It’s no secret that digital marketers listen intently for sounds of moves from either Facebook or Google in their delivery of content. There are countless blogs and websites devoted to picking up these sounds from behemoths such as Google. These look for any indication of a change to Google’s algorithm. All this is in the name of Search Engine Optimisation, we even recently covered it here.With Facebook and Google between them accounting for roughly half of the total digital ad spend and 60% of US ad spend. The ground beneath digital marketers can shift when changes occur on these platforms and how they approach content distribution.This latest change has the potential for a tremendous impact on how brands perform on Facebook’s platform. Facebook is seeking to make the newsfeed more ‘meaningful’, and to ensure that time spent on the site is time well spent. This is indeed a welcome change as we have continued to see the proliferation of cluttered timelines which in the long-term would have led to users leaving the site for other sources. An exodus of users who want to reach out in a more personal way with their social networks would have been damaging to Facebook’s long-term prospects. This is perhaps the primary motivation behind this move and echoes similar moves made by Facebook to adapt the platform in favour of longer-term sustainability.
While this change is welcome for the long-term, it’s effects in the short and medium term need to be monitored. This change will move away from virality as the measure of a content receiving further reach but instead will focus more on relationships as a gauge of what a user will see. Facebook will be seeking to use content that sparks conversations amongst your friends and family as the primary source of what a user sees. Think of pictures of your friend’s new puppy over the latest posts from brands. This is not revolutionary, it’s a broader rebalance into the way Facebook was structured in the beginning. Any social media marketer will attest, this is something which can be seen in recent times with significant declines in organic reach for brand pages. It’s a move towards a more engaging experience for users and away from the passive scroll we’ve all got to used too in recent times.
How this will play out for brands and publishers, will indeed be negative, that is if they continue using old methods for a changed and consistently changing audience. We are going to see what has long been seen as the holy grail of digital marketing ‘User-generated content’. This is where we can no longer speak about ourselves, but instead, bring our users into the discussions about our brands. But how would this look on Facebook and is there a way to work your marketing strategy around Mr Zuckerberg’s latest move?
Well, yes! A well targeted and relevant paid campaign will still drive the results you are looking for. Facebook has not suddenly become a non-profit organisation. In fact, paid campaigns seem to be a primary driver behind recent changes on the Facebook platform. But we’re going to assume you’re running paid campaigns already and ask the question, how can you take better advantage of the changes to Facebook’s algorithm change. More broadly how can you prepare for this broader change taking place across social media sites to push the community at the behest of the brand?
The first step is one of the longest held tropes in marketing but is as true now with these recent changes as it was 50 years ago. You must know your customer and know what value you add to your customers. There is a lot to be said for small & medium sized business to build a community around their brand, to have users generate the content that is used to reach out further through channels such as Facebook. While this sounds like an idea that is only possible for massive global brands, it doesn’t have to be so, and you can build a community of users who know, who trust and who value your brand and the value they add.
Think of for example if you’re a cafe, don’t tell customers your coffee is the best in town, but encourage your customers to share this story, and use your social channels to amplify and engage with users. You can build an authentic and engaging brand by being real with your customers and adding real value to their engagements with you. It’s time to throw out the digital marketing phrasebook and be genuine in your interactions and not to phone in how you communicate with your customers.
The ways you can do this is by putting down the veneer and getting authentic, show us behind the scenes, be real to your user base and they’ll respond by engaging with content that speaks to them. This means no more phoned in posts, but instead to let your social marketing loose and have the ability to engage with their audience authentically.
Be sure to let us know how you got on with adapting to these changes, let us know on Twitter or Facebook of engaging posts that you shared, or that you have seen that you really liked.