Remember when your mom first joined Facebook and wrote on your wall? How embarrassing. As more parents and grandparents joined the network, I began worrying that this awesome social gathering space wasn’t going to be so awesome anymore.
As Facebook opened the platform to businesses through Pages, the site became less about connecting with friends and more about reading news story after news story after cooking video after meme.
For a while, Facebook encouraged it. As I continued honing my social media marketing skills, Facebook continuously tweaked its algorithms. Managers had to learn to stay up to speed on every small News Feed change as we watched our organic reach dip and the amount of money needed to boost a post rise.
So, when Mark Zuckerberg announced on Jan. 11 that Facebook’s News Feed was drastically changing, it’s probably no surprise that I felt that rising worry. It wasn’t embarrassment like when mom first signed “Love, me” after commenting on a photo. But it meant everything brands had been working toward building on Facebook for the past five years was about to change.
After taking a breather from this news and thinking it over, though, I’m not as worried as I was – and you shouldn’t be either.
From a brand perspective, this change will severely impact how we do business on Facebook. But don’t panic! This doesn’t spell doom for brands on Facebook. In fact, I’d challenge you to think of this as an opportunity to connect with your audience on a more meaningful level, rather than passively posting links and hoping for robot clicks or likes.
Here are tactical steps you can take to mitigate the inevitable changes coming to Facebook’s News Feed:
Now, we would never advise a client post clickbait. Whether that’s posting a video with, “You won’t believe what happens after one minute!” or “Like this post if you love Princess Leia!” this is just bad content. But when you see these types of posts getting hundreds, if not thousands, of likes and comments, it’s hard not to want to try it, right?
Facebook is cracking down on clickbait. Any click- or reaction-baiting is going to be severely cut out of Facebook’s News Feed, and they’re not shy about telling you. Viral videos aren’t going to disappear from the internet, Facebook just doesn’t want you to watch them on their site. Even Mark Zuckerberg “expect[s] the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down” by making these changes.
Stop: Posting anything that can be construed as click- or reaction-baiting. Your post ranking in fans’ News Feeds will be punished.
Start: Writing more meaningful content. Even passively informative posts like news announcements that redirect to your website aren’t going to see as much traction. Instead, try posting about an issue in your community or sharing your company’s culture and why it is that way. Encourage comments and have an open conversation with your audience. This will entice them to swing by, see what you have to say, give their two cents, and even share with their friends. This will all boost your ranking in the News Feed.
Facebook really likes their users to join groups where they can interact with people with similar tastes and have deep, meaningful discussions. (No word on what they think of the pyramid scheme groups you’ve been added to.) Indeed, some even posit that through groups, Facebook is “almost building a new News Feed, a separate Facebook.” They wonder, “[are] groups the next Facebook?”
Not every brand will build a group their fans want to join, but for many companies, they certainly have loyal fans who want to interact with them and may even want to get their friends involved.
Stop: Pushing all of your content out to the public to try and get as many eyes on it as possible.
Start: Cultivating a group for insiders and influencers to join. Think of some perks that would make joining the group well worth their while – more so than just coupons or surprise sales. Customer appreciation celebrations, sneak peeks at upcoming events, or even giving members the opportunity to share their thoughts on a new product before a big announcement can all encourage group growth and active participation.
It still pays to pay
When Facebook first drastically cut the organic reach Pages saw on status updates, social media managers were conditioned to pay for boosted posts. Then when reach on boosted posts continued to drop, we started making ads. The more money we gave to Facebook, the more Facebook encouraged us to post.
This cycle of pay-to-play has in part created the passive News Feed that Facebook is now railing against. While it’s definitely frustrating that these News Feed changes can be seen as punishing brands who played by Facebook’s rules, ultimately, this could be a good change for the community-building Facebook is trying to accomplish.
That doesn’t mean you should scrap your social media marketing budget, though.
Stop: Assuming boosted posts will always work as well as they do now. As fewer News Feeds will show your content, paying to boost your posts won’t always increase your chances of being seen.
Start: Monitoring your boosted post successes and looking more into Facebook Ads. There’s been no word on how or if Facebook Ads are going to change, but Facebook’s cost per click (CPC) rate is often more affordable with better targeting than other online advertising spaces such as Google. Despite the News Feed changes, brands should still have access to a great deal of information about their audiences: location, age, and even likes and dislikes. This means targeted ads will continue to pay off as you highlight products, events, and experiences your audience could be interested in. What’s more, seeing one of your ads could entice someone to learn more about you – and maybe even join your new influencers group.
The changes to Facebook’s News Feed took many of us by surprise. But ultimately, I believe the steps Facebook is making to provide a meaningful gathering place for friends and family online will ultimately be a good thing, not just for us as humans, but for the companies we interact with, too.
Not sure if you can weather these Facebook changes alone? We hear you. Drop us a line so we can discuss how Dittoe PR can help manage your social media channels as the platforms continue to change.