Since launching in 2004, Facebook has been a social media kingpin, providing proprietary tech and reshaping the way we communicate. Over the past 15 years, according to Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the platform has turned into the “digital equivalent of a town square”. From a marketing perspective, that “town square” is more like a city center: bustling, full of bright, flashing lights, and crowds of people. It’s exciting — but it’s also easy to blend in. Being able to react to the present before it happens, however, can help you cut through that noise.

We spoke with some of our leading specialists in social media, gathering their thoughts on the future of Facebook and how you and your marketing team can be proactive.

Carolina Horna, Social Media Account Manager, and Jason Sanders, Social Media Group Lead

Past trends can predict the future: On TikTok, product features, and viral content

There are two truths we can use to ‘predict’ the future:

  1. Once you do something that works, you’re likely to repeat it.
  2. If you’re good at what you do, others are going to follow suit.

With these in mind, Jason Sanders, Major Tom’s Social Media Group Lead, notes that Facebook will likely emulate many of TikTok’s notable features. “In the past, we have seen companies adopt features of competitor products to stay competitive (such as Instagram’s adoption of Snapchat’s short-form video format and face filters) and it will continue to happen in the future.” And, with TikTok as one of the most notably disruptive apps on the marketplace, Jason’s prediction carries weight.

TikTok logo on phone screen

What you can do to prepare:

Your marketing team can prepare for the future by paying attention to TikTok’s current features. These include integrating things such as AR filters into your campaigns and music. Jason notes that current best practices, due to Instagram and Facebook’s default auto-play/auto-mute settings, have dictated that all video should be understandable without sound. With this predicted change, Jason tells us that marketers will “need to prepare for a shift in expectations where your audience will begin to expect sound to accompany video.” You can prepare by understanding how music can be used to interact with (or drive) the visual narrative as this will be very important for keeping your audience engaged.

Paying close attention to TikTok will also prove valuable in staying ahead of the viral content cycle. Much like they have done in the past with obscure sources (like various subreddits), “marketers can also pay close attention to TikTok as a source for memes and other viral content before they become popular. Before they start to spread to Facebook or Instagram,” Jason states. He recommends that marketers “curate a list of people to follow on TikTok, [so you] can be informed of content before it goes viral.” Once you are informed, you can create content that reflects those viral themes, capitalizing on their initial popularity.

The continuation of personable brand messaging

If social media has taught marketers anything, it’s that static advertising is dead. Audiences are demanding personable, conversation-starting messaging. “Social media, in general, pushed brand messaging to be more personable,” states Carolina Horna, Social Media Account Manager at Major Tom. “And when it wasn’t, the direct feedback was faster. It forced a lot of brands to reassess how they talk to their customers.”

Turning conversations into customer loyalty has long been a dominating benefit of Messenger, it provides space for honest, authentic conversations. “People are very value-driven these days and authenticity, as a result, is a big trend across social media,” Carolina states. “If brands are looking to attract their intended audience, they’ll have a harder time doing that if they choose to interact at arm’s length.”

Brands will continue to need personable, authentic messaging into the future, especially with Facebook Messenger for businesses. Now, with an audience that has growing concerns surrounding privacy issues, you can expect Facebook to increase Messenger’s security. By providing this security, it is likely that Messenger will only climb in popularity.

What you can do to prepare:

Your marketing team can address the continued rise of personal messaging by continuing to or carving out time for genuine community management. To scale, incorporate chatbots into your strategy, using Messenger to offer instant customer service. For the future, Messenger may gear towards secure monetary transactions, allowing the acceptance of payments for eCommerce businesses.

Interoperability and security

With Facebook’s absorption of competitors, the company’s reach continues to grow. Plus, “unless it gets broken up by the government, Facebook will strengthen the connection and information sharing between its suite of platforms,” states Jason. These platforms include WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, and Messenger and for marketers, this may mean diversifying brands across additional social channels. As the bond between platforms becomes stronger, ease of sharing should become easier. Marketers will do well to keep in mind that audiences may differ per platform.

Interactive ad formats

Ad formats on Facebook will continue to evolve its interactive trajectory. Facebook is currently “experimenting with poll ads, similar to Instagram Story Polls and Augmented Reality formats to ‘try’ products, like lipstick, on,” states Tamara Tkachuk, our Paid Social Strategist. “These features will continue to expand”. Tamara predicts that the future of interactive advertising will take us into a tactical and value-driven territory. For example, “if you’re buying a couch, you may be able to see how it fits into your room and different variations on that”. She notes, too, that playable ad formats are rising in popularity.

Tamara's headshot

Tamara Tkachuk, Paid Social Strategist

What you can do to prepare:

Marketers in eCommerce should plan interactive ad formats into their future campaigns. Even those outside of the gaming industry would do well to incorporate playable ads into their marketing strategy. The interactive nature of the ads is correlated with increased brand awareness.

Tamara recommends that marketers also:

  • Come up with creative ways to use new, innovative formats.
  • Have a tasting budget and analyze test results.
  • Integrate creative thinking into a marketing strategy with practices like internal brainstorming sessions.

Attribution expansions

Currently, most marketers are using platforms outside of Facebook for reporting and insights. We can expect expansion on the attribution side of Facebook. “Facebook has launched Facebook Attribution to show the value that their ads are driving across all funnel stages,” Tamara states. “It integrates valuable in-platform data and provides a different look at the campaign performance across all channels.”

What you can do to prepare:

You can use Facebook Attribution by setting it up and letting it collect data for you. Tamara recommends looking at this data on a regular basis and comparing it to various attribution models and other analytics platforms. Plus, remember to pay close attention when doing this and to “pick up on trends you’re seeing and learn how to integrate it into your reporting.”

Facebook will continue to evolve and expand, impacting the digital marketing industry and forcing marketers to stay on their toes. Stay tuned as we continue to explore and build upon the in-depth world of Facebook marketing.