Bank Social Media Marketing – Making Sense of Facebook Changes

March 29, 2018

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    Anyone with an interest in marketing has now heard that Facebook announced that it will no longer support Partner Categories on its platform. Reactions online have spanned the spectrum from ‘yawn!’ to ‘FB shuts down third-party advertising – finally!’. As is the case with social media, hyperbole is fine for reaching audiences but not good for directing your business. So, what does this mean for bank marketing going forward?

    The simple answer is…not much will change. The long answer is…Facebook will continue to be a powerful marketing platform though internal data and analytics will become more important than ever.

    For starters, what exactly does the announcement mean. Partner Categories are third-party data assets that advertisers can use to better target on Facebook. Many of the third-party data providers – like Acxiom, Oracle Data Cloud, Epsilon – are data brokers with strong reputations for protecting data privacy. However, as has been proven by Cambridge Analytica, some were not. Facebook is basically saying that since it cannot guarantee the legal and ethical provenance of all third-party data, it will not allow any to be used directly on its platform.

    What does the announcement NOT mean? Critically, advertisers can still do individual-level targeting on the Facebook platform using Facebook’s Custom Audiences for targeting and, at least for now, use partners for online and offline measurement purposes. Advertisers can still use third-party data to build targeting models though they will have to purchase the data directly and integrate it into targeting models themselves.

    The timing of this announcement is a challenge for bank marketers. Some are working to optimize social media strategies while others are just getting started. Irrespective of where you are on that journey, the implications of this change are:

    • Data analytics is a competitive advantage. Your data assets and analytical talent are even more important than ever. As useful as Custom Audiences and third-party data are, first-party (customer) data are the most powerful predictor of future behavior and best supplemented with other data.
    • Integrating data is now the banks’ responsibility. The need to supplement first-party has not gone away but banks will now be required to purchase and integrate it themselves rather than through the Facebook platform.
    • It’s a good time to rethink your social media strategy. For years Facebook has been the dominant social media platform for marketers. Perhaps we’ve been over-reliant on Facebook so that now is a perfect time to rethink how to leverage the many social media platforms available.
    • Make data privacy and ethical data use a key element of your marketing strategy, if it isn’t already. As awareness of data breaches and unethical data use garner headlines almost every day, bank marketers must ensure that data practices always meet their clients’ expectations.

    While the Facebook announcement is disruptive, it also provides an opportunity for bank executives to rethink their marketing and growth strategies. Social media is not going away. In fact, it’s likely to become even bigger part of consumer media consumption and online activity.