In December 2013 Facebook announced changes to it's EdgeRank algorithm. Since then many brands have seen a drop in reach and engagement. What worked six months ago, no longer does. If you're a brand on Facebook, it's time to reconsider the type of content you post.
Before we look at the types of content that work best with regard to the new changes, there are a few things to consider:
- Paid Advertising. The most successful brands on Facebook combine organic posts with paid posts. Simple translation: if you pay Facebook, you get rewarded. This applies more than ever. In addition, you can target ads based on the interests of your users.
- Facebook Insights. Facebook Insights tell you how different posts are performing and who your fans are eg. age, gender and location. You can also find out when your fans are online the most. This is critical when crafting content.
- Understand the Context. Facebook is a place we go to socialize with others and see what our friend's are up to. It's not a place where we have intent to buy. In some cases, particularly ecommerce businesses, it is possible to sell product on Facebook. But for most businesses the objective of Facebook is to set things up so when a customer is ready to buy, your brand is front of mind. This is achieved by being relevant, entertaining and helpful, not by trying to sell.
Let's now look at some ideas for content with the goal of engagement.
1 Link to Quality Content
Arguably the biggest change to the news feed is showing more links in the news feed. If all you do is post photos to your Facebook page, STOP, reduce the number of photos and share more links.
Make sure you copy the URL of the content you want to share and insert this into your post. Facebook will automatically grab the meta data (photo, summary text) and display this. High-quality content will see increased Facebook reach thanks to the algorithm changes.
Do not create a status update and link to content like the example below.
Now you can reach new audiences when you tag another page. In the example below, Mashable has tagged Beyonce. This post could now appear in the News Feed of both Mashable fans and Beyonce fans (especially those Mashable fans that also "Like" Beyonce). Link + tag another page = good.
Facebook rewards comments over likes and shares. One way to increase Facebook reach is to encourage discussion. Typing a comment requires more effort than liking something. If I comment on your post, my friends are likely to see your post in THEIR news feed. Facebook wants brands to acquire friends of fans. This makes the Facebook experience better for everyone.
No one does this better than Oreo. Yes the cookie. How did a biscuit increase their Facebook shares by 280%? The answer is by leveraging current affairs and pop culture. Oreo's campaign titled "The Daily Twist" featured a play on news each day.
According to Jonah Berger, author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, we like to share emotional content. Humour, anger and awe-inspiring content is good for producing high arousing emotions. BuzzFeed and Upworthy have good examples of high arousing emotional content.
In this example, Upworthy taps into people's anger about animal cruelty and the link creates discussion - see the comments.
Meanwhile, DogVacay gets you sharing with a humorous post. Be careful of using memes though, Facebook are punishing meme content and notice the comments here are low. Mix up humorous content with quality links and you'll be fine.
Not only does polling your fans increase engagement by way of comments, but it helps you understand your fans. In the example below, Jack Threads can gain valuable customer insight into which product will sell better. They can then use this information to allocate marketing dollars and/or order more stock.
Asking fans to submit captions for a photo is a tactic used a lot by Bud Light - with success. This is a creative way to get people commenting.
How to content works because you're offering practical value. Getting value out of something is another key driver of why we share things. Videos work really well for this type of content. Tip - to encourage comments, tell fans you will answer any questions they have.
Remember, people don't want to feel like their being sold on Facebook. Product shots are ok just make sure they're visually appealing and something your fans aspire to have. Products such as clothes, cars and jewellery seem to work better than other less glamorous products.
I like the product example below from Audi because it's emotional and promotes the end benefit of buying an Audi. An indirect photo like this will achieve more engagement than a standard product shot.
A friend shared a great quote with me recently. He said "Be better, not bitter." This advice applies to those brands grumbling about the changes to Facebook's algorithm. You have two choices. You can abandon Facebook and a huge potential audience or you can be better and beat the competition. If researching for this post taught me one thing, it's that most brands are terrible at Facebook. What a wonderful opportunity for you.