Changes to Facebook are an Opportunity for fan Engagement
As Sam Slaughter notes in AdAge, Facebook has been moving for some time “toward restricting the organic reach of pages associated with brands.What does that mean? Well, if you’re a brand, it means you’re soon going to have to pay for Facebook advertising if you want to reach Facebook’s users.”
Basically, Facebook is telling advertisers, pay us if you want your content to show up in people’s feeds. They may be doing this to squeeze advertisers, now that they are publicly traded. Or, they may be trying to make an experience that is ideal for users, rather than brands.
Much like Google, Facebook doesn’t make money if people don’t use it, so this current change may just be a bump in the road as they try to find the perfect mix of money making opportunity and good UX.
Since I work at an agency, I have noticed the consternation that this decision has caused corporate partners. A lot of companies spent a lot of time and money amassing likes for their Facebook pages. Now, the value of those likes are called into question because clicking “liking” your page does not necessarily mean that people will see your content.
The new ROI of Facebook is here
However, Facebook’s decisions will really force more brands to confront a hard truth about social media: likes are ultimately a meaningless metric.
If you have used Facebook, you probably know just how casually likes are thrown around. And what does a like really tell you? Why do people like the content? What is the context of their approval?
Brands who want to succeed on Facebook without buying featured posts will have to resort to *gasp* looking for deeper analytics than likes and finding new ways to engage audiences.
Never before has the influencer been so important. Influencers are your brand’s top evangelists, the people who comment on and share your content and who contribute UGC and conversation to your page.
The sole goal of collecting “likes” goes back to the old model of advertising, where the idea was to reach as many people as possible at all times with a bland enough message to appeal to the masses. Some brands still subscribe to this model, as can be seen with the continually escalating price of Super Bowl commercials. However, this is shortsighted and often an ineffective way to involve people with your brand.
As Bob Garfield and Doug levy note in their book, Can’t Buy Me Like, “For the entire Consumer Era, marketers burned ad fuel to persuade, persuade, persuade. Or at least to impress, impress, impress–which is, as we asserted earlier, is unsustainable.”
They quote Adam Ferrier, consumer psychologist, who notes, “Get them into your brand as much as possible. Let them become co-producers of your brand and they become more loyal.”
Rather than simply asking for likes, ask for information. Try to structure your posts to help you learn something about your audience.
Analytics for Engagement
You don’t need to measure results of every single Facebook post that you run. However, you should run a periodic campaign to start to learn something about your fans.
Run a five-piece collection of posts over a week with the understanding that this will serve as your sample size to learn about your audience. Make sure that the posts ask questions and engage. Avoid questions like “Who is ready for Friday?” That doesn’t tell you anything about your brand – everybody like Friday. Always think with the end result in mind: “What do I want to learn from my fans with this post?”
Look at the responses:
How did the audience react (positive/negative/neutral)? What percentage of each in responses?
Did they follow the lead of the post or go off-topic? An off-topic response can indicate that your post was not engaging or that your company has some greater issues that are not being addressed.
Who responded to your posts? Who responded to the most posts? Who responded the most quickly? Finding this information can help you start to build a picture of who your influencers and brand ambassadors are. These are the people who are going to share your content and help you get around Facebook’s pay barrier. Start looking at what posts interest them. Take a look at their pages and build profiles around them.
Companies are going to see engagement with their content dropping rapidly. By pursuing meaningful a more engagement with consumers, you will be able to demonstrate a much deeper ROI than simply amassing likes. You will be able to tell who your customers are and understand what they like to help you craft better and more meaningful content in the future.
This is the next growth stage in Facebook marketing. Growing up is hard to do, but Facebook has already pushed you out of the nest. It’s time to start flying.