Facebook’s user growth has slowed somewhat in recent times. Look at their June quarter growth – 3.47 per cent – compared to the March quarter – 3.6 per cent – and it’s clear the juggernaut isn’t adding new time-wasters at a pace like it was in 2011.
The social platform took the initiative at the end of last year and started to tweak the algorithms tied to its News Feed feature in a bid to appeal to its users. The changes were aimed at giving them more control over content, and they’re also getting rather loud about dodgy content.
The message is clear. Content: it’s time to shape up or ship out.
To follow or unfollow
Users have more accessibility to the controls that dictate what they’re shown in their News Feeds, including what brands they see. They’re only two clicks away from unfollowing multiple pages, brands and friends in one fell swoop.
Facebook tried to balance this tweak with a “discover new pages” feature designed to match users with company pages that are relevant to them, as well as the addition of the user-driven “see first” feature, which lets users pick and choose who appears in their News Feed.
That sends a pretty clear message: give people what they want to see. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a lot of these moves are also reducing the organic reach of Facebook posts, placing more of a premium on Facebook ads. Funny that.
One thing hasn’t changed though, and that’s the human element to Facebook. It’s a social site for people to express themselves to their friends. That leaves the door open for content marketers to gain referrals – the most trusted source of advertising. If John Bestenfriend likes something, and I respect John’s opinion, then I’m very interested.
Speak to their hearts, not their wallets
The days of content on your whiz-bang, problem-solving product or service are fading into twilight. The digital generation finds traditional advertising invasive (41 per cent of users aged 18-29 use AdBlock) and prefer to make their own minds up about purchases (94 per cent of B2B buyers research before purchasing, while 81 per cent of consumers do due diligence before committing cash).
But that doesn’t mean marketing on these platforms is a waste of time – quite the opposite. It’s just placed more of a premium on quality content.
It means you’ll have to invest more in discovering the emotional pain points of your audience – what makes them tick. Sure, hiring Gisele Bundchen for an ad campaign might get you some clicks, but putting money behind ideas that hit people at the heart seems to work best on Zuckerberg’s star vehicle.
You need look no further than the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge for inspiration. It was inexpensive, utterly brilliant and righteous. Research has shown that working millennials, in particular, want purpose over money. You don’t need a multimillion-dollar campaign to go viral on Facebook (though it helps) – you need content that speaks to what matters to your audience. That comes in many forms, and it’s why content marketing has become so important not just for Facebook, but for everything online.
If you have a solid content marketing strategy in place, it’s highly unlikely these Facebook changes will affect your brand. But if you’ve only been skimming the surface of what content marketing can do for you, it might be time to go ahead and jump in.
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