Facebook has become the go-to social networking channel for mums, dads and brands (just ask your kids, who are abandoning it in droves). It's a place where we adults can buy, swap, sell, search and catch up with our worst enemies: 'fake news' and FOMO, i.e. the Fear of Missing Out.
That is all be about to change
Mark Zuckerberg, the chairman, CEO and co-founder of Facebook insists that improvements are on the way.
Zuckerberg recently stated in a post on his Facebook account that it is time the social network focussed on personal connections again. He insisted that the desire for change has come about through user feedback and suggested that it's basically all about us and our well-being.
One of our big focus areas for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent, Mr Zuckerberg said.
We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us.
That's why we've always put friends and family at the core of the experience. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness.
How did this all come to pass?
Over the last year couple of years, we have witnessed a content explosion across our social media networks, to the detriment of our personal social news feeds. The social media companies began to see the amount of on-site engagement dropping.
Users were regularly being directed away from their platforms when clicking on updates, posts, and tweets which brought them to an external website to consume content. This meant less on-site engagement, which would affect the amount of advertising revenue achievable through their platforms.
To overcome this, the social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have set out to change their algorithms in a way that would negatively impact posts and updates that include external links. The aim being to favour on-site and in-app content within the algorithms that help determine which updates to show to users and keep us all engaged on their platform.
This has caused some angst in the world of digital marketing, as businesses have bought in to the process of using social media to drive traffic back to their website, where they can collect leads and connect us with products and services.
Should your business be afraid?
For business big and small, this might all seem a bit confusing since we've all been herded in to using the No.1 (western) social media networking channel to connect with our customers and promote and advertise our brands, products and services.
What are the changes?
The change that will have the most impact on us is that we are going to see less public content like posts from businesses, brands and the media. It has been reported that a secondary News Feed entitle 'Explore' will host the majority of the branded content. It is also expected that competition will be hot to rate highly in that feed.
What can business do to use Facebook effectively?
It comes down to a few of the strategic marketing pillars that we all know and trust
- Know your audience
The key to connecting with your audience is always going to be a good understanding of who they are and what they want. Are they talking about your brand in their comments and reviews? Know who you want to target and what they want to know about.
- Think quality not quantity
Return to the simple who, what, when where and whys of good storytelling. You'll never be short of an audience if the content you are sending out is of good quality. As brands and publishers of online content, if you want to succeed you need to make people feel something. You need to excite, entertain and inform.
- Drive engagement
In order to help your Facebook page to become a trustworthy source of content you need to encourage your community to engage. Producing content that encourages meaningful conversations on-site or in-app will help drive your content to the top of the News Feed and will help your organic reach. Directing users to external links will not be seen as favourable by your social media channels.
- Paid promotion
Social media channels still want to make money, so Ads aren't going anywhere. It is still relatively inexpensive compared to other forms of advertising, and you can really target your desired audience.
Where do we go from here?
We believe that 2018 is a year of opportunity for brands to engage with their communities and prospects through social media, media, PR and marketing on a local and international stage.
Our top three tips would be:
- Get to know your audience
- Choose the right social media channel or channels for your business
- Make your business as newsworthy, relevant and useful to your audience as possible
If you need expert advice on how best to navigate these new waters let Zakazukha help steer you through.
To thank those of you who have read this article and got this far we'd like to leave you with this quote, which we think sums things up nicely:
The organisations that succeed realise that offering a remarkable product with a great story is more important and more profitable than doing what everyone else is doing just a bit better. - Seth Godin