Are you also fed up with all the changes on Facebook?


Social media are, inherently, constantly changing. But have all the latest changes on Facebook been for the better? Or, as their client (because all those who advertise there are its clients!), are you fed up with all the ‘tweaking and shifting’ that make little or no sense?


The ‘first’ major changes on Facebook (meaning Facebook and Instagram, or Meta if you prefer) in recent times were felt on advertising in the first quarter of 2020.


With the introduction of what they called ‘special ad categories’, all hell broke loose with the need for business pages to undergo verification processes, create legal ‘Paid for by’ disclaimers and to verify the identities of users who wanted to continue running their ads (as they had always done thus far). And all of this in the midst of the chaos that Covid-19 brought (which translates into, ‘if their customer support is already miserable in the so-called normal times, imagine in the pandemic and full of worldwide restrictions ones!’).


It just so happens that we live in a world where perception is more important than reality (a trend that unfortunately continues to grow) and, therefore, everything was justified by the company with the adoption of ‘non-discrimination’ policies aimed at transforming its ‘advertising universe’ into a place where people can neither be ‘discriminated against’ nor ‘identified through’ (really?!) by certain characteristics such as age, religion, sex, political or sexual orientation, etc, etc (which is worthy and important, no doubt, but of (beyond) doubtful implementation). Therefore, the audience’s targeting for this type of ads (that include four categories – ‘credit’, ‘employment’, ‘housing’ and ‘social issues, elections or politics’) was, of course, affected, with limitations that, ultimately don’t make much sense.

But well, that was only for those types of ads, whereas the rest continued to work impeccably (yeah, right! Don’t get us started on how potentially everything could fall into the scope of the ‘social, elections or politics’ category depending on what Facebook understood from the ad text or its visual creative). The client (or advertiser, if you wish) got used to it, adapted the best they could and continued to invest their money (and also to get leads, exposure, interaction, traffic, or whatever it was they wanted to grow their business, obviously).


Just as we were all getting settled, at the end of 2021, we were told that more changes on Facebook (there’s simply no way we can get used to calling it Meta!) were coming, starting on 19 January 2022. “And where?”, you might ask? Well, in the good ol’ fashioned ads targeting! In come ‘more’ non-discrimination policies (because if there’s one thing social media are, is worried about these things!), and good luck creating a decent target audience for your advertising on either Facebook or Instagram. Basically, for many businesses, these changes meant that your social media advertising has gone from being a perfectly targeted leaflet hand delivered to your potential customer, to a TV advert that will be seen by everyone who is tuned in on that station…

We wouldn’t have anything against it, if it actually made sense and, in fact, promoted the so desired equality and non-discrimination.


But let us give you some examples to better understand what we are talking about.


Imagine that a laboratory that produces prosthetics for dental offices wants to promote its work on Facebook and Instagram to get new customers, which in this case will obviously be dentists or dental clinics and not the public in general. It thus makes perfect sense that only these professionals see their ads (and that the money to be spent is only invested in them, of course). So how do you achieve this? Simple – you create a target audience of people with job titles such as ‘dentist’, ‘dental assistant’ and so forth. Done! But not all of us want to tell Facebook what we do in our professional life (it’s not like we tell it everything else!) and so, you adjust that audience to reach only people with specific interests connected to that area such as ‘restorative dentistry’, ‘digital orthodontics’, ‘endodontics’, among other things, which, in principle, will be people with professions connected to said field. So far so good, right? Wrong! As per the new changes on Facebook, none of this can now be used, and all those interests have been removed, leaving us only the choice between ‘public dental health’, ‘equine dentistry’ (!), ‘tooth’ (that’s right, just one!) and ‘bad teeth’… We will abstain from further comments, as we believe enough has been said, and maybe suggest that laboratory to stop producing prosthesis for humans and rather focus on horses!


And what if you have a health space that specialises in pregnant women and babies? Before, you had to be careful with the images used, because a photo of a giant belly on a mother-to-be, if taken too up-close, would result in the ads being rejected. Now, you don’t have to worry at all, because ‘pregnancy’ has been considered a ‘sensitive topic’ (and believes us – as we’ve been there, done that – ‘sensitive’ is not the adjective we would use to describe this time in a woman’s life!). If you want to promote, for example, an event on ‘child development stages’, know that Facebook has eliminated this as an interest, but suggests an alternative that fits and replaces it perfectly: ‘biology’. After all, we all come from apes, as Darwin said, right?


So, what if your business is selling houses? Not all houses are for all people. For instance, we might like to buy a 1.5-million-euro home, but we’ll probably have to settle for something in the (few) hundreds of thousands range! Typically (and considering we’re not talking about celebrities, but rather the general public), these houses are bought by people over (at least) thirty years old. A starter home, on the other hand, is usually smaller and generally meant for younger people who want to begin living more independently. It made sense here to target people by age, didn’t it? Yes, it did! Or rather, it used to, because now we can’t do that, in order to not discriminate (or identify!).


And what about if you have a job opportunity to advertise? Promoting it on Facebook and Instagram will make it possible to receive more CVs and have a better chance at successfully hiring someone. But a senior management position and an entry-level vacancy are generally intended for people in different age groups. But again, targeting by age is no longer available for these types of ads… once again to not discriminate.


Please note that, as we previously said, we are all for non-discrimination. Always. But who the hell said (or believes) that all these changes on Facebook and Instagram (and yes, we’d save ourselves some words by calling it Meta once and for all!) are meant to fight discrimination, or to turn these social networks into ‘better’ or more egalitarian places?

When you block a user on Facebook for 30 days because, in a post he made on a birdwatching group he’s a member of, he wrote that ” it was a black male”, when all he was saying was that the bird he saw was a male in gender and black in colour (true story!); or if you force a psychologist (curiously enough not a millennial but a man in his 60s) to write ‘s3x’ instead of ‘sex’ on his Instagram posts (related to his profession) to not have them removed from the news feed (true story too!); or if you say that pregnancy is now a ‘sensitive subject’ and therefore it should not be spoken openly, just in case it offends anyone… This is not non-discrimination, this is hypocrisy.


What to do then with all the changes on Facebook and Instagram? Take a deep breath and choose one out of the three (!): either spend some time ‘poking around’ in Facebook’s audience creation to find a way to reach those you were reaching before, but in another way; or hire a social media advertising specialist who knows what they’re doing and helps you minimise the impact or get around it (yes, this is also something we do with a lot of our time: we study, research, learn and ‘come up’ with new ways around these and other limitations to bring the client results); or switch to Google Ads (it has its quirks too, but at least their customer support works well!).

Three girls who love working together in digital marketing and still find the time to write interesting articles! If what you read makes sense to you, and if your company needs real digital marketing strategies to achieve and maintain a successful online position, talk to us!