Brands Should Rethink Their Facebook Strategy
It’s been an exciting couple of months at Facebook. First, on December 18, Facebook announced it will be demoting posts with engagement baiting. This is when brands, and individuals, try to increase engagement by asking people to interact with their post (like/react, share, comment, tag) if certain condition applies to them (e.g. click like if you agree with this, tag a friend who hates Mondays). Then, a few days ago, they announced that they will be decreasing the organic reach for content from brands and publishers in favor of posts from individual users. This step was made, as they explained, so users can see more posts from their friends and family on their News Feed.
Although this left many marketers in shock and confusion and made many brands question their Facebook strategy, neither of those two things are remotely new. The latest Facebook announcements were actually a “duh!” moment. It’s a continuation of the old strategy that they’ve been following for the past few years.
So where does that leave brands? Is Facebook even worth it anymore?
Mark Zuckerberg goes to explain the latest decision by saying “We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us.”
I have no doubt that this is one of the main things Facebook is trying to achieve, but let’s be clear that, like any other business, Facebook is about revenue. Big revenue. The social media platform had an astonishing 10.3 billion in revenue in Q3 2017 alone, 49% year-over-year change. 10.1B of which are from advertising. It’s the second company by ad revenue right after Alphabet (Google’s parent company).
As many people have been saying for the past few years, Facebook is becoming more and more a pay-to-play platform by each year goes by. Brands that still don’t incorporate media buying budget to their Facebook strategy are still living in the past where a page’s follower means a guaranteed audience for its content. It might be logical that the followers that you spent money and effort building should be theirs, but Facebook thinks otherwise.
— Matthew Inman (@Oatmeal) October 25, 2017
Who’s the biggest loser in all of this?
It’s certainly not Facebook. As long as there are people who use it, Facebook will still make billions of ad revenue money. Many big brands will be affected by this, but they need to learn and adapt using Facebook differently now as a mostly media channel rather than an organic publishing platform as it used to be before.
So who’s the one losing the most from this game? It’s small businesses. Small businesses who were relying on Facebook as a free way to gain publicity for years are the one that is taking the hardest hit with the continuous decrease in reach to their followers. Now they have no option other than spending more or shift their focus to different channels. This is a comment that was left on Mark’s recent announcement:
Facebook is basically saying unless you have a good budget for ads, you have no place on Facebook. This is the reality now that marketers and business owners need to embrace.
This also will hugely affect independent and small publishers increasing the concerns on how we consume news on Facebook and how neutral the platform really is as a source of information.
Does that mean brands should stop investing in Facebook? No, obviously not. Facebook is still the social network with the most active users by a good margin.
And for many demographics, it is still their number 1 social platform of choice.
So what does all of this means then?
This means that..
1) Brands should stop focusing on Followers (Page Likes) as a key KPI for success. The number of page followers is still important, but not as important as many brands seem to think and give a budget for.
2) Facebook without media budget is like swimming in a business suite. You certainly can do it, but don’t expect much results from it. It’s just not worth it!
3) Although the recent changes are affecting organic reach and not ads, but expect CPM to go higher. Due to the decline of organic reach, the demand for Facebook ads will increase. And as long as the platform remains popular among users, the more brands will just have to incline to Facebook’s business choices and spend more on ads. And with an increase in demand and limited supply, the prices should be expected to go up.
4) Don’t entirely rely on Facebook in your social media strategy. This was a thing that many brands have done for years due to the ease of building an audience on Facebook and the different options that the platform had compared to other channels. And for many, even when they used other channels, it was just a place to duplicate the content that was originally created for Facebook. At this point, brands need to understand that they need to create a content strategy for each platform designed to what best work for that specific channel rather than just a mirror of their Facebook strategy.
5) Don’t ask people for engagement; create content that is engaging by its nature. Engagement still does matter. Organic reach is going down, but as Facebook puts it: “The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it. Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.”
6) Fewer video views as we were used to. In a recent interview with Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s VP of Product Management for News Feed, he stated that “There will be less video. Video is an important part of the ecosystem. It’s been consistently growing. But it’s more passive in nature. There’s less conversation on videos, particularly public videos.” So for the first time, video will take the back seat on Facebook. Interesting to see how will this evolve with their competition with Google’s YouTube.
7) Ask your followers to activate the See First feature. Give them an incentive to do it. This option allows people to identify the pages that they want to see on the top of their News Feed. Which means an increase in organic reach for brands.
8) Publishers should focus on building a media that they 100% own — like mailing lists and app users.
Copyright © 2019 Gus Younis