What Facebook’s News Feed Changes Mean for Business

Today, Facebook announced that brands that publish content that is “promotional” should expect to see their organic reach fall significantly over time, starting in January 2015. 

While it doesn’t appear that these changes will affect boosted posts or ads, they do impact organic posts that encourage people to buy a product or download an app, content that reuses the exact same creative as an ad, or posts that push people to enter a sweepstakes or contest.

In other words, the content that people hate the most, but that constitutes the bulk of brand organic posts, will soon be harder to find in the News Feed. Facebook is making the user experience better, and brands should welcome the move.

After all, Facebook has data that shows that consumers weren’t engaging with this content anyway. This should help social media leads make the argument that investing in real content is a good use of paid dollars. It should also push brands to be braver with the content they publish.

A content strategy built on a foundation of test, measure, and learn will have rooted out this “junk” content years ago. For brands that haven’t done the hard work that’s needed to succeed in social, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get started.  

 

1.  Free the people (to think outside the box).

Generic copy and stock photography are the digital equivalent of billboards on the side of the freeway – ugly, omnipresent, and ignored.  Experiment with well-crafted and clever copy, photography that’s user-generated or innovative, and make sure what you publish is useful or emotional (or both) and always impactful. It’s also time to bring media creation and media buying teams together, and ensure that goals are in sync, not siloed.

2.  Know your audience.

Facebook offers a wealth of targeting features that allow brands to finely tune who sees the content you produce. This is almost always more effective than a “spray and pray” approach. It’s more important than ever to have a clear picture of your digital consumer, and what type of messages that they find appealing.

3.  Be relentless about measurement.

A robust performance and impact strategy is essential to creating good content, and it’s crucial that everything is on the table. A “no sacred cows” approach will free your brand to find out what works and produce content that’s consistently engaging. And data can help you get out of your own way.

4.  You have to stand for something.

As I pointed out in a LinkedIn influencer post earlier this year, the days of brands ignoring racism and injustice are over. Now more than ever, it’s vital to be a challenger and be an optimistic standard-bearer for a better world. Give hope and optimism, and fight despair.

5.  Secure a budget. 

These changes only underscore the need for social media to take its rightful place at the CMO’s table, and that means right-sizing social budgets to reflect the reality that virtually all reach will be bought. The days of dabbling are over, and social media leaders need to fully understand targeting and spend, and double down on developing ROI models that make sense for the business.

 

Ultimately, the world needs better content. For the last several years, social media has been at risk of devolving into bland advertising and the functional equivalent of junk mail. At Spredfast, we’ve launched four products in the last twelve months to help marketers find and curate compelling content at the speed of life.

It’s also why we’re investing in Spredfast Strategy, the team I left Coca-Cola in June to lead. The Spredfast Strategy team, with a diverse range of experience that includes stints at major agencies (Cohn & Wolfe, Ogilvy, WCG, and Porter Novelli) and top brands (Coca-Cola, Whole Foods Market, and Dell), partners with a wide swathe of our software customers to develop paid media strategies and measurement programs that help customers exceed their social goals, and prove the ROI of their investment in social.

Facebook’s changes are a signal to the market that we all need to step up to the plate and better our game. Now it’s up to us to knock it out of the park.

Ashley Brown's picture

Ashley Brown

@iamashbrown
As Spredfast's VP of Global Communications, Ashley leads all external and internal communications, as well as analyst relations in order to tell the story of how the company connects business with the people they care about most.