November 02, 2014

Keeping up with Facebook: Marketing Strategies that Work with the Changing Policies

Over the past two years, Facebook has been changing the way that users find and interact with content. The rise in paid advertising, mobile usage, and hashtags are creating a new identity for Facebook. These changes may cause users who have used the social network for years to neglect their Facebook presence because of the chaos and confusion.

Before you let your account gather dust, consider taking a step back to see if you can adjust the way you use Facebook to take advantage of the new policies, so that you can continue to be a part of the best-known social media site.

Getting to the Bottom of Organic vs. Paid:

It is true that ever since Facebook adjusted its search algorithms and paid advertising policies users have seen a drop in organic reach. Many articles are reducing this down to a scheme for Facebook to get more money. Although these changes are producing more revenue for the company, other sites are defending Facebook for its good business strategies. Inside Facebook's Justin Lafferty spoke out against the paid ad nay-sayers, saying “Facebook is, at the end of the day, a business… Companies — who are generally in the business of making money — complaining about a business doing what it can to make money feels self-centered." Organic reach should not simply be expected out of a large platform like Facebook.

If you want to rely on organic marketing to expose your business or product, you need to do more experimentation to figure out what works best with your audience. Facebook offers ways to track your paid and unpaid content, so use this tool to create content that sparks interest and discussion among users.

When trying out new methods of Facebook marketing, keep these newer features in mind to boost popularity for your business.

Make It Mobile:

In the past year, 78% of U.S. Facebook users have been mobile. On top of this, one-third of the 1.32 billion monthly Facebook users only logged in with their phones. These high mobile statistics can't be ignored when creating your marketing content. It is best to use a mobile-first strategy to make sure that everything you post is formatted and available for all mobile devices to reach the biggest possible audience. This includes your company's own website; if it isn't built to be responsive to mobile, any social media links to its pages will be less effective.

Networking and Location:

As of January 2014, Facebook announced that marketers could no longer “purchase sponsored stories separately; instead, social context — stories about social actions your friends have taken, such as liking a page or checking in to a restaurant — is now eligible to appear next to all ads shown to friends on Facebook." This recent change in their marketing policy has created a push for sponsored check-in stories. In order to use this new paid content to its fullest, encourage your customers to check-in on Facebook when they come in or use your products and services.

Hashtags: Use Simply and Sparingly

Facebook officially announced the use of hashtags on their site in June 2013, and although the tagging method was initially well-received, it plateaued at only 16% usage as of September that same year. Facebook is not used for discovery the same way that other sites like Twitter and Instagram are, so hashtags need to be handled differently. Overusing hashtags on Facebook actually decreases engagement dramatically. One statistic showed that in a sampling of 200,000 brand posts, those that used only 1-2 hashtags had 593 interactions while those with 3-5 hashtags went down to 416 interactions. This 30% decrease from only a one or two hashtag addition continues to plummet when posts contain 6 or more.

When using hashtags for your business, it is best to use them sparingly. Don't use hashtags that are too simple or they will get lost and disconnected from your brand. Choose hashtags that are unique and spark inspiration and user-generated content, such as the #BeautyIs campaign by Dove. Once you decide on your hashtag, use it throughout your page, such as in your About section and on images that you post, to keep the tag visible and memorable for your customers.

As Facebook continues to grow and change, you can market effectively by following the social media trends and staying up-to-date on policies. Facebook is more than just a platform: it's a business relationship that will help you as long as you know how to use it.