Marketing is Changing on Facebook & Instagram – Here’s What You Need to Know

Written by: 
Molly Niemczyk
08/03/21

Here are some recent or upcoming changes to Facebook and Instagram that have a big impact on marketing efforts.

Limited Data Tracking on Facebook

In an effort to promote data privacy and transparency, Apple recently launched an iOS 14 update that made it so apps like Facebook must prompt users to choose whether or not they would like to opt into tracking on their device. While consumers have always had the option to turn off this tracking, the new policy makes it much easier for people to opt out, and opt out they have; as of May 7th, 2021, only 4% of U.S. users have agreed to tracking. This has greatly impacted ad personalization and reporting within Facebook Business Manager. Many marketers have had to rethink their use of and overall marketing strategy on the platform. You’ll likely continue to see a dip in performance on Facebook and Instagram advertising as the company struggles to adapt to the changes.

Instagram is “No Longer a Photo-Sharing App”

In a video that sparked a lot of discussion around the future of Instagram, Adam Mosseri claimed that Instagram is no longer a “photo-sharing app,” and listed four main focuses of the company going forward. These will drastically change the ways that advertisers reach users, so it’s important to take note of the direction in which the platform seems to be headed.

1) Shifting power from institutions to individual creators. Mosseri doesn’t go into too much detail about this, but does explain that recommended topics and accounts may begin to appear in users' feeds, regardless of whether users are already following that content. Whether this is something that will boost or diminish the reach of smaller creators and/or businesses is unclear.

2) Video content. Mosseri acknowledges that it is a hugely popular form of entertainment on other platforms like TikTok and YouTube. Instagram is trying the “lean in” to the trends of entertainment and video, no doubt in an attempt to compete with these other platforms. Instagram will be testing “full-screen, immersive…mobile-first” video content and watching how users respond.

3) E-commerce. The video claims that the pandemic accelerated the shift from offline to online marketing. Consequently, Instagram will be pushing its marketplace more in the weeks to come.

4) Messaging. Mosseri claims that messaging has become a more popular method of communication among users. Again, he doesn’t go into much detail about this or what the resulting changes to the app would be, only saying that communication has shifted away from Feed and Stories.

Changes to Targeting of Underage Users

In an attempt to provide a “safer, more private experience,”, Instagram is making three big changes to the accounts of minors.

Young people’s accounts will be private by default if they are under 16. According to the platform, “eight out of ten young people accepted the private default settings” during testing. However, they can still have a public account if they wish.

Potentially suspicious accounts -- such as those who have been blocked or reported for their behavior -- will have a harder time finding and interacting with young people.

The change that most affects advertisers relates to targeted ads. You will no longer be able to target Instagram, Facebook, or Messenger users under the age of 18 (or older in certain countries) using interest or activity-based targeting. Instead, advertisers will only be able to target by age, gender, or location. Instagram notes that young people previously had ways to disable targeting ads through controls within ad settings, but agree with youth advocates that young people “may not be well equipped to make these decisions”. Marketers will lose access to the aforementioned targeting options soon, so expect to see a difference in performance if you’re running affected campaigns.

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