The proliferation of fake news, Russian election interference and the polarization of American political culture have all recently been blamed on a single source: Facebook. Despite being a revolutionary and ubiquitous means of human connection, the social media giant has been forced to respond to their part in this negative news cycle. With the echo-chamber effects of their algorithm and the potential for massive abuses of the system, some changes have been made for the better of humanity.
But what about for digital marketers?
In the aftermath these changes, we’ve seen an unprecedented loss of reach (both paid and organic), entire websites shut down and Facebook attempt to redirect the newsfeed back to real people, especially family and friends, even at the expense of their own shareholders and advertisers.
With the dust still settling on the Facebook upheaval, let’s take a look at a few tips to keep eyeballs on your branded content in the road ahead.
NOTE: It should go without saying that your brand needs to be creating quality content. The purpose of these changes is to weed out garbage, stifle the fake news cycle and provide meaningful connections. If you’re still out there peddling swill, these tips won’t do much to help you.
1. Engagement reigns supreme.
The end goal of these changes is to return Facebook to a place where people interact with one another in a positive manner. Zuckerberg himself said that pages producing posts where people generally don’t comment are going to be much harder hit than ones promoting “meaningful interaction.” This means your brand needs to start a conversation. Just “liking” a post will no longer count for much of anything in terms of driving reach.
Since your brand isn’t hopefully spreading fake news or trying to manipulate the next election cycle, stick to content that will create a positive dialogue, or even mild disagreement, amongst your followers. Ask questions that are likely to spark a debate, do a live Q&A (bonus points for live video plus lots of commenting) and continue to avoid clickbait links. Facebook knows where you are clickbait and they’re coming for you! Likewise, avoid “Engagement bait” where you ask followers things such as “Comment if you like pizza!” They’re coming for you too.
2. Facebook still loves video.
We can’t say it enough so here it is again: Facebook is going to continue to prioritize video (especially live) over other types of content. The most important part is to make sure your video adheres to rule #1: Engagement. Create a narrative, utilize brand storytelling, release content that stokes an emotional reaction and your content will continue to get seen by your fans.
The key here is to test, test, test. Test square video and vertical video; test live vs. episodic. One of the keys to navigating any big Facebook update is understanding how it’s affecting your brand in particular, not just blindly following the big guys.
3. Make sure your fans are following.
A little-known functionality for pages in Facebook is the ability for users to prioritize your content over other pages’. If every morning you want to see the latest stories from UNION.co in your feed, there’s a button for that!
To bolster the right type of following, encourage your followers to head to your page, make sure they are “Following” you (not just “Liking” you) and look at the drop-down menu. The default setting reverts to letting the algorithm decide when they see your content, but let them know they can also pick “See First” to make sure they never miss a post.
4. Utilize groups to bypass the brand barrier.
There is one type of brand-adjacent content that Facebook isn’t penalizing: groups. Since the very concept behind Facebook groups is engagement, groups will continue to be featured prominently in users’ news feeds. If you don’t already have a Facebook group linked to your brand, try to think about what type of content your users most like to discuss. Chances are there’s a niche you could be catering to. Beyond simply creating and growing your own group, don’t overlook the power of posting and sharing in existing groups to drive brand awareness.
While there are a ton of great tips out there to optimize your content and brand for the Facebook algorithm, don’t forget about the rest of the world. One of the first rules of business is that revenue diversification is key to a healthy company. If all of your traffic (and income) was coming from Facebook, then in lieu of this new shift, maybe it’s time to reorganize your social media strategy from the ground up and explore other tactics that may include:
- Revisit building a healthy email list
- Start optimizing for Pinterest.
- Record a podcast
- Share Instagram stories
- Jump into Twitter conversations
Remember that Facebook isn’t the only channel with sponsored post options to help boost your engagement and drive more traffic to your site.
Yes, Facebook is the behemoth in the space, but social media requires constant adaptation. And maybe stepping away from Facebook for a minute isn’t such a bad thing after all. As digital marketers, just be sure that you are optimizing your content to stay ahead of the curve and not falling victim to changes and repercussions brought on by foreign bots, current events and picky algorithms.
You may also be interested in: