Facebook’s recent announcement that it will show fewer posts from media publishers and brands caused dread among marketers. Some described their reaction as alarm. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the news feed will prioritize posts from personal contacts over those from businesses, brands and publishers. Although some commentators called the change earth shattering, marketers had already noticed that their organic reach had declined in recent years. The trend was clear. As organic reach fell, some predicted “Facebook zero.”
Despite the sense of alarm, marketers have alternative strategies and ways to boost organic reach.
Facebook advertising. Facebook’s advanced advertising capabilities enable brands to reach targeted audiences. Instead of promoting a product or piece of content, ask viewers to join your email list, download your app, or find your content on another channel, experts advise, in order to establish a continuing relationship. BuzzFeed’s paid ad on Facebook invited users to download its own app. The headline stated: “Facebook is breaking up with news.” The text read: “Facebook is taking the news out of your News Feed, but we’ve got you covered. Download our award-winning app.”
Create engaging content. Organic reach is not dead. Facebook says it will still show non-paid posts from businesses if the content solicits interactions. Some experts predict that brands that produce content that encourages community engagement will continue to thrive.
“Some brands will find this easier to do than others – but the rewards for those that do will likely be worth the effort,” writes social media consultant Andrew Macarthy in Social Media Today. Consider switching your metrics to focus on relevance – content that drives genuine interactions, community engagement, and improves the bond between you and your customers.
Messenger apps. Messaging apps may emerge as a potent marketing tool. The apps are rapidly becoming more popular, and many users expect to use the apps to communicate with businesses. Organizations can use messaging apps for customer service, customer communication, and content promotion. Besides Facebook Messenger, other popular apps include WhatsApp, WeChat and Viber.
“Like email marketing, you can get people to opt-in to receiving updates from your company Page via Facebook Messenger. From there, you can use an automated system to send updates to subscribers and respond to inquiries,” says Larry Kim, founder and CTO of WordStream Inc., in Social Media Today.
Influencer marketing. Brands may be able to circumvent the news feed change by partnering with influencers. Since Facebook’s algorithm treats influencers’ content favorably, their posts perform better than business content. Instagram and YouTube reign as leading influencer marketing channels, but some predict that Facebook will emphasize influencer marketing more. “By prioritizing [user-generated content], Facebook is giving brands an opportunity to double down on influencers that maintain authentic relationships with their audiences,” Corey Martin, head of influencer marketing at 360i, told Digiday.
Video – especially live video. Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes video and live video in particular. In his announcement, Zuckerberg essentially recommended video, especially live video, if they can prompt reactions from viewers. Follow best practices for live video: Tell people ahead of time when you’re going to broadcast, write a compelling description before going live, and go live when you have a strong connection.
“Whether it’s pre-recorded or – even better – live, Pages should consider making video content a feature in their Facebook marketing strategy,” Macarthy says. “In addition, if this video content is posted regularly, and drives community engagement, you’ll be doing just what the algorithm wants.”
Facebook Groups. Facebook Groups for Pages, introduced last summer, offers another venue for reaching customers. Consider different groups for different audience segments. It’s critical to develop a community strategy and not treat the pages as just another place to broadcast your content, warns Simon Galperin, engagement advocate at GroundSource. The Coral Project’s Community Guides for Journalism can walk you through the process for developing a community strategy.
“Lively Facebook group discussions can end up getting featured in the user notification tab, which, in turn, can drive an enormous amount of “free” post visibility,” Kim says.
Bottom Line: Facebook’s recent announcement that it will show fewer posts from businesses disheartened many marketers. However, some experts say it’s possible for brands to thrive on Facebook without advertising. Others encourage marketers to reach audiences through other venues.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.