This year has been a rollercoaster ride for Facebook. The social media giant spent a lot of time in the public eye and were no stranger to controversy. However, despite several major privacy breaches, global outages and allegations of political collusion, it remains to be the leading global social platform and perhaps still the most important asset to social marketers. In any case, it’s been a tough year for Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. Our blog takes a closer look at the ups and downs over the last 12 months for the social network.
Changing the algorithm
On January 11th Facebook announced that it would be changing the algorithm to prioritise meaningful interactions from friends and family over content from brands. The social marketing community were shook. Organic reach for brands had long been on a downward trend and this update was likely to make it even harder to reach your audience for free. We looked at ways in which you could make the new algorithm work for you and maximise your brand’s impact on the channel.
It's safe to say that addressing privacy concerns has been the biggest priority for Facebook this year when it came to developing the platform. This followed on from a major political scandal where it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica used personal data from millions of Facebook profiles for political purposes without consent.
This caused huge public outrage, a massive drop in stock prices and saw companies like Mozilla, Commerzbank and Playboy cut ties with the social network. It also resulted in a shed load of memes from the televised court case and testimony from Mark Zuckerberg.
In an effort to restore people’s trust in Facebook, the platform put in place major changes to its privacy terms; streamlining the settings menu to one location, introducing privacy shortcuts where you can control your data in just a few taps and lastly allowing users to download their data or delete it from the site altogether.
At the F8 conference in May this year, Facebook first announced they were launching a new dating service from the mobile app. They’re looking to differentiate this from competitors like Tinder by offering a place where they feel people could build real long-term relationships. The service is currently being tested in Colombia and two more countries, Thailand and Canada, have just been added.
The launch of Watch
In an attempt to challenge YouTube’s dominance of the online video sector, Facebook launched their new platform ‘Watch’ in September this year. To incentive uploads they’re offering video makers more than half of any profits from advertising. There are also reports of talks with television networks to produce original content for the platform.
Throughout 2018 there have been lots of rumours about the launch of a Facebook smart speaker. On October 8th, Facebook finally announced the release of ‘Portal’, a powerful, Alexa-equipped auto zooming video chat screen. Many expected this to be on the agenda at the F8 conference, but it was likely pushed back due to security concerns after the controversies with Cambridge Analytica earlier in the year.
While the concerns over security didn’t have an overly large impact on monthly users of the platform, it does seem to have affected sales of Facebook’s first hardware product, which has been reduced on sale only a month after it was launched. The hesitation doesn’t seem to stem from functionality issues, but instead from a reluctancy to place a Facebook powered camera and microphone in your home.
If you’ve read our blog on managing a social media crisis, then you’ll know that it’s difficult but not impossible to recover from a brand disaster. After the year they’ve had, it’s hard not to be impressed by the resilience of Facebook and their ability to consistently rebound from worldwide scandal. It’s a true testament to the strength of the social network and solid proof that they’ll remain a key part of many social marketing plans well into 2019.
Want to know more about changes in social media? Check out our round-ups of 2018 on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat and Pinterest.