Only a few weeks into 2018 and Facebook is already rocking the world of advertisers, publishers, and marketers everywhere with their latest algorithm update. Mark Zuckerberg announced that they’re shifting their publishing algorithm that controls what posts are shown in people’s news feeds to focus on showing more posts from friends and family and fewer posts from brands. What this boils down to is: if your brand is publishing content to Facebook, that content will have even less organic visibility than it does now.
The changes come after a study published in December found that people that used Facebook and didn’t interact with any posts during a session left the experience feeling “crummy.” Facebook hopes that by making this update and showing more personal posts in a user’s news feed, people will engage more with the content being shown to them, which will lead to a more positive platform experience for a user.
This change will also mean that people will potentially be spending LESS time on the social media behemoth.
“By making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down,” Zuckerberg wrote. “But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too.”
What Does This Algorithm Change Mean to Me?
This change, alongside ol’ Zuckyboy’s statement, makes one thing abundantly clear: posts from a user’s friends and family are going to be prioritized over posts from your brand. With organic reach dropping between 1 – 2 % it’s unclear how much lower organic reach will get, but buckle up, because we’re going to find out.
If your brand marketing or monetization strategy is based on getting customers or driving impressions through Facebook, you need to start taking steps now to implement a new plan that takes into account this latest algorithm change.
4 Ways To Beat Facebook’s New Algorithm Change
1) Only Publish Your Best Content
With less branded posts being published to the news feed, Facebook’s algorithm will make sure that only the best of the best brand posts are shown. In 2018, engagements are going to matter more on Facebook than ever before, because engagements are how Facebook chooses what content is considered bad, good, or great.
Likes, Loves, Comments, and Shares – the more interactions your post receives, the more likely it is to appear in your followers’ news feeds.
There is a catch though: you can’t ask for these engagements within your post. Last December, Facebook announced another algorithm shift that would actively search for and downrank posts that used “engagement bait” tactics, specifically, posts that:
- Ask for reactions as a method of voting
- Request followers to tag friends in post comments or pictures
- Vocally encourage people to share a post
- Any kind of reaction or comment baiting
Notice a theme? As a best practice, you can no longer ask your followers to take a specific action on a post without suffering the wrath of Facebook’s post visibility death. Instead, earn those engagements organically by posting content to Facebook that encourages your fans to choose to engage with it.
2) Build Your Own Platforms and Audiences
Facebook became popular with brands, publishers, and advertisers, because it provided a ready-made audience driven by two desires:
- To compare the best parts of their life to that of their frenemies
- To devour branded content
While it may seem like a daunting task, brands need to remove their reliance on Facebook to provide an audience by building their own audiences of engaged followers. If you have a list of thousands or even tens of thousands of active content engagers, Zuckerberg, can make as many changes as he wants to Facebook’s algorithm and it won’t impact your business.
What are some examples of brand-owned audiences? Glad you asked! Maybe you have:
- Owned email lists of eager (and regular) content consumers
- Microsites or topic-specific content hubs that receive regular content
- Mobile apps that act as content portals
- SEO-friendly and socially-shareable content
- A brand advocacy program (more on that below)
If you’re publishing great content to a platform or audience you own, you’ll never have to worry about Facebook throttling organic reach.
3) Foster an Advocacy Marketing Program
This latest algorithm update is all about increasing the visibility of personal Facebook posts. If you want your branded content to be seen, consider empowering individuals to share your content across their personal social channels.
This empowerment is the crux of a successful advocacy marketing program. Within an advocacy marketing campaign, your brand’s biggest fans join your advocacy program. Once they become a member they’ll be asked to share your branded content to their personal feeds. Your brand benefits from the added exposure. Your Superfans benefit from earning potential points, badges, and a reputation as being “in the know” among their friends and family.
Pro Tip: You can learn more about starting an advocacy marketing program here, but in general, as a best practice you want to ensure that the program is both easy to join and easy to participate in. Our proprietary “one-click” sharing method makes it easy for your advocates to share content right from their email. Your brand sets the content message and with a click of the button, your advocates publish your content to their feeds.
4) Pay to Promote Posts
For brands that don’t want to build their own audiences or advocate program, one option for increasing visibility remains on the table.
Pay for it.
In 2018, brands will continue to be able to boost and promote posts to ensure their followers can view their content. If this is your 2018 visibility strategy, be sure to have a hefty marketing budget set aside. Costs for Facebook advertising are on the rise (CPC is up 136% from January 2017), and as Facebook makes less news feed inventory available to brands you can expect that cost to only go up in 2018.
Advocacy Marketing Can Work For Your Brand Too
The only thing constant is change. If you want to succeed on Facebook (or any other social media network) your marketing plan needs to adapt to survive. By focusing on building your own audiences and advocates you can reduce your risk of exposure to this and future Facebook algorithm changes.