Facebook announced significant changes to its Newsfeed based on feedback about how users want to experience news and information in their feed. These changes came into effect January 11.
The overhaul means you’ll see more posts from friends that have created buzz with comments. This also means you may see fewer branded videos and content that is gamed to increase shares and likes. Prioritizing what your friends and family share is part of an effort by Facebook to help people spend time on the site in what it thinks is a more meaningful way. But do they have that assumption right? Facebook is a data powerhouse so you have to think they are banking on research results. The question of what drives human interest and therefore clicks and shares is the one we marketers must answer as we forge forward with social media marketing in 2018 and beyond.
Facebook Changes: How They Affect Your Business
But here’s the good news: If you have been doing things right to this point, there is no reason to think you will see a big drop in organic reach. In fact, organic reach has been a struggle since Facebook introduced ads. But that is just good business for a company with just over 2 billions users and huge brands jockeying and throwing money at the social network in the hope of getting in front of your eyeballs.
If you have grown a Page or Facebook presence organically (as in, you did NOT buy likes from some click farm in southeast Asia) you likely won’t see a dramatic loss of reach. You will still have to strive to keep content fresh and engaging on your Page but you’re already doing that, right? Yay!
Here a few tips on how to maximize your Facebook and Instagram strategy for 2018:
- Instagram stories are huge and are only going to grow. Stories (on both Facebook and Insta) are only going to grow in popularity. So start using these tools. The static Insta feed is where things can look perfect, curated, and crafted but the Stories is where brands can have fun, offer behind the scenes looks, partner with influencers (embedded links are available to verified accounts), and be spontaneous. The visibility of Instagram stories is high. Impressions on stories continue to grow and anecdotally, Insta users and influencers are telling us they get more viewership on their stories than “likes” on an Insta post. Snapchat use will continue to decline. Facebook is a juggernaut and it has the volume to crush its competition (especially when the competition rebuffs an offer to be bought). With Insta in its arsenal now too, and with the move toward Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) integrations next, Facebook’s influence will continue.
- Facebook isn’t free and hasn’t been for years. If you don’t already advertise on Facebook, what are you waiting for? The barrier to entry is low and you can get high reach for not a big investment. If you’re not sure how to get started, choose a well-performing post (Facebook likely has already pointed one out to you if you manage a Page and encouraged you to boost it), set a dollar amount, target audience as per the Facebook Ad Manager, and go for it! The beauty is you can edit or pause a boost or ad at any time. You can even run A/B testing for next to nothing to see which ads are getting the most traction and then re-evaluate to determine why.
- Facebook Live. Here is a great case study for Facebook Live being used as a communications tool to secure online donations and resulting in a $4.6 MILLION total by the stroke of midnight for the Community Foundation of Louisville. Bottom line: get creative with how your business or brand uses Facebook Live. Tease your audience with what’s coming up, exclusive offers, what’s not to miss, and hey, maybe some SURPRISE VIP/celeb guests they can only catch by watching.
- Keep doing what you’ve been doing. Now is not the time to panic. Now is the time to re-evaluate if you’re giving your audience what they want and if your calls to action are being answered. It’s not time to abandon social media at all. Instead, it’s time to buckle down, hammer out a strategy to reach those customers who are your best customers and give them a reason to interact with your content and most importantly to BUY–whether that happens online or in your bricks and mortar store.
- BONUS: if you operate a bricks and mortar store the time for focusing on customer experience is NOW. It has never been more important to delight that customer from the time they enter your shop till the time they leave with a big smile feeling like not only did they buy something (or maybe *gasp* they didn’t) but that their presence and money were valued by your store and staff. It is 2018. People do not have to leave their houses to go shopping for the most part. So if they do, as a business owner make that interaction as wonderful and easy as possible. If they buy something, that is GREAT. If they don’t, they will remember how they were treated and that will stay with them. Be the store they recommend to their entire social network because you provided an exceptional experience. Plant the seed for repeat customers every time.
And what do you need to know about YouTube? Well, there are big changes there too.
The full run down is here but the long and short of these changes mean if you are making money off of ads on YouTube your audience needs to prove that you deserve to making money on YouTube. But wait, is that really the route we need to go?
Starting today we’re changing the eligibility requirement for monetization to 4,000 hours of watchtime within the past 12 months and 1,000 subscribers. We’ve arrived at these new thresholds after thorough analysis and conversations with creators like you. They will allow us to significantly improve our ability to identify creators who contribute positively to the community and help drive more ad revenue to them (and away from bad actors). These higher standards will also help us prevent potentially inappropriate videos from monetizing which can hurt revenue for everyone.
Earlier this month, YouTube promoted a video of infamous vlogger Logan Paul visiting a place in Japan notorious as spot where people have committed suicide. The post drew strong backlash online and offline but his post was trending on YouTube for hours (and therefore making him money) before the outcry made YouTube take notice.
While YouTube cut ties with the vlogger and he subsequently issued a (non) apology, it’s clear this incident exposed flaws in the algorithm and changes had to be made quickly. The YouTube changes were in the works since last year so it wasn’t a direct response but it’s clear YouTube felt compelled to act.
And while the changes are said to affect only a minority of vloggers on the site, perhaps the question we should be asking about YouTube is how this new algorithm will decide who the future platform stars will be. Social media has great power over youth and consumer behaviour and with that power should come responsibility but at some point we have to look in the mirror and decide the change will have to start with us–the viewer.
What can you do with a YouTube strategy in 2018 and forward?
Back in April of 2017, we set a YPP eligibility requirement of 10,000 lifetime views. While that threshold provided more information to determine whether a channel followed our community guidelines and policies, it’s been clear over the last few months that we need a higher standard.
If you’re not on YouTube already or have a low subscriber numbers, is it worth investing in a strategy? It depends. If you have a product that benefits from the “show me” aspect of online marketing and social media, and have the means to invest in influencer marketing, then it might be a smart move. YouTube continues to be the second largest search engine in the world.
That being said, why do all the hard work? If you want to dip your toe into the YouTube game (and remember we’re talking about the monetization of your brand on YouTube) then partnering WISELY with vetted influencers for the best bang for your buck would be on point.
This way your brand is building relationships with customers and potential customers without the legwork of building that network with a critical mass. Influencer marketing is only going to benefit from this move but then it becomes incumbent on agencies (like we are at SPARKER) to carefully screen and vet influencers to make sure that numbers and stats are legit and that deliverables are reasonable and work toward a long-term relationship.
There is much to think about and plan for for brands in 2018 and beyond. The one true thing that should always be at the forefront is that most small and medium business can’t (and shouldn’t) try to do everything and be on every social network. Find where your customers are rock it out in that space. True since forever.