It’s been hard not to escape the press around the facebook privacy breaches, many which were highlighted in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was summoned to appear in-front of USA Congress last week to answer questions and seek to understand just why such a huge breach could occur. Sadly, the lack of understanding of the platform and how it operates in a broader digital context by those Senators posing the questions meant that the pertinent questions that need to be answered were not be responded to with the detailed responses that we were looking for. The spotlight clearly is on privacy though and there are many positives to be gained by the platform taking a more responsible approach to protecting customer information.

What does this mean for marketers? 

I’m very much of the opinion that facebook remains a key platform to utilize for brands to get in-front of consumers. Whilst the events of the last few weeks have certainly brought privacy to the forefront (and for very good reasons), it’s still the worlds largest social media platform and is very much engrained in our daily behaviour (15 million active monthly users in Australia). The data that exists within the platform gives marketers a very targeted platform to reach consumers, and generally we’re still seeing strong results from campaigns that we’re running.  But we need to remain nimble and be prepared to evolve online marketing tactics rather than expect performance to be that of days gone by.

Facebook has responded to concerns quickly. Late last week they announced a raft of changes on the platform that were effective immediately. See the release by Facebook here for all the details:

There’s been a raft of summaries of the changes – some of the leading commentators shared their thoughts:

  • SOCIAL REPORT SUMMARY Facebook and Instagram Plaform Changes – Click here
  • HOOTSUITE COMMENTARY – Facebook and Instagram Changes – Click here
  • MARI SMITH – Six important facebook updates and what marketers should know – Click here  
  • JON LOOMER – No more partner categories – Click here

There are a number of implications that we need to be cognisant of and start to factor into marketing plans:

  • Privacy of customer data has to be paramount – It’s worth taking some time and auditing your own customer data privacy policies. Is your privacy policy up to date or is it time to revisit? Have you updated your policies to reflect how you target customers online including elements like a cookie policy and retargeting policy? How would respond with plan of attack if there was a breach and how would you communicate this to your customers to maintain their confidence in your brand.
  • Continue to focus on assets you can control – There’s never been a more important time to be focusing on building your own digital assets. This includes your website, enewsletters and experiences around your brand that you can control. We often talk about not building your house on someone else’s land and it’s time to draw the focus back to your own digital assets and put them at the heart of your plans. Email marketing has never been so critical to get you brand messages across despite open rates slightly declining. This is your direct dialogue with your customers and building your email databases has never been so important so that you maintain conversation with your fans.
  • Facebook advertising – it’s too early to tell what implications are for facebook and Instagram advertising. We’re still seeing really cost effective results for data capture via lead ads, but whether customers are still willing to give their data via this channel is too early to tell. The benefit of optimising and testing means that we can continue to evaluate performance and optimize campaigns accordingly. We’re not recommending a change of plan, more about watching and seeing how consumers respond over the next few weeks. Partner category targeting has been removed in ad sections but this is not something we’d often use given how many other targeting options are available.
  • Reach Estimates for Custom Audiences removed – when custom audiences are loaded into Facebook we used to be able to see how many people matched. This is now no longer available. We’ll see how this change impacts future ad campaigns over future weeks and there will be new changes coming when you upload your customer lists onto facebook to retarget.
  • Reporting – Effective immediately facebook has terminated many of the third party links to both Facebook and Instagram. This means that a lot of the insights from third party platforms like Iconosqure, Avero Buzz have removed some of the functionality and limits the insights we can gain. On Instagram we used to use many third party platforms for insights and analysis, and whilst some of these insights still remain, much more community management and influencer identification will need to be done natively.

Concerned about your own data on facebook? 

If you want to check your own personal privacy settings on Facebook (or that of your children) – don’t forget to click on right rand dropdown arrow, settings, then look at privacy settings.

Some other links to common privacy questions here

Want to see if your information was impacted by the Cambridge Analytica issue? Simply click this link it will tell you if your data was shared