The death of Facebook advertising. The rebirth of PR?

The death of Facebook advertising. The rebirth of PR?

For many years, Meta (forever known by millennials like me as Facebook) has dominated social media advertising. The company made approximately $114 billion dollars through its advertising sales last year. But as the legendary Bob Dylan once wrote, “the times they are a-changing”.

Dawn of a new era

As pending legislation and major changes within the technology industry (Apple’s rollout of enhanced privacy features in iOS 14 being one) give us all greater control of where and how we are tracked online, many brands are seeing significantly diminishing returns from Facebook advertising campaigns.  Fewer conversions and higher costs have taken away one of its biggest advantages: being able to cost-effectively micro-target audiences with specific messages and track the impact.

With interest data on Facebook now less relevant than it once was, it has forced some brands to take a much broader approach when creating their campaigns – something that will not work for every organisation.

Investing in the message

To ensure campaigns remain focused, many organisations have started investing more on the creative content and messaging behind the campaigns. This is where PR thrives.

PR is all about content and messaging; creating powerful stories that resonate with journalists, their readers, and people across the digital world. PR professionals – both those in-house and agency side – are perfectly placed to be ones leading this narrative development process.

Facebook is not “dead”, despite these big technical changes. The platform has already implemented new processes to enable its algorithm to be able to generate insightful audience data. But it will not have the same level of granular detail as it did before and this change has got many brands thinking about their approach in the future.

Editorial is king

While social media advertising is just one vehicle brands can use to disseminate those stories, editorial content is often seen by many as more trusted than advertising – and by extension, more valuable. It ranks highly on Google and some well-placed backlinks can work wonders for an organisation’s SEO performance.

Traditionally, PR agencies have always had a tough task to show cause and effect when reporting vs social media advertising agencies, because the data for social was so bountiful and accurate, helping clients understand where every penny went and its impact on conversions.

As Facebook paid campaigns become broader and potentially more costly to run, and PR’s impact on ROI becomes clearer, more people are coming to understand the true value of effective and consistent PR communications.

Given that there may be future changes with some of the other big tech platforms too, those who solely prioritise social advertising over editorial may end up being left “blowin’ in the wind”.

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