After years of criticism around Facebook ad targeting, Meta says it will be restricting the ability to target individuals based on sensitive information, such as their health conditions, religion, or political beliefs.

Specifically, Facebook will be removing targeting options for four distinct categories of audience data:

  • Health causes (targeting interests such as “Chemotherapy” or “World Diabetes Day”)
  • Sexual Orientation (including targeting interests such as “same-sex marriage”)
  • Religious practices or groups 
  • Political beliefs, social issues, causes, organizations, and popular political individuals

Starting January 19, 2022, advertisers will no longer be able to target new ads using this highly specific audience information. However, existing campaigns will continue delivering to their targeting audiences using this data through March.

For existing campaigns, you will be able to edit campaign-level information (such as your budget or campaign name) without affecting targeting details until March 17.

If a campaign is paused, though, it will be updated using the new targeting restrictions when resumed.

The vast majority of advertisers should be unaffected by the new ad targeting policies. If you provide medical services or are using ads to promote political efforts, however, you will likely need to review your existing audience targeting and begin planning for a new approach to reach your target audience.

For the few of you out there who don’t know, Facebook and the other platforms it owns (Instagram and WhatsApp) experienced an outage yesterday, October 4. The outage kept the sites offline for more than six hours after beginning around 10:30 AM Monday morning. 

Apparently, the problem was made even worse as Facebook’s own internal tools and communication systems went down at the same time, making it even harder for engineers to address and fix the problem.

Now, we are learning what caused the outages as Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, apologize for the interruption to its services.

Why Did Facebook Go Offline?

According to official statements from the company, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp went down Monday, October 4, 2021, due to an interruption in communication between the company’s data centers. 

This interruption was caused by configuration changes on the routers coordinating traffic between the data centers. These configuration changes brought about a disruption in network traffic that cascaded into a complete service shutdown.

As the company explained:

“Our services are now back online and we’re actively working to fully return them to regular operations. We want to make clear at this time we believe the root cause of this outage was a faulty configuration change.”

Mark Zuckerberg himself posted a brief personal apology, which states:

“Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger are coming back online now. Sorry for the disruption today — I know how much you rely on our services to stay connected with the people you care about.”

Was Any User Data Compromised?

Throughout the outage, rumors swirled that the disruption was the result of hackers, DDoS attacks, and numerous other causes. This inevitably also led to speculation that user data had been compromised during the situation.

Despite the rumors, Facebook denied any such issues:

“We also have no evidence that user data was compromised as a result of this downtime.”

How Advertisers Are Effected

Since the outage also made it impossible to actually run any ads across the company’s platforms, Facebook says it will not charge advertisers for any campaigns running during the outage time.

Now that services are back online, the company says ads should be running as normal. In some situations, the company may even enable accelerated delivery to make up for potential lost reach.

What Can Be Learned

Obviously, outages like this are entirely out of most of our hands. Still, there is one thing we can take away from the Great Facebook Outage of 2021: diversify your online presence. 

Brands who exclusively or primarily drive traffic through their Facebook and Instagram pages found themselves almost entirely at a loss for most of yesterday. Those who were already established on multiple platforms, however, were able to pivot their focus and even take advantage of the service disruption.

This week, Facebook teased a number of new features it is working on to help brands better connect with their customers and drive more leads across its platforms. 

The upcoming and newly released features highlighted by the company include everything from expanding its existing ad formats to creating entirely new ways to do business online. 

Let’s explore everything showcased in the company’s recent blog post below:

Click-to-Message Ads Come To More Chat Apps

For some time now, Facebook has offered an ad format designed to encourage viewers to take action through its many chat services, like Messenger or WhatsApp. 

Now, the company is updating this ad format to make it possible to reach brands on a wider range of messaging platforms, including those not owned by Facebook. 

While Facebook hasn’t provided an actual list of the messaging apps which will be included in the updated click-to-message ads, the blog post suggests it will include all major messaging apps used by consumers today. 

Start WhatsApp Chats on Instagram

Aside from dropping into someone’s DMs, Instagram has been obviously lacking the robust messaging options included on most Facebook social networks. Now, with integration through WhatsApp, that is changing. 

Now, brands on Instagram can add a click-to-chat button on their profile which will instantly launch a WhatsApp chat conversation when clicked. 

Even better, the company says it is working on ads that will also allow users to immediately start a WhatsApp chat from an advertisement on Instagram. 

Request Quotes on Messenger

Select advertisers are testing an upcoming feature that will allow brands to invite customers to request a quote within Messenger.

With the feature, brands can create a customized request form using 4-5 specific questions to ask potential customers before sending a message. 

Once completed, consumers can request a quote by completing a short questionnaire on Messenger.

Instagram Lead Generation

Though the company is keeping largely mum on the details, it also teased plans to launch free and paid tools for helping small businesses drive qualified leads on Instagram. 

“Advertisers use lead generation ads to connect with customers and connect leads in a more personal way, while reducing costs — like Seoul Spa, a Vietnamese beauty clinic, did with their Messenger campaign, lowering their cost per lead by 72%.”

To see more of the upcoming features Facebook is currently testing, check out the full Facebook for Business blog post here.

Facebook shared a new report this week which lists the hottest trends on its platform and Instagram in recent months. 

The latest edition of the Facebook and Instagram “Topics to Watch” report shines a spotlight on the top three topics from both platforms in the second quarter of this based on year-over-year data. 

Importantly, that means these are not the topics that had the most engagement overall. The report shows the trends which specifically showed the growth patterns most likely to lead to long-term popularity on Facebook and Instagram. This helps filter out flashes in the pan which become all the rage for a week and then fizzle out. 

The Topics to Watch On Facebook from Q2 2021

Wedding Receptions

  • 1.57x year-over-year growth
  • 1.20x month-over-month growth

Many couples are deciding now is the time to tie the knot after a year of delayed receptions or spending a year social distancing together. As such, interest in wedding receptions has shot up in recent months across Facebook and its platforms.

However, the impact of the pandemic is still clear since data suggests couples are still opting for smaller gatherings with less than 50 guests or even virtual ceremonies. 

Pop-Up Retail

  • 3.59x year-over-year growth
  • 1.02x month-over-month growth

Pop-up shops have been an increasingly popular trend for retailers in recent years, and recent events have only made them more appealing for both brands and consumers.

As Facebook explains, “Pop-ups can last anywhere from a day to a few months and offer an element of surprise and exclusivity for consumers” while allowing retailers to connect with new customers in untapped markets.

“As some people begin to feel comfortable shopping in-person again, pop-ups provide opportunities for consumers to enjoy a new type of retail experience and learn about all kinds of brands.”

Pet Sitting

  • 1.60x year-over-year growth
  • 1.25x month-over-month growth

After a year of their owners being home to give them constant love and affection, many pets may be experiencing loneliness or feelings of abandonment as companies return to in-office work and social events resume.

To help make the transition back to a regular work schedule easier on their fluffy family (and themselves), pet owners are increasingly seeking pet sitting services. At the same time, some who are looking for more flexible job options post-pandemic are showing interest in pet sitting as a fun way to help bring in more revenue.

Specifically, Facebook users are looking for more modern pet sitting services which allow pet owners to stay informed about their pets throughout the day, helping both pet and owner adjust to the time apart. 

The Topics to Watch On Instagram from Q2 2021

Family Reunion

  • 3.03x year-over-year growth
  • 1.69x year-over-year growth

In an effort to kill two birds with one stone, many are combining the desire to reconnect with family and make some new memories with destination family reunions. Not only does this give people a much-needed chance to get out of their homes, this approach also presents the chance to share the experience with your entire family. 

Of course, not everyone is planning a destination reunion. Data shows that more traditional reunions are also experiencing a rise in popularity on Instagram.

Car Rental

  • 1.81x year-over-year growth
  • 0.97x month-over-month growth

Continuing the theme of getting away from home, Instagram data indicates that car rental demand has grown since the removal of lockdown policies across much of the country. 

The issue has been made even worse (and helped drive interest in the topic) as the availability of rental cars has become limited and costs have shot up due to a microchip shortage slowing the production of cars. 

Drag Shows

  • 1.84x year-over-year growth
  • 1.41x month-over-month growth

Whether it’s related to the growing mainstream popularity of Ru Paul’s Drag Race or the need for excitement and new experiences post-lockdown, Instagram is seeing a surprising rise in interest in drag shows.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, the report describes a drag show as “a gender-bending art form put on by drag artists, or people who dress in clothes and makeup that amplify a specific gender identity, usually of the opposite sex.”

Notably, the report says that many drag shows have continued to be broadcast digitally to account for those who are uncertain about public events due to Covid and bring a feeling of unity or connection to those feeling isolated because of their identity or social distancing.

To see the full report, including even more data and analysis, click here.

Getting “verified” on Facebook or Instagram serves as a badge of honor, signifying your place as a notable brand or individual on the platforms. However, it isn’t always clear who counts as ‘notable’ and who will be denied the blue checkmark – especially as Facebook and Instagram have recently updated their guidelines for who can be verified. 

To make it clear who can be verified, how to get verified, and what comes with the special badge, Facebook recently shared an in-depth post about the verification process on the Facebook for Creators page.

What Is Verification?

One thing that Facebook wants to make very clear is that being verified is not an endorsement from the platform.

It will not help your rankings or visibility in users’ feeds or earn you favorability in any other way on the platform.

Being verified is just a signal of notability and authenticity – nothing more.

What Is Needed To Apply for Verification?

Along with a typical application form, Facebook also asks for a number of details to confirm that you are a notable person or organization. This includes:

Proof of Authenticity

Facebook requires that you provide a form of official documentation proving that you are the person in question or a genuine representative of the organization applying. This can be done by providing one of the following:

  • A Passport
  • A Driving License
  • Tax Filing
  • NI Card
  • Articles of Incorporation
  • A Recent Utility Bill

Select Your Category

Applicants must identify themselves as one of the following types of profiles or pages which are ‘in the public interest’:

  • News/Media.
  • Government and politics.
  • Sports.
  • Fashion.
  • Music.
  • Entertainer.
  • Gamer.
  • Digital creator / blogger / influencer.
  • Business / brand / organization.
  • Other.

Additional Details

Applicants can also provide optional extra details which describe your audience, reasons why people follow you, and their related interests. 

Along with this, you can provide up to five links to pages or profiles showing that your brand is ‘in the public interest’. 

To be clear, Facebook states that links to clearly promotional or paid content will be disregarded.

Further Notes from Facebook

The post also details some of the basic guidelines and standards for verified profiles and pages, particularly that applicants must be:

  • For an account that represents a registered business or entity, or be a real person.
  • For a public account – with a bio, profile photo, ‘about’ section, and has a minimum of one post.
  • For an account that has a unique presence – pets and publications are also eligible.
  • For an account that represents a highly-searched for and well-known brand, entity, or person.
  • For one account per person or business – with the only exception being for language-specific accounts.

A Word of Caution

Lastly, Facebook warns that getting verified does tend to come with increased attention from bad actors, including hackers, scammers, and impersonators.

As such, it recommends that verified accounts enable two-factor authentication and be watchful for copycats impersonating them.

For the first time ever, Facebook is revealing the most clicked and most viewed pages, posts, and more across the site in a new quarterly Widely Viewed Content Report

The lists specifically focus on the pages, domains, links, and posts that have gotten the most views in the U.S. between April 1, 2021, and June 30, 2021.. 

Here’s what the report tells us:

Overall Takeaways from Facebook’s Widely Viewed Content Report

Before we get into the more detailed lists, the report also gives us some surprising takeaways about content on Facebook:

  • The most viewed content is not necessarily the content that gets the most engagement.
  • More than half (57%) of posts that people see come from their family and friends. 
  • Less than 13% of content views were on posts containing links.
  • Despite the perception that news sources dominate the platform, the most viewed news domains accounted for just 0.31% of all content views.
  • However, approximately a quarter of the most viewed posts including links came from the most viewed news publishers.

Most Viewed Domains

Facebook’s Widely Viewed Content Report lists the top 20 domains on the platform by content views. Below, we are sharing the top 10:

  1. youtube.com (181.3M views)
  2. amazon.com (134.6M views)
  3. unicef.org (134.4M views)
  4. gofundme.com (124.8M views)
  5. twitter.com (116.1M views)
  6. media1.tenor.co (115.6M views)
  7. m.tiktok.com (110.7M views)
  8. open.spotify.com (93.0M views)
  9. playeralumniresources.com (89.9M views)
  10. abcnews.go.com (88.1M views)

Most Viewed Links

The topmost viewed links include a very surprising and often confusing mishmash of landing pages, videos, store pages, news articles, and more. Here are the top 10 most viewed links on Facebook:

  1. https://www.playeralumniresources.com/ (87.2M views)
  2. https://purehempshop.com/collections/all (72.1M views)
  3. https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/unicef-responding-covid-19-india (62.7M views)
  4. https://myincrediblerecipes.com/ (58.9M views)
  5. https://reppnforchrist.com/ (51.6M views)
  6. http://www.yahoo.com/ (51.0M views)
  7. https://64.media.tumblr.com/2d32d91bcdfa6e17f18df90f1fada473/6094b00761d82f16-76/s400x600/f0383899ecb1484b10e3420a368d871d7dc68f91.gifv (49.1M views)
  8. https://stevefmvirginia.iheart.com/ (48.2M views) 
  9. https://www.londonedge.com/index.html (44.3M views)
  10. https://subscribe.theepochtimes.com/p/?page=email-digital-referral (44.2M views)

Most Viewed Pages

The most viewed pages give a glimpse into those who are driving the most engagement and building the most connected audience:

  1. Unicef (153.2M views)
  2. Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons (112.3M views)
  3. Sassy Media (109.5M views)
  4. The Dodo (104.5M views)
  5. LADbible (104.4M views)
  6. Woof Woof (104.1M views)
  7. A Woman’s Soul (98.3M views)
  8. 3am Thoughts (92.1M views)
  9. Lori Foster (89.5M views)
  10. World Health Organization (WHO) (88.9M views)

Top Viewed Posts

While the full report includes the top 20 posts from the platform, we aren’t going to share them here. The collection is largely made up of simple text posts with an image – some bordering on spam. The third most viewed post was even deleted or made private. If anything, this section reveals that Facebook doesn’t necessarily require the most intricately constructed content to go viral. All it takes is knowing your audience and motivating them to respond. 


As you might expect from all of this, the reaction to the report has been mixed (at best).

It is certainly interesting to see exactly what pages and content are getting the most traction across Facebook, but it doesn’t exactly paint the most impressive picture.

For better or worse, however, this is what has been most widely viewed on Facebook in the U.S. this quarter.

For the full report, click here.

If there is anyone who knows what works on Facebook Ads, it’s probably Facebook. Thankfully, the company is eager to share its data to help advertisers make the best ads possible. 

Facebook Ads did just that this week with a new list of 11 ways to improve your video ads based on their latest data and research.

Why Video Ads?

Many brands and advertisers are still reluctant to indulge in video ads, fearing they may be more costly, less effective, or more difficult to manage.

According to the report, however, none of these are true. In fact, the company has seen that for every dollar invested into video ads on the platform, there is a 39% higher chance to drive sales compared to static social ads.

Even more, the budget, placement, or targeting have less impact on the success of video ads than you may think. According to Facebook Ads, 70% of the potential ROI from video ads comes from how you use the format to get attention and inspire action, while just 30% comes from details like where the ad is shown.

To ensure your video ads are inspiring potential customers to take action, Facebook put together these tips for improving your future video ad campaigns.

11 Ways To Improve Your Video Ads

Facebook breaks this collection of tips into two groups: ‘Best Practice’ and ‘Highly Recommended’.

Best Practice 

  1. Frame For Mobile: Based on user activity, most users will be seeing your video on mobile. Keep this in mind when framing your video with the recommended vertical 4:5 format on Facebook or 1:1 square format on Instagram.
  2. Create For Sound-Off Viewing: By default, your video will be played without audio. If your video ad is going to be successful, it needs to be understandable and engaging without sound.
  3. Focus on the Product: Facebook recommends focusing your creative for video ads directly on a product or feature, rather than your entire business.
  4. Have a Single Message: As with all advertising, it is important to present a single, clear message in any promotion. Trying to do too much in a single ad will just overwhelm or push away potential customers.
  5. Highlight Branding Early: The report recommends placing your branding and message at the start of a video to grab attention and retain potential customers.
  6. Be Straight To The Point: On that note, putting a clear message up front makes it easier for consumers to understand what you’re hoping to accomplish and what you have to offer them.
  7. Use Movement & Faster Editing Early: Having movement or quick edits near the start of your video ads helps grab attention and may motivate viewers to keep watching.

Highly Recommended

  1. Brevity Is Key: People viewing on mobile devices have limited time, short attention-spans, and are quick to scroll away if you start to lose them. It is important to keep your videos short for most impact.
  2. Don’t Follow Old Rules: Traditional ads on TV and radio are structured with the assumption that users will remain tuned in no matter what. This allows time to build up a story to grab interest. Online video doesn’t offer this comfort. Instead, start your videos with a bang to capture attention quickly. 
  3. Don’t Be Afraid of Twists or Surprises: Including more gasp-inducing moments in your video ads can be a good way to hold viewers’ attention throughout your entire video.
  4. Think Visually: Since sound is typically off, it is important to use visually grabbing features like bright colors or product close-ups to keep viewers engaged.

To learn more about what Facebook has learned from its video ads research, read the full report here.

Just days after Google announced sweeping changes to how it handles advertising and data privacy regarding users under 18, Facebook has revealed it is making similar changes to its ad platform.

The news comes along with the launch of new ad creation tools and placements this week by Facebook Ads.

Facebook Ads to Remove Targeting For Minors

Facebook is notifying advertisers that it will be disabling many targeting options for ads aimed at minors starting August 23.

As the alert says:

“Starting August 23, many targeting options, including detailed targeting and Custom Audiences, will no longer be available to target people under 18 globally, 20 in Thailand or 21 in Indonesia. For new ads that include young people, you’ll only be able to target by location, age, and gender.”

New Campaign Ideas Generator

Having trouble coming up with ideas for an upcoming marketing campaign? Facebook has a new tool just for you. The idea generator allows brands to input their vertical and specify if they are running an evergreen or seasonal campaign. 

With this information, Facebook will then give you campaign ideas with data, insights, and resources for putting the campaigns into action.

Along with these ideas, Facebook’s campaign idea generator also creates draft organic posts to use and offers free assets like images for you to use.

New Ad Placements in Instagram Shops Being Tested

Lastly, an article from AdWeek disclosed that Instagram has been testing placing ads within the Instagram Shop Tab.

The ads appear on the homepage of the tab and can be expanded with a tap to show more pictures, product information, and related products – as you would with organic listings in the Instagram Shop Tab.

Facebook Groups have been a clever way for entrepreneurs and business leaders to establish themselves as an important figure in both their local community and their national industry. Now, Groups are getting the chance to formally tag those authority figures as the experts they are.

In a new update, Facebook Groups administrators gained the ability to tag specific group members as “subject matter experts.”

This title will come with unique labels when posting or participating in streams or audio chats, as well as a few unique abilities to help generate and lead discussions. 

According to the social network, the new tag is designed to help acknowledge those who regularly share helpful knowledge and provide a bit of clout to those voices. 

“There are more than 70 million admins and moderators running active Facebook groups around the world. Many of these groups are home to subject matter experts who love to share their knowledge, from fitness trainers to highly skilled crafters.

“Now, it’s easier than ever to help experts stand out in groups and offer ways for them to engage with their communities.”

What Comes With Being a Facebook Group Expert?

The most obvious perk of being a Facebook Group Subject Matter Expert is the small badge that displays under your name when posting in that group. 

This will make it easier to spot comments that may have important information among even the biggest comment chains.

Along with this badge, Facebook is also working on a few unique ways for group experts to help generate community discussion, including:

  • Ask Questions: When people write a post that looks like a question in their group, the post will automatically be upgraded to a format that encourages others to share advice, information or perspective. 
  • Create Live Audio Rooms in Groups: A low-pressure way for subject matter experts and communities to get ideas and inspiration from each other through audio-first conversations. Live Audio Rooms are coming to Groups this summer.
  • Host Q&As: A way for people to lead real-time question-and-answer sessions with their communities, in a text-based format. Answered questions are featured in an interactive, swipe-able stack, while all questions may be viewed in the Q&A’s comment section.

How To Designate a Facebook Group Expert

There are two ways for group admins to mark someone as an expert.

The first way is by searching the group member list for an individual by name, then selecting “Make group expert” from the member menu.

The other method is by choosing the option within the drop-down menu on posts or comments.

Note that this role must be accepted by the member in question, and admins can revoke the title at any time.

Following the massive success of online shopping through Facebook and Instagram, Facebook announced it is bringing Shops to WhatsApp along with a slew of other new e-commerce features.

According to the announcement, nearly 75% of people said they use Facebook-owned social networks to discover brands or products online. 

Even more, some industries have seen wild gains with over 85% of people surveyed saying they had purchased a fashion, beauty, furniture, or electronic product they first found through a Facebook platform. 

Now, the company’s goal is to streamline the process while bringing in new features and expanding shopping capabilities to the often forgotten WhatsApp.

To achieve this goal, the latest updates include:

  • Bringing Shops To More Places
  • Introducing Customer Reviews on Instagram
  • Creating Personalized Shop Ads
  • Opening AR Features To More Brands

Let’s look at each of these a bit more in-depth.

Bringing Shops To More Places

Facebook Shops on WhatsApp and Marketplace

When setting up a Shop, brands have been presented with two options for where their products can appear: Facebook and Instagram. Now, those options are finally getting expanded. 

First, brands in the U.S. will have the option to also showcase their products in Marketplace.

With over one billion people using Marketplace every month, it only makes sense that Facebook would be making it easier to get their products included.

Additionally, businesses in several countries around the world are also getting the ability to put their shop on WhatsApp, the popular Facebook-owned message and phone call app. 

With this, users will be able to browse your entire product catalogue, share products with friends, and ask you questions they might have about your products without leaving the app. 

Best of all, you only have to set up your store once to have it up and running on all three apps. 

Introducing Customer Reviews on Instagram

In the coming months, users will begin getting the ability to rate and review products they’ve purchased in Shops on Instagram. 

Instagram Product Reviews

Similar to most modern online product reviews, users will be able to leave a simple star rating, write a longer in-depth text review, and share pictures of the real-life products with others. 

Brands will also be able to leave responses to address any concerns or manage customer-service opportunities. 

As the announcement says:

“We always want shoppers to feel confident in the purchases they make, so we’re giving people more information before they buy…

“These changes will help people make more informed decisions on what to buy, and will let businesses know if they are meeting customer expectations.”

Creating Personalized Shop Ads

Facebook is introducing a new type of personalized ads for shops which will showcase curated collections to those most likely to purchase. 

Personalized Ads For Product Collections

By comparing past shopping behavior, the platform is attempting to connect users with the products most likely to excite them. 

Facebook says:

“Personalized ads are often the beginning of the shopping journey and businesses want to offer shopping experiences that are seamless and personalized. That’s why we’re introducing Shops ads solutions that provide unique ads experiences based on people’s shopping preferences.”

Opening AR Features To More Brands

Augmented Reality (AR) has been predicted to be a major force in product advertising since the earliest days of the internet, and it is finally making good on that promise. 

Smartphone cameras and increasing processing ability are making it possible for users to virtually “try on” products without having to deal with dirty dressing rooms or pushy attendants. 

The last hurdle is making these tools widely available to brands that don’t have millions to spend on developing AR systems. 

That is exactly what Facebook is hoping to do by developing new APIs that will make it easier for brands to integrate AR into their product catalogues. 

The APIs will begin rolling out to beauty product brands in the near future, with support for other industries coming shortly after. 

Along with these features, the social network says it is testing a new ad format which would use AR technology to allow users to “try on” products from your ads. Though it is only in testing currently, Facebook says it expects to roll out the ads to more brands by the end of the year.