Facebook made news recently when their CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that there would be a fundamental change in how people get information on Facebook. While we could speculate and break down all the factors that led to this change, our concern as digital marketers has more to do with the question of: “what now?”
The messaging was clear: Facebook wants to make the experience of using its platform more meaningful. Zuckerberg indicated a shift for his product teams, “from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.” Fundamentally, Facebook is changing the weights and values of content so that their users will see more content from their friends and family, and less from other sources.
While this may sound like a new direction in Facebook’s development, understand that this isn’t exactly news. Based on how things have evolved (or devolved depending on where you stand), businesses and products (read: not your friends and family) that have relied on organic reach within Facebook’s ecosystem have watched their traffic decrease for some time now. In fact, the decline began in 2014 when it was confirmed that Facebook was actively adjusting their algorithms to cap organic page reach at 1 or 2 percent. Then Facebook modified their algorithm further last year to promote content that was generated by friends and family over all other content.
The suggested remedy for marketers was: produce content that users would want to share.
As Facebook has grown, the sheer volume of content that exists within its ecosystem has grown exponentially – far beyond videos of cats and photos of your niece – to include all manner of marketing efforts from consumer goods like Coca-Cola to content publishers like Buzzfeed. The feedback, according to Facebook, is that there is so much of this extraneous content that users fear they might be missing more relevant communications. It appears that Facebook, like everyone else, is pushing towards personalization and rewarding the most relevant and meaningful content with higher visibility.
What does this mean for digital marketers who rely on Facebook to promote their messaging? In Zuckerberg’s words:
“As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”
He further alludes to the need to throttle back on what he called “a passive experience.”
So… Now What?
We’ve known the solutions to this new dilemma before it became a disruption, and people who already know (and practice) these truths will see the least amount of damage:
- Watch where you put your eggs. The last thing you want to do is rely heavily on any single platform for your organic (or paid for that matter) reach. Placing your marketing eggs in several social baskets not only makes good business sense, but allows for more robust testing, exposes you to more diverse audiences, and yields greater insight into the pros and cons of various messaging formats.
- Check the quality of your content. Checking the quality of your content should go without saying. But in the context of this latest announcement – and the solutions offered from Facebook – the importance of focusing on the quality of your content is now more critical than ever. Your content will need to be more original, more attention-grabbing, and more shareable than ever before if you want to increase your reach.
- Know your audience. The best content in the world is ineffectual if it isn’t properly targeted. Knowing how, when, where and via what format your audience interacts with their content yields critical insights. Converting those findings into a data-driven content strategy that delivers personalized, user-relevant content in a meaningful, measurable, performance-driven way will ensure the best ROI on your content.
We think that despite the disruption, any move that favors original, creative, engaging, thought-provoking, shareable content is the right move. If you’d like to discuss how you can create content that fits the above, we’re all ears.