Facebook, Meta, and the Future of Social Media

Woah. Facebook just went Meta. 

If you’ve paid attention to the news recently, you may have heard about Facebook’s rebranding. Let us clarify this right off the bat, the parent company that oversees Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus has rebranded itself as “Meta”, not Facebook the website/app itself. Do not worry, you will not be posting any updates on Meta.

This rebrand came after Facebook received increasing pressure particularly from whistleblower and former Facebook data scientist, Frances Haugan, who filed complaints that the social media platform’s empire knowingly amplifies hates, misinformation, and political unrest. 

Then, Facebook and WhatsApp’s infamous day-long shutdown increased speculation that the company was scrubbing unscrupulous records. Facebook, of course, denies this. 

So, what the heck is going on and what does that mean for those of us in marketing and advertising?

Facebook’s Algorithm.

In a previous blog, I wrote in-depth on Instagram’s algorithm. If you wish, you can read it here. Suffice to say, it’s no secret that social media platforms do everything they can to keep consumers on their apps and websites. It’s likely you have seen the research, or perhaps even the documentary The Social Dilemma, that gives details on how these companies operate. Social media gets consumers hooked, keeps them engaged for long periods of time, gets them to come back frequently, and make the company increasing amounts of money. Your time is up for sale and a slot machine of entertainment is at your fingertips. Unfortunately, as much as we know about media, the efficacy of such practices and their effect has only recently begun to be explored. 

This is where Frances Haugen’s testimony comes in. Appearing before the US Senate Congress Committee on October 5, 2021, she uncovered a number of issues with Facebook’s dealings, having previously leaked files of the companies findings. You can read her article on the subject in a Wall Street Journal article, or, if video is more your speed (looking at you Gen Z), you can watch her 60 Minutes interview. The summary is this – that there are two competing factors at work: what’s good for Facebook and what’s good for their consumers. Haugan found the data showed that Facebook often amplifies hate, enables misinformation, creates division, and aids in political unrest. Studies also found that Instagram is harmful to teenage girls. This is because, generally speaking, negative and divisive content performs better than the opposite. And because this is the case, the algorithm works to enable such content. Rather than protecting its consumers, Facebook promotes the thing that will get the most clicks.

At The Post and Courier, we’ve found this troubling statistic to be true. When boosting stories from the paper, we noticed a trend: crime pieces perform better than anything else. In fact, each week our best performing stories are almost universally about crime or policing. It creates an ethical dilemma for a company. Do what’s best for the consumer or do what’s best for the bottom line? And where do you draw the line? Can we create a more gracious, optimistic, and equitable society, or do we work to sow division by promoting what audiences want to click on? Questions worth pondering for any advertiser. 

On the Metaverse

One last thing of note. Facebook also introduced something called the “Metaverse”. You can watch the entire 75 minute video on their website if you like, but believe me when I say it’s straight out of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, or for the modern reader something out of a film like Wall-E. Facebook’s parent company, now named Meta, is beginning to focus on the future of the internet in Virtually Reality (VR) format. Instead of going into the office or talking through a 2D screen on Zoom, they are working towards a future where people will hold meetings in a 3D VR world. Meta announced the advent of this Metaverse, an augmented reality experience where you can also meet friends, play games, watch movies, and generally spend time in this virtual world. 

Mark Zuckerberg’s postings got immediately panned with comments like “this is an episode of Black Mirror I swear.” But, interestingly, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, got much more favorable comments on his less aggressive video post. Regardless, it seems as though the future is here, however long it takes to actually become fully realized. We certainly don’t know the implications of this new interweb, but it’s best to start preparing now.

Get ready, it’s a scary world out there.


Demographic Segmentation: Explanation & Benefits

What is Demographic Segmentation?

Demographic segmentation is defined as a market segmentation method that looks at variables such as age, gender, income, religion, and educational qualification that help organizations to understand consumer behavior. These variables are then used to divide a consumer market into smaller segments based on common factors. Once an organization gains these insights, it becomes easier to target, understand, and learn from their consumers. Having this insight is essential for businesses to stay ahead of their competitors.

Types of Demographic Segmentation

Age and Gender

This variable is very important when starting to segment your consumers. Everyone in the world can be put into generational segments based on their age range. The same can be (mostly) said for gender as well. Age and gender segments often have similarities that can be assumed across the entire group. For example, people born between 1946-1964 are considered baby boomers; this group can then be broken into gender, and then research can begin into their behavior.

Household Size

Household size, or more commonly known as Family Size is important to know for targeting specific consumer bases. Spending patterns and disposable income change with the more people that are in a household. Knowing this information about your consumer base allows you to infer their purchase intentions and what drives them (family). This information also helps companies to alter features and benefits to satisfy consumer needs based on household size.

Income, Occupation, and Education

This demographic information is very important to know for pricing strategies, purchase influences, and preferences. Organizations can change their marketing strategies to fit around income level and education. A person’s income level and education level have been shown to directly influence product purchases, desired product characteristics, and buying power. Occupation is important for businesses that offer services for specific business types and can also predict consumers’ interests.

Religion, Race, and Nationality

Another important demographic descriptive, religion, race, and nationality can offer insights to make sure that companies deliver appropriate messaging for different regions and segments. With the world becoming less homogeneous, this demographic piece can help organizations be sure to not unintentionally offend people of different backgrounds because they are not aware of their customs and cultures. This information can also allow for consumers’ belief systems and backgrounds which helps when developing a content plan.

Benefits of Using Demographic Segmentation

Higher Customer Retention

When companies use demographic segmentation, they begin to focus more on their consumers’ thoughts and needs which leads to a higher level of retention. Marketing strategies are made more personal because of the insights gained and the consumer begins to feel more of a personal connection with the product or service.

Increase in ROI

By using the insights gained to target very specific consumer segments, companies can have an increase in revenue. This increase in revenue matched with no increase in advertising spending leads to a higher ROI.

More Optimized Marketing Strategies

Segmentation allows organizations to get more specific and creative with their marketing strategies because they know exactly who they want to reach and how they need to go about it. When the exact market base is known, messaging can be clarified. This allows companies to save money and time.

Improved Products and Services

Because of the insights that organizations gain from using this segmentation, they know their consumer base on a deeper level. This allows for better product/service development which contributes to customer retention and ROI.