Facebook is changing once again. In an update earlier this year, the head of the social network’s news feed team explained its new Facebook algorithm. Now, the network will “prioritize posts from friends and family over public content.”
That update alone was enough to send countless brands reeling. Businesses depend on organic Facebook reach to engage their audience and drive revenue. Prioritizing posts from individual people means de-prioritizing articles from brand pages and publishers. It’s the latest example of the world’s largest social media network choosing individual users over its brand.
From the network’s perspective, that change makes perfect sense. Brands, on the other hand, fear the new Facebook algorithm will decrease traffic to their pages. Fortunately, like so many other news feed algorithms before it, this change is not a death knell for your business. In fact, with the right strategic changes, you can successfully maintain and even enhance your brand presence in this new Facebook environment.
Step 1: Encourage Conversations and Interactions
As Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg explained, the first step should be simple:
Based on this, we’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.
The announcement blog post for the new Facebook algorithm drew the logical conclusion:
With this update, we will also prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people.
For brands, that simply means a change in priority. Now, it’s become even more important to build content that actually sparks conversations. Facebook defines these interactions as likes, comments, and shares. If your posts inspire enough of each, your brand presence will be successful.
Crucially, this does not mean falling for engagement bait. Facebook will continue to punish brands that expressly ask for comments, likes, and shares. Still, you can easily phrase your posts as questions, or focus on topics you know will spark conversations with your audience.
Step 2: Prioritize Influencer-Based Content
Another step you can take is a pivot away from one-way conversations. Facebook was originally built as the world’s first truly popular social network. That implies peer-to-peer rather than authoritative conversations. It’s time to get back to that basic format.
That’s the argument of Revfluence, which believes influencer marketing will be a true differentiator for brands after the update. As the blog explains,
Influencer content and engagement will continue to thrive on social media despite changes to the algorithm, because “influencers are, and have always been people first, and content marketers second,” says Keenan Beasley, co-founder of BLKBOX. Influencers know their audience—and they have a group of dedicated followers who constantly and organically like, comment, and share their posts.
The logic, again, is simple. Brand-based content will be visible to less people. Therefore, it makes sense to build a network of individuals on the platform who have credibility with your audience. This network can help to share your posts and develop their own brand-adjacent content.
Step 3: Build Your Visual Content Database
With Facebook’s new algorithm, two trends are converging. The reduction in organic reach may be the final straw that gets brands to fully embrace visual content. Especially live video should become a major part of your content strategy. As Zuckerberg explained in his announcement,
Live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos. Many creators who post videos on Facebook prompt discussion among their followers, as do posts from celebrities.
Of course, your entire strategy has to consist of more than just live videos. Still, building this content type while maximizing other visual opportunities helps to encourage engagement and maintain your brand presence.
Step 4: Promote Your Most Important Content
It might be unfortunate, and it’s an implicitly desired side effect of the new Facebook algorithm. Even if you haven’t done so previously, consider allocating some marketing budget to the network. To ensure continued success, it’s time to invest in Facebook ads.
More specifically, promote your most important posts to your existing followers. Less than 7 percent of Facebook users see your organic (unpaid) posts. Ads will cost you but can encourage engagement from audiences who would otherwise never come across it.
Facebook ads can also be an effective way to target your influencers. Share content that’s relevant to them, then promote to their demographic or custom audiences. The results may not be entirely organic, but can encourage further organic branding success down the road.
Step 5: Explore the Possibilities of Facebook Groups
Finally, HootSuite suggests taking a closer look at the way Facebook Groups work. In his announcement, Zuckerberg specifically mentions Groups. They continue to be an important way in which users engage and interact with various content types.
Hootsuite’s Shannon Tien argues that “because Facebook Groups already operate on the basis of audience engagement… This marketing tactic will likely serve you well under the new algorithm.”
Groups work very differently than pages. You will need to adjust your content strategy accordingly. That includes choosing whether to create your own group or join an existing one and how to engage your audience. Hootsuite’s extensive tutorial on the topic can be a valuable starting point.
Are You Ready For a Strategy Adjustment on Facebook?
Facebook regularly makes changes to its newsfeed algorithm, and these changes tend to be met with skepticism by most brands. But an effort to reduce organic reach does not mean you have to give up.
Quite the opposite, in fact. With a change in strategy, you can ensure a successful brand presence on Facebook. The new Facebook algorithm might actually prompt you to refresh your strategy and begin to build content for 2018 and beyond. Of course, you might also need help with that. Contact us to learn about our services, and how we can help you grow your Facebook presence and impact your business.