For over a decade, Facebook has connected more than one billion users and thousands of businesses. In recent years, however, the social media network has adjusted its algorithms to make it more difficult for brands to directly reach consumers. Businesses now have a justified concern about their future on the social channel.
"The goal of the news feed is to show [users] the content that matters to [them]," Facebook wrote in April. The company's most recent algorithm changes reflect this commitment to user preferences. Notably, the largest update is said to push more content from friends and family to the top of a user's news feed. Many marketers feared that this switch in particular would stymie the effectiveness of their promoted content.
Before these algorithm changes, many marketers relied on Facebook's paid advertising to reach customers. However, due to the algorithm changes, businesses using paid advertising are likely seeing a decline in post reach and referral traffic.
Facebook does offer business solutions for optimizing a page's presence. But none are spectacular, which affirms the channel's bias toward traditional users. Facebook was created for users, and this year the company moved to revert back to these roots. While logical, the move is one that businesses will have to factor in for future marketing campaigns.
Despite concerns, businesses still have a place on Facebook. With the right social marketing tools, any business can look past these changes to engage with customers in a much more personal way.
The first thing to understand about Facebook's algorithms is the adherence to users. Under the latest algorithms, Facebook users will see more user-generated content, and this trajectory is not likely to change. At first glance, this could seem problematic for marketers. However, marketers can maximize content reach by promoting peer-to-peer sharing.
If marketers can get customers to share branded content, Facebook users will see more branded experiences, too. Businesses can no longer pay for their content to live at the top of news feeds, but instead, they can motivate users to put it there for them.
Brand marketers can sponsor or promote events to generate content that encourages this kind of peer-to-peer sharing. It's perfect -- when consumers experience a brand first-hand they can easily share photos and videos across their social networks. When a single branded photo is shared, the connected business builds new relationships within an expanded pool of consumers. The type of sweeping reach was never before possible with paid Facebook advertising.
Along with this algorithm change, Facebook now gives preference to photos and graphics. This is great for marketers because compelling visuals can help social posts generate over 90 percent more views than generic content. Visual content also greatly increases engagement levels.
Publishing more visual content is a surefire way to communicate via social channels. Consumers are helplessly attracted to it because it allows them to consume the information more quickly and without much thought. When combined with peer-to-peer sharing, visual content can multiply the impact of social networks. As consumers share branded, visual content, businesses gain access to even more relationships and potential customers.
As an add-on to peer-to-peer sharing and visual content, tags can also help marketers navigate Facebook's new algorithms. When a consumer tags a member of his or her network in a photo, video, or even a written post, that piece of content reaches an exponentially larger audience, increasing its engagement and longevity.
Tags are especially valuable at events, where marketers can encourage large groups to tag themselves in a single photo. Marketers should encourage tagging soon after photos are taken to optimize reach and brand awareness.
Even if a company is just a sponsor for an event, branded photos will serve as a great source of promotion. The more people tagged in a photo, the more opportunities for sharing, and the longer the photo's lifespan. Under Facebook's new algorithms, more tags also mean more impressions. When tagged, a single photo will get pushed to the top of a greater number of news feeds. Again, reach is increased.
While Facebook's algorithms emerged as a threat to brands, it doesn't have to be that way. There's no denying that Facebook's algorithms service users first. But with the right marketing tools, businesses can use this user preference to their advantage. The best way for marketers to get past Facebook's algorithm changes is to brand all aspects of Facebook content with a simple logo or tagline, and let social media's highly connected web of billions of users take care of the reach and engagement.
Consider this -- at the Pandora Presents StubHub Next Stage Concert Series, Pandora captured moments with branded photography. The company took 170 photos and secured just over 100 Facebook tags, but earned 65,000 impressions on Facebook and Twitter. While Pandora reached less than 200 consumers at the event itself, its branded photography was later multiplied across social media to reach audiences almost 400 times that size.
Moving forward, marketers will have to be more creative and intentional about how they engage Facebook users. Paid advertisements are great, but branded visual content can help businesses thrive within a changing social media system. With these social marketing tools, all marketers can achieve business goals across one of the most powerful social networks.
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