The news that Facebook is changing its news feed algorithm to deliver more "news" has marketers worried about maintaining reach and frequency on the platform. The changes -- especially noticeable on mobile -- make Facebook more Twitter-like, giving much more weight to links from outside the site, rather than the personal updates that many have associated with Facebook. While this shift is designed to give a major boost to popular pieces of content, it will also have a big impact on marketers' ability to reach consumers on the platform through organic posts.
Branded pages will likely see a gradual decline in organic reach, and marketers have to counter the change by spending money. Cynics can look at this as a cash grab from Facebook, but it represents a change in the way brands think about social media. For years, the main strategy has been to grow an audience through various social platforms and then message that audience consistently -- essentially, getting free media exposure by using the platforms the same way consumers do.
But as social adoption has grown, having a large audience is no longer enough. Marketers now need to use Facebook and other platforms to gain a deeper understanding of their audience. Consumers are hyper aware of the advertising that creeps into their social streams, so the brand has a responsibility to connect in a meaningful way that resonates. Facebook is perfectly situated to capitalize on this need. It offers the ability to target a specific audience group, without the necessary tests that come with standard display.
The onus is now on marketers to monitor how their audience reacts to their ads and their content. After all, ad posts can still achieve scale by accruing comments, shares and likes. Publishers are already creating content strategies based on their referral traffic; they are monitoring what kind of content gets a good social pop and understanding the best time to post this content. Marketers need to follow their lead. Using relevant stories along with content that is trending in real-time can help grow awareness across the social platforms.
Successful Facebook marketing is no longer about finding and capturing customers as fans, but about reaching consumers with relevant messaging. While the new algorithmic changes will take some getting used to, they will ultimately help marketers adapt to new ad strategies.
Marketers ought to ensure that the content they are creating is native to the platform. That is, if you are a retailer, your content should have a timely, specific, meaningful message that is location-appropriate. Most importantly, you should use an image that is not only inviting but also particularly relevant. If you are going to inject yourself into a conversation, make your interruption worthwhile. Keep it simple.
Marketers need to understand which audiences are the best ones to engage, which ones they ought to exclude, and which other audiences might have a high likelihood to respond to the marketers' content. A great way to do this is by measuring the multiple facets likely audiences might have. Find as many opportunities as you can to create moments that lead to relevant interactions. Then put a concentrated paid effort against those opportunities, and measure the results.