Handling Facebook’s Evolution Posted on January 23, 2015 By Nathan Binder When social media marketing hit the scene, social media channels were flooded with eager beavers trying to capitalize off the trend. Unfortunately, because social media was a completely new field, no one really knew how to best take advantage of the new platforms. Now some marketers act like they’ve got it down to a science, a science that chiefly revolves around Facebook. But they fail to account for the fact social media is in its infancy; it’s rapidly evolving. Today, 18 year olds are on Snapchat more than Facebook; this wasn’t the case 5 years ago. Even Facebook itself has drastically evolved to make the “timeline” (formerly the “wall”) a more enjoyable, visually cohesive experience. This transformation led to an interesting development in the world of Facebook advertising. We’ve all heard the phrase, “a picture is worth 1000 words.” But a strange phenomenon occurring with Facebook promotional posts reveals that in the world of social media, this isn’t always so. By now, you’re probably familiar with Facebook’s “Reach” concept; the amount of users reached by a certain post. A few years ago, Facebook changed the algorithm that determined what showed up in a user’s newsfeed in order to create a more organic experience. Quite a few pages saw a large drop off in reach, and businesses and marketers alike realized that the change was less about an “organic experience,” and more about getting businesses to pay Facebook to promote (“boost”) key posts. There was initial mild outrage, but by now this cost is just considered part of the social media marketing game. But many companies refuse to play ball, believing their content will drive reach, rather than the money they sink into it. Fair enough. However, it appears that the most interesting posts are far from the most successful. Posts with images or a link perform underwhelmingly compared to simple text-based posts. Whether this is a sly move by Facebook to encourage more promotional funding, or a naturally occurring phenomenon based on consumer involvement remains to be seen. Facebook, of course, has yet to provide an answer. Regardless, the numbers don’t lie, and it’s important to consider that keeping it simple may be more advantageous, especially if it’s a case of awareness over action. In terms of engagement, photos and links are still the most effective strategy. Of course, that’s all moot if participation drops. So the question remains; is Facebook advertising even effective to begin with?A year ago, out of nearly 3,000 marketing professionals surveyed, 43% felt their marketing was effective, 37% were uncertain, and 20% disagreed. That’s a large amount of uncertainty for a strategy that is centric to quite a few marketing plans. Things have got even murkier since then, but the fact remains; Facebook has 1.23 billion active users. Billion. With a B. That’s more than 17% of the world population. Can you say “marketing Mecca?” With that collection of people, it’s hard to ignore Facebook. Unfortunately, most marketers think the same way, and thus a lot gets lost in clutter. So here are a few strategies to consider while using Facebook, beyond the simple daily promotional post. Time your posts: Facebook posts have a longer shelf life than tweets, but not by much. Know when your primary demographic gets online, and hit ‘em then. If you boost, boost selectively: As stated above, posts without images reach far more people than those with, but posts with images are 39% more likely to receive interaction; it’s these posts that should be boosted. Simple calls to action: A popular FB strategy is to post a humorous photo and ask followers to provide a caption. Many users that fancy themselves comedians can’t resist themselves and more comments = higher reach. You don’t even need to offer a prize for the best caption; the peer approval of “likes” is incentive enough. Be responsive: communicate with your supporters and your detractors; the personal effect can go along way. Additionally, 25% of users that complain about a brand on Facebook expect a response. Tailor your contests towards activity: Using words like “win” and “giveaway” are more likely to garner a response than “___% off” or “clearance.” Creating contests that prompt users to “like,” “comment,” or “share” will naturally increase interaction and reach. Don’t forget the roots: Remember that Facebook wasn’t invented to sell things, it was invented to create a new type of connected human experience. People get on Facebook to share things about their life. Instead of hammering your followers with promotional posts, ask them to share things with you; their favorite quotes, favorite foods, whatever. More traffic = more reach, and you’ll leave a positive impression on consumers that appreciate you valuing their input.