Understanding the changes to Social Marketing in 2018

2018 started off with a seismic shift in the world of Facebook, as the tech giant revealed its plan to overhaul the algorithms governing its

In an attempt to try and re-establish the News Feed as a hub for personal connections – focusing on “meaningful social interactions” – Facebook is changing the system to show less content from Brands and Publishers. While users can opt to include this content within the Feed options, the default setting will be to prioritize social content.

While this is a big change to the status quo, it certainly isn’t the end of the world. Here are a few thoughts on social marketing in 2018, and how the team here at Compulse can help!

What’s changing

In trying to shift the News Feed away from being a repository of endless content, Facebook has made it clear that they anticipate the overall time people spend on Facebook will decrease. Here’s an excerpt from Facebook’s release:

“Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.”

As we make these updates, Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease. The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it. Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.”

As for content that will do well in the feed:

“Page posts that generate conversations between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos, on average, get six times as many interactions as regular videos. Many creators who post videos on Facebook prompt discussion among their followers, as do posts from celebrities. In Groups, people often interact around public content. Local businesses connect with their communities by posting relevant updates and creating events. And news can help start conversations on important issues.

Using “engagement-bait” to goad people into commenting on posts is not a meaningful interaction, and we will continue to demote these posts in News Feed.”

First off, this is a greater concern to the media publishers and mega brands of the world. For most everyday businesses, public posting is an attempt to engage with an immediate community, rather than an attempt to add additional followers; most of Compulse’s clients should be thinking of Facebook as a place to be found rather than a place to go finding. The ability to utilize Facebook to connect to your broader community will be slightly diminished, but it’s still one of the best places to exist and to be approachable in the digital landscape.

This isn’t a change meant to punish small businesses. Facebook has realized that the ecosystem lent itself too easily to prioritize the creation of content to generate clicks and shares rather than helping foster positive user experience. As always, any business should be focused on creating thoughtful, substantial content that best represents who they are and what they can do. If your posts are engaging and meaningful to the community you serve, it will generate the kind of interactions that will help your business in the long run.

What’s Not changing

The changes to the News Feed are going to make organic outreach efforts more difficult than they’d have been in the past. In this new social environment, paid placements will carry greater importance in overall social strategy. Using Facebook’s targeted ad placements, you have the ability to advertise to specific users based on demographics and interest targets.

While Facebook’s claimed intention is to better user experience, it has the added benefit of incentivizing paid social campaigns as the easiest way to reach a new audience, such as generating leads or event responses. With its robust targeting options and gigantic user database, Facebook’s targeted campaigns are the most direct way to put your content in front of the right people.

The greater social landscape

Facebook’s moves in trying to make the News Feed a positive experience mirrors effort by other social media titans (such as YouTube) to protect the value of their platform. To ensure that, they needed to act on two fronts: looking out for the experience of the end user, and ensuring the continued influx of advertising dollars by removing negative or insensitive material from the platform.

Toxic content was jeopardizing both these aspects of the platform, with the overall effect of negatively impacting the end user, and associating the ads and posts of marketers and businesses with this conent as well. The only way for Facebook to protect itself is to try and re-orient the practices of the parties using its services by creating a better environment for everyone. Facebook isn’t trying to get out of the marketing business, they simply want to make sure that anyone using it for marketing is doing so in a positive and engaging way.

What does it all mean?

What this boils down to is simple, and it’s been a guiding principle all along: content and best practices do matter. The best way to use the service is to try and make the most of every engagement opportunity. Make sure that whatever content you’re creating is contributing useful and thoughtful information for your digital community. If the community engages, you will be rewarded by both individual users and the platform itself.

The social media landscape is always shifting as the platforms find and refine ways to interact with their users, and savvy social marketers need to stay on top of their game. Fortunately, the experts at Compulse are here to help. With our suite of services, including consultations, content curation, and ad campaigns, we will help put you on the road to success!