Facebook, will you please stop mucking about with your algorithm?! You’re making our lives as marketers harder, and you're making people sad.
No, seriously. Research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that when Facebook users surround themselves with content from their friends and family, it leads to “proliferation of biased narratives fomented by unsubstantiated rumours, mistrust, and paranoia”.
The researchers from Boston University and various Italian institutions referred to this phenomenon as an “echo chamber”. In changing its algorithm so that posts by users’ friends and family are prioritised in the news feed, Facebook is reinforcing the echo chamber effect.
So basically, Facebook is to blame for Brexit. The EU Referendum took place on 23 June; Facebook changed its algorithm in the same month – you do the math. (That was a joke, Facebook; please don’t sue us!)
Moving swiftly on…
What we’re more concerned about anyway is what the change meant for businesses who choose to promote their content via the network. We've known for a while that the visibility of posts made by brands and organisations is on the decrease. Did you read our blog post about it earlier this year? Who are we kidding - of course you did.
Is it time to knock Facebook on the head?
Far too hasty, that. Firstly, let’s be fair to Facebook. When it first started out, it never wanted to be a provider or distributor of businesses’ content – it just wanted to facilitate connecting people to each other.
Over the years, it has moved away from its origins somewhat, but its latest update appears to be an attempt to take it back to its roots. It’s their network - they can do what they like with it at the end of the day. Even using users’ location data – without permission – to suggest friends, according to Forbes…
However, let’s not forget that Facebook relies on businesses to make money. Between July and September, the company reported profits of $2.4bn (£1.9bn) – most of which came from adverts.
Facebook has to balance the loyalty it owes to businesses with keeping individual users happy. If it doesn’t, it risks losing a shitload of users, which will have a knock-on effect on its ad revenues. That’s why the company’s vice president of product management Adam Mosseri was quick to stress that organisations shouldn’t notice a “very big change” in their reach from its latest algorithm change. All the while, users are not going to be frustrated by having their news feeds dominated by business content.
Bravo, Facebook, you clever, slippery swine.
How can we still enjoy decent engagement on Facebook?
The key to more engagement on Facebook, as it’s always been, is super relevant, super engaging content. Simple really. Except Facebook’s latest tweaking has meant there’s less margin for error. If you miscalculate your audience for a few posts on the trot, Facebook will interpret this as your page not being a huge hit with users and bury your future posts in their news feeds.
To prevent that happening, here’s what you should do:
- Have buyer personas shape your content
We’ve spoken about buyer personas at length lately, and for good reason. They can be applied to all marketing endeavours, including Facebook marketing, to ensure your content is really hitting the spot with your audience.
So, with your persona template in hand, create content that speaks in the tone of voice of your Facebook audience. Speaking in generic business speak will cause your customers to scroll straight past your content, as will making attempts to sell your products or services – that’s not what users come to Facebook for, nor is it what Facebook wants you to do.
All that Facebook wants is for you to post content that your users can engage with. So, if your personas suggests they like minion memes, swallow your pride and post the damn minion memes. You might die a little bit inside, sure, but your users will like the post, which then sends a signal to Facebook that you’re someone who posts likeable/interesting content and they’ll then put your future content on more timelines. To sum up, then: sell your soul to the devil, if that’s what your personas tell you to do.
- Pay the monies
They’ll never admit it, but the main reason the scamps behind Facebook have taken steps to diminish organic reach is to get businesses to pay for ads. The social media giant's chief financial officer David Wehner recently said that he expects ad revenues to slow "meaningfully" in the next few months, so it makes sense to hinder firms’ ability to get into users’ timelines for free, right?
It might not sound very fair; in fact, it can make your blood boil, knowing that Facebook is generating £2bn in revenues each quarter, but as ‘happyology’ tells us, don’t stress over the things you can’t change.
All we can do is accept that, yes, Facebook is intent on making social media marketing more expensive by forcing businesses into paying for ads. However, that’s a little easier to accept if your content flourishes as a paid ad, which boils down to you creating posts that are fitting of your buyer personas.
It always comes down to how well you create for your buyer personas, at the end of the day – that’s marketing in a nutshell.
Soooo, have you got those buyer personas sorted yet? If not - you're gonna need to download our free buyer personas template, below. Pretty handy that, isn't it? Look how well we know you! ;)