Social media is changing for advertisers and users – knowing what’s to come and how it will affect the digital marketing industry is only half the battle. Adapting to changes and maintaining industry standards is what Mason Interactive is constantly evolving to do.

The way we think about Facebook in the advertising world varies significantly from the way the platform is perceived by the consumer marketplace. In a world where businesses are forced to either invest in social media marketing or risk falling behind their competition, everyday users are plagued by the Cambridge-Analytica scandal, data privacy woes and the saturated landscape of advertising across platforms.

As advertisers, we are constantly evolving in an effort to find new ways to help our clients reach their goals, whether it be driving sales, acquiring new customers, or ultimately increasing the rate at which people convert into quality customers and/or students (leads). While creative, strategy and optimisation are buzzwords we hear all too often, the challenges that arise as a result of changing consumer behaviors is something that even Facebook can’t keep up with.

The Past Decade

When Facebook acquired Instagram back in April 2012, the social media advertising world was still in its infancy. Over the course of the last eight years, Facebook, which has since acquired WhatsApp, introduced new features in an attempt to reel in revenue from businesses and keep users engaged. Algorithms, influencer marketing, Messenger and a new focus on shopping have changed the way people use the platforms that were initially developed as a way to connect with friends, family and communities.

As we prepare to enter a new decade, both advertisers and consumers should be conscious of what will become of the social media giant that has, in many ways, become an integral part of the way we connect, engage and consume. Users are no longer using social media to simply ‘Like’ a Page for discounts. Facebook has become an essential part of the consumer journey.

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What’s to Come

While we can only speculate what changes to expect in the future, the push that Instagram is making towards removing ‘likes’ as a way to combat mental health issues only begins to scratch the surface of the impact these changes will have on the future of online advertising. If agencies, brands and users have been recognized based on their engagement, follower count and creative content, we can imagine the shift that will take place to compete for eyeballs and clicks.

Through these recent changes, Instagram could be hinting at their first attempt to take influencer marketing into their own hands by moving towards an agency database strategy. With access to the user data and analytics of billions of users, it wouldn’t be surprising that they could someday soon leverage this data to their own benefit.

Working with brands to access this data as a way to market to consumers, while also owning the ability to control the marketplace, is something that some believe Facebook should have done from the very beginning. This could give advertisers a new opportunity to reach potential customers, while working alongside brands in a personalised way. On the other hand, some would say that this notion works almost entirely against the data privacy and protection efforts that have been made over the past few years.

As these changes begin to take effect in the new year, user experience will be affected – but perhaps it isn’t such a bad thing. If we can expect that brands will be held to higher standards, and the relationship between agencies and platforms will be more transparent, then maybe social media will be valued in a way that has not been seen before.

This article is written by Ashley Bruzas, Digital Account Strategist at Mason Interactive.

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