It’s almost 2022, and marketers have seen a lot of changes over the past year. Some good, some bad, and some whose impact has yet to be seen.
In this post, we’re going to review a few significant paid social changes we saw throughout 2021, spanning multiple social media platforms and vendors.
Here are 5 changes to paid social that impacted advertisers in 2021:
1. The IDFA update and its impact on privacy
At the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) this summer, Apple announced several new privacy-focused features that would protect user data. Chief among these is a change to how Apple handles IDFA permissions.
The Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) is a unique identifier that’s used to target and measure how effective an ad is on a user level across mobile devices without exposing Personally Identifiable Information (PII).
Users have been able to opt-out of IDFA-based tracking before, but they had to go out of their way to do it. Now, however, the new App Tracking Transparency feature requires users to make that choice upfront for every single app or website that tries to track their data.
This change makes it both more difficult and more expensive for social advertisers to target customers, which may hurt smaller businesses that rely on small, highly targeted campaigns in order to market effectively.
2. Social commerce integrations
Consumers had already been shifting to online shopping even before the pandemic, but social distancing and quarantine caused a massive surge in ecommerce innovations – including the rapid growth of social commerce.
Social commerce is when consumers can purchase goods directly from their social media feeds. Companies like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest have already made inroads into this new ecommerce channel, but now TikTok is getting into it too, with TikTok Live Stream Shopping.
As a TikTok video plays, pop-up pins will appear related to the items being shown on screen. Viewers can tap on any of these pins, which adds the item to their cart. Once they’re ready to buy, they simply go to a mobile checkout interface and finalize the purchase.
Big brands like Walmart are already exploring the potential of TikTok Live Stream, and it’s a matter of time until more brands follow suit.
3. Facebook Analytics shut down
In a blow to ecommerce marketers everywhere, Facebook Analytics ended operations on June 30, 2021. Marketers used the free service to see how Facebook users were interacting with their pages, websites, apps, and Messenger bots. Many businesses relied on Facebook Analytics to provide campaign insights and user behavioral data.
This shutdown by Facebook was done in an effort to consolidate business tools. Businesses are now encouraged to use the following tools instead:
- Facebook Business Suite helps marketers manage their Facebook and Instagram business accounts and provides audience and content insights.
- Facebook Ads Manager provides advertisers with views, modifications, and results for Facebook ad campaigns.
- Facebook Events Manager assists with the setup and management of Facebook Business Tools such as the Facebook Pixel and the Conversions API. It can also report on actions taken on your website and app, and even your physical store.
4. Introducing the Facebook Conversions API (CAPI)
In 2021, Facebook introduced the Facebook Conversions API, or CAPI for short. The Conversions API is a tool that allows advertisers to share customer actions from their servers directly to Facebook through the use of the Facebook Pixel. This feature is meant to help advertisers improve the way they collect and measure campaign data.
The Facebook Conversions API was introduced as a means of helping advertisers get the data they need to perform effective campaigns while still respecting and protecting the privacy of its users.
“Conversions API supports advertisers’ efforts to provide consumers with appropriate data transparency and control while also helping them to continue providing personal experiences. Conversions API allows advertisers to share data directly from their server, rather than through a browser. The tool is also designed to honor Facebook’s user privacy controls; for example, if a customer uses the Off-Facebook Activity privacy tool, their choices will extend to data sent via Conversion API.”
5. Social Media algorithm updates
Search engines and social media platforms are constantly updating their algorithms for both organic and paid social content, and to help you stay ahead we’ve summarized the most significant 2021 changes below.
TikTok algorithm changes in 2021
The TikTok algorithm in 2021 prioritizes the “For You” feed. Based on our research, what users see on this feed depends highly on their viewer preferences and habits, and will actively change according to what the viewer watches most recently.
The 3 main factors that affect TikTok recommendations include:
- User interactions
- Video information
- Device and account settings
User interactions take into account likes, shares, and even how far the user got into the video. The more a user engages with the video, the more likely it will show up on other people’s feeds.
Video information covers the attributes of the video itself. The video length, the songs used, whether any captions are present or not, and elements like stickers and hashtags. Hashtags are especially important in getting the video seen by a wider audience.
Device and account settings aren’t given the same weight as the other factors, but they are important for determining app performance. The settings being tracked include language settings, country settings, and device type.
Facebook algorithm changes in 2021
Facebook’s new algorithm now ranks all available posts on a user’s News Feed based on how likely the user will have a positive reaction to the post.
Contents from friends are now given more priority than content from publishers, with emphasis on meaningful interactions.
This new ranking system is based on four factors:
- The inventory of posts available for display
- Signals that tell Facebook what the post is
- Predictions on how the user will react to the post
- Final score based on all other factors
In addition to the changes above, Facebook’s algorithm now does a better job at recognizing biased content. Pages that share content that labels content it identifies as clickbait will be penalized within the algorithm and will have reduced distribution within the algorithm.
Twitter algorithm details
Twitter’s algorithm in 2021 works similarly to how it worked in previous years. A user’s Twitter feed is divided into two categories: Top Tweets and Latest Tweets.
Top Tweets displays the tweets the user is most likely to care about. These are selected through the use of an algorithm, which ranks tweets based on these factors:
- Use of rich media (images, gifs, video)
- Author status
- Relationship to author
- User behavior
Latest tweets simply orders your feed chronologically so that you see the latest tweets first. This feed does not show you content from all of your followers. Instead, it uses the same algorithm mentioned above to choose which of the latest tweets to display.
Twitter’s most recent public change to the algorithm is the removal of the “Liked By” and “Followed By” recommendations from its timeline. Users will no longer see these recommendations from showing up from people and topics that the user doesn’t already follow.
Pinterest algorithm details
Pinterest’s search algorithm ranks content based on the following factors:
- Domain quality
- Pin quality
- Pinner quality
- Topic relevance
The “domain quality” and “pinner quality” pins are meant to ensure that the content is coming from a reputable source. You can improve your domain and pinner quality pins by consistently sharing high-value content that performs well. Re-pins affect these scores as well, so it’s important to only re-pin high-quality content.
Pinterest’s latest algorithm changes recommend sharing fewer but higher quality pins in order to get the most benefit from the platform.
If we’ve learned anything from this year, it’s that the only constant is change. The social media landscape is constantly evolving so we are sure to see additional changes in the new year. And as always, we’ll keep you up to date with the latest happenings. If you’re looking for paid social services in the new year, we’d love to help set you up for success. Contact us to get started.