Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced plans to overhaul the way Facebook operates, primarily making it more private. Wells Haslem Mayhew foresees major challenges for social marketers and corporate users of the platform.
The key challenges include:
How do you speak (organic content and advertising alike) to increasingly private groups (something that's already proving a problem)?
How do you understand people's interests, and therefore target your content, if it's all private?
How do you identify real influencers if you can't see their Instagram likes?
After a string of controversies in the last couple of years, Zuckerberg plans to turn the company around, proclaiming that "the future is private".
The public News Feed will change as the platform pivots towards private messaging, shopping, and dating.
Facebook plans to roll out features that encourage users to interact with their close social circles, rather than the current public news feed model. As part of this overhaul, Facebook has unveiled a redesign of the app and website, focusing on groups and events. Further down the line, Facebook plans to unify Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp while still shifting the main Facebook app away from the News Feed and toward more manageable and privacy-focused interactions.
Later this week, Facebook will be running Beta testing in Canada for Instagram. The bold plan is to remove the number of likes on photos and video views from permalink pages and profiles, encouraging users to "focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes you get". Instagram will allow the original poster to keep track of their likes and video views, but the number won't show up on the main feed.
While we don't know everything, we do know this: these changes will affect the way users, businesses, advertisers, news sources, and investors interact with the social media giant.
Our only hope is this: Facebook understands the need to monetise, and it's never going to be a user-pays model - so the company will have to find a new way for marketers to reach their audiences.
And finally, the cynic might wonder if this change is driven by big corporates' appetite for big data - and if users are in private groups and mistake this for meaning their information will be kept private, people will be inclined to share more - and that's serious data that can be monetised.
Interested to learn more? Hear Mark Zuckerberg's vision below.