What to Do When Your Facebook Fears Come True
Written by Chad Zollinger
25 June 2018
What does Golf have to do with social media marketing?
If you’re anything like me, your golf swing needs work. Most of the time I end up aiming left and hitting right — that’s if I even hit the ball in the first place. I’ve actually just learned to expect a severe slice to the right.
I’ve adjusted my swing to fit my terrible slice.
Does this sound a bit more familiar? If you’re a social media marketer, you know the feeling of launching a social campaign with a certain audience in mind, only to end up behind a tree, in a bunker, or at the bottom of a pond.
Facebook has just changed how it ranks business posts on the user’s news feed, throwing a massive wrench in your social campaigns. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it seems that Facebook is adding another massive pond to the golf course.
If you’re a marketer, you need to know that your job is about to get harder. It’s time to kick your marketing skills into high gear!
The announcement came from Facebook’s Head of News Feed, Adam Mosseri:
“Over the next few months, we’ll be making updates to ranking so people have more opportunities to interact with the people they care about.”
“There will be less content directly from (professional) Pages.”
I do have some good news though: those who had poorly planned social media campaigns in the first place are going to be hit the hardest. Good ad content still wins customers. The news feed change targets annoying and disruptive ads.
Screenshot courtesy of Facebook
Some experts believe that the change will completely dissuade some brands from even giving an effort to attract non-paid ads on Facebook. Why try so hard to compete with Google’s difficult ranking changes if it’s only going to result in fewer customers?
According to Burton Hohman, Paid Search Manager at Best Company, the changes “will push brands even further away from Facebook if they weren’t already spending money on the platform.”
Since the ranking change doesn’t have anything to do with paid search, most companies using Facebook ads won't see much of a difference.
Hohman goes on to wonder whether Facebook will eventually "move into the ad territory to start making changes.” He continues, “But I don’t see that happening for a while because Facebook is still a business and the only thing they care about is making money.”
Nothing We Haven’t Seen Before
First of all, this update isn’t something we haven’t seen before.
People were noticing lower engagement trends back in 2017. Revealed in an article by Buzzsumo, Steve Rayson and his team looked at over 800 million company Facebook posts. They discovered that engagement rates had dropped 20 percent just in 2017 alone.
20% is a massive decrease!
It won't be long before brands begin looking for more brand-friendly social platforms like Instagram or LinkedIn. This would also be a good time for Twitter to step up its organic marketing services for brands, in effect capitalizing on the likely exodus from Facebook.
Even Instagram is losing users because of its focus on company ads.
Near the end of February, Instagram users suddenly began surging toward Vero, a social sharing app released in 2015 that is completely free from ads. Vero saw such a high influx of users that its servers quickly crashed. But that didn’t stop it from rising to the top of the free apps list on the App Store.
Screenshot courtesy of Vero
The point is that people are losing patience for traditional advertisements; they crave the social side, the peer opinion, and the referred product.
Marketers need to understand that friendship is quickly becoming a requisite quality of the best advertisers.
Vero’s explosive popularity was based in its focus on the users, rather than to selling to the user. Maybe there’s something that social media marketers can learn from Vero: focus on community.
What Do We Do Now?
What we need to understand is that Facebook isn’t the villain here. Facebook is leaning toward the consumer again; it’s returning to a focus on community. Priority and higher rankings will be given to public posts that see sincere engagement in the form of meaningful comments and shares.
Facebook has actually come out and acknowledged “that passively consuming articles or videos that don’t spark engagement or interaction is bad for a person’s mood.”
Robert Kraut, Professor at Carnegie Mellon University, describes the early years of the Internet when users were only interacting with strangers online. This lack of meaningful interaction led to loneliness.
Research today shows that when Internet users have meaningful conversations online with friends and family members, their well-being increases. So, marketers need to be asking themselves some tough questions right about now:
- Are we strangers to our audience?
- How do we tap into the circle of trust of our target audience?
- How can we ensure we don’t betray that trust?
These questions are really just different versions of the age-old question for marketers: How do we build true customer loyalty? The changes to Facebook’s feed are just the next manifestation of our need to be trustworthy and friendly marketers.
According to Social Media Examiner, the types of content that will now see more distribution on Facebook are general posts from friends and family, friend posts seeking recommendations or advice, and those rare news articles and videos that spark sincere conversation.
The algorithm change means you should focus on posting conversation starters:
- Live videos (six times as many interactions as regular videos)
- Celebrity posts (influencer marketing)
- Group posts
- Local events/business posts
- News/hot topics
In other words, most social media users who follow your business will likely come as a recommendation from a close friend or family member.
If you have not already been doing so, you should begin to consider Facebook a friend of the user. Its job, on the surface, is not to pander to your needs. Instead, the main goal is to find and nurture deep connections between users.
As a business owner or marketer, you already know that word-of-mouth referrals are a fantastic way to gain loyal customers; this is your in. Focus on creating content that caters 100 percent to the customer and avoids any hint of self-promotion.
Avoid “Baiting” Your Facebook Users
You should know that “engagement-baiting” is not a sly tactic and that Facebook will penalize and demote any content that contains it. Such posts focus on gaining comments, likes, and shares, not out of a need to connect people, but from a desire to “trick” users into liking a post.
Photo courtesy of Facebook
Marketers should know better and Facebook has become smart enough to catch these techniques. Engagement-baiting is manifested through the following hallow captions:
- LIKE this if you LOVE pizza!
- VOTE for your favorite food below!
- SHARE with 10 friends in order to qualify!
You don’t have to completely abandon your marketing efforts on Facebook. You only have to re-adjust your focus on creating community-focused content. In other words, seek real reactions by actually putting time and creativity into your content. Otherwise, you’ll find that Facebook itself will stand between you and your potential customers.