How brands can best react to Cambridge Analytica

Facebook Changes Coming: While no one knows the full extent of the changes that will be coming, one thing is certain—there is a huge opportunity for those willing to adapt and move forward.

If you’ve been plugged in the last week, you’ve probably seen the headlines about Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook.

The short story is this: Several years ago, researchers asked users to take a personality survey and download an app called “thisisyourdigitallife.” When users used Facebook to log in to the app, the app collected data from both the user’s profile and that of their Facebook friends. One of the researchers involved then gave the information from more than 50 million profiles to a firm that used it to influence voters.

Though Facebook has since narrowed its privacy policy and insists this was the result of users who broke rules rather than Facebook doing wrong, the company is still facing harsh backlash—from the possibility of more intense governmental regulation to individuals threatening to leave the platform entirely.

But what does it mean for businesses, from big brands to mom-and-pops?

While no one knows the full extent of the changes that will be coming, one thing is certain—there is a huge opportunity for those willing to adapt and move forward. Many of the brands we work with—and Fifty & Five ourselves—were some of the first to experiment with reaching customers on social media. Now, the brands that take time to understand and master the new social media environment—rather than those that sit back and wait—will reap the benefits.

Here are three ways you can make sure you’re on the leading edge of the changes in social media:

Look at the big picture.

Many of the tools that allow brands to gain insights into potential consumers and target the best audiences on Facebook have, or will, be significantly narrowed. And it’s not just Facebook. Amidst the recent events, many Instagram apps, such as those that allow users to find relevant hashtags or analyze followers, have been severely limited. The changes can certainly be alarming to brands trying to reach their audiences, but they can overcome it by focusing on the big picture. It’s still important for brands to stick to best practices that up organic reach and engagement and stick to their messaging and goals. Brands can also tap into other social listening tools to get a read on the larger conversation, then target content to speak back to users.

Focus on meaningful interactions.

The ability to analyze likes, comments and audiences might be limited, but that doesn’t mean a company can’t still analyze how a campaign is performing. Rather than heavily weighing the statistics provided on the social platform, brands can shift into studying performance of various creative, ads and placements, and trusting other results that show user behavior, such as pixels and retargeting.

Build trust.

Even if people don’t quit social media all together, the scar of what many see as a betrayal of trust will last, and skepticism about privacy on social media will be high. Brands that succeed in the social realm will be the ones that make users feel secure. Though brands rely on insights to drive results, it’s important not to cross the line in the public’s mind, and it’s important to stick to brand tone and message to maintain identity.

It’s easy to be totally overwhelmed by the new social media landscape—after all, it’s unprecedented. At Fifty & Five, we too are carefully monitoring the situation and tweaking our procedures and strategies to help our clients reach their goals—and that’s one thing that won’t change.

Lauren Sedam