Last week, Facebook announced that it is making some big changes to the way content is shown to users in the Facebook News Feed in 2018. Since the announcement, there has been a lot of discussion both on social media and global news outlets around how this will impact businesses using Facebook as a marketing tool.
In his announcement, Mark Zuckerberg says that their focus for 2018 is “on making time spent on Facebook time well spent”.
Essentially, Facebook is going to show more posts shared by friends and family and fewer posts from businesses and brands (Business Pages). It’s important to note here that they are referring to content from Business Pages that has not been promoted or boosted. There has been no claim made that they will reduce the number of ads that they show to users.
It’s no surprise that this is the direction that Facebook is taking. Organic reach on Facebook has been declining gradually over the past few years. But it’s now official: Facebook is pay-for-play for businesses and public figures.
Who will be most impacted?
Any business, brand or public figure relying on free reach on Facebook will be impacted.
In particular, I believe news organisations, fake news and spammy “entertainment” type Facebook Pages will be most highly impacted by the changes. These publishers have been capitalising on free reach through viral videos and memes of sensationalised topics, and as Facebook’s goal is to develop meaningful interactions rather than passive interaction, this type of content will be most likely to decrease. So, hopefully, we can say goodbye to cats with cucumbers, the secret life of Keenu Reeves, Matt Groening’s time travelling and that story about how the second child is the smartest.
What should businesses do?
1. Don’t rely on free reach on Facebook
Our clients all have a paid social media strategy and budget as we believe this is imperative for results. In the past year, Business Page content on Facebook has received, on average, 3 per cent to 5 per cent organic reach. So, if you post something on your business page and you have 500 followers, only 15 to 25 people will see that post if you aren’t putting budget behind it. With the recent changes, this small percentage will dwindle to zero.
2. Embrace the way the platform is supposed to be used
Facebook for Business is designed to be used as a promotional avenue but not in the same way as traditional advertising — it’s supposed to be social after all. So, ensure that your content is not too promotional, focus on educating and entertaining your audience. And if you are thinking the answer is to switch to a personal profile, the reality is you will be missing out of the immense targeting and reach capabilities that Facebook has to offer as well as any ability to measure your results.
3. Have a paid strategy in place
If you are going to use Facebook as a marketing platform for your business, it is essential that you have a budget allocated for Facebook media spend for every post. You may choose to allocate more budget to some posts over others, but you must pay to promote your posts if you want them seen by your audience. If you don’t have the budget to dedicate to promoting your posts on Facebook, perhaps consider another marketing avenue.
4. Create high-value content
Simply putting budget behind your posts won’t be enough to get into the news feed and in front of the right people. The more you spend, the more you reach — that is a myth. The content needs to be valuable and relevant to the audience you are trying to reach. Even promoted or boosted posts are subject to the Facebook algorithm factors to protect the user experience.
5. Be prepared for the cost of advertising on Facebook to increase
With these recent changes, I anticipate that more and more businesses will increase their Facebook media spend and people who haven’t used Facebook Advertising in the past will now jump on the bandwagon. With more advertisers, ad competition will increase, and as ads are charged on an auction system, you can expect the cost per result to increase.
6. Get an expert involved or become an expert
If you are serious about using social media to build your brand, then you need to get an expert involved or commit to learning how these platforms work and staying up to date with the latest changes and trends yourself. Facebook is now a powerful and complex tool; gone are the days when the receptionist or intern had the expertise or capability to create content for your social channels. It takes a social media expert to cut through these competitive platforms these days. Hire someone who can help you with content, frequency, budget allocation, promoted content, scheduling and results tracking.