When it comes to Facebook marketing basics, the marketer needs to understand the difference between a business and personal account, the criteria used to determine what shows up in a news feed, and how Facebook interprets relevance based on engagement.
The first thing to understand when it comes to Facebook marketing is that there is a difference between a personal Facebook account and a business Facebook account. Facebook refers to them as a Facebook Profile and a Facebook Page, respectively.
Personal vs Business Facebook Account
A Facebook Profile is a user’s personal Facebook page where they share personal content, such as pictures, as well as other content they find interesting, with their friends and family. Other content can be stories, articles, memes, etc. that the user feels appropriate to share on their timeline.
A Facebook Page is a specific business-related web page within Facebook where the business attempts to create fans by publishing content that generates likes, comments/replies, and shares. A Facebook Page is what a business needs to create ads on Facebook.
It should be noted that your Facebook Profile is separate from your Facebook Page. Your friends and family see your Facebook Profile, but will not automatically see your Facebook Page unless they choose to become a fan and engage with it.
Facebook News Feeds
The next thing to understand when it comes to Facebook marketing is there are four factors that Facebook uses to determine what content it places on a user’s news feed.
1. Inventory – is all the available content available to Facebook, such as the number of posts from friends and family, groups the user has joined, and the business Facebook pages that the user is a fan of. The more connections the user has, the more inventory Facebook must consider, and the less likely any single piece of content will be placed higher in the user’s news feed.
2. Signals – refer to a list of a user’s actions that help Facebook prioritize the content they are most interested in seeing on their news feed. Examples of signals include likes, comments/replies, and shares. It is also helpful to understand that Facebook gives added weight to engagement from a Facebook Profile (personal Facebook account) over engagement from a Facebook Page (business Facebook account).
3. Predictions – are where Facebook uses the user’s own profile information, such as stated interests and demographic information, as well as their previous behaviors (likes, comments/replies, and shares) to decide what the user wants to see.
4. Score – refers to the value assigned to a piece of content that Facebook users to determine content relevancy.
Facebook then uses these four factors to order the content shown on the user’s news feed. From a Facebook marketing perspective, since you cannot control how many connections a user has, the algorithms Facebook uses to compute its predictions, or how it scores content, your job is to focus on influencing the kind of signals that the user gives to Facebook. Ideally, you want the user to take meaningful interactions such as likes, comments/replies, and shares.
When you get your content in front of a prospective customer you need the user to engage with it so they become a fan. There are three basic types of engagement a user can choose from.
- Like– A Like sends a signal to Facebook that the user has at least some interest in hearing more from your brand. A simple “like” is weighted very little by Facebook. Facebook interprets a Like as “That’s interesting”. Likes in this context also include “Love”, “Haha”, “Wow”, “Sad”, and “Angry” emojis applied to a given post.
- Comment/Reply– A Comment or Reply sends a stronger signal to Facebook. Facebook interprets a Comment or a Reply as “Yeah, that is what I was thinking”.
- Share– A Share sends the strongest signal to Facebook. Facebook interprets a Share as “Wow, my friends really need to see this!”. This is the ultimate goal of any Facebook marketing campaign since it represents a word-of-mouth endorsement, and gets your post in front of the user’s network of friends.
When it comes to Facebook marketing, you ideally want to create content that the user will want to:
- Share with their connections
- Create Comments or Replies to
- Give a Like to
Content that receives no engagement from any user is considered non-relevant, is scored very low by Facebook, and will likely remain unseen.
As a Facebook marketer, you also need to understand why the user is on Facebook in the first place. Firstly, users do not open Facebook to shop for goods or services. Users open up their Facebook app to see what their friends and connections are up to. Secondly, users use Facebook to perpetuate a persona that they want their friends to see.
The last point of perpetuating a persona is interesting. If a piece of content is, in fact, interesting to a user, but is not in line with the persona that the user wants everyone to know about them, it may not evoke any engagement. Moreover, users are unlikely to share content that is inconsistent with the persona they want others to apply to them.
For example, if most of a person’s important connections, such as their work colleagues, hold a politically Republican viewpoint, yet the user has more of a Democratic political leaning, that user may not engage with a post that might reveal to others that they are a closet Democrat, even though the content has meaning to them. Likewise, they would be unlikely to share a post of them at a Democratic rally, since it is incongruent with the persona they want to perpetuate.
Facebook interprets this lack of engagement as content having no relevance to the user, and Facebook will de-emphasize this type of content in the future. Moreover, sharing or over-engaging with content that supports the persona that the user wants to perpetuate will send a signal to Facebook that the user likes this kind of content, and Facebook will provide even more of that kind of content in a user’s news feed.
Marketers understand how user engagement and Facebook’s algorithm feed the echo-chamber effect, where users begin to see more of the content they react to and less content from sources with an alternative or different perspective. This echo-chamber effect has led to increased levels of polarization and biases in the general population as a user receive more and more of the content similar to the content they have previously engaged with and little or no content from opposing viewpoints. The fact has led many marketers to produce highly polarizing content in an effort to evoke the highly valued and scored “Share” social reaction from a user.
As I shared in the post Be Controversial to Spread Your Message, businesses that just share solid and popular content will be relegated to the Facebook content trash heap. Polarizing and often highly controversial content is what stimulates user emotions and creates more engagements, thereby propagating the content.
A user’s news feed is affected by their actions. Content that causes the user to engage with it will tell Facebook to show them more. If Facebook predicts that a user will like a particular piece of content and the user doesn’t engage with it, Facebook will show the user less of it in the future.
Therefore, as a Facebook marketer, you first need to get your content into a user’s news feed. That content needs to be emotional enough and match the signals that the user wants to send to their connections to cause them to engage with your brand, or soon your content will eventually disappear from their news feed altogether.
How well do you understand the basics of Facebook Marketing?