On 1/11/18, Facebook made an important announcement about large changes to how the News Feed will work in the future and how its success will be measured. They will now focus on helping users have more meaningful social interactions (through more content from their friends and personal connections) and will move away from helping users find relevant content (from anyone including organizations). To quote Mark Zuckerberg from his announcement on this subject “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.”
These changes will have varying impacts on organizations, but will most likely lead to decreases in organic performance within Facebook. This is not the first change Facebook has made to limit the organic performance of organizations, and it likely won’t be the last.
The best course of action for organizations moving forward is to continue integrating teams that work on creative marketing strategy and performance marketing, while continuing to push further into new measurement models that are not solely focused on last-click attribution.
If you are an organization who has historically relied heavily on organic performance in Facebook, we encourage you to consider the following. However, please note that these considerations shouldn’t be viewed in a bubble. It’s important to think critically about your business and unique case.
- Pure organic performance will likely decline and the way that you measure performance in Facebook may require changes: It is likely that most purely organic metrics within Facebook will decline for many organizations. Due to this impact, the measurement of organic content performance will need to be re-calibrated for many companies. For example, measuring YoY organic performance for the next year will not yield an apples-to-apples comparison.
- Declining organic performance is not an excuse to begin creating and posting lackluster content: Although organic performance will likely see a decline, this should not preclude organizations from continuing to focus on creating meaningful content that captures your audience’s attention and engages them in a meaningful way. It does not mean that you should move to a model of simply filling your channel with less valuable content.
- Do not simply stop posting “organic” content: Facebook is still the largest social network and they continue to experiment with new ways to show branded content (like the Explore Tab, a dedicated tab that contains all page posts). It will be important for each organization to measure the impact of this change, and adapt their strategy accordingly. Additionally, many organizations have historically separated the posting of engaging content for “organic” and promotional content for Facebook ads. I encourage you to consider testing a different approach, outlined at a high level under the next consideration. Lastly, even through it is anecdotal, there have been several occasions over the past year that I decided against purchasing a product from a new-to-me brand because of a lack of recent content on their social channels in conjunction with a lack of meaningful “About the Company” content on their website. This may be more important for many B2C organizations than it will be for B2B organizations, but consider if your customers may find your company to be less trustworthy if they can’t find any recent content from you.
- Consider creative content promotion strategies, beyond last-click conversion focused campaigns: Consider leveraging Facebook ads for more than just last-click conversion focused campaigns. With over eleven ad formats, Facebook provides many great avenues to promote highly engaging content that allows you to continue building your brand, online community of fans, and social word-of-mouth. While most organizations will benefit from conversion focused campaigns, we often see too many that are missing out on opportunities to put the great content they have created in front of a highly targeted and relevant audience. Additionally, with analytics platforms like Google Analytics improving their multi-channel funnel reporting capabilities, tying this top of the funnel content to business metrics will hopefully become easier over time.
- The diversification of your traffic sources continues to remain critical: Third party platforms have always wielded the ability to make changes that benefit them at the expense of the organizations that use them. From social media to paid advertising, organic search, email, and others, diversifying the sources that your business receives traffic from and builds brand awareness on is as critical as ever. If your brand is too heavily reliant upon a single source of traffic, consider how you can expand into new channels or improve your other channels to minimize the risk that any single third party platform can pose to your business.
- Structured data markup for social media channels will continue to grow in its importance: The content you share organically as a brand on Facebook may receive less visibility and engagement. However, the visibility of your content from your website that Facebook users share may rise as Facebook places a premium on person-to-person connections. This will place a premium on how content from your website is formatted when a user shares it. For Facebook, this means that Open Graph markup is very important to include on every page of your website, especially those that are most likely to be shared in the social network.
It is clear that Facebook has decided it is in their long term best interest to focus more on elevating personal connections than the connections between a brand and potential consumers (at least outside of ads). This change (and likely others in the near future) will continue to require a more integrated approach to social media, combining creative marketing strategy, paid advertising performance, and sophisticated measurement.
If you have any specific questions about how this change will impact your business or how to stay ahead of the curve for the next update, please reach out to us through one of our contact forms or via firstname.lastname@example.org.