Facebook Embraces Collaboration Between Brands and Influencers

May 06, 2016

Article ImageFacebook recently announced the newest update to its network, and make no mistake, this is nothing short of a 180 degree shift from its previous position. By completely revamping its Branded Content Policy, Facebook not only opened a door back to influencers who migrated away from the platform following the previous change that limited their reach, but also gave marketers and influencers a clear message about what they need to do in order to flourish on the platform. Along with the policy change, Facebook will be introducing tools for brands and influencers to run successful campaigns together.

Facebook says: "Starting today, we will roll out the branded content tool that enables publishers and influencers to tag a marketer in a branded content post. The marketer will be notified, can access post-level insights, and will have the option of sharing and boosting the post. We focused on designing an easy tagging experience to create a simple and streamlined workflow for both publishers and marketers."

Possibly the most important part of the announcement relates to the access Facebook will start providing marketers to the results and insights generated by their promoted post, as well as the ability for them to enhance the reach of the post by boosting it in the same way anyone can boost their own posts. Moreover, Facebook is saying it will no longer stand in the way of the already flourishing influencer marketing industry, and perhaps this can be seen as a sign of light for those influencers who expressed concern over Facebook's intention to change the feed algorithm for Instagram.

The new tag feature makes it easy for an influencer to let their audience know they were paid for the post, without making it too obvious with a #ad or #advertisement hashtag. The advertisers will be exposed to analytical data for the campaign--a major pain point for influencer campaigns run on other platforms. In fact, HYPR recently polled 100 major brands and 77% of them told us the worst part of influencer marketing is the lack of reasonable ways to measure campaign effectiveness. If Facebook does it right, it could be the first platform to offer a meaningful solution to that problem.

Ok. But Why Now?

Facebook has been making an aggressive attempt to lure influencers away from platforms like YouTube, Vine, and Periscope, after losing many of them to those platforms when it introduced an algorithm that limited the reach of popular pages a few years ago.

Times have changed, and today Facebook finds itself as a prime candidate for leadership in the nascent live video market. Facebook has recently introduced a live streaming product that competes directly with Periscope, Meerkat and a host of other products in the space, and has been aggressively recruiting celebrities and big influencers to start using it. Live Video has mostly been successful in markets that typically lead video related technology--gaming and pornography. But Facebook is betting that the time has come for live streaming to become more of a mainstream solution and for that it needs compelling content creators who can attract a big crowd on short notice. Time will tell if this market will be as big as some expect.

Furthermore, Facebook, like many other players, must understand the value of influencers and how their content drives engagement on many of its competing platforms. By making traditional videos autoplay, and offering influencers the ability to grow quickly, Facebook has been quietly competing with YouTube and claiming share in the video space. Instagram will be extending maximum video length from fifteen seconds to one minute in the near future, as part of that effort.

The recent FTC crackdown is also playing a big part in this update in policy. Facebook's original policy prohibited influencers from posting promoted content, and essentially forced them to do so without disclosing the promotion. An influencer who violated these terms risked losing their page entirely. One thing was clear, influencers had no intention of ending their engagements with brands, even if it meant risking fines from the FTC or worse. Ironically, the FTC's requirement that all promoted posts to be disclosed, may have played a role in Facebook's decision because it would not want its platform involved in countless violations. 

For the industry as a whole this was the right move and many in the space felt Facebook would eventually move in this direction. The sentiment from influencers I speak with regularly is that Facebook's blessing will allow influencer marketing to continue to flourish and take its rightful place as a preferred and effective channel for advertisers.