Talk About Us on Facebook! How the News Feed Changes Should Change Your Social Media.

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%.

What do the Facebook News Feed Changes Mean For Your Social Media Strategy in Marketing, Advertising and PR?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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

If You’re Simply Adding To The Noise, Facebook Will Now Turn Off Your Organic Reach

One of my favorite bands is Switchfoot and their song “Adding to the Noise” is the inspiration for this blog. When I started it four years ago, there were roughly 200,000 million blogs and I couldn’t imagine why the world would need another one. I even wrote a post  “The Last Thing We Need Is Another Blog.”  Ultimately this question lead me to the debate between quantity versus quality. A recent Michael Stelzner podcast interview featured Jeff Goins, a successful blogger and author who had several blog failures when he was chasing subscribers (quantity focus) until he started a passion blog (quality focus) that now has over 200,000 subscribers.

Today Technorati indexes over 1.3 billion blogs and the focus on quality content has become more important than ever. For marketers this noise has been creeping up in another social landscape – Facebook. In August of 2013 Facebook revealed that “every time someone visits News Feed there are on average 1,500 potential stories … most people don’t have time to see them all.” By December 2013 Ad Age reported “Facebook Admits Organic Reach Is Falling Short, Urges Marketers to Buy Ads.”

The bottom line is that Facebook has changed its algorithm, formerly called Edgerank, and content from business Pages has seen a drop-off in organic reach. In response, Facebook is urging paid distribution for brands to get back into their fan’s News Feeds. Since the tweak some brands have reported as much as a 40% decrease in organic reach.

Facebook Drop Organic Reach
Decrease in organic reach from Edgerank Checker.

In the end, business may have to increase their Facebook spending to maintain or expand reach, but there could be another option. Switchfoot sings, “What’s it going to take to slow us down … If we’re adding to the noise turn off this song.” Perhaps we need another content revolution. If you provide content people want to engage with, not turn off, you will break through the noise. Brands could up their content game to emerge organically from the noise in users’ News Feeds.

But this revolution is fueled by more than quality content. It is also about quality time. Mari Smith, author of Facebook Marketing an Hour a Day suggests that marketers should focus more on community management. The more your fans like, comment and share your content, the more likely that content will show up in their news feeds.

It seems there is room for improvement in the engagement game. Social Bakers provides social media monitoring tools and has been measuring brand’s engagement levels on social networks. Their recent reports indicate that only 10% of brands respond to 85% of questions on Facebook.

A brand that steps up its engagement game could not only protect its organic reach, but also find a significant competitive advantage. We all love when someone listens to us. When your fans hear from you, their excitement will spread along with your reach and reputation.

Ted Rubin calls this a real Return on Relationship. Fight quantity (clutter & filters) with quality (content & engagement). With every post, update and comment ask yourself, “Is it adding something meaningful or simply adding to the noise?”