Facebook Is Changing Tactics: What Does This Mean for You?

Facebook is once again adjusting its algorithms. This time to bring users closer together and to increase relevance. But where does that leave you as a marketer? We talked to Facebook to find out exactly where the latest adjustments leave us as companies. And we also take a look at both the challenges and opportunities that these changes bring.

The start of the year saw most marketers busy working on their 2018 forecasts, but then something happened on Facebook that caught their attention. At least for a short while.

“We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us,” began Mark Zuckerberg in his now much debated post about forthcoming changes on the social media platform. He went on to explain what this means:

  • Less public content from companies, brands and media
  • Greater focus on meaningful and engaging content in the public content displayed

More space for privates and less space for advertisers. But is that really the case?

Do these changes mean that as a Facebook advertiser, you need to quickly find an alternative route for exposure and conversions?

The short answer is: No. Or at least not if your digital strategy is in order.

We talked to our partner at Facebook, who confirmed that Facebook will be making regular adjustments throughout the year, but that they will continue to focus on being a valuable channel for their advertisers. In fact, advertisers will barely feel the effects of the new algorithm, if at all, as Facebook's posting system is already based on areas such as relevance and target group feedback. In other words: If you're good at formulating and targeting your advertising message, you should be home and dry because Facebook is changing neither ranking or charges for advertisers. 

No more engagement bait

All that talk of change and nothing's really happening? The answer remains the same: No. Or at least not if your digital strategy is in order. And that doesn't just mean for adverts on Facebook, right?

When you market your brand on Facebook, you focus on the advertising part. But it's just as important to focus on the organic part of the communication that you control on your page. And when it comes to page posts, the posts that companies share for 'free' on their Facebook page with loyal followers, don't try to cheat your followers into engaging by using engagement bait. Here the message from Facebook is very clear:

”Engagement baiting is a tactic that goads people into interacting with likes, shares, comments, and other actions on Facebook - such as “Comment YES if you love rock music” or “Tag a friend who reminds you of this video.” These types of engagements are not relevant to customers and businesses alike, and thus will be demoted in News Feed.”

Instead, Facebook suggests that you communicate about your products, services or events through relevant formats. Otherwise the new clamp-down could send you straight to the back of the queue. If not out of it.

That's why our best advice is: Be scrupulous and focus on your target group when you communicate. And how do you do that?

It's hardly big news that formats such as video are becoming increasingly popular with brands and target groups. Perhaps it's time to experiment with this format in your company? Dig into your brand and your products, find their unique values and put them into a context that means something to your target group. That will already get you far.

Do you sell travel? Then promote your destinations through aesthetic video material and inviting messages that get your target group dreaming of a trip away. Do you sell IT solutions at a B2B level? Then invite your customers to an informative seminar on how your solutions bring value in relation to their needs - and continue your communication from there. Are you a food brand with a new product range in the pipeline? Then give your customers inspiration on how to fit the range into their eating habits. 

You are not alone

Zuckerberg and Facebook have spoken: Times are changing for the newsfeed, which continues to put personal relationships at the fore. It might mean that your target audience has to scroll down a little further to see your organic posts. But it could also mean that your posts actually start getting some valuable attention. Because when the newsfeed's commercial content is cleared out, the bit that gets left behind might get more engagement from users - as long as it's relevant enough. This is how we can bring the newsfeed's version of banner blindness to life. And these are rules that apply to all brands, as does the method: Engaging with your contacts in a meaningful way that calls for network communication. 

Providing valuable communication that meets customers' needs - that's a fair requirement. And it's not a bad New Year's resolution for your company, if you haven't already started it. 

Get a 30,000 ft view of your channel setup

And since we're talking about New Year's resolutions: Now's a good time to get an overview of your entire channel setup. Because Facebook is one thing - but what about the other channels in your communication strategy? How are you combining them to meet your target group's needs in different parts of the buying journey? Facebook is an important building block in many companies' digital strategy, but it must fit into the overall marketing mix if it's going to generate any leads.

Every marketing plan or campaign should be tailored around the individual brand, objective and target group. But for channels, you might want to decide whether email automation is relevant to reaching your objectives, whether AdWords advertising is a step in the target group's buying journey, whether Influencer Marketing would be a good activity for tapping into the target group's mindset, or whether Instagram, LinkedIn or a third channel is actually stronger when it comes to the target group's media habits. And so on and so forth. The most important thing to do in your strategy is to align target group characteristics and objectives with choice of channel. Always and forever. 

Would you like to read more about an holistic channel approach to campaign planning? See how Pilgrim increased brand value and turnover with a large content-led cross-channel strategy.