Every time that Facebook announces a change in their algorithm, like they did earlier this week, you hear a collective groan from the echo-chamber of the talking heads in the social media space. “Facebook is killing organic reach,” “Facebook is Pay-to-Play,” or “Facebook hates business, except their money” – enough already Facebook is a business that has a great niche for both organic and paid traffic. As I have noted a few times on this blog, Facebook has built a perfect fly trap and businesses need to adapt to the ecosystem, much like they do with Google.
So while this may be contrarian to all the talking heads, I actually think this update is a good thing and something worth keeping an eye on. The removal of the friends commenting on/liking posts from brands was obtrusive, albeit a great way to poke humor at friends who comment on political/racy content (not that I have done that at all). I also think that this update lends itself to building an active community via content and updates that train people to want to come back and are trained/enticed to engage with content on pages.
I have had variations of this update (a/b tested) for about eight weeks in my newsfeed and often see brands who I have engaged with pop up within the same scroll of the page. What I have associated this to is that Facebook’s algorithm learns and pushes things that matter to you as a user – so frequency & engagement are key. I follow a lot of brands on Facebook, but there are four that stand out to me as they always appear in my newsfeed without paid media and really whittle down their content to relevancy to audience. By this, I mean that they write in a way that ties into the core audience as well as filling in their needs. The four include:
- Naked Security from Sophos – I have 8 mutual friends liking this page. They constantly share ways to protect your online identity and data breaches. This page got me to like them with a paid post that was surrounding a credit card hack that had to do with Facebook authentication in a malware scheme. They typically show up once a day and are articles that I typically click through to read as their focus of late has been security of items kids play with and keeping your home networks safe. It is also a worthwhile follow given the security breaches that come out via social networking sites.
- The Animal Rescue Site – While I still don’t remember liking this page, they show up in my feed at least 5X a day. I have 16 mutual friends liking the page, but where they win is sharing helpful stories for pet owners as well as adoption stories. People love puppies and kittens, but even without that, the content is often shareable and something that could benefit someone within my network that leads to sharing. I don’t have pets, but find some of the rescues fascinating.
- Sesame Street – Only 5 friends of mine on FB also like Sesame Street. They typically pop up in my feed at least one time a day. What is interesting about their approach is that they share content that appeals to both parents and kids. So not only will they hit you while working, but also have content that will appeal to kids as well. Some recent parodies that fell into this bucket included Game of Thrones and the Hobbit.
- Playboy – As a media publisher, they have some edges when they hit the algorithm. However, they also have a major hurdle in the fact that they really can’t post what they are well known for since you can’t show that on Facebook. Instead they go to the men’s lifestyle angle and do a good job of getting into the feeds with timely stories. While I don’t click through, I see them up to 5X a day. The lifestyle approach may also be tied to rebranding if they are trying to recapture some of the mindshare taken by sites like Maxim, GQ or even Buzzfeed.
When you look at the four pages, you have varied budgets and company sizes, however the one thing that I think stands out is they fill a need for folks that are following them and do a good job cultivating an engaged audience. While the audience differs, it still fits the end need of talking to people who like the brand and having a bunch of hits and misses. I just think it is more on finding that balance.
These brands also showcase that you can win on Facebook, you just have to put in the work and tie into the essence of your audience. Think you can do that? You do for Google…