It's not surprising to anyone that Facebook is one of the top means of attracting new customers to your brand. In fact, it's how my own brand was able to get off the ground just a month after our launch. But after all of that new business, on June 29, 2016, our rapid growth and surge in traffic came to a screeching halt.
Facebook formally announced it was tweaking its algorithm once again. This time, the change meant posts from a users' family and friends would appear more often in their newsfeeds than those from businesses. Content generated by brands would still populate, but not at the same percentage. While the idea behind the change was in line with Facebook's primary goal of connecting people, seeing more posts from family and friends meant seeing fewer posts from brands and publishers.
My brand was built on Facebook. We relied heavily on Facebook's audience for traffic to our website and hot leads. It didn't take long for the impact to set in: What started as a small but noticeable drop in traffic led to a rapid decline in sales and decrease in our organic reach. Here's what your brand can do to make the most of this algorithm change:
Think About Relevance and Timing
Posts that show up in your newsfeed are now a combination of content from friends who you engage with most frequently, and content that is popular or relevant to your interests. Facebook will prioritize posts that gain rapid engagement over those that have the likes and comments trickling in. This means, to increase the likelihood of organic distribution, marketers must create content that is both creative and applicable.
Piggyback off of trending topics and hashtags to stay relevant and increase organic engagement. Use strong calls to action in the first 10 seconds of your ads. Ask the consumer a question to pique their interest. We address an everyday problem in those first 10 seconds.
Focus on Paid Advertising
The great thing about Facebook's paid advertising options is that they are a cost-effective way of hyper-targeting your audience. With the decrease in organic reach, your brand may want to get a bit more strategic about using paid ads. For example, experiment with frequency, increase the budget or improve the quality of the content. Our brand uses video ads because the cost per impression is much cheaper than any other ad. Because we are a fairly new company, we are still trying to get in front of as many consumers as possible.
On top of that, ensure that once a lead finds their way to your page as a result of your paid advertising, they will find further content they will want to engage with. Provide quality videos and images throughout your website to keep a consumer there for a longer. A 30-second to one-minute video on every product page can answer all of your consumers' questions.
Find Creative Ways to Drive Shares
Everyone dreams of their Facebook posts going viral, but the percentage of posts that actually achieve such success is small. Never in my wildest dreams did I think our first ad would eclipse five million views and tens of thousands of shares, but we found a way to really connect and engage with the people who watched our video. We told the consumer exactly what we wanted them to do. In the title of your ads, inspire them to share the content, tag a friend or visit the website for more information.
If you can generate 20, 50, or even a couple hundred shares, you increase your likelihood of organic traffic. Search for ways to strategically link your Facebook posts (or even paid content marketing posts) within other types of email and content marketing outreach.
Expand Social Marketing Beyond Facebook
For the time being, marketers should keep a close eye on their Facebook analytics, and even their website analytics. This will help to gauge how much the algorithm change is affecting your traffic, engagement and conversion rates. In the meantime, begin to research and test other social platforms -- like Instagram or Twitter -- to see how they can be used to minimize the difference and even create new means of both organic and paid traffic and engagement.
Both online and social media marketing have evolved many times since their inception. The key to success is staying on top of the trends, and keeping up-to-date with all changes.
Chad Keller is the founder of WUDN, an eco-friendly company that creates real wood, locally sourced products made in a Pittsburgh woodshop for superior quality, durability and sustainability.