The power of Facebook® is undeniable—and while its data privacy issues dominate the news at the moment, the algorithm update that launched earlier this year is still a hot topic for social media marketers and page administrators across the globe. How might this update affect our marketing strategies? How much time should we devote to our Facebook strategy? Does it even make sense to have a Facebook page anymore? Does this also change our paid advertisement strategy for Facebook?
Before we get to the burning questions, let’s walk through what exactly this algorithm update changed on the social channel.
What is changing?
In a nutshell, Facebook wants to ensure that every user has an individualized message on content that is meaningful to them. The focus is shifting to be all about those connections we have with the people and businesses we follow.
Facebook wants to help users have conversations that build relationships, versus mindlessly scrolling through feeds. It really is about having a social life in a digital space. Plus, it has been shown that when we interact on social media with people we know, it makes us feel connected and less lonely. But, when we scroll without commenting or liking, it can make us feel worse.
The challenge, then, is to create a meaningful environment for your product offerings or services. Creating an individualized message for each of your customers is the exact approach to produce meaningful interactions on social media.
The new Facebook algorithm will bring more meaningful posts to every feed. Facebook has said this update will give more weight to the number and length of comments, adjusting what followers see accordingly. So, long comments with followers talking to each other are good, while short one-word or GIF (moving images) comments will not hold as much weight.
How will this affect your social strategy?
The truth is, these Facebook changes will affect every brand page differently, based on varying strategies. If your brand has been engaging with followers and building a community-like feel on your page, chances are this update will not negatively impact your numbers.
However, brands that have yielded large numbers with certain types of content, such as posts with “like/comment/share to win our product,” or “leave your comment in a GIF below,” will not keep seeing as high of a reach. This type of content, often called engagement bait, simply does not drive back-and-forth conversations. Instead, it requires a simple passive comment or action, and people move on.
For example, a business may have had success increasing engagement in the past from a post asking people to share their favorite product in a comment. Today, those types of questions will have greater success when they ask for an open-ended answer that sparks back and forth conversation, such as, “Share the best ideas you’ve seen for cleaning awnings.” Think of it as a cocktail party conversation. You want everyone talking, and the talking to continue. When socializing at a party, questions with one-word answers don’t keep the discussions going.
What can you do right now to prepare?
Don’t start changing everything right away. Watch your numbers to help determine the types of content that are seeing better numbers. Let your analytics tell you where the changes need to happen. In the meantime, brainstorm how you can better “share the love” and connect with your audience. How can your brand page be your brand’s mascot or cheerleader? How can your followers start talking to each other more? The goal with social media is to create a place for social interactions that build trust. The nature of Facebook marketing is no different. Pretend you are having that cocktail party discussion with your followers, versus an act with your brand on center stage.
Also, if you’re not taking advantage of it already, now’s the time to begin using Facebook LIVE videos. These live videos are a great way to begin a conversation with followers and encourage them to talk to one another.
Now, let’s revisit some of the common questions on the Facebook changes.
Should we still post organic content?
You may notice fewer organic (unpaid) posts from certain profiles, pages and groups in your feed, but that doesn’t mean those posts will be gone forever. They are still important for both search engine optimization and to build presence as a brand. Encourage your followers to use the “See First” option, so they still see your content in their feeds. Facebook has actually recommended this.
Remember: Content that does not inspire back and forth conversations among followers will start to appear less in news feeds.
Should we move our content to groups?
Groups can be very engaging, especially when we consider the back and forth conversations that Facebook is hoping to increase. For some brands, groups can be a great way to give your audience a community to share their stories.
Think of a business that makes baby clothing. It may have an entire community of parents out there that are connected because the brand shared the love by building a community around its followers’ commonalities. So, groups may work for some brands, but there will still be a need for a brand page for the business.
Businesses can establish similar communities with groups. If you specialize in shade solutions, you can create a group for suppliers to cross promote products. The idea behind a branded group is about giving your audience more of an experience that makes them feel like they are a part of something bigger than just your product or service.
Shelby Milock is an associate marketing consultant at Blue Door Consulting.