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Facebook has Levelled up Your Content Strategy, Like it or Not.
Facebook has Levelled up Your Content Strategy, Like it or Not.

There’s been much said about the change to the kind of content Facebook has been prioritising since earlier this year. Some predicted the end of media publishers getting traffic from Facebook. Some predicted the end of businesses seeing any return from Facebook. In fact, some predicted it would be a serious blow to democracy as we know it. Holy wow, the sky must be falling!

Side note: if you want to understand the kind of change Facebook made and why, I recommend reading Mark Zuckerberg’s original post from January.

As with many competing predictions, however, the truth lies somewhere in between. While the shift away from brands and publishers back to content from people you actually know means that there are more pictures of your mates at a picnic or a party than there are headlines or cat videos, nothing much has changed in the way users interact with Facebook.

That’s to say that people are still seeing content that gets greater engagement and relevant conversation (longer, involved comments, shares and similar actions) and this is, by all accounts, the main kind of metric Facebook’s machines consider when deciding what shows first in your feed.

Most importantly for marketers, however, is that, without perhaps intending to or letting you know, Facebook has levelled up your content strategy. We can no longer play the reach game where we know that if our post could just get over the one million impressions mark, chances are we’ll score 5% engagement or 3,000 click throughs or 50 new likes or whatever. That time, that era of pseudo-gambling on the world’s most pivotal media platform, is finished.

The king is dead. Long live the king.

While the numbers game may be dead, the platform and people’s affinity for it is not going anywhere. In fact, in my opinion, things are better than ever because, finally, we are being made to pay attention to the kind of content that really drives engagement between brands and people. That is content that is either useful or entertaining and, in some cases, both.

In a recent conversation with David Beebe, widely regarded as one of the world’s best creative marketers, he told me that brands have to think like a media company (they don’t need to become one, mind you, but rather think like one). That’s to say that brands must put their audience and its needs first in order that their content resonates and delivers on commercial metrics over time.

He’s totally right and, confronting as it might be for many brand and campaign-style marketers who are fixated on the business’ metrics in terms of share of mind, share of voice, quarterly sales or anything like that, it is a truth that is applicable to your content strategy now more than ever.

Why is that? Well, content that is better aligned with your audience’s needs (and, dare I say it, their values) is more likely to move them to action. The smallest of those actions would be a positive and honest comment on your Facebook post or even sharing your content to their networks. It is this content that Facebook is most interested in now more than ever.

The reality is that this content, while deeply rewarding to your customer, does not come as naturally to marketers as it does to publishers. Publishers have a deep and ingrained knowledge of what makes their audience feel and act in certain ways; the same cannot be said for all brands.

Time to make a choice.

By making this shift to more useful and engaging content based on people’s responses to it, Facebook has made the choice for you. Scratch that; it’s giving you the opportunity to make the choice to level up your content strategy. You could not evolve and continue to see diminishing returns from what is already a generally very lean return on investment in terms of time and effort marketers put into Facebook. This may work for you, there are good reasons why it would, but there are also many, many much better reasons why it wouldn’t.

Alternatively, you can step up and make the choice to run with this new, levelled up content strategy. In my opinion, the reason why it’s so important you take the opportunity to level up is that Facebook has no equal now or in the history of marketing. There is just no more powerful a tool or distribution mechanism to reach your audience and market your brand.

So, ask yourself how well you know your audience, especially your audience on Facebook. It’s most likely this group, if it’s significant enough and not stacked heavily with employees or partners of your organisation, can already give you the answers to questions about what matters to them and what they would engage with. If the answers aren’t so obvious, it’s incumbent on you to go and look for them elsewhere.

The way you design your content then naturally flows from there. The format, the style, the subject matter, the rhythm; if you know what your customers are going to find useful, emotive, entertaining, valuable, then it becomes much easier to produce content that hits those beats.

And, if you hit those beats, Facebook is going to make it easier for you to reach people like your current audience that should probably be following your page and seeing your content anyways. This is a levelled up content strategy and, whether you like it or not, is the reality for any brand playing on Facebook today.

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