It’s now likely that Facebook will be the first major social media platform to go to zero per cent organic reach. This means all that effort you’ve put into building a community on Facebook will be wasted as no-one will ever see your content again.
Unless you pay to promote it. And if you’re paying, your content had better perform.
We’ve known for a while that Facebook’s algorithm restricts the flow of content to your news feed so that you’ll only see what it thinks you’ll find the most relevant. Controversially, in March 2012 Facebook announced it was restricted to 16%.
There was a backlash from disgruntled businesses who, having invested their time nurturing communities, now understood why they weren’t getting through to anything like the numbers they’d expected.
Wind forward to 2014 and this organic reach is fast approaching zero. So Facebook, in its post-IPO enlightenment, has come up with a neat solution for brands who aren’t reaching. It called ‘money’ and if you give some of yours to Facebook, you can ‘promote’ a post and some of your community will then see it.
In fairness, though, it’s not all Facebook manipulating its own algorithms for financial gain. Consider the clutter of your own news feed: several hundred friends and brands, all being increasingly active with their content vying for your attention – if there wasn’t some sort of filter, there wouldn’t be enough time in the day to review it all.
But is Facebook alone? No, certainly not in its need to drive revenues. And no, certainly not in its need to somehow limit or filter content from ever-expanding and more active user bases.
So if the future is paid-for rather than organic reach, suddenly social brands posting social content will come of age and become accountable. When it was free to post such mission-critical nail-biters such as ‘Happy Wednesday everyone!’, no-one cared about the post’s performance (or noticed for that matter). But in the new age of content promotion being necessary for audience retention, the bean counters are going to be all over the community managers with their ROI calculators. And quite right too.
So content-optimisation will be the social media challenge of 2015. If you have to pay for it then at least make sure it works – by which I mean it generates some sort of engagement, because as we know, engagement is good.
The performance of content is the new king. Now financial brands will need to become expert in understanding subconscious MINDSPACE behavioural cues as much as the impact of time of day or tone of voice or the importance of saliency to maximise performance of each and every post.
Our analysts and community managers have developed their own ‘C-O’ tools and they’re already in high demand. Wednesdays will never be the same.
Olly Honess is a senior account manager for social agency @cubaka.