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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.

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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Snap making changes to direct response advertising business

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Snap making changes to direct response advertising business

The company posted a net loss of $288.5 million, or 18 cents a share, including $34 million in charges from its workforce restructuring. That compared to a profit of $23 million, or one cent, a year earlier.

Snap ended the fourth quarter with 375 million daily users, a 17% increase. In the first three months of the year, the company estimates 382 million to 384 million people will use its platform daily.

Snap has become a bellwether for other digital advertising companies. Last year, it was the first to raise concerns about the slowdown in marketer spending online and to fire a significant number of employees—20% of its workforce—to cut costs in the face of falling revenue.

The company has spent the last two quarters refocusing the organization, cutting projects that don’t contribute to user and revenue growth.

In the first quarter, Snap expects the environment to “remain challenging as we expect the headwinds we have faced over the past year to persist.”

Investors will get additional information about the state of the digital ad market when Meta and Alphabet report earnings later this week.

—Bloomberg News

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Twitter Outlines New Platform Rules Which Emphasize Reduced Reach, as Opposed to Suspensions

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Twitter Outlines New Platform Rules Which Emphasize Reduced Reach, as Opposed to Suspensions

After reinstating thousands of previously suspended accounts, as part of new chief Elon Musk’s ‘amnesty’ initiative, Twitter has now outlined how it will be enforcing its rules from now on, which includes less restrictive measures for some violations.

As explained by Twitter:

“We have been proactively reinstating previously suspended accounts […] We did not reinstate accounts that engaged in illegal activity, threats of harm or violence, large-scale spam and platform manipulation, or when there was no recent appeal to have the account reinstated. Going forward, we will take less severe actions, such as limiting the reach of policy-violating Tweets or asking you to remove Tweets before you can continue using your account.”

This is in line with Musk’s previously stated ‘freedom of speech, not freedom of reach’ approach, which will see Twitter leaning more towards leaving content active in the app, but reducing its impact algorithmically, if it breaks any rules.

Which means a lot of tweets that would have previously been deemed violative will now remain in the app, and while Musk notes that no ads will be displayed against such content, that could be difficult to enforce, given the way the tweet timeline functions.

But it does align with Musk’s free speech approach, and reduces the onus on Twitter, to some degree, in moderating speech. It will still need to assess each instance, case-by-case, but users themselves will be less aware of penalties – though Musk has also flagged adding more notifications and explainers to outline any reach penalties as well.

“Account suspension will be reserved for severe or ongoing, repeat violations of our policies. Severe violations include but are not limited to: engaging in illegal content or activity, inciting or threatening violence or harm, privacy violations, platform manipulation or spam, and engaging in targeted harassment of our users.

Which still means that a lot of content that these users had been suspended for previously would still result in suspension now, and it leaves a lot up to Twitter management in allocating severity of impact in certain actions.

How do you definitively measure threats of violence or harm, for example? Former President Donald Trump was sanctioned under this policy, but many, including Musk, were critical of Twitter’s decision to do so, given that Trump is an elected representative.

In other nations, too, Twitter has been pressured to remove tweets under these policies, and it’ll be interesting to see how Twitter 2.0 handles such, given its stated more lax approach to moderation, despite its rules remaining largely the same.

Already, questions have been raised on this front – Twitter recently removed links to a BBC documentary that’s critical of the Indian Government, at the request of India’s PM. Twitter hasn’t offered any official explanation for the action, but with Musk also working with the Indian Government to secure partnerships for his other business, Tesla, questions have been raised as to how he will manage both impacts concurrently.

In essence, Twitter’s approach has changed when it chooses to do so, but the rules, as such, will effectively be governed by Musk himself. And as we’ve already seen, he will make drastic rules changes based on personal agendas and experience.

Twitter says that, starting February 1st, any previously suspended users will be able to appeal their suspension, and be evaluated under its new criteria for reinstatement.

It’s also targeting February for a launch of its new account penalties notifications.



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4 new social media features you need to know about this week

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New social media features to know this week


Social media never stands still. Every week there are new features — and it’s hard for the busy comms pro to stay up-to-date on it all.

We’ve got you covered.

Here’s what you need to know about this week.

LinkedIn

Social media sleuth Matt Navarra reported on Twitter that LinkedIn will soon make the newsletters you subscribe to through the site visible to other users.

This should aid newsletter discovery by adding in an element of social proof: if it’s good enough for this person I like and respect, it’s good enough for me. It also might be anopportunity to get your toe in the water with LinkedIn’s newsletter features.

Instagram

After admitting they went a little crazy on Reels and ignored their bread and butter of photographs, Instagram continues to refine its platform and algorithm. Although there were big changes over the last few weeks, these newer changes are subtler but still significant.

 

 

First, the animated avatars will be more prominent on profiles. Users can now choose to flip between the cartoony, waving avatar and their more traditional profile picture, rather than picking one or the other, TechCrunch reported, seemingly part of a push to incorporate metaverse-esque elements into the app.

Instagram also appears to have added an option to include a lead form on business profiles. We say “appears” because, as Social Media Today reports, the feature is not yet listed as an official feature, though it has rolled out broadly.

The feature will allow businesses to use standard forms or customize their own, including multiple choice questions or short answer.

Twitter

In the chaotic world of Twitter updates, this week is fairly staid — with a useful feature for advertisers.

The platform will roll out the ability to promote tweets among search results. As Twitter’s announcement points out, someone actively searching for a term could signal stronger intent than someone merely passively scrolling a feed.

Which of these new features are you most interested in? That LinkedIn newsletter tool could be great for spreading the word — and for discovering new reads.

Allison Carter is executive editor of PR Daily. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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