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In many ways, 2021 was an eventful year for Meta, the new brand that brings together the Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp apps, among others.

The California-based company, once known as the wonder of Silicon Valley, has been criticized on numerous fronts over the past year. Users expect more, and better.

They want the company to take responsibility and be transparent to protect its users around the world. In this context of change, Meta has decided to start 2022 with significant tweaks to its amplification platform.

Multiple targeting options will be removed

After January 2022, Facebook will remove several targeting options related to topics that may be deemed sensitive or controversial. This includes:

  • Healthcare (e.g. “Lung Cancer Awareness”, “World Diabetes Day” or “Chemotherapy”)
  • Sexual orientation (e.g. “Gay marriage” and “LGBT culture”)
  • Religious beliefs and groups (e.g. “Catholic Church” and “Jewish holidays”)
  • Political beliefs or affiliations, social issues, causes, organizations and public figures

The reason for this removal is simple: these targeting options had the potential to be used to harm the individuals of the selected groups.

Meta also specifies that these targeting options are based on factors like users' interactions with content on its platform and not on their physical characteristics or personal attributes.

What does it mean?

These changes will force marketers to get creative and be more strategic with their ad campaigns by creating more personalized content and experiences by leveraging first-party-data to do so.

The days when we could dedicate all our efforts to a single platform are over: to navigate through the various changes and restrictions, we must now have an extensive omnichannel presence. A company or a brand must also live outside of social media.

The increasing limitations surrounding targeting affect all platforms, not just Facebook. This leads us to recommend a combination of complementary tactics, such as the use of first-party-data in targeting, search engine marketing (SEM), as well as contextual banner ads to reach a qualified audience. Audio ads are also rising in popularity: Spotify has improved its ad offering and now offers interesting options for advertisers of all sizes.

It is now more important than ever to focus on a content strategy that suits our target audience, but also on customized community management.

The main objective of social media campaigns should be to create a connection with the brand or company beyond the platform through positive advertising experiences.

It's not too late yet

Advertisers who want to continue using the aforementioned terms to target certain users, such as companies in the healthcare industry, for example, have no time to lose: They have until the end of the month to create personalized audiences. These audiences will still be valid even after the removal of these targeting options.

However, this is likely a temporary solution; sooner or later, organizations will have to rethink their advertising and first-party-data strategy to protect themselves against the next waves of changes regarding amplification platforms.

If you need support in developing your amplification strategy or want to learn how to make better use of social media advertising tools, reach out to our digital strategy and communications experts. They'll be glad to help you navigate through the many changes happening in the social media space.


Written by Misty Meeks | Anne Yourt | Christian Khan

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