Welcome to the new Facebook feed
As you’ve probably noticed, your Facebook feed is looking different again last few months. Gone are the viral cat videos and the incessantly repetitive “please please share the press release about the launch of our Moon office” posts. Back at the top of the feed are your friends’ posts - even if Facebook continues to insist on showing you the halftime wisecracks from a game two days ago. And along with that you are now seeing more paid ads from the brands who are happy to pay for the privilege of showing you their ad. Finally, you increasingly can’t shake that deja vu feeling that this one ecommerce site you went to is now chasing you around wherever you go - but that must be just a coincidence, right? Well, we’ll get back to that.
In 2014, Facebook conducted user feedback to understand how users use their platform and what they think of the advertising and brand posts in their Newsfeed. There was a strong response from users saying that they are much more interested in seeing updates from friends than brands promoting their products. And Facebook listened. In 2015, it’s making major algorithm changes, especially as it relates to the promotional content in the Newsfeed. The Newsfeed now favors conversations among friends and paid advertising, reducing the presence of organic promotional posts from businesses.
So, all in all, you are probably happier now as a user. After all, your relationship with Facebook is increasingly similar to your relationship with free TV, just more interactive - as long as you get the experience you like, you certainly don’t mind the ad interruptions, because you know they are a part of the deal.
So what do these changes mean to businesses which leverage Facebook?
It really depends on what you are trying to accomplish and what investments you’ve made into doing business on Facebook so far. Here are some key thoughts on what’s gone and where you are probably better off investing your time and money if you are looking to do more business on Facebook.
1. Organic reach
If you want to reach fans that like your page with a promotional post, get ready to pay. Organic reach is no more. Here's what Facebook says makes a post too promotional:
There are some consistent traits that make organic posts feel too promotional:
Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads
If a brand wants to promote their product, it is now difficult to do this organically and must instead be done with paid advertising. When brands do post to their page, it should be done in a conversational way that encourages brand interest and loyalty, as opposed to overtly promoting products. But let’s be honest -it’s a pay to play world now.
For the past 2 years, your Newsfeed was filled with sweepstakes large and small as brands sought to increase Facebook page “likes”. The changes in how organic posts are displayed to fans have significantly decreased the value of a “like”. If you plan to run a sweepstakes, you are better off doing it on your site and capturing the user’s email address.
3. Paying for Facebook “likes”
While you can still do this, you'll have to pay money to reach these users even after they like your page. You are better off using your money for Facebook ads to reach new targeted audience from the beginning.
What works now?
1. Paid ads
By moving away from organic reach and virality, Facebook is essentially encouraging businesses to pay for Facebook advertising. Luckily, Facebook has an extremely robust advertising platform which makes it possible to create highly targeted campaigns that align to your business objectives. With geographic, demographic and interest data all at your disposal, you can serve ads to an extremely defined audience. Plus these paid ads will be competing with a less cluttered Newsfeed as organic promotional posts become less common.
So remember that ad that was following you around? That’s because retargeting works and you’ll be seeing more and more of it on Facebook. Facebook offers one of the most efficient platforms for retargeting. Why - you may ask? Facebook reaches 699 Million (61%) of active users daily. It allows for both traditional content retargeting ads as well as dynamic retargeting ad units. The best part is that it offers 21x higher CTR over traditional web retargeting and significantly cheaper. As a result, it’s now accessible to even the smallest of brands, especially with tools like Perfect Audience.
Change is the only constant
These changes are also a part of a bigger trend among big social media players as they inevitably mature and are forced to move from growing their user bases and engagement levels to effectively monetizing their platforms. Just in the past couple of weeks, we’ve also seen Pinterest disallow affiliate links in pins, Linkedin cut off API access for most developers and Twitter continue pushing sponsored posts as the main vehicle of engagement for brands.
Facebook is constantly adapting their platform and algorithm, requiring businesses to be agile in their use of its platform. The latest changes confirm Facebook’s move towards a platform which requires brands to pay for advertising in order to reach customers. In 2015, rather than devoting excess resources to content creation and audience building, we certainly recommend that you create and promote highly targeted advertising campaigns which can help you accomplish your business objectives.