Like many of you, one week ago we woke to the shocking and upsetting announcement that once again, Facebook was about to wreck our s*&%. In the days that followed we panicked, commiserated and mourned the news feed mastery that we thought we had. But the truth is, we never really had a firm grasp on the Facebook algorithm to begin with, and this change is a painful reminder that marketers shouldn’t build their houses on rented land.
So what happened?
We still don’t fully know how this change will impact brands and businesses on Facebook, but here’s what we’re pretty sure about so far:
- Zuck acknowledges that scrolling mindlessly through videos and news and branded junk in the news feed tends to make us feel bad, whereas engaging with other users makes Facebook feel worthwhile. So this change will cut down on the mindless time people spend on Facebook, which is why it’s such a big shift for the company.
- The algorithm will score posts from brands and businesses differently, and lower, than posts from individuals. This means users will see more personal content from friends and family in their feed, and brands will see their organic engagement tank hard. This is extra frustrating because after the death of organic reach and the decline of referral traffic, engagement was the last metric that marketers could hope to control.
- As far as we know, this change will not impact the ad algorithm. For now. Most brand content on Facebook takes the form of ad-like posts that are distributed through ad filters, and don’t necessarily show up on Pages anyway. But Facebook has already maxed out ad inventory and so prices are likely to go up.
So what are marketers to do?
Now that the time for grieving is over, we’re looking ahead to learn how we can take back our power. Brands can ask their followers to add their Pages to Facebook’s See First Feature, but that’s a short-sighted approach. Fortunately, thanks to the combined wisdom of the marketing and advertising community, there’s a lot of advice going around.
These are the biggest takeaways that you need to readjust your strategy:
- Get back to basics and reestablish that your Facebook activities are driving a business outcome. Even before this change, we were already shifting back to a dynamic in which social media is more valuable for branding and engagement, not traffic or revenue. Refocus your priorities, be realistic about them, and then pick the right tactics to meet them.
- Make social marketing social again. This change is partly our fault, because we got lazy. And it’s the reason why brands that chase quick hits will suffer more under the new Facebook algorithm than brands who already create quality content. Focus on what your audience cares about, and find opportunities there.
- Publish less to your Page, so you can focus on publishing better, more meaningful content that will spark conversations between your followers. Not likes, because those are too passive – you want to encourage comment threads. This means fewer or no posts with links to your website (because let’s be real, that’s not going to help you now).
- If you’re just getting started, invest in advertising first to see the most value and return. Don’t begin with organic posting because you won’t see results.
- Use engagement to measure your ROI from social advertising. At the end of the day, Facebook is much better suited for building your brand than for making sales.
- But no engagement-baiting. Don’t do it, because Facebook is done with that nonsense.
- Try to produce more live videos, because Facebook has indicated that they’re a priority in the new newsfeed.
What about the future?
You’ll want to consider these tactics to make your Facebook presence sustainable:
- If your brand uses influencers, focus on those partnerships to create meaningful and “authentic” (lol) content. Because they’re positioned higher than brands in the news feed and are more likely to generate quality engagement, influencers could be in the perfect position to help brands weather this change.
- Create a chatbot/messaging-based strategy. The Messenger platform offers a huge opportunity because not many marketers are using it yet, so it’s not yet overrun with bad marketing that turns people off.
- Consider how you can make use of Facebook Groups. If the new Facebook algorithm prioritizes posts by how much communication they spark, Groups are an ideal place to focus your energy. True, not every business or brand lends itself well to the idea of a closed group, and building one up can be challenging. But making the effort to build a real community could pay off a LOT more than trying to spur engagement on your business page.
In conclusion: Yes, our jobs are about to get harder. But Matt Owen at Econsultancy has a great point: This is a wake-up call for marketers. We need to rise to the occasion and retrain ourselves to create better Facebook content if we want to succeed.
Not sure how your brand should approach this new phase of Facebook marketing? We can help you figure out the best strategy for your business. Contact us below!