Facebook changes will require ‘more’ from marketers
Monday, January 15, 2018
In the spirit of New Year's resolutions so pervasive in January, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced his big goal for 2018: Putting the "social" back into social media. The goal is to return Facebook to its original mission of creating personal connections and bringing people together.
"We've gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other," Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post on Jan. 11.
To combat this, Facebook will be overhauling its News Feed over the next few months. The new algorithm will emphasize posts from friends and family over viral videos and clickbait headlines from Pages.
This is obviously bad news for any business that relies on social media to get its message out to followers. So what can marketers do in the face of this challenge?
The answer is more, more, more.
1. More engagement
Since the aim is to create more interaction among people, you will have to get people talking. You'll need to focus on comments over likes.
"The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it," wrote Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed for Facebook. "Pages making posts that people generally don't react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect."
But it has to be genuine conversation. No more begging for likes or creating controversy through "fake news."
Facebook already announced in December that it would begin penalizing Pages that use what it calls "engagement bait" through spammy posts: "We will begin implementing stricter demotions for Pages that systematically and repeatedly use engagement bait to artificially gain reach in News Feed."
That means you'll need …
2. More creativity
No more taking shortcuts. You're going to have to work hard to engage your followers. You'll need to plan out a content calendar and use your creativity and smarts to understand what people want to see and what types of posts they want to comment on and share.
For starters, Facebook has already given one big hint: live video.
"Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed," Mosseri wrote. "For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook — in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos."
It's no secret Facebook has been pushing everyone into the live video realm over the last few years. From 2016 to 2017, the daily watch times for Facebook Live broadcasts grew more than four times.
If you've never done a Facebook Live video, now is the time to start.
And, of course, you'll also need …
3. More spending
You knew this was coming. If you want to connect with your followers, it's now going to cost you.
After giving everything away for free for so long, Facebook has been creeping little by little toward becoming a pay-to-play service. Facebook saw $17 billion in advertising revenue in 2015, and it reported the same $17 billion in revenue for the first half of 2017 alone.
If you've been monitoring the organic reach of your Page's posts over the last year or two, you've seen just how much the numbers have dropped. But pump in a little ad spending to "boost" that post, and the numbers suddenly soar.
Now, we will clearly see an even bigger drop in organic reach — with DigiDay going so far as to declare it "dead." You have no alternative but to calculate an increase in Facebook ad spending into your 2018 budget.
And since we all know the rules of supply and demand, expect those advertising rates to keep increasing. Just do the math: fewer posts from Pages in the News Feed means this prime real estate will quickly get a lot more expensive.
Just read between the lines of Zuckerberg's post.
"By making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down," he wrote. "But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable."
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