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Facebook Faces Renewed Backlash Over Lack of Support for Small Advertisers

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This seems like the most logical way for Facebook to close out 2020.

Last week, reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong shared images of a new look Facebook Help Center, with updated controls tools to help users find the answers they need.

Facebook Help Center

The update was later confirmed by Facebook – as explained by Facebook’s Alexandru Voica:

We redesigned the Help Center to help people find the information they’re looking for faster, with an improved and streamlined navigation and a user experience that’s consistent with the rest of Facebook.com. We’ve also made search easier to use and refreshed the most popular topics to reflect what people want to learn about today.”

So, cool, right? A new Help Center experience, which is more in-line with common usage. Helpful, right?

It seems that the update hasn’t had the intended impact – yesterday, Bloomberg reported on the many small advertisers who have had ongoing issues with Facebook’s ad systems, with the primary concerns being a lack of assistance tools and arbitrary or incorrect account suspensions.

As explained by Bloomberg:

“A big part of the issue, according to Facebook advertisers, is that the company doesn’t have a robust set of customer service systems in place for smaller advertisers. Facebook brags that it has 10 million advertisers, but the majority of them don’t have a regular human contact person within the social network to resolve issues. The company offers an automated chat feature for advertisers, but you need an active Facebook account to use it, which means it’s not available to users who have been accidentally locked out.”

Such concerns have been present for years, but with Facebook recently launching a fight against Apple’s coming IDFA changes, in which Facebook claims that it’s acting on behalf of small business owners, it seems to have raised questions as to how much Facebook actually cares about SMBs, and how its systems reflect that focus.

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Part of the issue is scale. As noted by Bloomberg, Facebook now has over 10 million advertisers, which means that it needs to rely on a level of automation in order to answer the many questions being thrown at it. It simply can’t manually cater to every issue and request, which is what’s lead to problems with its automated account suspensions and lack of follow-up capacity. 

The logical cause is clear, but that doesn’t make it any easier for the businesses struggling to get their questions answered, with incorrect actions like this costing time and money.

So what’s the answer? Well, Facebook’s likely hoping that a revamped Help Center will at least provide some assistance, but ideally, The Social Network is also taking note of this new pushback and working to revise its systems in line with advertiser need. 

Facebook has also had to rely more on automation in 2020 due to the pandemic reducing its regular staff capacity, at a time when many more businesses have been turning to the platform for their promotional efforts. That’s likely lead to more people facing issues with their Facebook ad accounts than ever, which Facebook may be able to reduce in 2021 once things can return to a level of normal once again.

That’ll be Facebook’s hope, but it’s clear that there’s a growing concern about Facebook’s ad support systems, and demand for improvement. 

Whether Facebook has the capacity to facilitate such is another question, but as it continues to combat Apple, and present itself as the champion of SMBs, this is a key area where Facebook could strengthen its positioning.   

Socialmediatoday.com

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Instagram Confirms that Videos Under 60 Seconds in Stories will No Longer Be Split into Segments

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Instagram Confirms that Videos Under 60 Seconds in Stories will No Longer Be Split into Segments

Instagram continues its gradual process of merging its video products into one, with the announcement that videos in Stories that are under 60 seconds in length will no longer be split into 15-second segments in the app.

As you can see in this in-app alert, posted by social media expert Matt Navarra, when you update your IG app, you’ll get a notification letting you know that your videos in Stories will no longer be cut up, making it a more seamless viewing experience.

Instagram’s been testing the update with selected users over the past year, as part of its broader process to integrate its video options, in line with the short-form video shift and general engagement trends.

Last October, Instagram retired its IGTV brand, as it combined IGTV and feed videos into one format, while in July, Instagram announced that all uploaded video under 15 minutes in length would be posted as Reels, further aligning its various video formats.

Instagram Reels update

The merging of its video options is aimed at simplifying the app, while it will also, ideally, help Instagram maximize user engagement, by making all of its video content, in all formats, available in more places where users are interacting.

By shifting its video content to a more aligned format, that’ll give IG more video inventory to insert into user feeds, which it’s increasingly looking to do via AI-defined recommendations, as it follows TikTok’s lead in making your main feed more focused on entertainment, as opposed to being restricted to only the latest posts from people and profiles that you follow.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently noted that just over 15% of the content in Instagram feeds now comes from people, groups, or accounts that users don’t follow, with its AI recommendations contributing more and more to the user experience. Zuckerberg noted that he expects to see that amount more than double by the end of next year.

Instagram’s been working towards this for some time, with Instagram chief Adam Mosseri noting back in January that: 

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We’re looking about how we can – not just with IGTV, but across all of Instagram – simplify and consolidate ideas, because last year we placed a lot of new bets. I think this year we have to go back to our focus on simplicity and craft.”

The merging of its video formats will ideally facilitate more opportunities in this respect, while also making it much easier for users to understand where to find each different type of content – or increasingly, to not have to go searching for it at all, as it’ll be fed directly into your main feed, whether you follow the creator or not.

Which, of course, is a process that not all users are entirely happy with as yet, but still, Meta remains confident that they’ll come around as its recommendations algorithms continue to develop.

Instagram has confirmed the new Stories video expansion to TechCrunch, explaining that:

“We are always working on ways to improve the Stories experience. Now, you’ll be able to play and create Stories continuously for up to 60 seconds, instead of being automatically cut into 15-second clips.”

That’ll also make it easier to skip through those longer videos that you’re not interested in (as you’ll only have to skip once, as opposed to tapping through each individual frame) – though it may also have implications for creators who’ve structured sponsored content deals based on frame counts, as opposed to Story length.

That’s a relatively easy fix, longer term, with the focus shifting to length instead. But it may add some complications to the process in the immediate future, as the Stories eco-system evolves in line with the new process.

Instagram says that the new, longer video Stories are being rolled out to all users.

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