The social network’s CEO pledged to prioritise content from friends and family over promotional content from brands. These changes, set to roll out over the next few months, will likely mean brands, businesses and media organisations will see a decrease in their organic reach.
Facebook’s move follows accusations that its pursuit of user growth has had a negative impact on its users. By ‘prioritising posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people’, the social network hopes to make users’ experiences more about seeing their friend’s baby pics, rather than Buzzfeed articles and other links to external sites.
The full impact of the change is yet to be revealed. Although one thing is almost certain. Business pages will see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease.
Despite being the preferred channel for 1 in 4 B2B decision makers, Facebook has already been a hard network for B2B marketers to master. Many opt for more ‘business friendly’ platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn. So how can businesses work with the new algorithm to continue reaching new and existing customers?
Make the professional personal
Many of us like to keep our personal Facebook profiles separate from work, but for the C-Suite this can no longer be the case. Businesses can take advantage of Facebook’s algorithm changes by using people as brand advocates.
PR Week suggests rebranding your c-suite’s personal Facebook pages with a company headshot, branded cover photo, and thought-leadership content. These company profiles can be used to post the same ‘humble brags’ that you see all over your LinkedIn feed. The ones where a CXO shares a story that has impacted an aspect of their business, and relates back to how it has affected them personally.
They can also be used foster potential business relationships through two-way communication. As well as joining, creating and posting in relevant groups. Facebook prohibits people from using personal profiles primarily for commercial gain. So it’s important to consider the content you are posting in order to avoid your account being shut down. Share the human side of your business with real-life behind-the-scenes team moments and highlight customer satisfaction by sharing testimonials.
Use your influence
A key benefit of social media for businesses is the ability to identify your target audience. That means uncovering the right data and listening to the right channels. Picking the right influencer, who can advocate for your brand, and have a measure of trust within your universe, is vital for brand engagement.
Facebook users spend an average of 30 minutes a day on the platform (source: Hootsuite)
While your business content is less likely to organically reach Facebook users, the same can’t be said for influencers’ content. So while this change may be bad for businesses, it’s good for influencers. According to Forbes, connecting with Influencers who have a growing audience will continue to be the most effective way to influence consumer behaviour, via social media and beyond. Connecting with a brand has a huge impact on B2B buyers. Those who feel a “high brand connection” are 60% more likely to consider, purchase and even pay a premium than “low brand connection” competitors.
Send in the bots (Messenger)
The new algorithm may lose you views in the newsfeed. So it could be time to utilise Facebook’s other platform: Messenger. According to Facebook, the Messenger Platform connects you to over 1.3 billion people each month. What’s more, 53% of people say they are more likely to shop with a business they can message.
Though Facebook Messenger bots have mainly been adopted by B2C businesses, there’s evidence to suggest B2B customers are quickly adapting to messaging apps. According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2017 report, 31% of respondents prefer to communicate with messenger apps for business purposes. While 74% said they used Facebook for professional uses.
Being an early adopter has its advantages, such as limited competition in the space. Especially when setting up a Messenger bot is fairly easy and inexpensive. Of course, businesses should ensure they’re prioritising customer needs and UX, above winning the race to be in the bot space.
Naturally, chatbots require testing with your audience. However, when done right, they give brands the chance to interact quickly with their audience in a way that feels personal. Boosting a businesses’ customer experience, lead generation and data gathering in the process.
Using Facebook ads for ABM
Account-based marketing (ABM) is revolutionising marketing, and is expected to continue to improve in 2018. The process of ABM allows businesses to target on account level. Rather than at contact level through email marketing and advertising.
Facebook has more than 2 billion daily active users (source: Sproutsocial)
While LinkedIn is the traditional choice for B2B advertising, Facebook has started to win over reluctant B2B operators with its sophisticated targeting measures. In addition to the standard metrics like age, gender and location, you can also pinpoint people at a more granular level. Education, job title or even current workplace – allowing you to really hone in on your prospects.
Facebook’s custom audiences also allows you to target based on a list you upload or integrate with your marketing automation platform such as HubSpot. This means you can reach contacts within your data on another platform, plus similar contacts with Facebook’s lookalike audience expansion.
You can then use this audience as the basis for a variety of advertising. From sponsoring relevant engaging content, to using lead forms that capture new data.
In conclusion; go where your audience are (HINT: It’s Facebook)
The change in algorithm will no doubt come with its challenges for businesses. But it also presents opportunities. The shift in focus should see brands competing to deliver value in content – instead of click bait. Meaning we’ll see more creative posting that inspires conversation and less ‘tag that friend who…’.
Where LinkedIn fits in
This isn’t to say B2B marketers should move their focus entirely away from LinkedIn. However, the median amount of time spent on Facebook by business decision makers each day is 74% higher than other people on the platform. In fact, in a study by Hotwire, 1 in 4 B2B decision makers cited Facebook as their preferred social media platform when seeking information on a purchasing decision. Ranking it ahead of LinkedIn and Twitter.
Yet the report also found that almost a third of marketers do not plan to use Facebook in their own B2B marketing. So make sure you’re in the two-thirds that are reaching those business leaders with great content and targeted advertising. And if you need help with reaching your target audience across all channels, be sure to get in touch.