Mark Zuckerberg announced big changes coming to Facebook’s News Feed.
This is not the end of the world for marketers, but it should serve as an opportunity to re-evaluate your strategy. Remember that we have seen these kind of changes in the past. Early marketing strategies emphasized “Like us on Facebook” because back then a brand page “Like” meant real reach – as much as 26% in 2011. But as the News Feed became too crowded Facebook adjusted the algorithm and brand page average organic reach dropped to 6 percent by 2014. In 2016 Facebook further emphasized content from friends and family and average organic reach dropped to between 1% to 2%.
Facebook will now emphasize more “meaningful” interactions.
It is admirable that Facebook is making these changes to address problems research has revealed about fake news, depression, anxiety, and addiction. The News Feed will show more from friends, family and groups and less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. However, they acknowledge there are tight-knit communities around certain brands leaving the door open for organic reach. But if that content is passive, not generating comments, likes and shares, it will be de-emphasized. Video may even lose favor because it is more passive while content with longer comments could get a boost as an indicator of more meaningful interaction and sharing. While this may not mean an inevitable “zero organic reach” for all brands, it does require adjustments in your Facebook and larger social media strategy.
First, you may have to pay and pay more for Facebook ads.
Only 5 million businesses advertise on Facebook – just 8% of all 65 million business pages. Yet if more brands want to advertise these New Feed changes indicate that even paid brand posts may be reduced. A tightening of advertising inventory could increase ad costs. It is important to have the right metrics in place to ensure Facebook ads remain a good investment. Even a paid post only buys a view, content still must be good to elicit likes, comments, and shares that increase reach, drive referral traffic and help meet business objectives.
Next, you should consider other ways to get a consumer’s attention on Facebook.
If fans really “like” your content, then they will miss seeing it in their News Feed. You can remind them to like, comment, and share your content to keep it there. You can also remind them to, check their Pages Feed and update notifications settings from your page to ensure they see your posts. It’s probably a good idea to give them a reason why such as “Don’t miss out on our special offers” or “Continue to see our inspiring quotes, beautiful photos, funny videos, or how to tips.” Facebook is also emphasizing posts by groups. Creating a Facebook Group around your customers and brand could be another way to maintain consumer attention.
Then, check your social media customer response rate.
Remember that 67% of consumers seek out brands for customer service on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. This will not go away simply because they see less brand page posts in the News Feed. Research says that 71% who experience positive social customer service experience are likely to recommend the brand to others while 88% are less likely to buy from companies that leave complaints on social media unanswered. Customers also spend 20-40% more when companies engage and respond over social media. Are you losing more customers from unanswered consumer posts than you’re bringing in with brand posts? If your social customer care is not up to par you may be getting negative brand shares you don’t want appearing in News Feeds anyway.
And remember to always keep the broader perspective in mind.
You shouldn’t rely solely on any one platform for customers. A basic social media mistake companies still make is not considering a multichannel social media strategy. While 85% of the Fortune 500 are on Facebook only 75% are on YouTube, just 53% are on Instagram, only 42% have corporate blogs, just 31% are on Pinterest, and only 1% are on Snapchat. Now may be a good time to diversify your social media presence looking at other social channels, and other paid and earned opportunities in digital and traditional media as part of an integrated marketing communications plan. But also keep in mind that good content will get shared no matter where it appears. In the larger perspective of viral marketing if someone likes content a brand has created anywhere online they will share it with their friends in Facebook and through other means you can’t measure like Dark Social.
How to adjust your social strategy based on Facebook’s News Feed Changes:
- Get fans and followers to share your content for you. How? Make content worth sharing. Page likes or followers aren’t enough, post likes, shares and comments will bubble up.
- Get consumers to engage. Views are not enough. Mark Zuckerberg says “passive viewing of even entertaining or informative content won’t be emphasized. Build a tight-knit community around your brand and “moments in the world that matter” to drive conversation.
- Increase ad spending. Up your Facebook advertising budget, but monitor results. Reduced ad inventory will increase costs, so track engagement and other business metrics to ensure a positive ROI.
- Don’t forget customer service. Customers will still seek you out on Facebook for help, to ask questions and to get real service issues resolved. Ensure you have a good cross-discipline social customer care system to respond.
- Become less Facebook dependent. Facebook says time spent on the service will go down. Develop a multichannel social media strategy considering other platforms and re-evaluate your overall IMC plan. Social media should only be a part of a complete paid, owned, earned and shared effort.
At the end of the day social media marketing is about creating quality content that attracts attention and drives conversation.
Moving forward, getting people to “Talk about us on Facebook,” may be more important than ever and Facebook may become less of a major platform for some brands. With these changes on the horizon now may be the time to conduct a social media audit and not simply rely on a social strategy you set up years ago or simply stay with existing brand social channels only.