As outlined in our recent article ‘The Facebook Algorithm Change’, marketers wanting to use Facebook to raise brand visibility and awareness are having to adapt their approach in light of the algorithm changes announced by Mark Zuckerberg at the beginning of 2018.
This article is aimed at our clients and followers who use Facebook for marketing purposes, and who want to understand and embrace these changes in order to achieve their goals.
The future is still Facebook
Firstly, it’s important to remember that Facebook is still the top social media platform choice for most companies.
Millions of Facebook users still log in an average of 15 times each day. So the consumers are still out there; it’s just a matter of reaching out to them in a different way under the new guidelines.
These changes have not been made just to make our lives harder or to arrest declining user numbers. They are intended to improve the customer experience, based on user feedback.
The new shape of the newsfeed is clearly of one of the most substantial changes to Facebook in recent years, and in fact will result in users having access to two newsfeeds rather than one.
Is two better than one?
The first newsfeed, which will appear to users as default, will be very similar to the one we are all familiar with. It will be compiled of information coming from friends, family and paid-for ads.
The second newsfeed will be called an “Explore” tab, which users will need to actively select in order to see any information from brands and groups that they “like”, “follow” or are a part of.
Due to these changes, Facebook expects to see organic reach drop by two thirds over the coming months. To begin with this may be rather frustrating, especially for small businesses that have a loyal following who may no longer see their posts unless they actively seek them out.
This gives rise to a couple of questions:
- If even our existing followers can’t find us, how will new customers see us on Facebook?
- How can we make sure we stand out against all the competition?
Read on for our five tips on how to make your business stand out on the “new” Facebook.
Staying at the top of the social food chain
There are five ways to achieve marketing success on the ‘new’ Facebook.
Engagement is now more important than ever before. Facebook has announced that engagement rates will be “proportional to organic reach”. That means that the higher the level of engagement you generate on a single post, the more other users will see this same post.
To generate engagement you need to create engaging content. But how do you create engaging content?
As well as being useful, informative, educational, amusing, relevant – all the characteristics your content has always needed – your content should be striking and colourful to appeal to users. Recent research suggests that content using orange, green and red receive the highest click through rates.
If you haven’t got one, we recommend you develop a content strategy and plan. Once you’ve created your engaging content, you need it to snowball – it’s the Facebook equivalent of a viral video on YouTube.
By posting content and campaigns that are likely to encourage users to “like, comment and share” posts, you’ll be helping your page grow on Facebook.
If you haven’t noticed, videos have rapidly become Facebook’s most popular content format. In a bid to rival competitors like Snapchat, Periscope and YouTube, in 2016-2017 Facebook launched “live” videos, a “Watch” tab and also began video advertising.
All of these features have together led to a huge increase in the popularity of video as a creating and sharing medium – and a consequent increase in the number of videos we see online. Indeed some users use Facebook only to share video content. So embracing video is now vital.
Have you given it a go? You’ll be shocked by the improvement in your organic reach if you do.
Our top tip for video production is to keep it no longer than 45-60 seconds for the best reach. Videos with a higher “completion rate” (i.e. where at least half the video has been viewed by users) have higher reach. Shorter videos also mean users are likely to watch at least half of the video before moving on, leaving you with well-performing content!
3. Outbound links
Another reason why Facebook made its algorithm changes is that it wants to retain more users on the platform. Rather than posting videos on YouTube and linking to them from Facebook, Facebook wants you to upload your videos directly to your feed.
So when your followers view your video content, they’ll be doing so directly on Facebook instead of leaving to watch it on YouTube, thereby keeping them on the platform for longer. The new algorithms thus channel users into avoiding using outbound links.
“But what if I want to send people to my own website?” we hear you ask. If that’s the case you’re going to need to get creative.
One of Facebook’s less-used ad features allows the call to action button to be a direct message. Try using this rather than a button to create your outbound link. Even if you just spark up a conversation and direct them to the part of your website they’ll be interested in, it may improve your reach.
If you’re not going to be around when users tap your call to action button, just set up an automated reply and set expectations. If you use these automated replies intelligently, you can collect names and email addresses to help build a high quality, targeted opt-in mailing list.
4. Third party scheduling
Running your business or marketing operation takes up time – and managing your social media marketing will easily eat up what’s left! If you’re like millions of other professionals who use social media as part of the marketing mix, you’ll probably have been using scheduling software.
Third party applications like Hootsuite and Buffer offer a user-friendly and time-saving solution to plan and post content in advance on multiple social media channels.
However Facebook’s aim is to keep users on Facebook, as well as to remove undesirable or untargeted spammy content posted by unfavourable sites. As a result, the scheduling of posts through third- party platforms such as those named above will now result in a reduced reach.
Facebook’s own scheduling system is not, at first glance, the most technically advanced, and it certainly doesn’t allow you to manage multiple platforms all at once. However, if you do want to schedule your posts, it’s now better to do that using the Facebook scheduling system to generate a more healthy reach.
5. Laser targeting
Because they are ‘time poor’ many Facebook marketers tend to rush through the ‘targeting’ part of advertising in order to get their ads up and running quickly.
Yet Facebook is the only social media platform that allows advertisers to seek out such specific profile groups based on interests, behaviours, demographics, connections, lookalikes or other custom criteria.
For example, you can target mothers aged 45+ with teenage children, or 18 year old males who like NFL, Rugby League and Joe Wicks and who also buy products online.
This widely underused laser targeting system is there to help advertisers.
From here on in, to make the most of Facebook as part of your marketing activities, you’ll need to work all five of these points into one smooth process.
It can be daunting, and will certainly require serious thought and hard work, particularly when it comes to content creation and curation. But with 80% of potential buyers admitting that they want to see a credible company Facebook page before committing to a purchase, it is clear that a well planned and executed Facebook presence could mean the difference between a sale and a fail on your site.
In conclusion, the customers are out there. You just need to embrace the changes with creativity and positivity whilst keeping yourself up to speed with developments as they happen.
If you think you need extra support with your Facebook (or other marketing), contact C4B Media to find out how we can help! We can create a customised programme of content creation and social media marketing to build brand awareness and create engagement to help you grow your business.