Facebook make a pretty significant announcement last Friday which will attract the attention of marketers: Facebook it is not going to share ‘promotional posts’ onto its users’ news feeds.
Before you start to panic let’s take a closer look at what Facebook mean, and how marketers can adapt.
It should not be a shock that Facebook is already being selective about what appears in your news feed – the average Facebook user would see 1500 posts per day, but Facebook’s algorithm selects the top 300 or so for your attention. Facebook bases its selection on the posts that you are most likely to enjoy (or the ones that will keep you on the site for the longest amount of time!).
And it is not surprising that in a survey of “hundreds of thousands” of Facebook users, that hard-sell promotional posts were not very popular. In this context, Facebook defines promotional content as one of the following:
- Posts that solely push people to but a product or install an app
- Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
- Posts that reuse the exact same content from adverts
But, Facebook has made some changes to news feeds before, so why should you listen this time? They warn that brands that choose to post promotional content “should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time” – so, if you want your audience to see your posts, do as they say!
But what does ‘real context’ mean? Only Facebook truly knows the definition of this, but what I think the rule change does is force marketers to up their game, which a quick glance at most brand posts will tell you is long overdue. My understanding of context would be to wrap any promotional posting in a more subtle wrapper – as part of an interesting, informing or entertaining post, the soft-sell.
This does not affect advertising on Facebook (shocking, right?!). You can still overtly promote when you pay Facebook, but anyone with experience of Facebook advertising will tell you that the more promotional your post is, the less engaging and effective it is.
This rule change is where your Facebook content should be heading anyway, so for better marketers, there is little change.
Facebook are a commercial organisation, and will make decision based on keeping shareholders happy. But to keep shareholder happy, they need to keep users happy as well – it is they who click on ads and buy products, so you can expect Facebook to continue to develop their proposition for businesses into 2015.
Will this change affect the way that you market your product or service on the world’s largest social network?