Facebook has allowed page owners to buy ads since 2009, and announced changes to its algorithm that resulted in decreased visibility in 2012. Until recently, however, Facebook was seen as an (essentially) free-marketing platform for brands of all sizes.
Of course, that changed with Facebook’s most recent algorithm update. Now, brands are reporting reach rates as low as 1% to 2%, and the expectation is that Facebook will eventually cut organic reach for brand pages down to zero.
Does this mean brands should give up on Facebook? No. Did advertisers abandon search when Google went from free to pay-to-play? Of course not, they just adapted. And that’s where we find ourselves today with social media. Fortunately, the new Facebook is shaping up to be the best new advertising channel since search.
What Has Changed
Facebook is compelling brands to shift their mentality entirely. Previously, the focus for brands on the platform was fan acquisition, content reach and engagement. But now that fan acquisition should be considered an obsolete success metric (1 million fans are useless if they never see your brand’s posts), Facebook is guiding brands toward a model that mirrors traditional media platforms – pay for views.
What To Do About It
Brands should take the most recent algorithm change as an opportunity to reevaluate every aspect of their current social strategies.
How to Adjust Your Content Strategy
Less is more, and quality is king. Brands should look to their historical data as a starting point to determine what has performed well since the algorithm change and start cutting out the things that aren’t working. Content and creative that works should then be analyzed to discover what imagery and text could make it even more successful, based on your brand’s specific KPIs. All brand disciplines, including strategy, media, creative and SEO, need to work together to create optimal content.
How to Adjust Your SEO Strategy
Search engines love social media content, so ensure your brand name is prominently featured on your Facebook home page. This page can often rank well in search engines when your brand name is searched. Users can find your Facebook content organically this way, whether or not they are currently Facebook fans/followers of your brand.
Tip: To help improve the organic reach of a Facebook page in Google, consider sharing a link to that page on Google+. Google+ is integrated into Google Search, and is a quick way to get content indexed.
How to Adjust Your Paid Strategy
Approach paid media on Facebook more like traditional media by identifying the business objective that needs to be achieved. Brands should focus on reaching the right audience with the right message to activate business goals, such as driving traffic or online conversions. Brands should no longer be focused on fan acquisition as brands aren’t limited to targeting just their Facebook fans with paid ads.
How to Adjust Your Metrics Strategy
Take a holistic view of your brand’s goals and objectives in order to identify ROI. Keep in mind that conversation is still important, but with paid media support, other goals may be equally important and achievable on the platform. Take advantage of the different measurement options available in addition to Facebook’s platform analytics, such as Nielsen and Datalogix studies.
Time to Change
Facebook’s latest algorithm change caused a disruption across the industry, but brands should not give up on Facebook. In fact, advertisers should be embracing it with a new vigor as the platform has matured into a more targeted and measurable channel. By using paid social media ads to amplify your content and making slight adjustments to your SEO and analytics strategy, your brand will succeed in the new Facebook reality.