Facebook Updates October 2017

Facebook Updates for Visual Artists October 2017


Facebook Updates for art marketing October 2017


Using Facebook to Market Your Visual Art

Every year I think that I am totally prepared for whatever marketing season is due to land on the retail world and every season I end up being a season behind. Not this year, I have prepared some Halloween marketing material which will be definitely ready for the next Halloween, right after this one. Christmas this year is where I am totally focussed right now.

I have been busy working on a new series of artworks called “Space, Sea, Below” which depict the world and the galaxy above and around us. I think it’s an interesting concept and the idea is that the series of works should be displayed stacked above each other, although they can be displayed as individual works too. I’m pinning all hope on getting them ready for release in time for the Christmas sales season! I’m also working on another seascape, yes the same one I started about 5-months ago!


Mark taylor artist beechhouse Media

I was hoping to get them all completed for the end of October but three commissions came in and as usual I was slightly too eager with the promise of completion dates! Why do we artists always do that? One commission in particular was a complete change in direction for me when a dentist called to ask for a motivational work to be created which would be hung in his waiting room. I had a little chuckle to myself because no words would ever motivate me enough to visit a dentist voluntarily unless I was in a serious amount of pain and under heavy sedation. 

The second commission was for a new book cover due to be released next year, and the third was for a piece of 8-bit graphic art which really took me back to my days of creating graphics and original digital art on the old personal computers of the 1980’s. 

8-bit art is just so in demand right now and something I have been creating since the early 80’s which reminds me that I must show you my 8-bit art at some point. I have written a feature on 8-bit art too which I promise I will publish one day soon!

This week we will be taking a look at the new Facebook updates which will no doubt start having an impact on the way we currently engage with the platform to market our visual art. 

Recent and Incoming Facebook Updates…

If there was ever a time when Facebook updates were to be released with the intention of making the platform more frustrating to use I think the techs in the valley have found it. 

The problem is with the iPad iOS update and the removal of the friend request icon. Now when a friend request comes through you just get a number balloon appearing on the notifications icon which tells you how many notifications you have but no friend requests appear in the notifications list.

After going through all of your notifications a number will still remain in a red circle above the notifications icon but to find the rogue notification you need to click on the more icon and scroll through to friends, only then you will see any friend requests. 

Whilst it makes sense for all notifications to appear in a single list, it only becomes intuitive and useful if all notifications really do appear in the notifications list. It might sound like a small thing but this isn’t what we have come to expect from Facebook who have always previously focussed on the end user experience.

On a deeper level this is perhaps the start of the transition to a much more minimal UI (User Interface). This is about making a user interface as simple as it needs to be and still be able to deliver the functionality needed. We started to see a trend towards minimalism on Facebook when solid icons were replaced with line drawn icons, now it seems that they are taking the same approach with the functionality as they have been doing with the design. 

Having a wealth of UI experience over the years it is a particular gripe of mine and there is a danger that the move towards minimalism if not done correctly will violate the first rule of UI design and that is recognition over recall where the cognitive friction created by minimalism never evolves into an intuitive experience. 

Ultimately if people only stumble across a function by accident because the design isn’t quite so intuitive they will in time abandon the app or system altogether no matter how useful the app or system and over the years I’ve seen this happen first hand with some truly great systems. Minimalism when not done with care can become nothing more than a game of hide and seek. If you only stumble across features by accident then the next time you need the feature you really have to think back to how you got to it when you found it last time. At this point it becomes less about the user experience and more of a guessing game and that’s frustrating. 

Auto-Play Again…

The next update is the introduction of auto-playing video with sound. Allegedly this came when Facebook received positive user feedback but no one I know has ever thought auto-play with sound is a good idea. It’s annoying when you are discreetly scrolling through a Facebook timeline and video starts playing at full volume exposing your Facebook activity to all around, not good if you’re on a conference call for example! It is an opt-out function, so if you want to change the settings you will need to head to the settings and turn off auto-play. 

Link Penalisation…

Link penalisation is another update and this could have a huge impact if your portfolio site hasn’t been created with mobile viewing in mind. Links to non-responsive websites or in short websites which do not display a mobile view when the link is clicked will now be down-ranked by Facebook’s algorithm and they will have less relevance in the newsfeed. What you need to do now is create a responsive website which loads quickly and displays according to the screen resolution of the device the site is being viewed on. Get rid of the excess html and gifs, and focus only on the basics of your site. Make sure you test out load times on both your mobile phone and desktop. 

Order Food…

Another update to the platform sees the US rollout of a food ordering service directly from within Facebook. More and more Facebook is heading towards wanting to be the only platform you need to use to do everything from booking tickets, making a purchase, browsing links, and creating events. 

Now the social-media giant is allowing users in the USA to order food from selected partners for pick up and where offered, delivery straight to your door. The partners currently include chains such as Five Guys, Papa John’s, Door Dash, TGI Friday’s, and Denny’s amongst others. 

Now there is no excuse to stop creating art just because you have to eat. The downside of course is that now everyone will know that you order Pizza at 3am and you don’t really eat healthily at all despite what your status says.

Updates you might have missed…

It has been a busy few months and I expect things will start to ramp up even more over the coming months. Expect Facebook Watch to start gaining some traction and I think we might start seeing some augmented reality popping up a little more too now that Apple are also in the AR game with bespoke features for AR included on the iPhone 8/8+ and iPhone X. I so need one of those but I’m really not keen on the notch at the top, it’s not something I am sure Steve Jobs would ever have allowed, but if someone wants to hand me one for review, feel free but you’re not getting it back!

Post Boosts…

Looks like some of the paid for, post boosting options are being removed. Post boosts can drive engagement on a particular post if you pay. Occasionally you might want to boost a post to reach more targeted viewers and gain exposure in front of a wider audience.

Post boosts are still available but only for certain kinds of posts. The types of posts that will be allowed to be boosted in the future will no longer include the following.

Shares of products from shops, check-in’s of a restaurant, or in a city, or sharing the page of a shop and then boosting the post. Boosts that recommend a specific place are also being cast aside.

Boosts for sharing notes and polls will no longer be available, cultural moment shares, comment shares, profile picture changes, sports events, file uploads, photos and video taken with the Facebook in-app camera, and posts relating to attending events have all been dismissed from the options to boost too.

Video playlist shares, and status updates of when you are watching a particular TV show or other types of programming online can also no longer be boosted. What you are likely asking right now is why, and the answer to that is that I have no idea at all other than it could be to do with driving users to spammy and often illegal download sites. Sharing your Netflix viewing from the Netflix app usually means that hundreds of comments offering free downloads of the latest movies appear but they’re either illegal or will download a virus or malware to your device if you click on them. 

One area which we are likely all tired of lately is the boosting of political endorsements. So these have been sort of stopped too which was inevitable given the recent issues regarding a certain election. That of course doesn’t mean to say they have really been completely stopped, those paying to boost will need to conform too much stricter guidelines and standards and the booster must be identifiable. 

Profile picture changes can no longer be boosted and neither can file uploads and shares. Whilst none of the above posts can now be boosted, that doesn’t at all mean to say that they will be disappearing entirely, only that they can no longer be boosted through paid methods but they can still be shared. 

If you are currently boosting posts as a visual artist then most of these updates won’t really make a huge difference to you. 

The Profile Picture...

I really need to update my profile picture. My personal profile has been a picture of an alien for longer than I can remember. It’s just that whenever I think about changing it something pops up which takes the time away from me to actually do something about it. 

Profile pictures have been updating to show circular profile pictures since August and you might have noticed that in the news feed and page timelines, profile pictures are starting to take a circular shape. The thumbnails will show up circular but your main profile picture on your page will continue to be square. It’s a simple design update so shouldn’t really affect anything other than making things look a little prettier. 

The frame template which is presented in the Facebook Camera Developer platform hasn’t changed shape, you still upload frames in the square format and these can be applied over your square profile picture on your page. 

One thing that you will need to be mindful of though is that you cannot fit a square peg into a round hole without cropping the picture. That means that if you have text on your profile picture you will need to make sure it works as both a square profile picture and in a circular design otherwise elements of text or the picture will be missing due to them being auto-cropped. 

Just one more thing on profile pictures, colour makes a huge difference in driving user engagement. It is a design skill learned by designers and marketers years ago that colour can influence your decision to do or not do something, and buy or not buy something. 

Energetic colours such as yellow’s and reds grab attention, blues give a sense of trust and loyalty, so when you do update your profile pictures, make sure that you follow the usual best practices in design theory. Orange apparently makes people buy things. 

Instagram…

You will already know that Instagram is becoming the one huge platform that is becoming more and more relevant to visual artists, and you will be aware that Instagram is also owned by Facebook.

So it is with little surprise that Facebook and Instagram will occasionally see some convergence of the two platforms and this convergence has started to roll out with Instagram Stories becoming available on the Facebook platform too. 

The desktop version of Facebook has had Instagram-like Facebook stories for a little while now. Up until now though the Instagram stories which are slideshows that disappear 24-hours after being posted have only been viewable through the Instagram platform, now they can or very soon, will be able to be shared across Facebook too. 

For now the user base of testers is small but convergence of platforms is a great thing for us who rely on social-media to market our visual art. Anything that can cut down on the time we have to spend cross-posting and redesigning posts to appear on other platforms is welcomed so that we can spend a little more time creating our art. 


Facebook stories for marketing art



Are stories useful for marketing?

I know a few people and brands who are using Instagram Stories for marketing purposes although I don’t know too many who are using Facebook Stories just yet. Stories though can offer a marketing opportunity which many of us are missing out on. 

I have previously mentioned in my using Facebook for marketing visual arts articles and more specifically in the master class feature on the real art of marketing visual art which you can find here, that offering some exclusivity and scarcity to your market can pay dividends if you get it right. 

Stories can be a great way to alert your followers to limited time promotions, perhaps for today only you could offer a limited time promotion through your print on demand service. Many Print on Demand services such as Society 6 and Zazzle often run heavy discount promotions and usually give creators a heads up via email that a promotion will be running. 

Services such as Fine Art America allow you to discount against your artists commission and this service also allows members to offer their artwork on a range of product sizes not usually offered, but for a lower price. All of these features offer some scarcity and if used with stories can add in the missing exclusivity element too as you might want to share these stories with your followers. 

So if you are running a promotion for 24-hours, consider using stories to showcase the offer. The good thing about this style of marketing is that the story expires when your 24-hour promotion expires so there is no chance that old posts will remain in your timeline with outdated offers. 

Your followers will each receive a notification in their timelines that you have posted a new story, so this is potentially a great way to get your latest offer in front of your audience. 

If you really want to connect with art buyers one of the best ways is to make your buyers and potential buyers feel part of your brand or experience is to offer them a behind the scenes look at what you are working on in the studio. 

So when you post a behind the scenes video as part of a usual marketing campaign, now you can offer a little more context around the video as a story. This type of content can be critical to building collector loyalty and just as important as any other longer-term marketing campaign. 

Planning on going live using Facebook Live? Stories are a great way to notify your followers when you plan to go live. If you are using stories on Instagram you could also let the followers you have on that platform know that you will be live on Facebook soon too. It also professionalises your timeline and keeps it clear of those “going live in five” posts we all stumble across. This looks visually much better. 

Also in the real art of marketing visual art post I mentioned earlier, we touched on creating live events and calendar events for the launch of your new artworks which can also be combined with stories. Stories can be used to reveal or tease a new product too. You could show your work in progress to your followers and remind them to accept the invitation to your Facebook event for the final reveal. 

Prior to launch day you can also create a countdown using stories. Posting a post each day that counts down to the event will also hopefully help to drive engagement for the event in the upward direction. 

If you are publishing long-form content on your blog, stories are also a great way to show the headlines of what your post or article is about. This is something that I will be testing out in the coming months, I will report back here with the results!

Facebook’s other platform…

As well as Instagram one of Facebook’s other platforms is WhatsApp which they acquired back in 2014. WhatsApp is ideal for business to business communications. However there is a strong possibility that businesses using WhatsApp in the future will be charged for the service but a new feature where businesses can talk directly to their customers is currently on the timeline for rollout. 

Validated businesses who have a green check mark next to their name will be able to reach out directly to customers. This is perhaps the strongest indication yet that both Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp platforms are gearing up towards monetising for business use. 

Adding similar adverts to those which appear on Messenger will be WhatsApp’s next focus again converging the two platforms to give advertisers the opportunity to reach a larger cohort of ad-viewers and allowing them to advertise across both platforms rather than individually. 

Talking of adverts…

Whilst we are on the subject of ads, there will be updates to the placement of in-stream ads that will give advertisers the ability to place ads in the most relevant parts of the video.

Facebook are now giving much more control over where in the video the ads appear and more importantly over which types of video the ads will be best served to the target demographic.  

This is good news for those who rely on ad-revenue and Facebook are often keen to point out that 70% of in-stream video ads are watched from start to finish. 

The Ads Manager has also had a facelift to help marketers create and manage ads much more simply than has previously been the case. Power Editor has now been combined with Ad Manager and there is a new workflow which allows you to create draft campaigns before actually running the ad. 

This is great news for media companies and for small businesses who want to know upfront and before splashing out the cash to run a campaign how the campaign is likely to fare, because now they will be able to preview the ad and make sure that it hits the right notes pre-campaign.

What this essentially means is that on one hand you can make sure you are spending money on ads that work, but on the other hand you now really do need to pay to play and gain exposure. Not especially great news for those of us with little to no marketing budgets, but at least now the ads we do create won’t be published quite so blindly.

The influence of the algorithm is also clear with this approach. The better your overall campaign (and the more you pay to play), will raise the profile of future ads too. That’s not to say that some ads will always do better just because you paid, the algorithm is still looking for relevancy in those ads too. Run a series of relevant paid ad campaigns and the future starts looking a lot brighter in terms of reaching new audiences, run a bad ad and it will affect future ads. 

We have all heard about the alleged interference during that much talked about election campaign and on the lead up to it, and Facebook uncovered a number of adverts that could possibly be linked to bad players during that campaign. 

One of the problems that Facebook and other social networks often face is the issue of cloaking. Cloaking is essentially the advertiser sending Facebook reviewers to a seemingly benign looking site or news story and once the advert is approved, the end user is redirected to some other place entirely by the bad player. Essentially Facebook are reviewing site A, but end users will really be directed elsewhere. 

It is a practice long established in the murky depths of the internet and cloaking software has been around for a while. However it’s not a wise move and it could cost the bad player not just in financial terms but in legal terms too. 

That being said, Facebook have wised up to cloaking and now the practice is very well understood by Facebook and the algorithm. It’s not necessarily understood by everyone who has blamed Facebook for taking ad revenue from these bad players and  it’s a complicated issue that means even the most savvy reviewer might not always spot cloaked adverts. 

Those who are caught now will face the wrath of Facebook and will have ad revenues slashed to nothing and no account left to cloak from at all. Hopefully we should start seeing only legitimate ads on our timelines from here on in, until the spammers and click-baiters come up with something new at least anyway!

Boosting posts from others…

One thing you can now do is to link up with other influencers within your industry. By creating partnerships with influencers as both a marketer and advertiser you will now have more options to boost posts. You can do this by partnering up with those who maybe in the same market, so perhaps a few visual artists might come together and combine their marketing strategies.


marketing on Facebook Updates

People You May Know…

Personally I have always thought of the people you may know part of your Facebook timeline as a who’s who of stalkers who have checked out your profile. Of course it’s not, but it is kind of freaky that someone you have no mutual connection with but who you might have once met fifteen years ago for a fleeting moment turns up in there, and often someone who has no mutual connection with you at all. For me it is often like a line up from an identity parade but because I am completely useless at remembering names but can always remember faces, it can help me out from feeling awkward when I do forget someone’s name. 

Facebook is not just a marketing platform, neither is it purely a real news or fake news platform. It is a social platform first and foremost too and because of this, Facebook want you to make meaningful connections and make new friends. 

We have all probably noticed though that for the most part, connecting with people on a public facing platform and arranging to meet at a location is perhaps best not done in the openness that a Facebook post provides. If we are going to meet up then arrangements are either made by phone calls, texts, or through Messenger. 

For now only a small number of users in Toronto and New Zealand have the new feature whereby the app will suggest meeting up with friends and suggested friends based on a number of criteria. 

Now you will also be able to see more information about suggested friends such as events you have both attended, pages you both like, and other shared interests. Rather than telling you about mutual connections, the new system will also tell you about mutual experiences. This should make it easier to sort through random friend requests. 

I can hear the naysayers already suggesting that more and more data will be open for everyone to see, but this is data anyone could realistically get from your profile in any case, but it also lets you figure out if that new friend request is really from a friend at all. 

And that is kind of the point of this. Many of us will only really know a small percentage of our Facebook friends in the truest sense of friendship, some friends we will meet face to face every day or week, and there are others who have been Facebook friends for a very long time and who know you well enough to actually feel like family, but some requests really do appear to be a bit random. 

Colour Comments and Movies…

I have mentioned these before but colour comments really are happening. I have to say that the colour comments I have seen already are really doing nothing at all for me. Imagine text messages but with garish coloured backgrounds, that’s pretty much it I am afraid. If Facebook want my feedback on this here it is, no, please stop it. 

Very gradually a rollout of another feature is taking place for a few mobile users and that is that an updated movie section will become available which is based on your location. 

Personally I have a feeling that the recommended movies playing at your local cinema is being borrowed from IMDb but it could have more to do with the Facebook Watch platform. See a trailer for a cinema release on Watch and then book a ticket through Facebook for a viewing at your local cinema is a feature that will be available from the off. 

Friends will be able to see what their local friends want to watch at the cinema and will be able to pair up for an evening out watching the latest blockbuster. This is perhaps where Movie Pass could come in handy in the USA.

Mitch Lowe revolutionised home entertainment was one of the founders of Netflix. He was also an original founder of Redbox which ultimately contributed to Blockbuster’s decline. 

Movie Pass is something that readers in the USA might have heard of, it is essentially a movie subscription service which allows you to visit the cinema once a day for a month for just $9.95. That gets movie goers into the cinema each day for around a dollar more than the average single one movie ticket (way cheaper than here in the UK by the way), although this doesn’t include IMAX or 3D films, and it is only available at theatres who take credit /debit cards. 

That is exactly what Movie Pass uses to pay the cinema, a debit card which can only be used for the movie at the time of showing. Movie Pass covers the full cost of the cinema ticket so it is currently difficult to fully understand how they will be making money. 

Some cinemas are not too enthused about the idea, but it seems like the hope is that they will come around and Movie Pass are probably looking for a return on the often overpriced concessions such as soft drinks, popcorn, and chocolate which their subscribers will end up buying. There’s not much that theatres can do to stop Movie Pass because essentially it is simply a debit card. 

Some in the cinema industry have concerns around sustainability of this model, but cinema is an expensive night out and whenever I visit my local cinema the place is usually half empty in the week and popcorn is about as expensive as steak. If I were a cinema operator I would be throwing myself at Movie Pass’s feet right about now.

My thinking is that the new Facebook movie feature might provide a further inroad to harness the power of social media instigated friendships and meet ups, and could be a great source of driving subscription based movie going upwards. 

So that’s this week’s roundup of what is or is about to happen on our favourite social network. As usual I will be scouring the web and connecting with valley insiders to bring you more news as and when and often before it happens, so stay tuned!

I am writing a new series of features which provide in-depth tutorials on creating and marketing art so if there is something that you really need then please do leave a comment!

ABOUT M.A

Mark A. Taylor is a British artist and blogger who specialises in abstract and landscape work and also produces art to be used within TV and film, and book covers. You can see and purchase Mark’s artwork on a wide range of print mediums and other products right here. https://10-mark-taylor.pixels.com and you can follow Mark on Facebook here

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