A team of humans replaced with an algorithm. That is what Facebook did when it fired its team of contractors, who were mostly journalists, in favor of an automated system that gathers and shares news. This comes months after the team was accused of suppressing conservative news back in May.
But as soon as the human team was removed from the equation, the module changed radically. Consider my trending feed on the day I wrote this article.
Compare this with this screenshot of the module when the news team was still employed:
But why should you care if Facebook fires its human editors? It all comes back to marketing. Right now, marketing automation is a hot topic. There are positives and negatives in Facebook’s move to full automation and marketers can take lessons from both the good and the bad.
You Can Expand Your Reach
Facebook says that it removed human curators from its trending module as part of an effort to provide its news service to more locations around the world. That’s the beauty of an algorithm. It doesn’t need management in the way that people do and so it allows a brand to reach a much larger audience with far less manpower.
By automating your marketing, it is easier to decide who gets your message and when.
In Facebook’s case, switching will indeed reach a larger quantity of people, but the quality of the news is decreased, which is where marketers should be careful. Facebook’s new trend feed is decidedly less detailed and less informative now that it is automated.
So while it may be tempting to simply plug-in leads and put them through an automated nurture process, make sure the quality of the content that feeds it stays high. Otherwise you will have to deal with leads dropping out of the pipeline.
You Risk Being Less Engaging
I used to enjoy the fact that when I went on Facebook, I could read the top headlines by scanning the title and the short preview of the story that I received. I didn’t have to click anything to learn what was happening in the world.
That is gone now and it’s less engaging. Now I have to actually take an action, instead of passively receiving news. The subject lines are now just keywords, which by themselves are much less engaging.
This is the risk of removing humans from your marketing process. Automation is good, but make sure to keep the humanity in it. The stories, the reasons why people should care. This can sometimes get lost when using an automated process. When your readers notice the lack of detail that can sometimes come with automation, they will become less engaged, therefore potentially losing the sale.
Algorithms Aren’t Perfect
When Facebook let its human editors go, a fake story started trending soon after. You’d think tech companies would learn by now that trusting the internet and algorithms is a risky business. After all, look at what happened to Microsoft’s Tay. She went rogue, a horrifying examples of AI gone wrong.
This is why it so important to have a human monitoring your automation channels. While marketing automation isn’t half as risky as letting an AI learn from social media, it still should have someone watching to make sure everything stays under control.
Automation is wonderful. It makes managing our leads and prospects easier than ever. But if you begin to rely on automation too much, using it to replace human rolls or replace a good brand story, then you’ll watch your own marketing suffer.
Have you ever had automation go horribly wrong? What happened? Are you a fan of marketing automation? Let us know in the comments section.