In a move that some marketers feel is the death knell for social media as a channel and a shift back to email and more traditional channels, Facebook is making an effort to curb the amount of ‘commercial’ content its users see.
What is actually changing?
Essentially, Facebook is changing the way it selects and displays items in its users’ newsfeeds. Their aim is to cut down on the volume of branded and media-originating content in favour of more material from their users’ friends and family. At first glance, this sounds bad for those of us who use Facebook as a marketing channel, but it doesn’t have to be.
What Facebook aims to do – removing the bulk of the ‘junk posts’ from everyone’s feeds – can really work to your advantage. By removing the bulk of the commercial messaging but keeping the commercial messages that the algorithm predicts the users will be most interested in, it makes those commercial pieces that do reach the feeds much more likely to be read, and to be read with real interest.
Of course, this does present 2 distinct challenges if one does not want to be dismissed with the rest of the ‘junk posts’. The first is creating content that the algorithm identifies as useful and interesting to your target audience. The second is getting your marketing message across in ways that really engage with these users.
What can B2B event marketers do to stay ahead of the curve?
The two questions largely answer themselves.
- First you have to concentrate on targeting your audience as narrowly as possible.
The ‘broadcast’ strategy is out, and content meant to appeal to a wide range of users will most likely be filtered. You can use Facebook’s filtering efforts to target your material for you, though. Make their algorithm help deliver finely targeted content, rather than trying to prevent it from filtering broad content.
So get back to your marketing basics. Create personas for your audience, and segment that market as finely as possible. Create content that appeals to individual traits as much as possible, or very small, densely clustered commonalities.
Say you’re promoting a trade show. For every one Facebook piece you’d usually put out, set yourself a goal of three (or preferably more), and make each one about a single exciting aspect of the show, or a single anticipated announcement. In the end it will be much more effective to create many separate pieces of content, each appealing to a very specific interest or type of user.
- Next, you have to make sure that you are presenting content that is actually useful to the recipient.
The goal is not to simply splash your message across screens, but to get users to actively engage. To ‘like’ it, reply to it, and re-post it. To make the say ‘Tom at the office needs to see this.’ That is what will get your pieces in front of the eyes of more similar users, and what you should be striving for.
This is actually very easy for so called ‘sexy’ events like tech and gaming expos, but if you use the narrow targeting that Facebook is actually providing you, you can use your insight into your intended audience to provide content that ‘only one type of recipient would really respond to’ without penalty – after all, if ONLY highly targeted content is going to get through, there is no downside to fine targeting.
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