In case you’ve been worried that Facebook doesn’t know enough about you, you can breathe easy. It turns out, the social network knows more about us all than we’ve previously suspected. The good news is that there doesn’t seem to be any big brother conspiracies going on, they’re just using all that data to market to us. The bad news is that while there doesn’t seem to be any big brother conspiracies going on, they’re using all our personal data to market to us. Can you utilize this new data expansion for your small business SEO…and should you want to?
Yes, and Yes.
The data influx comes from Facebook’s relationships with so-called data brokers like Acxiom, Datalogix, and Epsilon. With the help of these data aggregators, Facebook will now have the ability to offer ads that target users based on behavior that occurs outside of Facebook. This means that anything you do on your desktop, mobile devices, and even offline entirely can (and will) be monitored by Facebook and used to deliver targeted advertisements on your newsfeed.
We don’t know exactly how deep this data-pull goes, but we do know it includes information like shopping patterns, email/rss subscriptions, and sites visited. Obviously this is a little invasive from the user perspective, but it’s not really much different than the way advertisers have been behaving online for years. The only difference is that Facebook has a lot more personal data because of the nature of their service.
Even global brands are already licking their lips to get a crack at the new targeting:
“We have a number of different audiences that are relevant for us, of course with GE,” said Paul Marcum, director of global digital marketing and programming at GE. “Certainly we seek to engage business decision makers and have perhaps more commercially oriented conversations, but we also seek to engage people who are enthusiastic about technology like we are. However those connections can be made off of Facebook, on Facebook, we’re excited to make those connections. Their ability to surface and find people who share our same interests is a great opportunity for us.”
Putting on our marketing hats, this really is exciting news. Facebook ads do a pretty good job of not being too intrusive, and as the targeting gets better and better, there is no reason to think Facebook won’t be one of the most important advertising platforms for years to come. With the sheer reach of Facebook and time spent on site by users, Facebook ads may soon prove to be just as effective as radio or TV spots, and at a fraction of the cost.
For those of you (understandably) worried about privacy, Facebook is taking steps to protect your identity. None of your data will be shared with third-party sites, everything will go through Facebook anonymously. For instance, when a company wants to run a targeted ad, they’ll see the total numbers and reach but not specific users. This is probably the best compromise available. As users, we can feel half-way decent about our data. As marketers, we still get to use this powerful targeting AND receive all the metrics without having to be too invasive.