The new Facebook News Feed algorithm has taken a sizable chunk of flesh from brands that had become highly reliant on their pages for driving consumer interest. We could even argue that the 50% drop since it’s inception seven months ago was more than a chunk of flesh. Possibly an arm, a leg, or two of each.
As we’ve stated before, marketing is always in flux, and this change was a game-changer that should compel marketers to reevaluate their landscape. But what of the immediate need to staunch the bleeding? Can the limbs be saved?
To answer that question, first, you’ll need to assess the damage and get your brand to Trauma Room #1.
DO NO HARM
If you’ve had a successful Facebook Page campaign in place in the past and have seen it suffer under the weight of the new algorithm, look to your history for a place to begin administering an antidote.
There’s no shame in going back to square one when your brand’s life hangs in the balance. In fact, the most basic steps and tools for rebuilding what was lost are still useful.
Marketers that scramble for a new experimental campaign tactic might find it blow back on them if they don’t return to the foundation that first served them well.
The Hippocratic Oath is cemented on the premise that medical professionals should only do what they believe will benefit the patient, hence the term DO NO HARM.
Approach your marketing tactics in the same manner. Nothing will tear away what’s left of your consumer base and engagement like something that doesn’t match your brand’s tone and message.
Facebook Page interaction is geared towards the marketing world’s bread and butter: creating organic reach that in turn can drive traffic to your real money maker (read: website, retail outlets, etc.) and boost profits. That hasn’t changed.
The effectiveness of what had become commonplace, if not easy, digital marketing…that’s what’s changed.
Tackling the cause before focusing on the effect will require more thought, timing, editing and creativity.
When the desire to push content overcomes you, before expelling any energy on it, decide if it actually has value to your target audience. Is it helpful? Can you deliver it? Will it solve an issue?
If it isn’t helpful. Drop it. If it isn’t something you can actually give the audience. Move on. If there is no issue, there is no need.
Bottom line is, as marketers, our initial reaction to any possible profit is to push for the dough. When your possible exposure is limited, best to save your words for when they’ll actually count. Consumers hate useless posts and product pushes – that’s what their friends and family are for.
Timing is everything. Might as well get it tattooed on your face if you’re a marketing professional. The rule is even more important now given that the algorithm holds no steadfast timing window that fits every company.
Sure, Facebook users frequent the platform constantly but the window for actually grabbing their attention and holding it is rather limited.
Hootsuite’s marketing team found the best times for them to share content on the site was limited but illuminating:
- 12-3 p.m.
- Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays
- 12-1 p.m.
Different brands won’t find those times to be necessarily as beneficial to them. Head back to the drawing board if they don’t. Your best friend now is the Facebook Page Insights. The data is worth more than gold.
We touched on this yesterday but it bears repeating: BE VISUAL. Human beings are drawn to what they see and no algorithm can combat that. Whatever you’re serving up, make it eye-catching but keep it on brand.
Page posts that contain images are more than twice as likely to be engaged with.
Video, while initially over-sold, still has it’s place as well. Images catch the eye, but video keeps attention spans longer – even if it is just a matter of seconds.
In order to keep your videos prevalent and highly interacted with, try changing up their formatting. Facebook’s Live feature has proven useful in some instances. Producing your own content in varied presentations can lead to better engagement. Consider educational videos. Go behind-the-scenes. For some brands, even posting quotes with compelling imagery works.
LINK IT UP
Brands that create their own self-sustaining image across platforms often excel. Your website, while the likely prime target, still needs to NOT be the only option.
Websites and social commerce stores need to also include links to your Facebook page. That includes Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. When customers are done viewing one outlet, give them the push to check out your Facebook Page with the promise of a different environment and content – deliver on that promise.
CONTENT IS KING
Timing, value, visuals and linking in will only get you so far if your content doesn’t fit the platform’s expectations.
Facebook users like to interact with posts that bring them into the conversation. The easiest way to do this is to keep it short, simple, sweet and ask questions.
As we can clearly see given the current political climate, people love to voice their opinions whether it’s about bipartisanship or their favorite pizza topping (just not pineapple). Brands can capitalize on this by understanding two things:
- Short – The average consumer’s attention span is drastically short. If your visuals manage to get them to read, you’ve done great but it’s only half of the battle. Think about tweets on Twitter. The shorter they are, the more likely users are to read it, retweet it, comment, like, etc. Facebook is no different. Keep your long posts to your website or blog. This isn’t the place for them.
- Questions – Take a look at your own personal news feed. Notice what draws you in. You like a picture here or there. Comment if it’s a friend or family member. What if it doesn’t meet those parameters? More often than not, Facebook users want to have a voice. So, ask a question relevant to what you’re marketing. Make it open, vague, friendly. Avoid controversy of any sort. No one wants to buy a product or service from a company that stirs the pot a little too aggressively.
These are just basic ways to help improve Page engagement in the short term. Marketing in the digital age requires that we constantly learn from our failures and adjust accordingly.
Given that engagement is only expected to drop further, make sure your strategy starts simple, gauge its impact using metrics, and build from there.
Just remember, your brand isn’t dying. It’s just going to have to learn to breathe while Facebook tries to keep its head above water.