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Facebook Has Developed a New Way to Connect More People to the Internet

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Facebook has this week outlined an update to its Free Basics internet connection initiative, through which the company is working to connect the other 50% of the global population that, right now, cannot access the web.

The new project is called Discover, a process which enables users to access an expanded range of internet services via the platform, as opposed to the previously limited subset of web tools and sites made available via the first iteration of the Free Basics offering.

Facebook Discover

Facebook launched the initial Free Basics platform back in 2015, an expansion of its internet.org initiative. The idea of Free Basics is that it enables people in regions with limited connectivity to access the internet, with a collection of partner websites selected by Facebook contributing to the limited-data service.

Facebook Free Basics

This enables Facebook to facilitate more web connection, which aligns with its broader mission to ‘connect the world‘, while also likely adding more users for Facebook’s audience over time.

One of the key problems identified with Free Basics, however, is that Facebook maintains full control over the platform, and is therefore able to pick and choose which websites users can access through it. That means that for people with no access, they would then be beholden to Facebook to provide them with access to what it deems suitable, which could see increased emphasis put on Facebook’s own products. Various regional regulators saw this as a potential conflict, most notably in India, and Free Basics was subsequently banned in some areas.

Discover aims to address this. 

As explained by Facebook:

“Discover is a mobile web and Android app that can be used to browse any website using a daily balance of free data from participating mobile operators.”

In essence, Discover is still Free Basics, but it allows broader web usage, so Facebook is no longer in the position of determining which websites people can access through the tool.

Connecting more people is key to Facebook’s growth plans, while as noted, it’s also in alignment with its broader ‘social good’ initiative of connecting the world. The PR push is that Facebook wants to play a role in democratizing information, and facilitating web access – but at the same time, more people connected to the web will inevitably equate to more users for Facebook.

Case in point, Facebook is now close to 3 billion monthly active users across its apps, out of a global population of 7.8 billion. Factor in that only half of the world, reportedly, is even able to access the web and you can see why Facebook would be very keen to get more people connected.

Through Discover, Facebook will be hoping to appease regulatory concerns, and expand into more regions, which could be key to ongoing growth of the platform moving forward.

Facebook is initially launching Discover in Peru, with a view to expanding the option to regions in Thailand, the Philippines, and Iraq in the near future

Socialmediatoday.com

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Key Notes on Building Your Brand via Your Social Profile Visuals [Infographic]

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Key Notes on Building Your Brand via Your Social Profile Visuals [Infographic]

Looking to give your social profiles a visual refresh for the new year?

This could help – the team from Giraffe Social Media recently put together an overview of the whys and hows of building your brand via your social profile visuals.

There are some good notes here – a key consideration is consistency, which ensures that you’re building your brand with every post and update.

Check out the full infographic below.

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Publicis Performance Marketing Unit Acquires Influencer Platform Perlu 01/30/2023

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Publicis Performance Marketing Unit Acquires Influencer Platform Perlu 01/30/2023

Publicis Groupe-owned performance marketing agency CJ, which specializes in affiliate marketing, has acquired Perlu, a Syracuse, New York-based influencer networking and technology platform.
Perlu’s platform enables companies to activate, network, and collaborate with a community of influencers.   

Perlu will initially retain its name and organization as it is
integrated …



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Reports Show that Facebook Usage is Up, as Meta Continues to Develop its AI Targeting Models

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Reports Show that Facebook Usage is Up, as Meta Continues to Develop its AI Targeting Models

While Facebook is no longer the cool app, especially among younger audiences, it remains a key platform for many users, and its capacity to keep people updated on important updates from friends and family is likely to ensure that many continue to return to the app every day for some time yet.

But more than that, Facebook usage is actually increasing, according to internal insights viewed by The Wall Street Journal, which also include some interesting notes on overall Facebook and Instagram usage trends.

As per WSJ:

Data gathered in the middle of the fourth quarter showed that time spent on [Facebook] was up worldwide, including in developed markets, over the course of a year.”

Which seems unusual, given the subsequent rise of TikTok, and short form video more generally. But actually, Facebook has been able to successfully use the short-form video trend to drive more usage – despite much criticism of the platform’s copycat Reels feature.

Indeed, Reels consumption is up 20%, and has become a key element in Meta’s resurgence.  

How is it finding success? Increased investment in AI, which has driven big improvements in the relevance models that fuel both Reels and its ads, which are also now driving better response.

On Reels, Meta’s systems are getting much better at showing users the Reels content that they’re most likely to be interested in. You’ve likely noticed this yourself – what was initially a mess of random clips inserted into your Facebook feed has now become more focused, and you’re probably finding yourself expanding a Reels clip every now and then, just to see what it’s about.

Reels has actually been too successful:

“Because ads in Reels videos don’t currently sell for as much as those sold against regular posts and stories, Reels’ growing share of content consumption was denting ad revenue. To protect the company’s earnings, the company cut back on promoting Reels, which lowered watch time by 12%.

So again, while Meta has been criticized for stealing TikTok’s format, it’s once again shown, just as it did with Stories, that this is a viable and beneficial pathway to keeping users engaged in its apps.

You might not like it, but replication works in this respect.

But for marketers, it’s likely the development of Meta’s AI targeting tools for ads that’s of most interest.

Over time, many performance advertisers have been increasingly recommending that marketers trust Meta’s AI targeting, with newer offerings like Advantage+ driving strong results, with far less manual targeting effort.

Advantage+ puts almost total trust in Meta’s AI targeting systems. You can choose a couple of targeting options for your campaigns, but for the most part, the process is designed to limit manual impact, in order to let Meta’s systems determine the right audience for your ads.

Which may feel like you’re ceding too much control, but according to Meta, its continued AI investment is now driving better results.

Heavy investment in artificial intelligence tools has enabled the company to improve ad-targeting systems to make better predictions based on less data, according to the interviews and documents […] That, along with shifting to forms of advertising less dependent on harvesting user data from off its platforms, are key to the company’s plans to overcome an Apple privacy change that restricted Meta’s capacity to gather information about what its users do outside its platforms’ walls, the documents show.”

That’s likely worth considering in your process, putting more trust in Meta’s targeting systems to drive better results. At the least, it may be worth experimenting with Meta’s evolving AI for ad targeting. 

It’s not all good news. Meta also notes that while time spent in its apps is on the rise, creation and engagement is declining, with fewer people posting to both Facebook and Instagram than they have in the past.

That’s particularly true among younger audiences, while notably, usage of Instagram Stories is also in decline, down 10% on previous levels.

So while Meta is driving more engagement from Reels, which draws on content from across the app, as opposed to the people and Pages you follow, that’s also led to a decline in user posting.

Is that a bad thing? I mean, logically, engagement is important in keeping people interested in the app, and Meta also relies on those signals to help refine its ad targeting. So it does need users to be sharing their own content too, but if it can get more people spending more time in its apps, that will help it maintain advertiser interest.

In essence, despite all of the reports of Facebook’s demise, it remains a key connective platform, in various ways, while Meta’s improving ad targeting systems are also helping to drive better results, which will keep it as a staple for brands moving forward.

If you were thinking of diversifying your social media marketing spend this year, maybe don’t reduce Facebook investment just yet.

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