There’s something so jarring to people across the world when Facebook announces it’s changing … well anything (we’re creatures of technology habits!). This time it happens to be the News Feed. And that Facebook will favor posts from friends and family over branded content has some people (specifically, marketers) downright shook. As both a marketer and a recruitment marketer this shock is a little surprising to me; while this announcement is new, the idea that content from people is more engaging than content from brands is not new.
To summarize, Facebook is responding to both feedback and research that the News Feed is cluttered with content that is not bringing people closer together (irrelevant, not valuable, salesy, random). To get the whole story, you can read what Facebook is planning from Mark Zuckerberg himself.
One striking point in this announcement is that Facebook expects time on site and engagement to decline with this change. But take a look at the last few years, and you’ll see that engagement in consumer-branded content was already declining. In 2013, marketers could rely on an average of 16% of their Facebook fans to see their posts in the News Feed. In 2016 that number was down to a mere 2%. This is what we’re dealing with people! Social media is not the golden-paved highway to connect brands to people, even if you have all the dollars. We have to think of a smart and useful way to make our communication relevant, Facebook algorithm be damned. This change will make it even more challenging for your branded content to be discovered. But let’s not think of ways around it, let’s think of ways to work with it.
If Facebook will be weighting posts by friends and family higher than businesses, it’s likely we’ll see our employer brand content get lost in the noise. But fear not, friends, let’s push our boundaries.
Ads are ads are ads. Sponsored posts are not going anywhere. What will likely change is the cost. Expect costs of sponsored posts and other Facebook ad inventory to rise … and rise quickly. The audience eyeball is at a premium. If people are spending less time on the platform, there will be smaller ad inventory, therefore driving up the cost of the ad placement. So, yes, ads will remain, and they will provide an avenue for your employer brand content appear in the feed. I’d caution you to think about ad dollars, though, for a quick second. If feedback and research show people are ignoring, and even worse, cursing the irrelevant posts in their Feeds, how likely are they to be engaged by what they already know to be an ad?
So there is another way. A much more successful way. And that way is…
If Facebook is favoring content from friends and family, the trick will be to get your employees to share information about your brand for you. It can be easy. You can encourage your employees to tell their friends about your company (very authentic and organic): What did they do this week to make a difference? This month? This year? What goes on behind the scenes of the team? What do they do with their unlimited vacation? What’s the most exciting or challenging thing they’re working on? How are they helping the company, in their words? How does the company’s mission align with their own mission and values?
You can also simply send your employees an email with the content you want them to share (less authentic and organic, but sometimes more effective), and ask them to copy and paste it to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. By producing content internally for employees to share to their own networks on their own channels, you have more control over the posts and the voice of your brand. You’ll also make it easy for employees who might not be interested or active on social media. This content will then be given priority in the Feed because although written by a brand, it is being posted by real people on personal accounts.
I’ve said it about 1,000 times: people believe people before they believe brands. If you ask me, amplification will be the best way to get your employer brand content into the new Facebook Feed. And let me tell you, We’re all about employee amplification at SmashFly, and it made social media our number one source of leads and applicants. Your best marketing channel is already working for you. They’re on the payroll. It’s time to activate them. They are your way past the Facebook feed gatekeeper. They’re your way forward.