Facebook Branded Content - What It Means for Your Brand
In 2003, it was Arnie’s ‘Teminator 3 - Rise of the Machines’ that took the world by storm. Fast forward 14 years and it’s very much been the ‘Rise of the Influencer’ having the same effect.
The concept has exploded in recent times, as more and more brands take heed of the benefits afforded by influencer marketing. Initially, it was the realm of celebrity A listers, who commanded six figure sums for a single tweet, ‘gram or post about a particular brand or product.
Brands were literally throwing products at the likes of Kimmy Kardashian and Cristiano Ronaldo, hoping to expose their products to the world through social audiences pushing into the tens of millions.
More recently, though, brands have jumped on board the micro-influencer bandwagon, taking advantage of smaller but much more highly targeted audiences. It’s working too - according to a survey undertaken by the Influencer Marketing Hub earlier this year, influencer marketing rated as the fastest growing customer acquisition method amongst the Marketing Managers surveyed, and returned on average $7.65 in earned media for every dollar spent.
Despite the excellent results, though, the rise of the influencer has been somewhat of a double edged sword for marketers.
On one hand, with the cost of micro-influencer endorsements a fraction of what we’ve come to expect, brands that couldn’t afford to play in the high stakes world of the Hollywood heartthrob can now build influencer marketing into their comms strategy.
On the flip side, every new mum, fitness fanatic, wannabe food critic and professional world traveler wants to be the next Instagram sensation, making it much harder for brands to find the gold amongst the garbage.
Transparency has always been an issue, too. Both for brands relying on the integrity of their chosen influencer to provide accurate post performance metrics, and for consumers whose newsfeeds have been flooded by product plugs, many of which are commercial in nature, but lacking any kind of disclosure.
In short, it’s been a bit of a free for all. Until now.
In mid August, Facebook announced some major changes to the way that brands and influencers collaborate, all in the name of transparency.
It’s great news for reputable influencers, providing a much more streamlined process, greater brand involvement and greater transparency to maintain the all-important trust amongst their audiences. For the rest of the bunch, the greater scrutiny and accountability will be a wakeup call.
In a nutshell, all branded content (defined by Facebook as “posts for which there's an exchange of value between a creator or publisher and a business partner”) must be published via the new ‘branded content’ function. Both brands and influencers will have insight into the post performance and audiences will see new ‘with’ and ‘paid’ terminology at the top of branded content posts, signifying their commercial status.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR INFLUENCERS
Whenever an influencer posts branded content, they must click the new ‘with’ handshake icon to enable tagging of a ‘business partner’ in the post. Once the post is published, its branded nature will be evident at the top of the post and both the influencer and the brand will be able to track the post’s performance in their respective insights panels, under a new ‘branded content’ section.
On top of this, influencers can tick a box allowing brands to boost their branded content. Essentially, this enables a brand to pay for increased reach without having to share the post on their own page first. The paid boost simply amplifies the influencer’s original post, with the only noticeable distinction to keen-eyed consumers being the 'paid' tag switching to 'sponsored'.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR BRANDS
In a word, accountability. With access to insights on each influencer’s post, marketers will have far greater control over their branded content performance, in real time. Page admins will be able to see reach and engagement (likes, comments and shares) for each post their page is tagged in, along with total spend and CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions) for posts which have been boosted.
From a security and privacy standpoint, brands have the ability to allow only approved influencers to tag them in posts, using the new Page Approvals setting.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR CONSUMERS
Hopefully this new standard will make it much clearer for consumers. They’ll be able to easily identify which of the posts in their newsfeed are advertorial in nature and which aren’t.
If they trust the influencers they follow to only promote brands and products that they actually believe in, then it’s hard to envisage consumer engagement with branded content suffering. In fact, it may just build greater trust between consumers, influencers and brands.
These new measures by Facebook are certainly a step in the right direction, regulating the world of influencer marketing and allowing the cream to rise to the top through proven, transparent performance, without the smoke and mirrors.
For more information on the new Branded Content guidelines, visit Facebook’s help page.