In the blink of an algorithm update, Facebook has fundamentally changed the way brands and agencies organize and plan for social media. The new Facebook reality requires more radical change, including budgets for paid media and marketers switching from a real-time mindset to a right-time mindset. If nothing else, Facebook has demonstrated that agility and flexibility are essential to the future of our industry, and brands need to be prepared to move quicker, organize smarter and be receptive to rapid change and evolution.
The reality is, we can't afford to abandon Facebook now. Social media is finally reaching critical mass, and Facebook has positioned itself as one of the most effective and efficient channels for reaching consumers with social and mobile marketing -- especially now that the platform has more robust capabilities for targeting content by demographics, geography and interest groups.
Marketers, we're not at war with Facebook. We're in an ongoing battle for consumer attention. Get back in the fight by learning these new rules of Facebook engagement:
1. Know Your Target: People Still Matter, Not Fans
At one point, getting to 1 million Facebook fans was the goal that every brand wanted to achieve. That quickly changed when marketers first had to understand that quality of people reached matters much more than quantity of "fans."
In the new Facebook environment, the first rule of engagement hasn't changed: Make authentic, relevant brand experiences by understanding what makes people care and what inspires them to share. Knowing what motivates people will result in better content experiences and smarter investments in paid social media amplification, which will ultimately drive more success in the new social media landscape.
2. Plan Together: One Brief for Paid Media and Creative
Paid and earned media have worked hand-in-hand for some time, but with the vast decline in organic reach, brands can no longer succeed on Facebook without one integrated paid social media and content strategy. This second rule of engagement will not only guide marketers to the best content, but it will also maximize their use of the advanced targeting capabilities that Facebook has built in recent years, like conversion tracking and the new audience insights tool.
There's no need to undervalue organic and unpaid posts altogether, especially when used across channels outside of Facebook. Rather, use them to your advantage. Use un-promoted posts to test creative, and then amplify what works to a larger, strategically targeted audience.
3. Adapt: Upgrade Your Social Content
The third rule of engagement is that quality content is still the best way to drive views, clicks and shares in social media. It's becoming more important for brands to use the data and intelligence at their disposal to invest in creating higher-quality content experiences that align with the brand's voice and identity. Brands can't afford to all share the same "Happy Mother's Day" post with a stock photo of flowers.
Driving better content will require the integration of skilled creatives and paid media talent within the practice of community management, as well as the development of buzzworthy social concepts through fewer, higher-quality posts.
4. Build an Alliance: Leverage Your Influencers
The fourth rule of engagement is that there is still power in earned media that can be channeled by strategically engaging influencers. As YouTube has demonstrated through its NewFronts campaign and the growing celebrity of Bethany Mota, influencers are more vital than ever when it comes to earning attention and building brand audiences. Influencers can come in many forms, from journalists to bloggers to pinfluencers and content creators. Enlisting official and unofficial brand advocates can not only authentically and meaningfully endorse your brand, but they can also assist with the co-creation, distribution and deployment of content.
5. How to Advance: Update the Media Mix Model
Brands can no longer afford to invest in a social marketing strategy without considering a media strategy that mirrors it. Understanding the value of a share, endorsement or comment, and not just clicks, will create more meaningful ROI. And that brings us to our final rule of engagement: The right media mix will vary based on many key factors. Considering the role and value of earned media in the marketing mix will be critical to advancing the industry and moving the needle for marketers.
Facebook has changed, and we can't go back to where we were before. But this is an opportunity and a chance to innovate our approaches to social marketing. This new social media landscape is full of strategic and creative opportunities for marketers. With these new rules of engagement, any brand can get back in the fight for consumer attention.