Mark Zuckerberg shook things up in a major way last week by announcing yet another new Facebook update. As marketers, we spend a lot of time talking about the Facebook algorithm. It’s the reason Facebook went from a goldmine of referral traffic to a pay-to-play warzone — not only to put better content in front of users, but to force Facebook pages to spend money on exposure.
As users of Facebook, we have a different perspective entirely. It’s nice to see updates from friends. It’s nice to see dogs and babies and big announcements instead of fake news and sponsored posts. So while Wallstreet is having a cow and marketers are having an entire herd of cows, it’s hard to deny that focusing on the social part of social media is a good thing for people. The new Facebook update isn’t universally bad.
Facebook is changing everything. Again.
But we have a business to run, and so do you. So let’s pour one out for the lost days of building organic Facebook audiences and capitalizing on them as a fantastic distribution channel. It’s too early to know exactly how these updates will impact Facebook ads and your business goals, but suffice to say it’s going to be a rough ride for a while. With the new Facebook update, Zuckerberg is walking Facebook back from its reputation as a data mining empire willing to work with shady advertisers and happy to sell everything you’ve ever said and perhaps even thought. Again, ultimately that’s good.
They’re going back to their roots: Fighting with your in-laws, congratulating your college friend on their marriage, watching cat videos, and getting genuine insight into the day to day lives of friends and family scattered across the world.
With the new Facebook update, comments are queen.
Zuckerberg is perfectly clear that the way people engage with Facebook (and Facebook’s millennial little sibling, Instagram) is going to change. Some things are straightforward, such as posts with comments getting more weight in news feeds than posts with lots of likes or shares. But we’re still looking at a vast unknown, and an unknown timeline when it comes to the rollout.
As a marketer, you likely spend part of your digital marketing budget on Facebook ads. It would be absurd not to. After all, Facebook knows more about people than they know about themselves, making it easier than it’s ever been to tailor digital advertising to the right customers. You’re not alone in wondering if you’re going to get the same bang for your buck moving forward. It’s going to be a trial and error landscape. (No one likes unknowns when they’re pushing toward smart marketing goals.)
Authentic content matters more than ever.
Keep advertising. Pay close attention to the performance. Continue tweaking audiences. Otherwise, in a digital world that emphasizes relationships, all you can do is continue to emphasize genuine human connection. This is much easier said than done for brands, who often put significant effort into honing communication strategies and building Facebook communities only to find their perfectly useful, engaging content buried.
Do not put all of your eggs into the Facebook basket. Continue to have a presence on Facebook, build your following so you can advertise to them and to people who think and behave like them, but know that you’re going to see a decline in traffic from your Facebook posts. In the meantime, repurpose content. Blog and compose great emails, and use that copy on social media. Build an email list. You own that data, unlike the data related to your followers on Facebook. Email lists are gold, and growing and nurturing those contacts should take precedence over organic social media.
This isn’t the end of the world, even though it feels like it. But the new Facebook update will certainly present a challenge not only to marketers, but to organizations like non-profits that rely heavily on Facebook engagement to grow and communicate with followers. Digital marketing is an ever-changing landscape, and this is just one more bump in the wild road.