Facebook wants you to post more pictures of kittens

For those who don’t follow the ins and outs of social media content algorithms, Facebook announced yesterday that they’re applying a News Feed algorithm change that will penalize text-only updates from Pages. Brands, companies, personalities, bands, musicians, politicians, and anyone else who uses Facebook Pages will now have their text-only updates seen less in the News Feed.

From the announcement:

“…the latest update to News Feed ranking treats text status updates from Pages as a different category to text status updates from friends. We are learning that posts from Pages behave differently to posts from friends and we are working to improve our ranking algorithms so that we do a better job of differentiating between the two types.”

So what kinds of content should Pages be posting? The guidance Facebook offered says that they’re looking for a more visual, more compelling experience for followers of Facebook Pages.

What’s a brand to do with the ever-increasing levels of punishment being doled out to Facebook Pages? First, comply with Facebook’s guidelines as best as you can. If you look at the SHIFT Communications page (please), we made a strategy change a few months back to make every formerly text-only status update come with a photo. You’ll likely want to do the same. Where do you get that many photos? Get your staff and your team snapping photos with their smartphones and digital cameras as time permits, and use the best photos in your social media status updates. Learn how to use visual storytelling tools, from simple photos to videos to animated GIFs and more. Develop an art library internally – and yes, if you have a cat (particularly a kitten), in all seriousness, you have an ideal source of content for a fair number of status updates.

Facebook Facepalm

Second, there is now a greater advantage to have individuals share your Page’s content, so to the extent that you can develop a rabid fan base on Facebook, ask people to share. Consider putting that as a call to action in your updates for updates that they find useful or helpful. Ask everyone friendly to you to share important stories on their personal feeds – customers, vendors, friends, employees – so as to leverage the power of your network. But do so sparingly.

Third, set aside some advertising budget. That’s where Facebook is going, of course, for brands. They want brands to invest in the platform, and every penalty applied in their algorithm recently is only relevant to non-paid content. How much budget should you put aside? As much as you can spare. Aim to promote at least one status update of any kind per week, if not per day. (We’ll have more details soon on paid vs. non-paid reach.)

Facebook’s strategy is clear: they want brands to pay to be seen, and to end the free ride that we’ve all gotten thus far. Do your level best to keep up with the changes they recommend, and be prepared to pay.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

Work at SHIFT

Posted on January 22, 2014 in Facebook, Strategy

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About the Author

Christopher S. Penn is an authority on digital marketing and marketing technology. A recognized thought leader, author, and speaker, he has shaped three key fields in the marketing industry: Google Analytics adoption, data-driven marketing and PR, and email marketing. Known for his high-octane, here’s how to get it done approach, his expertise benefits companies such as Citrix Systems, McDonald’s, GoDaddy, McKesson, and many others. His latest work, Leading Innovation, teaches organizations how to implement and scale innovative practices to direct change. Christopher is a highly-sought keynote speaker thanks to his energetic, informative talks. In 2015, he delivered insightful, innovative talks on all aspects of marketing and analytics at over 30 events to critical acclaim. He is a founding member of IBM’s Watson Analytics Predictioneers, co-founder of the groundbreaking PodCamp Conference, and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast. Christopher is a Google Analytics Certified Professional and a Google AdWords Certified Professional. He is the author of over two dozen marketing books including bestsellers such as Marketing White Belt: Basics for the Digital Marketer, Marketing Red Belt: Connecting With Your Creative Mind, and Marketing Blue Belt: From Data Zero to Marketing Hero.
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