Facebook won’t let people change the headlines in links — and social media managers aren’t pleased
Facebook is so big that even well-intentioned changes have collateral damage. Take last week’s move to not allow people to customize the links, headlines and descriptions of links they post. Facebook said it was to fight the spread of fake news. But for those in audience development, the move was jarring.
The move limits what had been a key area of focus for publishers that looked to target specific audience segments on its platform. Prior to these changes, an audience development manager could publish a story that might appeal to many different groups multiple times, using different headlines in an attempt to maximize engagement and reach among each group. For example, an article that recapped a presidential debate could be given a Donald Trump-centric headline and then targeted at Republican readers. Then, the article could get a Hillary Clinton-focused headline before targeting it at Democrats (or vice versa).
“This is causing concern for audience development folk and social media teams who recognize how it drastically curtails their ability to tinker with an article once it’s published, which for most is part of the standard workflow once an article is out the door and looking to be pushed to social,” said Matt Navarra, the head of social media at The Next Web.
The announcement didn’t come out of nowhere. Facebook announced at its F8 developer conference earlier this year that it would overhaul its Graph application programming interface; this is merely the latest phase of a shift that will play out over the next few weeks.
Publishers are still free to target specific groups. But they can’t change the headline and post metadata for each group they target — unless, of course, they want to pay for the privilege. According to Jared Lansky, the chief strategy officer of Keywee, a third-party audience targeting tool, clients will still be able to rewrite the headlines and test them using Facebook Ads.
Lansky added that for publishers looking to target specific audience segments, the text of the post itself, rather than the headline, had just as much effect on click-throughs.
Not everybody in the audience development space reacted negatively to the news. “It has lots of folks freaked out, but I honestly think this is a smart move by Facebook,” said Matt Karolian, director of audience development at The Boston Globe. “This seems like a constructive move in terms of helping publishers ensure that third parties are unable to effectively re-write headlines and photos on their articles.”
Indeed, the severity of the reaction to Facebook’s decision may have as much to do with mounting frustrations as it does with the move itself. While Facebook has made a marked effort recently to ease the tensions that have grown between publishers and the platform, a sense still persists among many publishers that Facebook does a poor job of communicating with them.
“I think Facebook has gotten better at supporting publishers and providing information to them,” Navarra said. “However, unless you are a major publisher or big ad spender, it does seem like you are not kept in the loop as much.”
‘We’re netting out with higher revenue’: Publishers reaping the benefits of Snapchat’s strong second half
With CPMs up as much as 20% year over year in the fourth quarter, many Discover publishers are bullish on the upstart platform for next year.
How Cosmo is building brand affinity with younger audiences through its focus on commerce
Cosmopolitan's focus on e-commerce through a line of branded wines and its own shopping holiday has led to a 254% increase in product sales.
‘Go to market faster’: The Washington Post’s Arc goes outside the tent for payment and data integrations
Subscriber revenue has become more of a priority to the Washington Post's Arc clients since it launched its subscription tools last year.
SponsoredPublishers will lead the charge as cookie-less advertising becomes the norm
Steve Wing, managing director, EMEA, Magnite As the advertising industry moves closer to a cookieless world — one in which browserless environments including connected TV (CTV) and mobile in-app are an increasingly large part of ad budgets — publishers will have an increasingly important role in developing the future of identity. Segment creation and identity […]
‘Profitability in the back half of next year’: BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti (and Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan) on their big merger
A special Digiday podcast episode features Interviews with BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti and Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan.
‘People have had permission to experiment’: Pandemic expedites rethink on 9-to-5 work structures
Starting out as a short-term fix to weather the coronavirus storm, employers are seeing work hours outside the traditional 9-to-5 week as a new normal.