By now we are all aware Facebook's organic reach plummeted in 2014. An Ogilvy analysis found that organic posts' reach fell from 12% to 6% over the five-month period of October 2013 to February 2014. Unfortunately for brands, this number is about to take another dive... and not in a good direction. Facebook announced last Friday that, effective January 2015, it will be suppressing posts that "feel too promotional." A post will be deemed too promotional based on three aspects:
1. Pushing people to buy a product or install an app
2. Pushing people to enter promotions and sweepstakes without context
3. Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads
Since its infancy, Facebook has pushed for a customized user-experience with a tailor-made algorithm. Their argument is that consumers would rather receive ads that they deem relevant. Facebook is a user-based platform that gives people, not brands, the ultimate control. Also known as: the power of the like. As a brand, it's time to once again roll with the punches - your content's success is in the hands of Facebook, and following the rules isn't a choice; it's your only option. So, in that spirit, here are three factors to consider before promoting your next post.
Customization Is Key
Social media managers can no longer simply push content and expect to reach their entire audience. The good news? Messages can be tailored and targeted granularly, but it will take a little extra work. Consider the copy and, particularly, the image and segment your audience accordingly.
For example, a pet food brand's post featuring two kittens playing should only target feline enthusiast instead of their entire fan base. Facebook has a plethora of data available to advertisers we should take advantage of it. Remember, if you're targeting everybody then you're targeting nobody.
Match The Device With The Desired Action
The first question you should ask yourself is what is this post ultimately trying to achieve? Is the objective to generate likes, shares, comments or anything else that can easily be accomplished with thumbs? If it is, mobile probably makes the most sense considering that according to TechCrunch, Facebook accounts for 20% of all mobile media time in the US. Because of this heavy consumption costs are typically more efficient on smartphones and tablets than desktop.
Is the goal sales or a more cumbersome action? If so, desktop is best given the information input required to complete a purchase. In fact, according to MarketingLand, in the first half of 2014, desktop accounted for 81% of all US e-commerce sales.
When crafting the ad remember posts for smartphones should have significantly less copy given the smaller screens.
Have A Starting Point
Your first foray with paid media can be similar to shooting in the dark - no previous benchmarks make measuring success difficult. Unfortunately, industry standards offer little guidance because each brand's parameters are unique. Instead, focus on improving each Promoted Post compared to the previous one. Start this process by establishing key-performance-indicators (KPIs). Benchmarks are important since you cannot optimize what you do not know. Track everything from target audience, device, geography, post type, posting time, etc. then let the data influence the next campaign.
Labeling is also key. Consensus on a naming convention before the first post assures everyone is one the same page regardless of who is actually promoting the post. Finally, when evaluating creative, test one variable at a time to ensure performance can be attributed to only one change.
All of these changes which will require payment to reach even existing fans, mean that brands must have a broader strategy- over arching any single channel strategies. Yes, you should have a strategy for each channel, but it should fit into an overarching engagement strategy.
One question we can't help but say out loud: Can brands afford to continue running campaigns focused solely on growing their fan base? As Facebook and other platforms continue trending in their current direction, fan growth will be an incredibly pricey strategy. Brands will need paid media to simply reach their own audience, let alone new fans on the outside. But, that's a question for another day.