Facebook Marketing

Why You Need To Refresh Your Facebook Marketing Strategy

By Staff Writer
In December 17, 2013

If you’re marketing on Facebook, things are about to change whether you “like” it or not.

With over 1 billion active users of every interest and demographic and 67% of U.S. Internet users on Facebook, it is easy to see why Facebook has become a marketing destination for almost every brand category. But with such an influx of users and products, we’re being bombarded with content. As a personal user of Facebook who works in social media, I find looking at Facebook quite draining these days. My news feed is suddenly plastered with messages asking me to buy this product, Like this page, comment here if I’m an 80’s girl or enter this iPad giveaway. When did Facebook content become so irrelevant to the user? A recent article from Mashable hit the nail on the head, stating, “Among the mess of targeted ads, Instagram pictures and shared articles, there’s very little room for real socializing between friends on the Facebook Timeline.”

Believe it or not, I did not immediately jump on the Facebook bandwagon when it debuted in 2004. I remember laughing at the college girls in coffee shops addicted to this thing called “Facebook.” They loved sending friends bumper stickers (Remember those!), starting a food fight, looking up (stalking) their latest crushes or posting their spring break photos for friends to like and comment on. Facebook was originally all about the user’s personal experience, but over the years it has become much more marketer-driven and brand-centric. This shift has unfortunately displaced some customer-centric benefits that made it so popular in the first place. Since Facebook’s IPO on May 18, 2012, their key priorities have been very evident: making more money, ramping up their ad platform and building up their mobile capabilities.

Recently, Facebook has made some strategic moves that suggest they are trying to reinstate some of the benefits that have been lost, in order to get back to focusing on the customer. In an effort to streamline content and improve user experiences, Facebook has been rolling out several updates that will affect what the average Facebook user will see in their News Feed. This is good news for users, but is a paradigm shift for companies, organizations and advertisers (“Pages”) that have depended on their organic reach.

So what has Facebook changed and why should you care? Here is a rundown of some of the recent Facebook updates that will impact how you should approach your Facebook Marketing strategy in 2014 and beyond.

1. Consumers Now Control Their News Feeds

So how does Facebook decide what you see in your news feed? Every time someone visits their news feed in Facebook, there are on average about 1,500 stories from friends, people they follow and pages for them to see.

According to Facebook, the News Feed algorithm responds to signals from you, the user, such as:

• How often you interact with the friend, Page, or public figure (like an actor or journalist) who posted

• The number of likes, shares and comments a post receives from the world at large and from your friends in particular

• How much you have interacted with this type of post in the past

• Whether or not you and other people across Facebook are hiding or reporting a given post

“By letting people decide who and what to connect with, and by listening to feedback. When a user likes something, that tells News Feed that they want to see more of it; when they hide something, that tells News Feed to display less of that content in the future. This allows us  to prioritize an average of 300 stories out of these 1,500 stories to show each day.” – Facebook

Facebook has also added a “Last Actor” feature which looks at the last 50 people you interacted with on the platform, in order to show you more content from those people (or pages) in your news feed for the short-term. Facebook did not define what the “short-term” is just yet, but it means that you better have left a good first impression on users who “Like” your page as it could set the tone for how often they see your content in the future.

Implications: Your content really does matter. First, pages need to be creating content that spurs fans to take an action that sends signals to Facebook to push your content into their news feeds more often. Secondly, first impressions and consistency on Facebook really do count with the “Last Actor” feature. You need to create content that engages new users and builds up your reach from the beginning of the relationship, as well as consistently create quality content that creates interactions in order to stay relevant and present in your fans’ news feeds.

2. Real News Matters (More) in the News Feed

On December 2nd , Facebook updated its News Feed algorithm to give links to news articles more prominence, especially on mobile devices. Facebook’s goal is to serve high quality content to the right people at the right time. Facebook has stated that they are going to start paying closer attention to what makes for high quality content in order to distinguish between content that matters and a cat meme photo. (Sorry if you were one of those brands that depended on memes to boost your organic reach, maybe it is time to rethink whether that adds value to your readers’ news feeds or not.)

“Today’s update to News Feed ranking recognizes that people want to see more relevant news and what their friends have to say about it.” – Facebook Spokesperson

Facebook also updated the “Bumping” feature to resurface articles that you may have read earlier, but your friends have engaged with since then. This allows you to see any new comments and new statements your friends have made about a specific story since you first read it.

Implications: You need to create a solid content strategy that includes both syndication and distribution by key partners and publishers in order to ensure that your content ranks higher in users’ news feeds. The more people that share, comment and like your content, the better the chance your “article” will be bumped into related friends’ feeds and increase the subsequent sought-after organic reach.

3. Facebook has Taken Back Control of the News Feed

Facebook has admitted that organic reach will decline. Tech Crunch reported that in a recent sales deck, Facebook stated that we should expect to see “organic distribution of an individual Page’s posts to gradually decline over time.” They then suggested that “to maximize delivery of your messages in News Feed, your brand should consider using paid distribution.”

In layman’s terms, that means Pages have to pay. The reasoning behind this update is what I touched on earlier: Consumer competition and fatigue. There’s an intense battle going on between brands that are vying for one of those critically important 300 spots in your news feed. Users are being inundated with organic brand promotions, so Facebook has already implemented a change that limits Pages appearances in the News Feed, unless of course you pay to be there. In my opinion, this is a not a huge surprise for the social media giant who is clearly trying to generate more revenue now that they have shareholders to please.

“We’re getting to a place where because more people are sharing more things, the best way to get your stuff seen if you’re a business is to pay for it.” – Facebook Spokesperson

It is not Facebook’s intent to minimize the importance of growing your fan base. As stated in Advertising Age, “The main reason to acquire fans isn’t to build a free distribution channel for content; it’s to make future Facebook ads work better.” Basically, having a good organic fan base will “improve advertising effectiveness” since Facebook makes it cheaper to deliver ads with social context based on your fan base. The reality is, if Pages want to continue to have the reach they are used to, they are going to have to pay for it.

“If brands were to continue reaching the same amount of people as a percentage of their fan base, [Facebook would] be giving preferential treatment to them over a user” – Facebook Spokesperson

Implications: You would be well advised to start thinking about what content is most important to your brand and your fans and start investing in that content. It is not enough to simply be on Facebook anymore; you have to invest in the platform to reap the benefits it can hold for your brand.

Facebook is a powerful marketing tool that brands can either respect or abuse. These new changes mean brands need to stop contributing to the plethora of unrelated content that is bombarding consumers‘ news feeds and start taking a targeted, quality approach when creating their Facebook marketing strategies. We have already seen a raft of studies suggesting that Facebook use is declining, that it has a negative impact on happiness and that the platform’s popularity is taking a hit with teens. Users are going to continue to experience Facebook fatigue if content creators do not take responsibility for offering worthwhile, relevant content that adds value to people’s lives.

How have you altered your Facebook marketing strategy to adapt to Facebook’s latest algorithm updates? Are you planning to invest money in Facebook advertising, or are you going to stay organic? Let’s discuss.

Update: Facebook is reportedly slashing organic reach for pages down to 1-2%.

Staff Writer

So who is this mysterious staff writer? Could be anyone really, as long as they meet our very strict criteria. 1) Worked with us in one capacity or another. 2) Have something pretty interesting to say. 3) Want to use our blog to say it. See? Told ya they were strict!