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The key 2021 Facebook updates everyone should know

Keeping up with every Facebook update is near impossible. With 2.8 billion monthly active users, the leading social media channel innovates to bring new and optimized experiences for their user base on a weekly basis. 

Marketers looking to make the most of the platform need to have a strategy for Facebook SEO optimization, and part of that includes staying on top of the latest trends and updates.

In this article, refreshed regularly, we outline every update that’s important for marketers to note alongside key Facebook developments no one should miss. 

Previous updates:

Facebook launches Super, a Cameo-like app

Facebook is known to learn from the best apps out there and create a version that’s often more successful than the original. In its latest move, Facebook launched an app called Super that allows anyone to pay for a celebrity shoutout within videos posted on the app. 

This brings an additional channel for content creators who are looking for tools that allow them to easily monetize their audiences. Fans can give them gifts, pay to appear on their streams to ask a question, or to take an online selfie. 

Image source

Facebook briefly suspends news content in Australia

In this development that gained wide media notoriety, Facebook suspended sharing and viewing of any content from media, including international news, after the Australian courts introduced a Media Bargaining law that requires platforms like Facebook to compensate publishers for reusing their content. 

Less than a week after the suspension took place, Facebook reversed their decision following amendments to the law.

In its article detailing the decision, Facebook explained that media content accounts for around 4% of all News Feed content, making it insignificant in terms of revenue generation for the company, yet for publishers relying on referral traffic from Facebook to generate advertising revenue it is beneficial or even paramount to have Facebook access. 

Facebook revamps its Page management

Remember how switching from your personal account to a business account and then back was always a hassle? Facebook is working to make this much simpler, along with other features that allow businesses to easily manage their pages using the Facebook Page Management app. 

Facebook boosts AI alt text accuracy

Tech has come a long way in helping the blind and visually impared engage with content and information. In its latest effort, Facebook improved the accuracy with which its AI can describe what’s represented on images. 

One key takeaway for marketers here is that you should really make your images count and ensure they aren’t too abstract and are relevant to your post.  

Facebook starts a podcast

Well, it’s not exactly a Facebook platform update, but nonetheless, it’s a key development. Now, Then, Ten, is a podcast series co-hosted by Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook's Vice President for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, and Brent Hoberman, the executive chairman of Founders Forum. 

Is it worth a listen? It certainly is. It promises to bring invaluable knowledge on how new tech and clever marketing strategies can help you build communities online. 

Its very first episode features Depop CEO Maria Raga to share her secrets on how to market to Gen-Z. Eyes are now open, or rather ears, to see where the producers will take this podcast series. 

Facebook changes how political content is served

Do you share the view that there may be too much political content on Facebook? You may not be the only user feeling the same way. Facebook is actually testing downranking political content on the main News Feed. 

The test is being carried out in a small part of the US and Canada, and will not affect coronavirus-related content from trusted sources like the CDC or WHO.

Facebook Updates 2020 Updates

Facebook News expands to new markets

Facebook News is becoming a key product for the company that aims to bring new audiences and monetization options to publishers. There are already 200 news publishers signed up with the Facebook News program, including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Guardian, The Economist, and more. 

Interestingly, Facebook actually pays publishers for original content making Facebook News an entirely new content monetization model for the media sector. 

This development echoes Facebook’s intentions to be a reputable news source and further differentiate itself from the rest of its app environment.

Facebook Horizon in next-stage beta testing

When Facebook first revealed Horizon, it was nothing short of unbelievable. The question always was, how close Facebook really was to bringing the project to its users? Now, the Facebook VR sandbox environment is being extended to invite-only users

Do you want to be one of the first people to experience Facebook’s VR environment? You can sign up now on their Oculus page.

We know that VR is a long-term play for Facebook. Previously, Mark Zuckerberg has said that they see the company's growth to be aimed in that direction; however, it may still take a few years until this is a tool marketers will be using to interact with their audience.

What should you do for now? Start thinking about the kind of content department you’ll need to support it. 

Facebook tests a TikTok-like video experience in India

After a clear success from TikTok, almost every app is attempting to replicate their success. Instagram has done this somewhat successfully through Reels, but can Facebook pull it off after its standalone version, Lasso, failed

We know that at least they are toying with the idea. Currently, Facebook is testing a TikTok-like short-form video feed with users in India, where TikTok is banned.

Facebook adds Shops tab and expands Shops to Instagram  

While adding a Shops tab is a small step, the overall Shops environment is a key development from Facebook that has now been rolled out to most of the world and on Instagram, too. In a lockdown environment where all in-store experiences have been suspended, Facebook Shops make it easy for retailers to create a shop-like experience on their Facebook or Instagram profiles. 

The move echoes a larger trend that continues to bring social commerce to the forefront of the Facebook user experience and probably its revenue model too. The end goal is to make it as simple as possible for users to discover businesses, preview products, purchase them and manage all customer care within its app environment. 

Facebook boosts its Ecommerce innovation efforts

The social platform’s efforts to help Ecommerce don’t stop with Facebook shops. In order to help the businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic, Facebook has launched an accelerator program to help new Ecommerce businesses and start-ups successfully navigate the social media commerce environment.

Facebook launched the Educators Hub amidst the pandemic

Everyone is aware of just how much the education system has been impacted by coronavirus restrictions. The Educators Hub is designed to help parents, teachers, and students succeed in a digital learning environment. Its aim is to educate on the topic of digital literacy and provide both resources and tools required to teach in the digital space.

Instagram Stories may be searchable through Facebook

In new developments, some users started receiving notifications that they will be able to access Instagram Stories through the Facebook app. 

This of course opens many questions for marketers and how it will impact their stories’ reach and visibility. We don’t yet know if these views will be counted within the Instagram app environment or if they will be measured separately. 

This will only work if the user is connected to your profile on Instagram and your page on Facebook, but for many larger brands with omnichannel presence that shouldn’t be an issue.

Facebook adds resources to support Black-owned businesses

2020 was the year of racial reckoning in the United States and arguably around the world. Early on after the George Floyd protests, Facebook began showing their commitment to the cause. 

In its efforts to support Black-owned businesses, Facebook created a grants program and also made it possible for users to easily find such businesses on their app. You can read more about how to apply for their grants on their page.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on socialbakers.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.

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