Facebook faces renewed backlash over lack of support for small advertisers
This seems like the most logical way for Facebook to close out 2020.
The update was later confirmed by Facebook - as explained by Facebook's Alexandru Voica:
"We redesigned the Help Center to help people find the information they're looking for faster, with an improved and streamlined navigation and a user experience that's consistent with the rest of Facebook.com. We've also made search easier to use and refreshed the most popular topics to reflect what people want to learn about today."
So, cool, right? A new Help Center experience, which is more in-line with common usage. Helpful, right?
It seems that the update hasn't had the intended impact - yesterday, Bloomberg reported on the many small advertisers who have had ongoing issues with Facebook's ad systems, with the primary concerns being a lack of assistance tools and arbitrary or incorrect account suspensions.
As explained by Bloomberg:
"A big part of the issue, according to Facebook advertisers, is that the company doesn’t have a robust set of customer service systems in place for smaller advertisers. Facebook brags that it has 10 million advertisers, but the majority of them don’t have a regular human contact person within the social network to resolve issues. The company offers an automated chat feature for advertisers, but you need an active Facebook account to use it, which means it's not available to users who have been accidentally locked out."
Such concerns have been present for years, but with Facebook recently launching a fight against Apple's coming IDFA changes, in which Facebook claims that it's acting on behalf of small business owners, it seems to have raised questions as to how much Facebook actually cares about SMBs, and how its systems reflect that focus.
Part of the issue is scale. As noted by Bloomberg, Facebook now has over 10 million advertisers, which means that it needs to rely on a level of automation in order to answer the many questions being thrown at it. It simply can't manually cater to every issue and request, which is what's lead to problems with its automated account suspensions and lack of follow-up capacity.
The logical cause is clear, but that doesn't make it any easier for the businesses struggling to get their questions answered, with incorrect actions like this costing time and money.
So what's the answer? Well, Facebook's likely hoping that a revamped Help Center will at least provide some assistance, but ideally, The Social Network is also taking note of this new pushback and working to revise its systems in line with advertiser need.
Facebook has also had to rely more on automation in 2020 due to the pandemic reducing its regular staff capacity, at a time when many more businesses have been turning to the platform for their promotional efforts. That's likely lead to more people facing issues with their Facebook ad accounts than ever, which Facebook may be able to reduce in 2021 once things can return to a level of normal once again.
That'll be Facebook's hope, but it's clear that there's a growing concern about Facebook's ad support systems, and demand for improvement.
Whether Facebook has the capacity to facilitate such is another question, but as it continues to combat Apple, and present itself as the champion of SMBs, this is a key area where Facebook could strengthen its positioning.