Facebook is undergoing one of its most significant changes in years. Mark Zuckerberg has promised to “fix” Facebook after continuing turmoil over “fake news” proliferating on the site. His idea — increase content from friends, family, and groups in the news feed; and limit content from companies, brands, thought leaders, authors, journalists, celebrities and more.
Zuckerberg says he wants to make Facebook a place for more meaningful and personal interactions, to put the social back in social media, but stripping news from news feeds has panicked social media marketers. We don’t have specifics yet about how these changes will play out, but we expect anyone who posts from a Facebook page, rather than from a profile, will experience a sharp blow to reach and engagement.
While it’s yet to be seen if these changes will deepen and enrich conversations on the platform, it is clear is that content marketing efforts will organically reach fewer people. The question for thought leaders will be whether it’s valuable to pay to be seen on Facebook, or whether it makes sense to focus marketing efforts elsewhere. With more than 2 billion users on the platform, it’s tough to walk away. Before taking any drastic action, however, there are a few strategies we recommend to drive continued growth and engagement for pages.
Things to Do
- The algorithm change will prioritize content based on the number of likes, shares, and comments. This means that pages will need to work harder to create engaging, actionable content. Quality of posts will matter much more than quantity of posts.
- Posting from a personal profile will get greater reach. Thought leaders will benefit from leveraging their personal profile, along with their page.
- If there are privacy concerns, Facebook allows users to create more than one profile. A second email address is required. The current profile can be made private for communications with just friends and family, and a second profile created for a professional audience and community.
- Groups will continue to get solid exposure in the news feed. Creating a group around a book launch, discussion topic, or more, is a way to continue to reach an organic audience.
- Lastly, boosting targeted, high-performing content is a way to ensure marketing efforts reach a sizeable audience. (Keep in mind, both a profile and a page are required for boosting.)
Things to Avoid
- Because engagement will be a deciding factor in content reach, there is a temptation to post more frequently. However, more content that receives low engagement will just further depress reach. Avoid the “more is more” temptation.
- Engagement-baiting will also hurt reach. Posts that encourage users to like, share, or comment in order to answer a question or a poll will be kryptonite to organic growth.
These organic strategies should keep growth and engagement going, but it’s clear that Facebook is increasingly becoming a “pay to play” space. It will be important in the next few months to monitor engagement and growth on Facebook pages, and to evaluate which social platforms are creating the most supportive community for a thought leader’s work.
Large companies and celebrities will be able to survive this seismic shift — but individual thought leaders may increasingly turn to other platforms to find success.