have more control than ever over the content that they see and the content with which they engage. Using audience optimization, publishers can better target their audiences on the aggregate level, learning about their needs and preferences along the way. Social media teams at media companies can then reinvest this information into 1:1 touchpoints over Facebook Messenger. 

While it’s important to be vigilant and ahead of the curve in this ecosystem, it’s not necessarily the companies that are first to market that will come out ahead. It’s the ones who take the time and conduct their due diligence to understand their audiences in depth. And thanks to Facebook’s new updates, publishers can better engage with and learn about their target audiences across platforms.

How to Get Started

The best way to get started is with the segmentation framework and marketing database that you already have in place. Who are your highest value readers? How is Facebook currently operating as a referral traffic source for your company? Most likely, you already have the answers to these questions in your marketing database.

What Facebook introduces is a mechanism to answer the question “why.”

Why do certain audiences engage with your articles? Why are they gaining value from the resources that you’re publishing? Facebook is a treasure trove of psychographic data that can help you answer these questions.

Personalize or Perish

Topics: Media

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