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Facebook has apparently shaken off its early-year malaise and is now ramping up a new growth initiative that has the potential to change the way you use Facebook. It’s called Branded Content Matching, and it’s essentially a search engine that helps brands locate social media influencers on Facebook. The new initiative was first leaked by a German website that tracks Facebook, and new details are continually being revealed, but it looks like for now that this will be Facebook’s first major attempt to get into the influencer marketing game.
What is branded content matching?
The basic idea of Branded Content Matching is that brands can use Facebook’s user data and sophisticated search algorithm to find top content creators that are creating exactly the type of content that appeals to a certain demographic. From there, the brand and the content creator are free to work out a way to develop branded content and other types of advertising for Facebook. While Facebook is the middleman in the transaction, it won’t be collecting any fees or “cut” of any deals that eventually come to fruition. At least for now…
From Facebook’s perspective, this new initiative is supposed to be a win-win-win. Brands win because they can tap into “authentic” content creators who are much closer to their audience. Content creators win because they will now have a new way to monetize all of their content. And Facebook will win because they will have a fresh new supply of advertising inventory (and all the revenue that comes from that). And users? Well, presumably they would win too because who doesn’t love advertising showing up in their newsfeed masquerading as great new content?
Key issues, details and questions
Although many of the details of the influencer marketing program have been leaked to the public, there’s still a lot that needs to be determined about the exact parameters of this new program. For one, there’s no content creator who is going to create content specifically for Facebook if they can’t get paid for it. YouTube has ad revenue sharing, for example. What can Facebook really offer if it is only serving as the middleman?
And another key concern has to be the potential for another PewDiePie-type scandal, only this time involving Facebook and not YouTube. In other words, a worst-case scenario for any brand would be paying big bucks to a content creator to create original video content, and then finding out that the content contained racism, bigotry or general hate speech.
And what about Facebook user data? Have we not learned anything from the whole Mark Zuckerberg-goes-to-Washington fiasco? People are tired of having their data used by advertisers and third-party app developers, and this new influencer marketing program has the potential for the same type of abuse. What’s the difference between an app developer slurping up all your personal data in order to run political campaign ads, and a brand slurping up all your personal data in order to run a corporate ad campaign? (Hint: there is none)
Clearly, Mark Zuckerberg is hoping that all the buzz surrounding influencer marketing on Instagram (which it also owns) is going to transfer to Facebook. If people are willing to pay an influencer thousands of dollars just to post a single gorgeous photo on Instagram, just imagine what they’d pay an influencer to post a photo or video on Facebook. At a time when YouTube seems to be facing a mounting wave of discontent from many of its content creators, this might be an opportune moment for Facebook to go heavy into influencer marketing.