If you are not paying for Facebook then you are part of the product and as such you have no say – this is the harsh reality facing marketers who have become accustomed to using Facebook as a free marketing tool.
The free ride is over – now you pay.
So is the party over for Facebook marketers?
Not necessarily. The changes rolled out by Facebook over the past few weeks are certainly making it harder to get stories into main news feeds and people are reporting big falls in the number of page impressions they would normally expect to see.
Facebook quite simply want brands to pay for the exposure they currently enjoy and have made things signficantly harder to get something for nothing -which is bad news for small businesses on a shoe string budget. Facebook ad products – like sponsored stories – will help brands get back into the main story feed at a price, but do not despair just yet.
It is my view that we need to return to first principles of social media.
- Are you broadcasting or engaging?
- Is your content relevant?
- Do people welcome you/seek you out or tolerate you?
- Are people commenting on, engaging with and sharing your content?
What we need to do now is really no different to what we advised back in the day for using Twitter effectively. Think about your customers needs and interests, not about your latest promotion and come up with content which is genuinely interesting, sharable and if possible original.
With Facebook users in the driving seat they can choose whether they want to see your posts in their timeline and if you annoy them with the hard sell they will remove you. A fashion retailer needs more than ever to provide gorgeous content, advice and trends that the consumer really wants and looks forward to.
The user is like an editor curating stories, choosing which items they want to see and if your content is not good enough it will be spiked.
If however you win their attention – being mentioned in the news feed will significantly increase your social reach – so you really want to do everything you can to make that content unmissable.
A few more key points to remember.
- The number of Fans or Likes are now less important than fans’ engagement with your content. (I would say that has always been true but many are seduced by the numbers game.)
- But confusingly the bigger you are the more influence you wield in getting your posts into feeds via the algorithm (go figure as they say in the States but it is an argument for teaming up with like-minded partners to promote each others content or even to persuade the big hitters to pass on your stuff – again its Twitter 101)
- One highly relevant post a day is worth more than a stream of drivel. Recent stories don’t automatically take precedent in the news feed – top stories do.
- Posting your content is going to give you more power to stay in the news feed than sharing other people’s – so keep it original. Maybe sharing is going to have to become something we do as a prearranged reciprocal deal with a list of trusted social media partners? – see above.
- Businesses that actively encourage engagement are going to be the ones that stand out in the new Facebook world.
So those are my thoughts but the shake down hasn’t happened yet and we need to keep on our toes and adapt. What do you think?