Facebook is changing again. What does it mean for marketers and small businesses?

Well, if this is not breaking news, I am not sure what is!

As per Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement this afternoon, Facebook is kicking off their changes to the feed right away, focusing more on posts from friends and family versus posts from businesses. We mentioned about this potential change back in December as part of our marketing trends and predictions Facebook live series, but to be honest I didn’t expect that they would actually do this so soon. We know that Facebook has been testing this feature in Europe and it seems like the test showed positive results, so much so that the decision was made to roll this out globally.

Facebook feed changes announcement

What does this mean?

What does this mean for Facebook and, most importantly, what does this mean for marketers or small business owners?

It’s no secret, Facebook has become a huge part of the marketing budget for many companies over the last few years – in some cases taking a portion of the budget away from Google or print advertising. Facebook advertising is targeted, highly-quantifiable and flexible for any budget. These are some of the reasons why so many businesses embraced Facebook marketing, sometimes solely focusing on this medium in order to increase their brand’s reach and visibility. By making this change Facebook makes it harder for businesses to claim their spot in people’s feed, meaning it could be almost impossible to appear there organically (without paying Facebook).

While this could be a shocking revelation at first, keep this in mind before you scratch Facebook from your marketing plan. Think about it – this is going to feel different for the end user, but most small business owners may not feel a huge difference in their reach, as Facebook has made it pretty difficult to reach people organically already, especially for a new brand. So, if you are a new brand without many followers or very engaged users, you had to pay to promote your posts on Facebook already.

But why is Facebook making these changes?

How will this affect your marketing budget?

Naturally, we don’t know how exactly this change will affect advertising costs, but one thing we know for sure is that your focus on creating useful content increases now more than ever. We talked about lazy SEO marketers in one of our December posts, and now it’s time to bring some spotlight on lazy Facebook marketers. Just like SEO is finally now organic, and it’s really hard to trick Google into showing your website on page one unless you actually deserve it, the same is happening with content marketing  – marketers simply cannot afford to be lazy, creating mediocre content. Our prediction is that those marketers who continue to create useful and engaging content will be able to stay within their current marketing budget. That being said some newer brands may get affected, as their reputation with Facebook is still developing. You will need to monitor your campaigns closely, to make sure you prove your worth to Facebook, so to speak.

What does this mean for your brand?

As marketers, we like things to be predictable and measurable, so naturally, this news will cause some havoc in the industry. And while we don’t really know what exactly will happen as a result of this change, one thing we can be certain – Facebook is staying in line with their brand’s promise of connecting people, and this is truly amazing! They are choosing their brand’s story over profits (there’s no doubt there’s going to be an initial drop in their advertising revenue) and this is what they are encouraging you to do as well.

 

So the rules of branding are going to be strengthened through this move, which makes us very happy, as this is exactly what we’ve been saying for years – the future of marketing is branding.

The future of marketing is branding. Click To Tweet

The rules of branding that can’t be ignored in 2018

What do you do?

Now, these may not be new to you, but what’s new is that these rules can no longer be ignored.

  1. Don’t sell – tell a story. People will buy if they believe you
  2. Value people’s time when creating content online (is your content worth reading?)
  3. Ask people what they want and give them that
  4. Fall in love with your customers, not your products or services
  5. Make sure your brand is consistent across every customer touch point
  6. You don’t need to overhaul your brand every year, but you absolutely must re-align it to stay current
  7. Don’t think that your product/service is the best – keep innovating, keep evolving
  8. Branding is how you treat your vendors (not only how you treat your customers)
  9. Have heart! Connect your head with your heart, remember to be a human

These (Mark’s) words really hit home for me: 

Now, I want to be clear: by making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down. But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too.

As marketers, we spend so much time online, on social media, or just browsing random content in search for the next best thing online. Would we be doing that if it wasn’t our job? Do we love spending hours and hours on social media? Maybe, maybe not. But one thing I know for sure – being a part of meaningful marketing is much more rewarding and with this change, Facebook encourages us to do just that.

Now, it’s still January, and there’s still time to re-evaluate your own marketing plan, and perhaps this recent change and Mark’s words will inspire you to make changes to your own marketing to meet your customers’ needs better and to contribute to making marketing, and the Internet in general, a more meaningful place – no matter how cheesy this sounds ;).

Curious how your marketing could be more meaningful? We’d love to chat! Give us a shout or stop by our Vancouver marketing agency – we always have chocolate (and good coffee).