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Facebook is finally allowing all advertisers to run ads during users’ Stories.

The social network has been allowing a limited number of brands across three countries to create ads that appear during Stories published on the site since May, but this is the first time the company has expanded the option to smaller businesses.

Notably, during this time period, the number of people watching Facebook Stories each day has more than doubled from 150 million to over 300 million viewers.

In addition to making the ads available to a wider range of brands, the company has also rolled out a number of new tools and features to better target the ads and improve performance.

As part of these features, Facebook Stories now allow brands to optimize for all objectives available for Instagram Stories ads, including:

  • Reach
  • Brand awareness
  • Video views
  • App installs
  • Conversion
  • Traffic
  • Lead generation

Facebook has also brought all of its targeting and reporting tools for ads to Story ads, allowing brands to better track their performance.

As part of the official announcement of Story ads, Facebook emphasized how popular their Story feature has become and the impact of ads viewed during Stories:

“Advertising in stories has proven to drive valuable business outcomes. In the Ipsos survey, 62% of people said they became more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in a story. And brands testing Facebook Stories ads are already seeing results. iHeartRadio, Kettle Chips and KFC are among the advertisers who have seen brand lift from their Facebook Stories ad campaigns.”

The company also noted some other interesting statistics about Stories, such as:

  • More than half of people surveyed said they’re making more online purchases as a result of seeing stories.
  • 38% of people said that after seeing a product or service in a story they talked to someone about it.
  • 34% said they went to a store to look for a product after seeing it in a story.

in a year full of scandals and congressional inquiries, people appear to be changing how they use Facebook.

A new study from Pew Research Center shows that a huge portion of users has taken steps to reduce their usage and increase their privacy within the past year.

Interestingly, the findings show that users are specifically ditching the Facebook mobile app, with more than a quarter of US adults deleting the app on their phone. Even more have gone on a trial separation by taking a break from the platform entirely.

Among the findings of the study are several notable discoveries, including:

  • 54% of users have adjusted their privacy settings
  • 42% have taken a break from checking Facebook for several weeks or longer
  • 26% have deleted the Facebook app from their phone
  • 74% have done at least one of the above

These numbers on their own are very concerning for Facebook, but they become even more illuminating when broken down by age group. The survey shows that young Facebook users are widely stepping away from the platform or restricting their privacy.

Among users aged 18-29, 44% have deleted the app, compared to just 12% of users over the age of 64. Similar shifts were found among those who have changed their privacy settings.

Notably, there was no significant difference between the ages of those who have taken a break from Facebook.

The survey was conducted between May 29th and June 11th this year, after news broke about Facebook’s involvement in the collection and selling data on millions of users by Cambridge Analytica.

While these trends are certainly eye-raising, it remains unclear exactly how Facebook’s scandals have actually affected the company. The company’s latest quarterly report indicates the average daily users in North America has remained steady throughout the year.

Facebook is running an extremely limited test letting just five publishers create and test responsive headlines, images, videos, and copy to see which versions of their posts perform better in real time.

The new tool allows the select few publishers to test up to four unique versions of any organic post, according to Digiday. It also allows these publishers to see data such as interactions and click-through rate, as well as predictions of these metrics as the ads roll out. This way, publishers can actively gauge which version of their content fares best.

While Facebook wasn’t willing to release specific data on the test yet, Facebook product manager Mollie Vandor said that more than half of the time, publishers wound up choosing a different version of the story than they had originally created.

The intention is to help boost organic performance for publishers in a time where organic reach and engagement continues to fall across the platform. According to BuzzFeed News, one of the publishers given access to the test, the tool does improve performance. However, it isn’t enough to mitigate Facebook’s ongoing demotion of organic reach.

“This comes as everyone’s traffic on Facebook has gone down a lot, so it’s good to be able to get the most out of our posts, but we’re still getting a lot less,” said BuzzFeed news deputy director, Fran Berkman.

As a Facebook rep told Marketing Land in a written statement:

Our goal with this test is to provide more visibility into how their organic content is performing on Facebook on a post by post basis. Also to enable publishers in the test to derive learnings and identify their own best practices over time. With this level of insight, publishers are better equipped to drive meaningful engagement around their content and have a stronger sense of control over how their content performs on Facebook.

Vandor echoed this sentiment, saying the tool “is a way to maximize how they pitch their content to people on Facebook.”

“Instead of us saying, ‘Here’s a list of universal best practices,’ we’re trying to give publishers the tools they can use to develop their own best practices.”

When asked if the tool would be available to other publishers and advertisers in the future, Vandor wouldn’t say anything decisively. She did, though, say the company is “actively exploring” expanding the tool to others once it is made easier and less resource-intensive to use.

For years, Facebook has made it easy to integrate your other social media accounts from across the web, by allowing users to cross-post content from one platform onto Facebook. For instance, Twitter users were able to share their Tweets on Facebook without ever leaving Twitter’s platform.

That all changed last week, however, when Facebook officially deprecated its Publish actions permissions from its API, effectively making it impossible for other social networks to include built-in cross-posting.

According to Facebook, this move affects approximately 60,000 apps – including some big hitters like Twitter.

Twitter’s support team confirmed the change, though they explain there are still other ways to share Tweets across the web:

Facebook announced it would be deprecating Publish action permissions back in April, saying a few categories of apps with long product life cycles would be given extra time to update their software.

Facebook confirmed to Marketing Land’s Amy Gesenhues it had rolled out the change last week. The company also stated Facebook users could still share content using Facebook’s Share dialogs.

Essentially, this boils down to Facebook staking its territory and trying to keep users within its platform as much as possible. Unfortunately, that means users and businesses who had been using Twitter’s integration to share content on both platforms at the same time will now have to go through more tedious methods.

At the same time Facebook removed the ability to automatically publish content to the site, the company says it also removed access to its API platform for hundreds of thousands of inactive apps. Both actions are part of a recent effort from Facebook to clean up its app landscape after recent controversies of what user information apps were able to access.

If you’ve spent much time trying to promote your business on Facebook, you’ve probably recognized the social platform isn’t exactly the best at transparency.

There are a lot of questions about what exactly you can and can’t post, which made it even more frustrating that there was no way to appeal the decision if Facebook decided to remove your content for violating its hidden guidelines.

That is beginning to change, however. Likely thanks to months of criticism and controversy due to Facebook’s lack of transparency and it’s reckless handling of users’ data, Facebook has been making several big changes to increase transparency and regain people’s trust.

The latest move in this direction is the release of Facebook’s entire Community Standards guidelines available to the public for the first time in the company’s history.

These guidelines have been used internally for years to moderate comments, messages, and images posted by users for inappropriate content. A portion of the Community Standards was also leaked last year by The Guardian.

The 27-page long set of guidelines covers a wide range of topics, including bullying, violent threats, self-harm, nudity, and many others.

“These are issues in the real world,” said Monika Bickert, head of global policy management at Facebook, told a room full of reporters. “The community we have using Facebook and other large social media mirrors the community we have in the real world. So we’re realistic about that. The vast majority of people who come to Facebook come for very good reasons. But we know there will always be people who will try to post abusive content or engage in abusive behavior. This is our way of saying these things are not tolerated. Report them to us, and we’ll remove them.”

The guidelines also apply to every country where Facebook is currently available. As such, the guidelines are available in more than 40 languages.

The rules also apply to Facebook’s sister services like Instagram, however, there are some tweaks across the different platforms. For example, Instagram does not require users to share their real name.

In addition to this release, Facebook is also introducing plans for an appeals process for takedowns made incorrectly. This will allow the company to address content that may be appropriate based on context surrounding the images.

If your content gets removed, Facebook will now personally notify you through your account. From there, you can choose to request a review, which will be conducted within 24 hours. If Facebook decides the takedown was enacted incorrectly, it will restore the post and notify you of the change.

Facebook’s experiment with the “Explore Feed” – where organic content from brands and publishers was hidden away in a second feed – has come to an unceremonious early end.

After less than four months, the social platform has announced the Explore Feed has been discontinued after early feedback showed that “people don’t want two separate feeds.”

The concept was one of Facebook’s biggest recent changes designed to prioritize content from friends and family (and paid advertisers) over content published by liked Pages. While users initially seemed excited at the possibility of decluttering their feeds, the actual implementation went largely unnoticed – except by businesses relying on organic reach to market their brands on Facebook.

In the face of continuously declining organic reach in recent years, the second feed felt like the final nail in the coffin for brands who have so-far refused to buy into Facebook’s ad platform.

All of this came together to make users unhappy with the separate feed. Facebook says recent user surveys found that users were “less satisfied” with the posts they were seeing, and the second feed failed to make the platform feel any more personal.

Many also felt the change made it harder to find information and that Facebook failed to explain the change to users. For example, it was unclear the second feed was just a test until it had been shut down.

“We’re acting on this feedback by updating the way we evaluate where to test new products, and how we communicate about them,” writes Facebook in its announcement.

Don’t think this setback will change Facebook’s direction, though. In its announcement, the company reiterated its commitment to prioritizing “meaningful social interactions” and reducing the reach of non-paying Pages. The announcement goes as far as plainly saying “those changes mean less public content in News Feed like posts from businesses, brands, and media.”

A recent survey from the United States Chamber of Commerce confirms what many already knew: small businesses across the country are discovering that social media can help find new customers and grow your business. In particular, they see Facebook as a major platform for marketing their business directly to their audience.

The findings of the survey show that more than half (60%) of all small businesses are using Facebook to grow their business, boost sales, find new customer sources, and reach customers they typically would not be able to reach.

Why Facebook?

For many small businesses, establishing a robust online presence seems difficult and costly. Over 50% of survey respondents said the cost of internet services keeps them from developing an online presence. Additionally, 57% of small businesses said digital tools were confusing or challenging.

However, small businesses agreed that Facebook provides an affordable alternative that is easy-to-use and understand.

How are small businesses using Facebook to grow?

According to the survey, 60% of small businesses are using Facebook to achieve a variety of business goals, such as:

  • 32% reported building their business on Facebook.
  •  42% reported hiring more employees since using Facebook
  •  56% said using Facebook as a business tool increased their sales
  •  52% reported that Facebook allowed them to grow their business by allowing them to reach customers outside of their local area, in other cities, states, and countries
  •  70% of small businesses report that using Facebook helps attract new customers
  •  39% of small businesses prefer to send potential customers to their Facebook page than to their own web page.
  •  Over 50% of small businesses reported that Facebook allowed them to take advantage of growing digital sales.

The report also explains:

“In addition to facilitating firms’ successes, over half of small businesses on Facebook reported that the platform as helped them overcome challenges in increasing revenue.”

People have been proclaiming that organic reach on Facebook is dead for years, thanks to moves that increasingly prioritize paid ads over regular Page posts. However, now might really be the time to start grieving. Facebook has announced sweeping changes to its News Feed that will make organic Page content even less likely to be seen.

According to Facebook, the change is ostensibly to prioritize the “social” part of their platform by putting posts from friends and family at the top of the News Feed. As this happens, “public content” (or content shared by Pages, rather than individual accounts) will be removed or pushed deeper down the feed.

However, there is a caveat that Page content that “spark conversations” will also be prioritized.

It is unclear exactly how this will be measured or enacted, but it implies that brands or publishers will have a harder time reaching users unless their content regularly receives a large number of comments.

Facebook explains the changes in a blog post, saying:

“Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses…Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos.”

Facebook is largely trying to downplay the impact on businesses or publishers, but Zuckerberg’s own blog post acknowledges that he expects “some measures of engagement will go down” for publishers and small businesses.

Unsurprisingly, this creates more incentive for brands to buy into Facebook’s ad platform to ensure their content actually reaches their audience.

Facebook’s Adam Mosseri recommended several steps small business or brands can take that rely heavily on video content – particularly Facebook Live.

“Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook — in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos. Many creators who post videos on Facebook prompt discussion among their followers, as do posts from celebrities. In Groups, people often interact around public content. Local businesses connect with their communities by posting relevant updates and creating events. And news can help start conversations on important issues.”

These changes and the continually decreasing organic reach across Facebook may make it tempting to try to manipulate or goad users into engaging, but Mosserri says this will get you in even worse trouble.

He says “using engagement-bait to goad people into commenting on posts is not a meaningful interaction, and we will continue to demote these posts in News Feed.”

In an attempt to breathe some life into their version of ‘Stories’, Facebook is expanding the feature to all pages – rather than just individual users.

This means brands can now start sharing Stories too all their friends and followers, though it’s unclear whether businesses will take Facebook up on the offer.

Since launching the Snapchat-like feature on Facebook earlier this year, Stories have largely been ignored by most users. Compared to Instagram or Snapchat, Facebook has struggled to find the right place or utility for their own version of the feature and many have forgotten the feature exists at all.

Rather than admitting their failure, the massive social platform is doubling down in hopes that they can encourage more users to share their own stories by letting brands take the lead. Presumably, the hope is that users will follow more influential pages’ leads and boost the number of Stories being shared.

According to Facebook, the expansion has actually been in high-demand recently. Product manager Amy Sun says users have been clamoring for more ways to share and engage in the feature.

”We’ve been listening to our community and working to make it fast, fun and easy for people and Pages to create Stories on Facebook. Over the coming month, Pages will be able to create Stories to share with the people who follow them.”

It is entirely possible that this move will allow Facebook Stories to finally find their audience and take off as a legitimate way to engage with your friends and followers. However, it feels likely that Stories are just not a natural fit for Facebook and may never see similar levels of popularity as on Snapchat, where the idea originated.

It may not come as a surprise that Facebook favors native videos, but a new report shows just how much of a boost videos can get by being uploaded straight to the social media platform.

According to Quintly, native videos on Facebook get up to 530% more comments than videos shared from other sources like YouTube.

The report comes from a study originally published back in March, but which has been recently updated with data collected between January and July of this year.

Including the new data, the study analyzed 187,000 Facebook pages and 7.5 million posts. From all this data, Quintly says it deduced that approximately 92% of all videos on Facebook are uploaded natively.

The study also shows how video has grown on Facebook recently. From January to July, almost half (48%) of all pages analyzed uploaded a video to their timeline. Of those, 92% posted at least one Facebook native video or Facebook Live video.

In comparison, only 26% of pages analyzed posted YouTube videos and 7% shared videos from Vimeo or other sources.

Facebook video’s biggest competition still comes from YouTube, but Facebook’s own clips still trounce all others in every metric.

Native Facebook videos received 168% more interactions – reactions, comments, or shares – compared to YouTube videos. They also received eight times more comments and 477% more shares.

It is highly likely that part of Facebook’s domination here is that it owns the platform, and thus, makes the rules. Facebook is almost certainly showing their own videos more prominently, which would lead to more engagement.

However, that is not the whole explanation. Native videos on Facebook’s platform also enjoy several arguably natural benefits that make them more likely to be viewed and engaged with. They can be played seamlessly from your timeline and users can react or comment as they’re watching.

In comparison, videos from other platforms have to be viewed off-site or in a separate pop-up player, and then navigate back to their timeline to like, share, or comment. At that point, they might decide to move on and keep scrolling through their feed.

Whatever the reason for native video’s domination on Facebook may be, it is clear that posting your clips directly to Facebook is the most effective way to get seen and build your brand on social media.