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Facebook Shut the Door on Data: The Fallout and the Future

Facebook Shut the Door on Data: The Fallout and the Future

Graphic with 1-0-1-0 codingYou’ve probably heard about this little scandal called the Facebook Cambridge Analytica breach – and it turns out it’s kind of a big deal for all of us here in the influencer marketing world. The resulting API changes that restrict how third parties access data were a valid choice by Facebook to cover their behinds after users learned just how much of their data had been mined – and more importantly, sold. A round of applause for transparency, but as Facebook unceremoniously closed the data-door the marketing industry poured itself a stiff drink as we all began the journey for answers.

Everywhere Agency has been doing influencer marketing for almost ten years, so we lived through the days of manually pulling data and hand counting Facebook likes on our abacus (just kidding, sort of). The invention of third-party data software really created the ability to run campaigns faster and more efficiently – with pretty graphs to boot. In the wake of the API closing, we’ve had to evolve and find new (and sometimes old) ways to measure the impact of our campaigns. Reporting is taking longer because we are gathering more data directly from our influencers, but we’re just as committed as ever to delivering the most robust metrics possible to our clients to prove our ROI – even if it’s one screenshot at a time.

The most painful consequences of the API restrictions? The ability to filter users by personal information such as religion, politics, and ethnicity that marketers once used to create effective targeted ads has been removed. Facebook also suspended apps from connecting to the platform to ensure that partners were using gathered data responsibly.

Everywhere Agency, and everyone else in our industry, has certainly been affected by these new policies, and we’re not afraid to admit it. Our third-party vendors, who we rely on for in-depth reporting data, had the proverbial rug pulled from under them without enough notice to make any adaptations beforehand. One day there was beautiful, specific, automated data about impressions, reach, and engagement on influencer’s posts – the next day, it was gone.

In this post-privacy apocalypse, we can see the magnitude of the “yell” that comes from an influencer’s individual post, but we can’t see the echo of that yell once it’s shared from private accounts. Essentially, our reports are a snapshot of the overall campaign performance as seen through the eyes of only public accounts – think likes, shares, and comments. Metrics are now more conservative, as any Facebook user with a private account is no longer counted. Impressions are looking a lot less robust than they used to since most Facebook accounts are not set up for public consumption, but for friends and family – as Facebook’s recent ad campaign keeps reminding us. Honestly, how many people do you know with public social media accounts?

Facebook is making API changes this August, and we’re hoping that means it’s working on some of its (justified) trust issues. The fact that they’ve reopened the application process for third-party apps is a good sign that trusted partners will start regaining access to information that was lost when everything came to a halt. Another good sign is that Facebook recently gave tagging permissions back to third-party sites like Sprout Social and Hootsuite – which many of us who operate in the social media space rely on. This feature was removed in the original crackdown, and the regaining of this privilege has us feeling optimistic about the future.

The real silver lining in all of this is a chance to reevaluate and educate clients on what metrics really matter. For a long time, impressions have reigned as the end-all, be-all of success metrics for many clients who demand numbers in the hundreds of millions. Now, we have the opportunity to encourage our clients to look at success as a more holistic picture – not just potential views – but actual engagements, link clicks, sales lifts, and beautiful and relevant content that can be utilized by the brands.

While these changes have been challenging and wholly frustrating in an increasingly data-driven world, we know our longevity has been and will continue to be attributed to our ability to evolve as our industry does. Social platforms rise and fall, data ebbs and flows, and last we checked there is no slowing down now. So keep calm and market on, friends.

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