In early December, just before the holiday season went into full effect, Facebook announced yet another change to the News Feed algorithm.
According to Facebook's blog, survey results show that people are increasingly interested in reading articles and sourcing news from Facebook -- especially from mobile devices. Facebook has been sending traffic to news sources more and more over the past year, nearly tripling the amount of visitors sent from the social network to various news sources. As a result, the social network is putting more weight on high quality news stories and less on viral, meme-based posts.
Facebook admitted that this change is resulting in a drop in organic reach. Many brands have noticed it, including Gremln. Some analysts believe that while the organic reach (as in, number of people seeing your posts) may be lower, the actual click-through rate on those posts is improving, meaning that the audience who IS seeing what you share is actually more interested in what you have to say. But if your goal is to get your brand seen by as many people as possible, this may not provide any solace to the sadness of your declining reach.
We're all about meaningful engagement and know that a small number of participatory fans can be more powerful than a slew of action-less individuals reached. Of course, just like many of our clients, we do want to reach as wide an audience through social media as we can. (After all, we've worked hard to build our audience, and help you build yours!) So with the latest Facebook News Feed change, we've been thinking about what we can do to reach our audience and improve our social media engagement -- and want to share our research with you.
Much of 2013 was spent focusing on creating strong, visual content. Major updates from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+ put photos front and center, redesigning the network layouts to reflect an emphasis on imagery. Visuals will continue to be a vital part of any brand's presence. While you may not be able to relate major news stories to your product, you can look for applicable articles from reputable sources to include in your content-sharing mix. Don't try to be everything to everyone; even if you are not reaching as many people as you were before, don't fall victim to sharing stories you think Facebook will deem "high quality" just because you think you have to in order to be seen. Above all, you want to be relevant to your audience.
Just because these changes have decreased overall organic reach doesn't mean they necessarily will diminish your audience activity. Take the time to do a bit of research to find out exactly what makes the most sense for your Facebook fan base. Use Facebook Insights to see if your audience responds best to posts with photos, links, or videos. Find out what times of day your fans are most likely to be active, and make sure to get your posts up during that time.
Earlier in 2013, Facebook announced Story Bumping and Last Actor -- elements of the News Feed that allows posts you haven't seen yet, or that you've already seen and that your friends have since engaged with, to reappear at the top of your feed. Luckily, Story Bumping and Last Actor will still be an active facet of the News Feed algorithm -- meaning that if your posts are eliciting conversation amongst your fans, those conversations will continue to be displayed in your fans News Feed. Be creative with the way you entice your audience to participate -- create polls, ask questions, and use eye-catching images.
When you have a post you think your audience might benefit from, but you are worried they might never see it organically, it might be worth it to spend a few bucks promoting your post. You don't need to drop your entire marketing budget to make an impact; spending a bit here and there to test different audience demographics and times of day can really increase your understanding of your audience. A word to the wise -- be sure to double-check that Facebook hasn't added a default audience to your post before you decide to promote it.
Has your brand noticed a significant decrease in reach? What actions are you taking to increase your engagement on Facebook? Join the conversation on GREMLN's Facebook Page.