Inside Meta's Möbius Strip of Support Hell

Meta promises if you pay for the blue checkmark, you'll get better support. But is it true? (Spoiler: Probably not, no.)

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No-Fluff Marketing Industry News & Insights

We all agree marketing is the lifeblood of every business. 

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Are Social Media Platforms Dying?

Social media platforms are expected to take a hit in the next couple of years. A new Gartner study says half of consumers plan to abandon or significantly limit their interactions with social media by next year.

Why? Top reasons include the spread of misinformation, toxic users, and how many bots there are.

Also — and I thought this was more interesting — 7 out of 10 consumers said they think the obsessions these platforms have with AI will harm the user experience.

Social media remains the top investment channel for digital marketing, but consumers are actively trying to limit their use. A significant slice says that, compared to a few years ago, they are sharing less of their own lives and content.

Emily Weiss, senior principal researcher, Gartner Marketing Practice

According to the report, 53% of consumers believe that social media has deteriorated compared to the previous year or five years ago.

Google Lays Off Hundreds of Ad Salespeople

We don’t cover a lot of the tech layoffs on here, but now those layoffs are starting to seep into the digital marketing space with a few hundred employees on Google’s advertising sales team being dropped.

BI previously reported that Google was shifting more staff away from large-customer sales, a team that serves the company's bigger advertising clients, to its Google customer-solutions team, which serves more medium-level clients. This was happening as more large clients didn't need access to as many of Google's resources, current and former employees said.

Google is also attempting to automate more of its processes through products such as Performance Max, which uses Google's artificial intelligence to determine how advertisers' money should be spent across products.

This reorganization is the next evolution of that as cuts appear to be primarily targeted at the large-customer-sales team.

Tomorrow, our Google Ads correspondent Jyll Saskin Gales — who spent six years in sales at Google — will be here to walk us through the potential impact of this on digital marketers.

FedEx Wants to Compete with Amazon

FedEx is coming for Amazon.

The company announced this week it is launching a new commerce platform called fdx that it says will help online retailers manage their supply chain, sell things, and handle deliveries.

Fdx will combine existing FedEx commerce tools, like access to members of ShopRunner, an e-commerce marketplace FedEx acquired in 2020, with features debuting in the fall like the ability to create a “custom post-purchase experience” so brands can give customers more accurate shipment information or use insight from FedEx’s shipment network data for order management.

The new platform comes as the company competes in logistics with Amazon, a company FedEx has seen as a threat to its business for years. In 2019, FedEx declined to renew a contract to fly Amazon cargo through FedEx Express. Later that year, Amazon forbade its sellers from using FedEx for Prime deliveries during the holidays, blaming declining performance — a ban it lifted the next year.

This is a pivot that FedEx really didn’t have a choice in doing. Both it and UPS have been hurting since Amazon switched to its own delivery network — a network so large now that last year it made more home package deliveries than UPS and FedEx combined.

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Do Hashtags Even Matter Now in Organic Content?

So you’ve written your company’s LinkedIn post and now all that’s left is to add hashtags. But wait — should you? Do they even do anything other than clutter up the post?

Social Media Today reports that hashtags are not a sure path to reach.

As you may recall, for a long time, LinkedIn didn’t actually support hashtags at all, but then in 2018, the platform not only reactivated hashtag discoverability, but it also started pushing hashtag use in an effort to get more users manually categorizing their posts.

The idea here is that through better content segmentation, LinkedIn is then better able to show more users content that they’re interested in. But over time, as algorithms have evolved, the need for hashtags, in general, has lessened, because social platform systems are now much better at taking in the whole context of a post’s text, including visuals, user history, and all keywords included.

In other words, hashtags are less important because most of the time, relevant mentions and indicators are included in the post anyway, and that’s enough to ensure the system can show your post to the most interested audiences.

Researcher Richard van der Blom, who has previously studied hashtags on LinkedIn, now says they do not increase reach at all any more.

And honestly, this is probably the case as well with all platforms that use hashtags. They were a helpful tool when Twitter users started using them to group conversations. In time, spammers took over, AI got smarter, and the truth is there’s probably not much use for them in most major social platforms.

Threads Adds Ability to Hide Share Counts

A small change with Meta’s Threads app now lets you hide both Like and Share counts on your posts.

Up until now, you’ve only been able to hide Like counts. This is set for each post if you want to tinker at that depth, but you can also make it the account default by going to Settings, then Privacy in the mobile app. One thing to note — since Threads uses Instagram’s code foundation, doing this will also hide those details on your connected Instagram account as well.

Back in 2019, Instagram launched an initial test of hidden like counts with some users. That test showed some promise in helping to “depressurize” the IG experience, but then COVID happened and the project got shelved for a time, in order to focus on other elements.

In 2021, Instagram rolled out the option for all users to hide like counts on posts, and since then, it’s included this within its suite of wellbeing and management tools, designed to help people customize their own Instagram experience.

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Does Paying for Meta Verified Get You Better Support?

One of the advantages that Meta says you’ll have when you pay for a blue verified checkmark is better support — you’ll have access to actual humans when something goes wrong.

And things go wrong with Meta’s platforms all the time — for marketers, one of the most common and frustrating issues is getting locked out of their account. This seems to happen at random. Meta’s policy-enforcement AI bots mistake some behaviour pattern as nefarious, or someone successfully hacks into your account, and POOF! you are locked out, with no human beings to help.

So some brands have taken to buying the blue checkmark just so they can get to a real live support rep at Meta, not a support bot.

But — and I know this will not come as a surprise to you — this new system is hardly a pathway to actual issue resolution.

Ars Technica reported this week on some poor photographer who got locked out of her Instagram account. The issue was that initially, she signed up using her husband’s cell phone number. But then, they got divorced, now ex-husband changed his number, a hacker got into her account, and the app tried sending the reset code to her ex-husband’s now defunct phone number.

Meta’s ironically named “help pages” didn’t get her an answer, nor did filling out the form. So she sprung for the paid verification, which promises:

Help when you need it from a real person on common account issues that matter to you.

She got in touch with a real person — apparently named Maria — and was told that the company’s "Internal Team" was working on the issue and they would get back to her. Then, nothing for an entire week.

Remember, this was her business Instagram account. Being unable to log in meant not replying to comments, or to DMs from prospects.

Eventually, she got a templated response telling her to check the recovery number sent to her ex-husband’s non-existing phone number.

So she emailed Maria back who said:

Enlarge / At least they appreciate patience.Screenshot of Meta email

The next day, another email telling her to check the phone that doesn’t exist.

Now, though, a Meta rep named Matt asked her to send in a screen recording of her using the code on the phone number that (and just so we’re all following along here) does not exist.

A few days pass, and Maria is back saying she has now shared the issue with Meta’s "Respective Team."

Then, another email saying "We appreciate your patience while we work on your case. We just want to update you that our Dedicated Team is still working diligently on your case."

When they call in the Dedicated Team, you know that things are getting serious.

Then, a few days later, a new email. Could this finally be the answer? Could an actual human have read her issue with their eyeballs, understood the issue in their brain, and done something to help her?😉

The email suggested she try getting the reset code from the phone number that does not exist, and ended with "We'll now closed [sic] this ticket. Have a beautiful day and stay safe."

She emailed back begging them to just send the code to the verified email address on file. Problem solved. But they wouldn’t.

Instead, Meta support actually got a little snotty.

We hope you understand the limitations in assistance that can be offered at this moment. If your request is denied, please do not re-submit the request unless there is new information that is likely to have a direct impact on the decision that was made.

Meta reply

But she soldiered on and emailed again and this time Melissa replied saying she will forward the issue on to the Relevant Team!

"We'll not put your hard work to waste, we'll do our part by doing the best we can to have your issue resolved," Melissa said.

But the Relevant Team didn’t seem to have any more power than the Internal, Respective, or Dedicated teams.

Amy lives out endless replays of this disappointing loop. She receives polite but pointless replies from Hazel and other new people. Maria makes a return from time to time. They are always reviewing options and sending things to a Dedicated or Relevant Team. The problem is never solved. Perhaps the Meta support team models its service on the Meta logo that resembles the infinity sign.

Finally, today, a resolution. One that came not because Meta’s support team is good, but because Meta’s p.r. team is risk-averse.

Less than 24 hours after this story was published, a spokesperson for Meta reached out and said they would look into this issue. Then, about an hour later, [her account] was unlocked. Meta was able to temporarily remove the two-factor authentication on her account and the requirement for a recovery code.

Afterward, the spokesperson told Ars the following:

In terms of what happened: due to a system error that has since been resolved, our normal path to regain access to an account was not working at the time of [her] requests. Our support reps were not aware of the issue at the time. The issue has since been resolved.

Meta reply to Ars Technica

I’m not a betting man, but I’ve got $5 saying there was in fact no system error and internally, nothing has changed.

Who’s with me?

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