• Facebook is changing the way it promotes content
  • Traditional business promotions will be shown less frequently
  • Tactical changes your dealership needs to remain in front of customers and prospects

You’ve heard of it. You’ve seen it. Your friends use it. Chances are you were just scrolling through its news feed a few moments ago. By now, if someone hasn’t heard the word “Facebook,” they must not be from this planet. And, if the news reports surrounding the Facebook data breach have not yet entered your living room, then it’s time to discuss a very real problem. A problem, no doubt, that will affect dealerships’ ability to digitally market themselves to consumers.

What exactly is the Facebook breach? Over the past several weeks, this leading social media platform and its creator, Mark Zuckerberg, have been under intense scrutiny. But, why? Even United States senators questioning the actions of Facebook’s leaders had trouble fully comprehending the issues involved.

 

Understanding the Scandal
Five years ago, Aleksandr Kogan, a researcher from Cambridge University developed a quiz for users to test their personality. This personality quiz asked for the personal information of those who signed up and allowed its creator access to the information. In addition to logging the information of those who signed up, Kogan was able to access information from those users’ friends without permission. The number of users’ information that has been stolen currently stands at 87 million.

Most of the information stolen from Facebook users’ accounts was provided to Kogan’s company, Global Science Research. It included where people live, their gender, private messages, religious and political beliefs, websites visited and liked, and any publicly available information on their profile page. In 2015, the political data firm, Cambridge Analytica, created a personality predictor in order to start sending strategically formatted advertisements to individuals to influence voters as part of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

One of the more upsetting pieces of news to come to light in the over four-week dissection of the data breach is that Facebook knew about the stolen information since 2015. When this issue arose, CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified that Facebook banned the quiz application responsible for the stolen information and asked both Kogan and Cambridge Analytica to delete it. This information, however, was not deleted nor did Zuckerberg follow up to check the information was gone.

Changes that Will Affect Your Dealership
In an attempt to settle the waters, Zuckerberg announced a change to Facebook’s News feed. And if your dealership is using Facebook as part of a digital marketing strategy, you will be affected. In January, Facebook announced it will be helping facilitate “community” content over “consumerism.” What this means is that you will no longer be seeing as many leads through organic post reach. Consumers’ news feeds will consist mainly of content from friends, family, and groups they are a part of or pages they like.

 

The biggest takeaway here for dealerships to understand is that people have and will continue to leave Facebook or pay more attention to their privacy settings. Many no longer believe their information is safe, and who can blame them? You never want to lose leads or potential visits to your site through social media because so many people use these platforms. Some companies rely heavily on digital media campaigns, specifically through Facebook. So how can dealerships overcome this challenge?

Looking at the Changes and Their Effects
The first thing you should do as a dealership with plans for a digital marketing strategy is implement a data strategy to acquire and process users’ personal data the right, ethical way. Thinking harder about the ways Facebook gathers and handles data is important to the ways you create a form of best practices when it comes to marketing to your consumers. The age of being able to personalize an ad to specific people based on gather data is ending.

These new changes, specifically within the newsfeed, incorporate more person-to-person interactions. According to Zuckerberg, Facebook users feel they are seeing too many unwanted posts from businesses and brands. If you are a business that does not use paid posts, prepare to see a BIG drop in organic post reach. A post published by Facebook’s Newsroom, with these impending updates reads, “pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease. Pages with posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution.” Basically, the posts you share on your dealerships page might have a stronger chance of reaching your audience if they’re extremely well crafted and likely to produce interactions.

 

The reason for this is that Facebook is trying to get its users to start talking more. They want to produce a stronger feeling of community, sparking conversation in posts, not maintaining passive scrolling. The best way for dealerships’ social media posts to make it through the roadblocks is to start being more creative, inspiring a want to discuss topics further. If dealerships are trying to find leads through posts, they may want to start considering writing posts that do not sound like business-created posts. Effort spent on writing posts that ask for opinions and replies will be more effective in getting those viewers to sites.

But What Happens to Ads?
Currently, the fate of Facebook ads has yet to be determined. Most likely, they will never leave. In 2017, Facebook’s reported ad revenue stood at $9.16 billion. This is a 47 percent increase since last year and reports show it will only grow. Facebook makes its money almost entirely through running advertisements based on information willingly shared by users. The only way for Facebook to continue making money without running ads on users’ feeds would be, theoretically, to start charging users.

While this plan does not seem to be an option in the near future, if users decide not to share anymore there will need to be change. Already, Facebook is focusing more on one-to-one interactions between people. They want to cut out business-to-people interactions. If dealerships want a stronger chance of fighting the news Feed Change, they will need to start creating not only posts, but ads that drive personal interactions. The best way to do this is with smart content. Relevancy is what will help dealerships stay on top of this ever-changing platform that is Facebook.

 

So how does one stay relevant? Dealerships on Facebook have to target the right people, with the right content, at the right time. Accomplishing these three elements can be tedious, but valuable to the survival of digital media strategies. To reach the right people, businesses need to start sparking conversations with people in their industry’s community. You can market to everyday people shopping for cars all day long but not everyone wants to buy the same car. Maybe a dealership has more practical vehicles parents may be more willing to purchase. Once the right people are chosen, the right message does most of the work. Create and design ads that will spark a conversation with the right people. If you’re targeting new parents with practical cars, create ads and posts asking their opinions or share an experience that gets people talking. When the first two elements are met, then reaching your audience at the right time will round everything out. The buyer’s journey is a huge influencer in when someone clicks on an ad.

Recognizing the Impossible v. Possible
At this stage in the game and looking forward, the amount of inbound sales you typically see come through Facebook are likely to dwindle. As unfortunate as that sounds, it’s true. But losing faith in running ads through Facebook is not the answer. Focus on long-term goals and reaching the right people with relevant content. Stop sticking to the same procedures every other business uses to get their ads to register and instead provide valuable information to your followers. If there is one thing everyone can learn from the Facebook breach, it is to be honest. It’s time to start making your social media strategy count before the newest Facebook changes take you over. Set goals for reaching your audience with the type of content they’re actually searching for – real, relevant, honest posts from which they can pull information. Be thoughtful when it comes to the types of ads and posts you create. Your customers will appreciate the time, effort, and truth behind the connections you provide.

Image credit: Veluben