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Facebook is telling businesses to become better content marketers

Facebook is telling businesses to become better content marketers Doug Schumacher
Wednesday, Facebook had their first Facebook Marketing Conference, or FMC for us in the biz. They announced a number of things that will impact marketer’s Facebook activities:

The highlights for me are:

  1. The integration of Timeline into brand pages

  2. Their new ad product Reach Generator

  3. The ability to ‘pin’ a preferred content piece at the top of your page for increased visibility.

A lot has already been written on the details of those changes. I’d like to focus on the larger implications for marketers and how this is going to lead them into a content approach to marketing, whether they’re prepared for it or not.

The big story is that Facebook is essentially telling all marketers that they’d better get their content game on. That’s because your paid advertising on Facebook and the content you publish on Facebook are now one and the same, from a messaging standpoint. The focus on Facebook paid ads won’t be on crafting individual messages that you then optimize, as it’s been in the past. Instead, you’ll simply pipe your best content pieces into different ad units, and measure performance based on how your content attracts interest.

What’s quite revolutionary about this is that they’ve taken what’s been about 100 years of advertising evolution -- creating carefully-crafted messages -- and removed that expensive step from the advertising process. Think about that: Ad production has been ball park 20% of the cost of a given media buy. So right out of the gate, Facebook’s content-focused process has a 20% head-start in terms of the cost effectiveness of the overall advertising budget.

Furthermore, they’re wise to push brands to focus on content, because it will increase the overall quality of the Facebook experience for users.

But the biggest implication in my opinion is that publishing quality content should dramatically increase the ROI of all your Facebook marketing operations, including your paid media. That’s because the content you publish is going to go straight into the Facebook ad units you buy. The performance of those content ads will then loop back and increase the overall engagement of the content they’re associated with.

That’s where Edgerank, Facebook’s ranking system for content, comes in. It always looks for the highest quality content, and ranks it accordingly. Thus quality content will produce ROI three ways. In it’s inherent value, in the value it adds to the effectiveness of paid media, and the value it adds when Edgerank places your content above others in the newsfeed.

The benefits of quality content are going to ripple through the entire Facebook marketing ecosystem.

What’s a marketer to do?

Since the onset of social media, the idea of brands developing their own publishing voice has grown as the cost of publishing content has dropped, and the ability of their target audience to access and share that content has grown.

A Roper survey published last year stated that 84% of CMOs strongly/somewhat agree that custom content is the future of marketing. If that doesn’t convince you, check the Google Trends data on the subject of “content marketing”.

Facebook’s move will simply accelerate a trend that was already in the making.

At this point, what marketers are going to need to do is obvious: Create more engaging content.

The big question is, How?

Like publishing companies, brands are going to need people who are very savvy at determining what content is going to resonate with their target audience. The challenge is, unlike advertising creative in the past, brands today that practicing content publishing via social media are sending out myriad different messages.

Fortunately, there’s a lot of data attached to those messages regarding what’s engaging and what isn’t. A second challenge is captured in what Malcom Gladwell recently said: “People are information-rich and theory poor”.

Processing information about what works -- and just as important -- what doesn’t, isn’t a simple thing. For even pages with model fan counts, the amount of content and what drives what type of engagement quickly mushrooms beyond what any person could ever understand through casual observation of page content and the engagement is pulls.

Marketers are going to need help crunching those conversations into meaningful insights that can not only tell them what type of content has worked very effectively in the past, but what type of content will most likely work in the future. They’re going to need technologies to identify content trends within the sea of data. (Self promo: I think our tool Zuum does a great job of generating those content insights right now.)

Of course, technology is not going to replace the Facebook page manager or content strategists. Far from it. The tools will rapidly accelerate that person’s ability to absorb vast amounts of data that leads to a better understanding of what’s happening, and better decision making about what content to publish.

And the Facebook page strategists who come to understand what’s working and what isn’t are going to have an impact on the effectiveness of their employer’s marketing budget like no content strategist has ever been able to do up to this point.

Doug Schumacher is the co-founder of social media content strategy tool Zuum. Zuum reveals a number of key insights into what type of social media content will generate maximum impact for a given industry. His interactive career began in 1996...

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