It's 2018, and social media pretty much rules all of our lives. People of all ages are scrolling through social feeds to find news, friends, brands and stories. (My 86-year-old grandma recently joined Facebook. I didn't think she even knew how to use a computer.) Social media is a prime outlet for brands to interact with and get to know their audiences, yet reaching and retaining customers is only becoming more difficult.
Facebook recently announced they are making changes to their news feed algorithm to prioritize personal connections and engagement. In short, the changes will favor active engagement over passive viewing and private content over public content. This means that content created by family and friends will be most prevalent, and public content from brands, businesses, and media organizations will be minimal.
For businesses, this change signals that it's time to review your 2018 social marketing strategy and rethink everything. Here's what you need to do to draw attention to your social media posts.
Every post needs to generate conversation.
Don't waste your time on passive videos.
While at one point videos may have been a great way to draw attention to your brand, many videos are passive. With Facebook's new change, your video or otherwise passive post has little chance of garnering attention (or even showing up on anyone's feed) if it's not promoting interaction and a conversation.
In a statement by Mark Zuckerberg, he tipped off marketing departments by saying, "We've seen people interact way more around live videos than regular ones." Marketing departments: It's time to master Facebook Live and plan content that revolves around it.
Focus on value over volume.
While consistently posting and being top-of-mind is important, there's no way a business can stay top-of-mind if their posts aren't being seen. To increase your visibility, provide your followers with content that's useful, interesting and worthy of sharing.
Get to know your followers by spending time with them. Learn their habits, and ask why they do things rather than just watching their behavior. Also be sure to share real people's stories – your customers' and your employees' stories. Find out what your customers are passionate about and what makes them tick. In doing so, you can deliver content that is truly customer-centric rather than company-centric.
Here's an example. Let's say you own a meal delivery service (the Savory Spatula) that is focused on helping clients learn to cook. Get into the customer's mindset. Create posts from their point of view. One post could be: "Learn how to cook in less than 30 days and impress that special someone on Valentine's Day." There is a marked difference in the first post versus a more generic one that states: "The Savory Spatula can teach you how to cook a great Valentine's meal!"
Watch your competitors.
If you're posting several times a week to no avail, then you're not connecting with your audience. Take a look at what your competition is doing. This will give you insight into what topics are great conversation points and the type of content that is engaging your consumers. Once you have a greater understanding of your users and what they're interested in, you can better apply that to your marketing efforts.
A little controversy can spice things up.
While there are many controversial topics that your company should never dive in to – politics and religion – trivial matters are free game. In fact, a little controversy is encouraged as it is a great tool to create conversation and get your company noticed on social media. Controversies as silly as the correct way to place toilet paper on the roll (with the flap over or under) have generated mass discussions.
Also consider conducting research or sourcing credible research to back up your controversial topic or debate. An argument backed with data can reach a broader audience than an argument based on your opinion or experience.
Encourage employee engagement.
Rally the troops.
Engagement is more important than ever, which means that businesses can't just create good content and hope it will be seen. Your company must rely on engagement to keep content afloat. This is where employees come in. Encourage and incentivize employees to play a role in your company's social interactions.
One good tool to increase employee engagement is called GaggleAMP. With GaggleAMP, employees share content across various digital marketing platforms while earning points and rewards. Gabby Green, marketing communications employee at Jive Communications, said that after using GaggleAMP for five months, Jive's Facebook account saw a reach growth of 109 percent.
Never limit your social media outlets to Facebook alone.
Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
Facebook is a great tool that offers a massive network of potential customers, but it's not the only social channel that your target audience is using. When getting to know your customer base, identify the social channels that reach them, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and Ello, the newest member. [Read related story: Best Social Media Marketing Solutions for Small Business]
Instagram especially is growing at an incredible rate. In 2017, the social media giant announced that approximately 800 million people use their platform each month and brands are seeing greater engagement on Instagram than other social media platforms. So, cover your social media bases and see where you get the most interaction.
Utilize influencers on various platforms.
After getting to know your audience and finding out which social media outlets they're using, consider using influencers in your marketing strategy. Especially since consumers will generally trust influencers over brands. In fact, 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from other people – even those they don't know – over branded content.
Facebook's announcement may have felt like a stab in the back, but it's not the first time we've had to adapt with algorithm changes, and it certainly won't be the last.
Focus on creating engaging content, utilizing Facebook Live and other social media platforms, finding influencers, encouraging a bit of friendly controversy, and involving your employees in the conversation. These tips will be a great springboard to building (or rebuilding) your 2018 Facebook and social media strategy.