Facebook marketing is becoming more complex thanks to actions taken by the company itself. Changes have been made to the algorithm that selects what appears in users' news feeds, making it harder for news and marketing organizations to make an impression.
Facebook wants to center its services around family and friends, at the expense of external content. According to Adam Mosseri, Facebook's Vice President of Product Management, the idea is to foreground "content that people want to talk about" and "content where people actually want to have meaningful conversations with each other."
Or, as the New York Times' Farhad Manjoo puts it, "at Facebook, informing users about the world will always take a back seat to cute pictures of babies."
What this means is that marketers need to be smarter than ever if they want to achieve a prominent Facebook news feed position. Here are some ways that your marketing team can cope with Facebook's changes and dominate users' news feeds in the future.
Create Shareable, Personal Content
Facebook's major goal is to ensure that every user receives content that can be shared. It wants to keep information flowing from user to user. That's why the site started in the first place, as a social network to bring people together, and that's what it still aims to achieve.
The key thing is to create content that can easily become part of a conversation. It has to relate to real-life concerns or passions of users and their wider network of friends and family. When you create your blogs or videos, always imagine how they can be shared, and why people would want to send them to their closest contacts. Do they offer information that is mutually interesting to multiple users? Are they warm, friendly and human, as opposed to formal or robotic?
More than ever, Facebook marketers need to have the "human touch." They need to actually become part of the conversation, instead of showering information onto existing networks.
Focus on Real Life Events
One great tip for Facebook marketers is to center your work on key events in peoples' lives. Many of the conversations on Facebook right now are all about milestones in users' lives. They could be anything from weddings or engagements to births, graduation ceremonies, learning how to ride a bike or retirement. If your marketing material can play a role in how people talk about these events, you will always have an advantage.
When people get together to celebrate a milestone, they usually reach out to companies in the process, whether they are wedding planners, caterers, gift card manufacturers or apparel retailers. Almost any company can tailor their content around life events. It might take creativity, but successful marketing always has. The important thing is to avoid empty content that doesn't have a "hook" in everyday life. That kind of material is being relegated to the Facebook trash heap thanks to the new algorithm.
Content Types to Avoid When Marketing on Facebook
This is going to come as a culture-shock to many online marketers, but many beloved forms of content are going to lose out on Facebook in the future. Try to avoid any texts that are heavily reliant on marketing keywords. Terms like "free gift", "sign-up today" or "purchase now" are being targeted for demotion, so it's vital to find new ways to describe your services.
Clickbait content is also going to suffer. Many content creators have relied on popular formats like "10 things you never knew about..." or "You'll never guess what happened when..." but their days are numbered. Content with titles like that are being singled out as clickbait and penalized by Facebook, with the assumption that they are fishing for clicks, rather than providing a personalized service.
Stay Current by Sharing Trends
Facebook isn't just trying to personalize its news feeds. The company is also trying to make news feeds as relevant as possible, which means highlighting trending topics and choosing topics that are related to the interests of users.
This means that marketers can achieve a high news feed position by tapping into current trends. It doesn't mean that you can succeed by sharing large amounts of external content. Instead, it means having a responsive, targeted content creation strategy that keeps track of what matters to your audience and delivers content that suits those interests.
It also makes sense to localize your content if possible. By focusing on what is happening at a local level, companies can tap into conversations that are happening at a city or even village level.
Ensure That Your Followers Reshare Your Content
It's important to stress the role of sharing in Facebook's plans. Facebook wants news feeds to reflect what people are talking about, and a key metric for finding this out is the number of shares a piece of content receives. As TechCrunch reports, "Pages should expect a decline in reach and referral traffic, especially if they rely on clicks directly to their posts rather than re-shares by their followers."
This means that marketers need to be pro-active in encouraging their followers to share their content. This can take the form of regular reminders from video presenters or bloggers, but there are other effective methods as well. Thanking users for sharing works well, but you can rack up even more shares by encouraging user-generated content. Followers are more likely to share organic content that comes from people like them, so try to attract video responses, gifs, memes or reviews regarding your products.
Above all, it's vital to make sharing a key aspect of your strategy. Always double check your content to make it simple, concise and relevant. Make your videos punchier, more informative and more humorous, and audit your shares to see if your strategy is working.
Maximize Your Engagement to Boost Your News Feed Position
Delivering content isn't enough to guarantee a solid news feed position. To really dominate users' feeds, you need to become an active participant in communities and conversations, not an external content provider.
This means crafting an engagement strategy that solidifies the bonds between your staff and your customers. Make sure that your team responds to customer queries and complaints. Reach out to customers to find out who they are and what they want. Talk about the issues that they face and suggest how your company can assist. Play a role in local events and promote this role on Facebook. Like reviews and respond to comments. All of these things work in tandem to generate engagement, propelling your content up news feeds at the same time.
Change the Way You Speak to Reach Out to Users
You can't really engage customers or followers unless you learn how to speak their language. This doesn't just mean speaking flawless English, French or Russian. Obviously, it's important to use grammatically correct non-vulgar language when you communicate. That's a no-brainer.
What's more important is finding the key words that your audience uses. For example, local landmarks could have a specific name that doesn't appear on maps. Slang varies between regions and can be an integral part of local speech, so using it in moderation can also work well. Think about how your target audience speaks and tailor your language to suit them.
Many marketers also counsel that you avoid acronyms if at all possible, and that's usually good advice. By and large, acronyms alienate and confuse casual readers, particularly if they relate to technical terms, so try to steer clear of them if possible. However, sometimes they are important parts of everyday vocabulary, such as LOL or OMG. In other cases, they are regularly used to refer to places, such as NOLA. The general rule is to use them if your followers use them and avoid them if not.
Take the Road to News Feed Domination
On the surface, the work of Facebook marketers is becoming harder, but changes can also bring opportunities.
The key takeaway is that marketers need to tap into networks of family and friends via content that can become part of everyday online conversations. Companies with the ability to speak directly to their customers or followers and who can promote their products on a human level will benefit from changes to the Facebook algorithm. It's a great opportunity to shape up your marketing effort and by following these guidelines, news feed success won't be out of reach.