Social media experts: get ready to be placed under the microscope

Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 13.41.31This week it emerged via AdAge that Facebook are changing the way non-paid engagement works, effectively increasing the price of reach. How? By reducing the reach of unpaid posts in order to encourage brands to put more budget behind paid Facebook media.

Whatever we may think of this move, effectively it will lead to an increased scrutiny on Facebook content. Clients are not going to accept a decline in reach and aren’t going to hurry to empty the coffers to pay for it (not initially anyway).

Instead, clients will be asking how they can get more ‘bang for their buck’ in terms of engagement on non-paid posts. So if you’re not already, you’ll need to think very carefully about the fundamental reasons driving people to share your content.

A knee jerk reaction may be to opt for more tactical posts to try to boost engagement – those which ask people to engage in ways that are not always relevant to the brand mission: Fill in the missing words, here, Share if you love Friday there…

But what’s really required (and always has been) is a real understanding of your audience, their motivations for Liking the brand, their relationship with your brand and, crucially, an understanding of the behavioural reasons driving them to engage with your brand.

Do you fully understand your audience? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

- How does your Facebook content fit into the customer experience of your brand? Your content should already be linked to your client’s business objectives, if not, take a step back and some time to re-plan your content, it’s likely to have drifted off-course.

- Who are your audience? Are they current customers? Future customers? Why have they liked your page in the first place?

- What sort of content performs well and why? Don’t just look at the time of day content was posted, think about the content itself  - what is it saying? Why would someone care enough to share this with their friends?

The latest move puts us at a crossroads for unpaid Facebook content and is a good opportunity for many of us to re-convene with clients and agree objectives for social. This, and nailing the strategy before focussing on tactics will lead to better work.

Assuming that can be done, the wider issue is this; will increasing the price of Facebook reach push content budgets into the arms of the competitors?  Only time will tell if this move from Facebook will backfire.

Olly Honess is a Senior Account Manager for social agency @cubaka.