Facebook dumps language targeting, The Reference brings salvation

As per usual, Facebook continues to adapt its platform. Not very long ago, there was a storm in the digital world due to the changes in the infamous Facebook algorithm. Now, there is yet another storm: the removal of language targeting. What’s the deal with this? What can we do about it? We will help to clear this up for you.

What changed?

As of May 18th it is no longer possible to target organic posts on language for ‘restricted audiences’. This audience is the one that gets to see your post. It is possible to limit the target audience based on age, location and formerly on language as well. This meant that, if your language settings on Facebook were set on French, you only saw posts targeted on French. Any post that was specifically targeted on any other language remained invisible to you. Due to the removal of the language targeting feature, we will now see ‘everything’ and every language. Do note that this decision only counts for organic posts. When it comes to advertising, we will still be able to target on language.

Restricted audience lost the language section, so no more targeting on language

Although you are able to target on language when it comes to newsfeed targeting, this comes with a few restrictions. You will see the ‘correct’ post in your feed, but on a page you’ll have an overview of all posts, in every language – which used to be hidden. A troublesome given for a multilingual country such as Belgium. If one of your French friends likes a French post, it will also appear in your feed, no matter what your language settings are. In Belgium, known for its language-sensitivity, this will cause issues. Complaints coming from Wallonia when they have spotted a Dutch post are not uncommon. Fact is that community managers will bump into more future debacles.

Creative freedom will furthermore be limited when it comes to content and visuals. Copy in images will now be impossible for multi-language brands – something Facebook already was trying to stop before. Content wise we will mostly be limited with top topicals. Promoting a Flemish or Walloon only holiday will be a tough cookie from now on. There is no need for tears though. Luckily, there are still some solutions left.

What are the possible solutions?

No matter the difficulties that will arise due to the removal of language targeting, there is no need for desperation. We have several possibilities to fix our problems:

  1. We are still able to target on language via the newsfeed. This allows us to set a location for our restricted audience and select the preferred languages for our newsfeed targeting.


  2. Brands that focus on Belgium as a whole can choose to create a Facebook page per language. So instead of creating an overall Belgian page, you create two to three pages, depending on which languages you target. The biggest no-go for this option is the fact that you pull your fan base apart. For a small country as Belgium this can also cause a drop in organic reach.


  3. Another choice is create every post in one language only. One day you post something in French, the next you post something in Dutch. You won’t ever see the same post on one page.


  4. Also interesting is to work with multiple language posts. This Facebook feature allows you to add several languages for one visual. Do note that you won’t be able to include copy in your visual and that it is only possible to include one link.


How will The Reference tackle this?

We decided to use the restricted audience & newsfeed targeting combination. People process most content in their feed, making newsfeed targeting very important. By using this to select languages, users will see the ‘correct’ post in their timeline that matches their global language settings on Facebook.

It is only when people visit a page directly that they will see double posts. To provide a bit of an explanation, we can pin a note on top of the page in which we explain why users spot each post in several languages. Should there still be questions, it is up to the community manager to give a clear and friendly answer. This tactic allows us to avoid negative comments or react to them in a positive way, an important matter in a language sensitive country as Belgium.

We furthermore expect Facebook to invest in their multiple language posts. This option currently suffers from some bugs and still requires some rework. Our advice is to keep a close eye on this Facebook option and to regularly test any new features.

Do you need answers regarding Facebook and its continuous changes? We are eager to help you out with all of your social challenges. The answers to all of your questions are only one click away, contact us now!



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