Warning: If you want your brand to get noticed and succeed on Facebook, you have to stop relying on the News Feed.
In this blog post I’m going to explain why, and what you need to do to stand out from the crowd and continue to generate business through Facebook.
First, a bit of background:
It's no great surprise to marketers that organic Facebook reach for Pages has been declining for years - due to a variety of factors - including increased competition amongst brands, and a deliberate squeeze by Facebook that encourages you to spend on ads in order to be seen.
However, in the last six months, Facebook has announced a significant shift in the way it wants the site to operate - one which affects Page owners more than ever.
It means that brands must now totally rethink how they approach their marketing efforts on the site. Here's a quick overview to bring you up to speed:
Back in January, Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, outlined his vision for the future of Facebook on his Page:
In essence, posts from brands and businesses were cluttering up the News Feed and users were growing tired of it. This resulted in a move that prioritised News Feed posts from friends and family over those of Pages. The hope? That people would share and interact more meaningfully on Facebook, and spend more time on the site.
And in a more recent update, Facebook posted the following update to its developer blog:
"The `publish_actions` permission will be deprecated. This permission granted apps access to publish posts to Facebook as the logged in user. Apps created from today onwards will not have access to this permission. Apps created before today that have been previously approved to request `publish_actions` can continue to do so until August 1, 2018."
In layman's terms, this change means that developers won't (as is the case on Instagram) be able to post content on behalf of personal Facebook profiles. So, now developers can only post to business profiles and pages on both Facebook and Instagram.
What do brands need to do to adapt?
Facebook wants users to interact with its products in a manual, deliberate way — whether that is posting content, consuming content or engaging with content.
Where brands are concerned, this means that your goal is to create content that will foster a community that is thriving with genuine fans and genuine interactions - and keeps them coming directly to you, without needing to work hard to grab their attention in a cluttered News Feed whose algorithm is always working against you.
Let's look at a five strategies of how to attract engaged fans directly to your Facebook content without having to rely on the News Feed, along with some pointers to maximise the impact of each:
1. Broadcast Live Shows
Kerensa and Brandon from RV to Freedom host weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) live broadcasts on their Facebook Page, discussing everything about living life on the road, and how others can follow in their footsteps.
Here are some of the steps that the couple take to make their live shows a destination point for their Page:
- Broadcast live at the same time each week.
- Encourage fans to click link to receive a notification to remind them when the show goes live.
- Promote the live show in their Facebook cover photo and in Instagram posts.
- Discuss the live show in their closed Facebook group, and encourage people to join in.
- Promote next week's live show at the end of each broadcast.
2. Host A Special Promotion
The Daily Cafe is a hub of information and a community for school teachers. To celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, it hosted a giveaway on its Facebook Page every day from Monday to Friday.
Everyone loves the chance to win prizes, so here's why a daily or weekly promotion can become a destination point for their Page:
- Winners are announced in a post on the Page. Asking the winning fan to get in touch to claim their prize ensures that they visit to check if they have won.
- With a giveaway every day, fans know that if they don't win one day, they can return the day after to try again.
3. Host A Daily Question or Poll
Generating conversation on your Page needn't be an elaborate exercise. Something as simple as a daily question in the form of a poll can be enough to generate discussion. Obviously, you'll want to centre it around a topic that your audience is passionate about, and encourage them to elaborate on their poll choice in the comments selection below it.
4. Start a Facebook Group
One guaranteed way to encourage Facebook users to keep returning to content and to join in with meaningful discussions around your brand, is inviting them to join your own Facebook group. Unlike News Feed or Page posts that come and go in no time, group topics and discussions are much "stickier," they can be used to cultivate connections and to build a sense of community, both between you and your fans, and fans between each other.
The group, A Beautiful Childhood, is curated by Eloise Rickman, author of the blog, Frida Be Mighty. It is described as "a place for us to discuss raising our children, and forging for them a childhood that is gentle, slow, and beautiful."
Some of the strategies that Rickman uses to create a growing and thriving group include:
- A pinned post to explain the purpose of the group in more detail, along with suggestions for topics to be discussed, a short overview of group rules, and a plug for Rickman's website.
- Runs a monthly book club to engage fans and encourage discussions.
- Hosts live broadcasts that cover various parenting issues, and encourages group members to watch to discuss and answer questions.
- Shares links to articles and stories that group members may find interesting.
- Promotes new blog posts and her own paid courses.
Facebook groups not only provide a hub for your audience to interact with you and other like-minded people, but can also be used to gather invaluable customer insights (via group analytics) to help in developing new content, products, and promotions.
5. Think About Stories
if your content marketing extends to Instagram, no doubt you'll be familiar with Stories - which are now also available on personal Facebook profiles. While they're not available to Facebook Pages just yet, my best guess is that it is only a matter of time before we see the feature rolling out.
And here's why they're so critical. When someone posts a story, its existence is marked prominently at the top of the Facebook and Instagram apps - that big circular profile photo, with a gleaming ring around it that is irresistible not to touch. No need to rely on the crowded News Feed to show off your content - it's right there for users - and the content, when displayed, is full-screen, free from other distractions while it is being consumed. Stories allow fans to tap through to links, send a direct message, can function as paid ads, and more.
So, if you're not yet thinking about Stories in any capacity, then now is probably a really great time to start.
Over to you
What do you think about Facebook's recent changes? Do you think the News Feed is dying, too, and brands need to opt for more creative ways to draw fans back to them on Facebook? Let me know in the comments below!
Andrew Macarthy is a social media consultant and the author of the #1 Amazon Web Marketing Bestseller, 500 Social Media Marketing Tips.