January 13, 2016

What to Do When Your Brand Can't Exactly 'Pay-to-Play' on Facebook

As social media marketers, we've heard that Facebook is undoubtedly moving towards a 'pay-to-play' model for businesses. But what exactly does that mean? And what exactly does that mean for your brand?

It means that Facebook has changed its algorithm to limit the reach of organic content posted by brand pages in an effort to encourage businesses to invest media dollars in paid Facebook advertising and post promotion. Facebook is going head to head in competition with Google to lead in online advertising revenue, which means we can only expect organic reach on the platform to continue to decline as this initiative evolves. That said, the reality is that not every brand has the room in their budget to invest in media dollars on Facebook.

So, how do you break through the barriers of this potentially threatening algorithm change with your organic content?

Be Real

Approximately 63% of consumers say that they are highly annoyed with repeated, generic advertising messages. For Millennials, that percentage is higher. As a result, consumers crave authentic communication and transparent relationships with the brands they love or are interested it. Establish a human voice with your Facebook content. Use the language that your audience uses and responds to. This approach will help you break through the clutter of other annoying posts pushed out by brands who haven't gotten the memo yet and will help you more easily engage in a two-way conversation with your audience.

Jump on Real Time Moments

Similarly to being real, be relevant. One of the best ways to gain traction with your organic content is to join conversations about viral internet topics that your audience is already discussing and searching on Facebook. When it makes sense, act fast and find ways to naturally insert your brand into these conversations in a fun and interesting manner. When you do this, be sure to use the most popular hashtags and key phrases that your audience is using.  Creating real time content shows that you're actively engaged in the Facebook community and culturally relevant conversations, as opposed to simply pumping out evergreen content on a predetermined schedule. Not only will your reach exponentially increase, your audience will appreciate it'leaving them wanting more. It's proven to ring true with our own social media work at AMP Agency.

Here are some great examples of other marketers and brands that get it.

Like the time that Twix lit a fire under #TheDress debate:

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And when Arby's asked Pharrell for their hat back during the GRAMMYs:

Let's not forget about the time Oreo saved the day during the Super Bowl XLVII power outage:

Shares, shares, shares

When you're relying on organic reach, shares are your best friend. A share extends beyond a like, not only in the expanded reach potential it holds, but also in what it says about the way your audience is engaging with your content. When someone shares your content, they are really saying 'I enjoy or related to this post so much that I wish I had made it myself. I want everyone else to see it and enjoy it as much as I did.'Your ability to relate to your audience is key here.   For example

When Bud Light read their audience's mind:

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Or when Forever 21 shared #WordsofWisdom with their millennial audience, 75% of which would like to travel abroad as much as possible:

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Designing 'sharable'? content is where you'll need to think very critically about the psychographic profile of your target audience. Think to yourself, 'Is this message something that a member of my target audience would actually feel, say, or think themselves and want to share with their friends?'? Also don't forget to ask, 'Does it tie into my brand's core messaging in some way?' It's important not to lose your brand essence or voice in trying to be relatable or funny to gain shares.

Use Video Content

As Facebook continues to compete with Google owned YouTube to be the number one video uploading and viewing platform, native video content on Facebook has proven to reach nearly double the amount of people that images do, with 65% of that video content being viewed on mobile. Use this to your advantage! Create short, simple yet interesting video content that will engage your audience and let Facebook's video-favoring algorithm do the rest.

Graph source: http://www.beet.tv/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Slide09.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next Steps

Now, when planning future budgets, should paid social media get a piece of the pie? Yes, absolutely. But in the meantime, you can experiment with these approaches to optimizing your organic content on Facebook to stay afloat in a 'pay-to-play' world.

Your turn: What other strategies have you found to be successful?

Topics: Social Media, facebook, Blog, Facebook Brand Pages, Paid Social, Social Channels, Social marketing, Social Media Ads, social media marketing, Social Media Strategy

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