Millions reached for their phones, looking for a distraction from the inevitable autumn rain. They opened Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp. Feeds failed to refresh, stories buffered, messages went unsent. Facebook was down. Again.
Facebook hasn’t been having an easy time. A day earlier Frances Haugen, its latest whistleblower, appeared on 60 Minutes, adding to the previous criticisms of the social media giant. But, as much as we celebrated the opportunity for a forced digital detox, users were back scrolling, posting and messaging the second the issues were resolved.
It seems we can’t live without Facebook
October was a busy month for Facebook, culminating in the announcement of Meta. There are questions over what this means for the business. But it doesn’t mean the existing apps are going anywhere. And the user stats support this. Facebook remains the biggest social network in the world with 2.9 billion monthly active users and 19% growth over two years. Only YouTube prevents a Zuckerberg clean sweep of the top five, ahead of WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger.
It’s clear we can still find our audiences on the platforms. So, how should brands be working with Meta in 2022?
Fuel relationships with first-party data
GDPR and Apple’s ATT feature have impacted the use of third-party data across Meta’s apps. However, first-party data offers huge opportunities to deliver the personalization consumers expect. Brands can create compelling organic content based on their audience insights and build Custom Audiences to target with personalized paid ads.
Spotify’s partnership with Meta exemplifies the creative use of rich first-party data. Its annual Wrapped campaign uses streaming data to create paid content that talks directly to its audiences, pushed out through mass and customized targeting. Once users are engaged, the personalized round-up of an individual’s annual soundtrack is organic content that people actually want to share, and the Spotify-Meta relationship makes this easy. FOMO generated through this social sharing drives a peak in Spotify’s app downloads in December.
The same principles can be applied even without the wealth of data available to Spotify. Fueling that ongoing consumer relationship through both organic and paid personalized content builds trust, and ultimately encourages repurchase.
Embrace social commerce...
A 2020 survey by Initials showed that nearly two in three UK shoppers would be more likely to purchase from a brand if they could browse and shop entirely within a social platform. Despite a slow global roll-out, social commerce is a priority for Meta, with new features such as Drops having launched this year. Brands can benefit from product targeting based on user interests, and the ease of customer communication through DMs, Messenger and WhatsApp. Investment in this area will likely see high returns as sales are expected to increase from $36bn to $50bn by 2023 in the US alone.
Having worked with influencers such as Lucy Williams to fuel growth, jewelry brand Missoma was the obvious choice to be one of the first European brands to go live with Shops. Launching in November 2020, it married the creativity it had cultivated on the platform with the ease of purchase expected by today’s consumer. The investment paid off with 45,500 new visitors and 5.6k orders across Missoma’s Instagram Shop in the pre-Christmas period.
Commerce brands that have invested in building an organic following are perfectly positioned to exploit the opportunities social commerce offers, providing a personalized shopping experience once reserved for in-store transactions.
…and step into the metaverse
If we believe Zuckerberg, we are heading into the metaverse. This space where physical, augmented and virtual worlds collide is where the future ambitions of Meta (as the name indicates) lie. The theoretic opportunities for brands are huge. Fashion brands have been early to jump into this space, with NFT and gaming collaborations. The rewards are still to be seen but a long-term strategy could prove successful – as long as the right regulation is in place. Meta is positioning itself as the lynchpin of the metaverse, helping shape the standards for this new world. If this is the future, then brands need to join them on the journey.
The platform users love to hate
There may be another outage, whistleblower or accusation. But like any member of the family, we’ve learnt to live with the Meta family of apps. As marketers, we need to embrace its strengths. Meta has big ambitions for the future, but the existing apps still offer great opportunities for business growth and audience engagement in the palm of their hands. Use first-party data to create content that matters. Use live shopping and messaging to guide consumers through a bespoke purchase journey. It’s all about the personal touch. And you don’t even need to join Zuckerberg in the metaverse... yet.
Cecily Hart, senior marketing consultant at Frog, part of Capgemini Invent.