About-Face: Time to rethink your Facebook marketing strategy

Recently, Facebook’s CEO announced platform changes that will reduce News Feed content from businesses, brands and media to better connect users with friends and family.  According to Zuckerberg, Facebook is focused on improving the experience by “helping users find relevant content to have more meaningful social interactions.”  This change comes in response to community feedback and research analysis to continue making the social network an engaging platform.

While research from Social@Ogilvy estimated that the organic reach of branded content was already less than 2%, this new algorithm change has led to speculation and concern about the impact to brand marketers.  Social media is still a critical component for integrated marketing communications plans, so how can we prepare?  Here are some considerations for your marketing strategy:

Content Calendar

The good news is that marketers will be able to decrease the frequency of publishing on Facebook since organic content will not be seen by page followers.  This will save creative resources needed to maintain daily content calendars.  Some content will still be needed for page visitors.  However, resources could be prioritized on creating engaging and quality content for dark posts to increase relevance to audiences.

Ad Spend

Advertising costs on Facebook have been relatively inexpensive compared to traditional and search advertising.  Facebook ads operate on an auction system where advertisers compete for space based on factors like audience targeting, placement, relevance, and timing.  As brands continue to compete for limited audience attention, these changes will decrease the available ad space and increase the cost for promoted content.  This means that brands will need to allocate additional budget for Facebook advertising or find alternative channels for promotion.

Community Engagement

Because Facebook is committed to providing relevant content to users, the platform will continue to display posts that audiences will want to see.  This means that engagement will help increase a post’s ranking in the News Feed.  For marketers, this means that it will be more important to understand the needs of their target audiences and create content that engages these individuals.  Engagement also happens through comments and shares, so marketers should encourage conversation by participating in conversations on the comment threads of brand posts.

Alternatives for Content Distribution

There will continue to be interest in news stories and content that entertains or adds value to users.  Facebook’s News Feed changes will not stop people from seeking out this content, but this may result in users seeking alternative sources for this information.  Knowing this may cause behavioral changes, marketers may want to adjust their integrated marketing communication plans to identify new ways to distribute content.  For example, BuzzFeed started running ads on Facebook to direct audiences to use the company’s mobile app instead of Facebook.  And, The New York Times is looking at ways to integrate virtual reality into their content distribution strategy.

This isn’t the first or last time that social networks will alter their platforms.  Change is always scary, but this isn’t the end of the world for marketers.  It is simply an opportunity to try something new.  Brands who develop a relationship and build trust with consumers will continue to win.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to About-Face: Time to rethink your Facebook marketing strategy

  1. Mark Carpenter says:

    Great post Stefanie! While this is unfortunate news for companies that heavily use Facebook as a marketing avenue, I do feel that it is about time the social network takes steps to cut back on the ad content a little bit. About a year-and-a-half ago, I actually deactivated my Facebook account because of the obscene number of ads on my feed and I felt there was no point in even going on the site since I could not even see relevant news about family/friends. Instead, I turned to Instagram and thought it was a better option because there was not so much clutter. Turns out the joke was on me because Facebook owns Instagram and now my IG feed is filling up with ads. That just goes to show marketers will find ways to adapt and you are spot on in saying that platform changes are a way to discover new, creative outlets for advertising.

  2. Brooke says:

    It’s a super interesting consideration and I wonder how they will leverage the loss in advertising of businesses, as the revenue has been considerable. Facebook will have to make that money up somewhere, and I wonder what that will be. There’s certainly no way they’d just let it go!

  3. Lori Bonn says:

    Great post, Stefanie! I knew that Facebook was getting back to being more social with fewer ads but did not know how it was going to impact businesses. I think the good news about this new platform is that integrated marketing communication plans will have to do a better job of not only doing research on their customers but doing more personalization in the demographics of the people they trying to reach and make the ad more appealing and worth spreading! Hard to do, but probably well worth the viral effect if it’s a great ad that will increase brand loyalty. Unfortunately, I think nonprofits will have to pay more for Facebook Ads. It’s interesting how many emails I’m getting to get me to come back online to Facebook. They ping me with “did you see my friend’s latest update?” or “Come back and check out what’s happening with XX.” Their strategy has become more personalized!

  4. Belén Torres-Gil says:

    Hi Stefanie,

    Thank you for sharing this post. Do you work for Facebook? This really tows the party line.

    I manage several brand pages on Facebook, and I can tell you, this has caused major disruptions for brands. It’s all fine and well to think you can reduce your content calendar costs, but in reality, this is a thinly-veiled attempt to squeeze brands for more cash.

    Some brands are going the way of trying to convince their users to actively follow a brand instead of just liking them. Others are pulling all their ad spend in a mutiny. Add others are just bending over and taking it.

    Facebook is known for shaking up the news feed several times a year. It really does beg the question, “Who is their audience?” or “Who are their customers?” Users or brands? Who does Facebook ultimately serve?

    Good job bringing a topical subject to the blog.

  5. Chad Marshall says:

    Stefanie, great job in choosing such a relevant topic that relates to our coursework, especially given that the majority of us all use Facebook on a daily basis. I think the new initiative is important as a way of ‘getting back to basics’, since the marketers have run amuck with most of our news feeds over the last few years. I remember when I initially started using Facebook in or about 2007 maybe, where most of my feed was composed of either pictures of food, scenic backdrops or significant post addressing timely issues or subject(s) of the day. From those posts during the early days, my friends and I primarily used Facebook to debate either about politics or sports, sometimes both.

    Over the course of Facebook’s maturation, much like many new ‘disrupter’ companies, they had to figure out a way to pay for its operations and as a result, started implementing paid marketing services to a bevy of marketers. And as the ‘big data’ mining technology got better and better these marketers (with the help of Facebook) figured out new and more creative ways to figure out what we, as individuals were interested in, where their algorithms then spit out specific ads into our daily news feed in order to keep their investors and Wall Street happy.

    I, like many users, didn’t seem to mind since I was still seeing pictures of my friends’ cats (oh, so many cats!), kids and vacations, while also slowly seeing more and more targeted ads that found their way onto my feed. As I said, I didn’t quite mind since most of the ads somewhat appealed to me and my sensibilities — damn, those algorithms are smart! So much so that about 16 months ago an ad appeared touting that I could get my masters from USC via the MCM program, and since I was a huge USC fan, this made all the sense in the world and I happily clicked the ad, which led me to our program.

    All that said, I feel that the targeted ads provide a useful service but they have definitely gone overboard, and I am thankful that the powers that be took notice and have decided to return us back to a kinder and gentler time when our respective feeds were filled with more baby pictures from people we actually know instead of receiving ads for diapers to people who don’t even have kids. We done, Marcy Marc and the Funky bunch!

  6. Angela says:

    Great post – Stefanie

    When I heard about this, I immediately jumped to the conclusion that FB wanted for force companies into spending money in order to have their brand seen. However, after attending a class Live session the other night about brands, I realized advertising overall is changing because consumers are changing.

    A successful brand is part of the conversation not “the” conversation. I believe brands will find their way around in this new space or even find another avenue to be part of the conversation. Those who are smart enough and are willing to take the risk will be stronger in the end.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *