Facebook remains an important part of any digital marketing campaign. Follow these steps to produce Facebook content that will help you keep up with the changing algorithm.
Despite current controversies, Facebook remains an important advertising and marketing channel for many businesses. It’s so integral that some businesses leverage Facebook as their only advertising or marketing channel. This makes the latest big change to the Facebook algorithm all the more impactful, and even scary, to some.
Content marketers need to understand what changes the new algorithm brings. They also need to understand what the effects of those changes will be, and what brands need to do to still see success with the platform.
So, what does the latest algorithm update mean for you, your clients, and the Facebook content you pump into your ads?
The Algorithm Impact on Facebook Content
Image via WAYHOME Studio.
First, the good news: this new algorithm doesn’t eliminate ads, and there won’t be a primary and secondary news feed as had been reported late last year.
In October of 2017, Facebook rolled out a trial run for the news feed changes in a few countries that made many marketers a bit queasy. Only paid brand content appeared in Facebook news feeds, while all unpaid content posted by brands was relegated to a secondary stream. This failed experiment was not well received and recent changes to the platform removed it.
Now, the not-so-good news: there are still changes that impact Facebook brand content. However, they’re not necessarily bad.
“You’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media.”
According to Zuckerberg, this is to “encourage meaningful interactions between people.” Facebook wants to add more value for users, bring people together, and make their platform a less passive experience. This is an admirable goal, but this commitment is probably less about niceties and more about the declining interest and engagement on Facebook.
Keep Facebook Content Engaging
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Since 2016, Parse.ly has seen a consistent drop in Facebook referral traffic to its news sites and other publishers. Many, like Will Critchlow for distilled, attribute this to an existing drop in organic reach for brands. The downward trend is due to the fact that previous iterations of the Facebook algorithm had already deprioritized brand content. But why?
People really don’t like sales-heavy ads. There are so many brands pushing sales through Facebook that it’s easy for users to get overwhelmed.
Facebook content fills feeds in the form of sponsored or brand-centric posts, but there’s still plenty of straight-up advertising in the feeds. As a result, people haven’t had meaningful interactions on the platform. They’re too busy dodging unwanted content.
To be more specific, they’re dodging low-quality brand content. Too much junk clutters up their news feeds, and they simply spend less and less time with Facebook content. Facebook deprioritized organic brand content in news feeds, forcing businesses to spend money to capture attention on their content. This was already happening before Facebook’s intended changes.
The Business Case for Authenticity
Image via De Repente.
In response to Facebook’s shifted priorities, businesses shifted their efforts towards paid ads, boosted posts, and other paid initiatives to boost engagement on Facebook content. This represented an anticipated $33.76 billion in ad revenue for Facebook.
Brands are willing to spend big money on promotions to earn conversions from Facebook content. Unfortunately, many are less willing to spend the time or money to produce authentic and high-quality Facebook content.
Low-quality content actually degrades the user experience. This type of content resembles the heavy sales content that assaults people’s news feeds on a regular basis. It’s not surprising that engagement with branded content, and Facebook itself, has been diminishing.
Brands are spending money on content that no one is engaging with, and as a consequence it increases the dissatisfaction on the brand side. Multiple studies report that most Facebook ads yield little ROI for the effort. This leads brands to question the value of spending time and resources to produce Facebook content.
This brings us to the dynamic today. Facebook ads are still a thing, but brands have to learn to use them differently.
Brand social accounts with higher engagement rates will still get traction. The same goes for brands that offer more engaging content. Compelling content will show up in more news feeds but less brand content will appear overall. This isn’t great news for brands when it comes to non-promotional content, but it’s much better than being relegated to a secondary news feed.
Beating the Algorithm
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Content marketers should be pleased with this turn of events. It presents an excellent opportunity for marketers on the brand and agency side to bring a higher caliber of work to the table. This will ultimately provide greater value for audiences.
It’s actually quite simple to “beat” the algorithm. Content marketers have to get onboard with Facebook’s mission to create higher value, foster engagement, and build greater connections.
In general, brands should avoid putting their eggs for ad spend and promotions into one basket. Many brands heavily rely on Facebook as a referral source. The algorithm should encourage marketers to follow the path of news and media companies who use other, more diverse referral sources to generate business.
Facebook’s desire to bring people together and provide value is a noble effort. For most businesses, this should be central to their marketing campaigns. These changes offer brands a chance to bring their best to the table when interacting with their audience.
Be social. Interact, engage, and join conversations that are already happening. Your brand’s content could bubble to the top, earning organic views through likes, shares, and authentic engagement.
Many brands use social media to talk at their audience rather than with them. This is an irritating and ineffective tactic. Hopefully, the new algorithm will discourage low-quality, sales-like, and product-centric content that degrades the newsfeed experience.
Making the Most of Things
Image via SFIO CRACHO.
The shift to quality over quantity is a growing trend across the spectrum of digital marketing. Facebook has just taken longer to act on it. Organic audience engagement on Facebook is diminishing, and brands now have to be more thoughtful about their use of Facebook. The new algorithm encourages companies to create engaging, educational, and high-value content if they want to remain competitive.
You can still capture attention with brand content that follows the rules of the algorithm. Posts should always have a clear conversion path in mind. Include clear calls to action in all of your content. This way users know what to do when they see your content in the top of their news feed.
Facebook’s algorithm is committed to pushing massive amounts of unpaid promotional content out of the feed. This means quality brand content no longer competes with noise and can stand out even more. For brands that are doing it right, ads and promoted content will perform even better.
Top image via shanghainese.