For brands, Facebook has long been Priority One. With a massive audience and impressive targeting tools, the social site has been an attractive destination for brands looking to push content and build brand awareness. Now, with highly publicized Facebook organic reach declines, some brands have been caught off guard. For most ad people, though, the changes are less of a surprise and indicate more of a continued trend.
TechCrunch calls the problem the Filtered Feed problem. Facebook users have been liking more brand pages, and thus Facebook is left with the problem of being able to sort through the extreme amounts of content available to an individual user. Facebook reminds us regularly that it values personal and engaging content over impersonal brand content, and limits the number of organic brand posts on the news feed. By doing so, Facebook retains its standing among consumers as a personal site instead of a brand showcase. Filtering posts helps Facebook retain its relevancy.
This is an important difference from Twitter and Pinterest, who don’t curate the posts based on relevance, although Pinterest has been testing personalized homepages. Facebook advertisements don’t overwhelm news feeds. A brand posting several times a day won’t clog a user’s news feed the way it will clog a Twitter timeline.
These changes to Facebook have elicited several interesting debates among advertising professionals who can’t seem to decide if the changes will cause brands to leave the site in droves or if they will be inspired to create more engaging content to encourage brand advocates to share the content. Recently, the popular page Eat24 publically “broke up” with Facebook over the changes and formally deleted its page, but most brands are sticking with the changes in hopes of retaining the fanbase they worked so hard to grow.
Although Facebook still retains its relevancy, now is a smart time for brands to start considering other outlets. It’s no secret that younger consumers are finding other social sites to interact with their peers, including Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. These sites are highly visual, appealing and less dominated by teens’ parents. In anticipation of these concerns, Twitter has begun unveiling updates to homepages to make them more visual (and similar to Facebook, some argue). These changes help promote Twitter profiles as a brand experience, but they are a far cry from revolutionary.
Pinterest’s personalized pages provide arguably the most attractive advertising platform, and Pinterest execs are pursuing high quality native advertising for news feeds. Pinterest has already established itself as a platform of consumers willing to spend money on products from the site, and it intends to capitalize on that. But advertising for average companies on Pinterest is still far off; Pinterest is asking for commitments between $1-$2 million dollars from advertisers. Similarly, Instagram advertising is attracting other larger brands with massive ad budgets, but many of those ads have hit early backlash from consumers.
Facebook’s strength shouldn’t be ignored by marketers. It makes a great impromptu website and landing page for small businesses, and provides a relatively inexpensive way to reach new customers, drive business and engage brand advocates. Bryan Maleszyk makes the argument that brands should thank Facebook for the chance to reach customers in advertising with social connections. If anything, it is clear that Facebook values content. By posting engaging content that customers actually want to share with their friends, brands still retain the opportunity to reach fans organically. AdAge writer Dave Hawley says it best. “You can either pay for Facebook to promote you, or you can become a remarkable brand – one worth remarking on.”
If you believe your brand is best served by reaching out on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, by all means, be active on those networks! Even if you’re unsure about where your demographic spends its time online, be active socially. It says more about your company if you’re inactive on social media than you would care to know. Each outlet has its own strengths and weaknesses, and they’re important to consider when you develop your brand strategy. Be prepared in the coming months to see more engagement from competitors on those social sites, and make sure you don’t get left behind.
Written by: Halley Smith, Telegraph Intern