Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, reported its first-ever quarterly decline in revenue as a publicly traded company. This decline has been attributed to Apple’s IDFA privacy change, an update to its operating systems that require users to opt-in to being tracked for advertising purposes by companies like Meta or Twitter. This has caused Meta to reconsider how it will deliver content to your Facebook or Instagram accounts. Rather than see posts and events on your Facebook or Instagram feeds based on the content offered by your network of friends and what you have liked, shared, or otherwise interacted with in the past, Meta is considering adopting algorithms that are more like what one experiences on TikTok. These content-selecting algorithms are not based as much on your friends, likes follows, and shares as they are on viral content in which the social media company thinks you will participate.
This has implications for churches’ social media ministries. While we don’t know for sure yet what changes in Meta’s algorithms will ultimately look like, content creators (such as churches) posting accessible, quickly engaging posts *may* benefit from this change, just as they benefit from TikTok’s algorithms.
Make no mistake, we are on the cusp of another digital transformation in which social media takes on a different character and we don’t yet fully know what that will look like. However, we are getting clues that consumers’ increased interest in privacy as well as the advent of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will play large roles in shaping our social media future.
Brady Shearer and Alexander Mills of Pro Church Tools consider the forthcoming changes to Meta’s algorithm in the attached podcast. They don’t have any firm answers as to what the future holds for our social media ministries either, but their discussion may advance the thinking of those who are interested in the topic.
Eric is the Digital Minister of the Southern New England Conference.