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3 brand benefits of Facebook's latest updates

3 brand benefits of Facebook's latest updates Matt Wurst

As competition for attention in users' newsfeeds intensifies, organic fan acquisition and engagement on Facebook are not as easy as they used to be. According to Facebook, the current content traffic jam has resulted in organic page posts only reaching about 16 percent of a brand's total fans. The changes Facebook announced at fMC are designed to give marketers a better canvas for telling brand stories and more opportunities to ensure those stories are widely seen and shared.

Here's what brands can do now to take advantage:

Get in the HOV lane

The HOV lane is a great alternative to sitting in traffic, but it requires having someone else along for the ride. Paid media can be your passenger. Facebook's new reach generator solution and premium ads will turbocharge growth by promoting a brand and its content far more widely than could be achieved without paid media, aiding brands who want the fast road to building an engaged fan base.

Paid media is certainly not required for engaging with fans, but don't expect hockey stick-like charts depicting fan growth, either. Relying purely on organic means of messaging might not be enough to achieve breakout success. Even the largest brands on Facebook and those who are producing the best content can benefit from additional support to maximize engagement.

Next step: Bring your media and community teams together to identify a pilot paid/earned program that utilizes paid promotion to distribute your best content more widely within Facebook. While most brands aren't going to achieve media and community synergy overnight, this pilot will help you see how an integrated approach can impact performance, and how your teams can work better together.

Trade up for a new model

When every other car on the road looks and drives the same way, "pimping your ride" with better content planning and development will turn heads and get you noticed. Facebook Timeline offers a creative canvas with which brands can tell their stories and feature imagery (with photos optimized for mobile). Now is the time to reinvest in your page design.

With rich, compelling content, brands have the opportunity to drive fans from their personal newsfeeds back to the page's Timeline. An active fan base actually increases the likelihood of future content being served to more fans, meaning the goal for Facebook content should be to drive the creation of stories, fan likes, comments, and shares.

Facebook has opened up its pages to expand opportunities for brands to have more control over the types of content people see, and how they see it. So go big, stand out, disrupt the status quo, and get noticed (while staying on message and on voice, of course).

Next step: Take a fresh look at your page design and content strategy, with emphasis on being brief with text and long on visuals. The use of "episodic programming" spread out over time that ladders up to a larger creative idea is a great way to tell a story and keep fans engaged.

Know before you go

Facebook Insights provides a wealth of data that can be used to optimize publishing best practices that maximize reach for a brand's community. Because every community is different, each brand has the opportunity to leverage what it already knows to create a custom plan. Who are your fans? When are they most active? What creative drives the most interactivity? When is everyone else posting?

Most brands plan content weeks and months in advance. Some planning is required for the development of more robust multimedia content, but thanks to an upgrade to the Insights tool announced at the conference, marketers can now optimize content creation and delivery in real-time. You can see who has liked, commented on, or shared your page post, who answered a question you've asked, mentioned your page, and more. Use these insights to develop content that is proven to resonate best with your audience, and share it when they're most likely to engage.

Next step: Identify the insights that matter to your brand, aligning them with your specific objectives. Evaluate which types of content perform best over time, and how fans are both proactively and reactively engaging with your brand.

Navigating these busy roads requires a healthy mix of caution and risk. Your investment in a Facebook community is best supported by an integrated earned and paid media strategy, and the best content prioritizes engagement over broadcasting and connectivity over single-platform strategies. Remember these tips, and you're in for a smooth journey.

Matt Wurst is the director of digital communities at 360i.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"Il like button e morto" image via Flickr.

Matt Wurst is Associate Director of Digital Communities at 360i, where he oversees a team of community managers specializing in content creation and conversation moderation on behalf of clients. He has a passion for working collaboratively with...

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Commenter: Anthony Green

2012, March 21

Thanks Matt, great ideas here. I guess a tool that would allow marketers to target specific combinations of interests, based on Facebook user data, with a range of different creative, would really drive likes via the paid media portion.