At the beginning of this month, Facebook announced a new look news feed, designed to reduce content and visual clutter and help fans focus on the stories they really care about. More specifically, the company's goal was to make each story more vibrant, more colorful, and highlight the content - photos, news, maps, events - that is most actively being shared between friends. And, to ensure that content was equally well presented on mobile and desktop platforms.
Why should marketers pay attention to the news feed changes? Because the news feed is where the "action" happens. It's where marketers need to be if they want to get their message right into the conversation between friends.
How to Get Attention in the Facebook News Feed: Be Engaging!
Today, the average Facebook user has around 300 friends and more than 140 billion total friend connections on Facebook. To avoid a tidal wave of content that would otherwise overwhelm the news feed, Facebook determines the content most likely to be interesting and filters that content using its EdgeRank algorithm.
The details behind Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm are proprietary, but it is generally known that brand content is more likely to surface if:
Thus, it's critical for brands to keep up a regular stream of interesting and diverse content in their news feed. The more interesting the content, the more likely it is to be engaged with, and thus the more likely it is to fare well in the EdgeRank algorithm.
Creating engaging content can, however, be challenging. It requires creativity. Every day!
This is where social engagement apps become incredibly useful. They can give brands a permanent and entertaining place to start conversations and help populate fans' news feeds by offering:
But not all social engagement apps are created equal. Indeed, in research we conducted recently on the top 50 Facebook brand pages, of those that included an engagement app, well over half of them failed a basic best practice of sharing activity to a fan's news feed. By cutting off this essential viral lifeblood these brands are missing out on one of the great advantages of marketing to a community of connected friends - encouraging fans to share your brand message to their friends.
10 Best Brand Engagement Practices on Facebook
Not all social engagement apps are created equal. Just putting in a repurposed web page won't do the job of marketing properly in a social context. Or putting up a page that links fans off someplace else is equally uninspired.
So we're listing here the top 10 "best practices" we have learned over the past few years of building thousands of brand engagements on Facebook. They work for social engagement apps specifically. And they work for social marketing generally.
Engage Social Fans With Interesting, Entertaining Content
The brands we love bring value into our lives. They entice us with beautiful content. They give us something to think about. They connect with us on a personal level, reflect our lifestyle choices, and allow us to share that reflection with our friends. To ensure that your social engagement app campaigns are a success, focus on the following best practices:
1. Leverage fan-submitted and fan-created content. Fan-created content is often more authentic and entertaining than brand-created content.
2. Look for a way to connect on an emotional level with your fan base. Make the app's content theme meaningful to the audience.
3. Keep app content fresh. A social engagement app that helps push something new every day. A quiz question, a new daily instant win prize, or a vote update can help keeps things active and fresh.
4. Get fans invested in the campaign's outcome. By voting on winners, or triggering charitable contributions; when fans want something to happen, they'll help!
Share the Social Experience
When conceiving social marketing content, it's critical that you give your fans something that they'll want to share with their friends. Examples include the ability to share one's vote on a particular topic, a photo one has morphed, a quiz one has answered, or their idea for a perfect vacation. The bottom line is this: you need to create content that will prompt discussion because sharing will significantly impact EdgeRank popularity. Knowing this, you'll want to:
5. Encourage fans to share a personal experience. Ask them questions, and encourage them to share their opinions.
6. Leverage real-world events that fans can share with friends. When there's something that's going on in real life, there's a reason to shout about it to friends.
7. Give fans something fun and easy to share with friends. Sharing is always critical, and it's more likely to happen if what you're sharing is funny, goofy, interesting, and cute.
Promote the Social Campaign
Even perfectly designed social apps can't be left alone to fend for themselves. The most successful apps reach the widest audience possible when all of a brand's marketing channels are utilized - and not just Facebook. Going beyond owned media (such as posts from your Facebook pages) to include partner brand Facebook pages, email lists, websites, press releases, and QR codes will considerably improve results. And don't forget mobile-compatible URLs - the app you deliver must work as beautifully on mobile as on desktop. So, if that means directing fans to a mobile-friendly experience, then do so. Three ideas for promoting your app include:
8. Promote the social app with a mobile-friendly URL link. With such a huge portion of traffic coming through mobile, ensuring all links and experiences are mobile-friendly is always critical.
9. Amplify an app's reach through social syndication. Installing a social engagement app on multiple Facebook pages will be extremely valuable in broadening reach.
10. Involve sponsor partners and businesses in an app's promotion. Everyone can pull their weight to help push the success of the app, so get your social engagement app promoted by multiple Facebook brands if you can - such as sponsors or partners. This will broaden your reach to more fans.
Meet Your Favorite ClickZ Contributors
Many of ClickZ's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Jeremy Hull, Lisa Raehsler, Andrew Goodman, Bryan Eisenberg, Mathew Sweezey, Aaron Kahlow, Stephanie Miller, Simms Jenkins, Jeanne S. Jennings, Dave Hendricks and more!
Roger Katz is the CEO and founder of Friend2Friend, a social media technology and solutions company that works with global brands and media agencies. Launched in 2007, Friend2Friend works with over 100 global brands through its offices in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Barcelona, Spain. During Roger's 20 years working in marketing, strategy, and social media, his career has included management and consulting roles at companies such as Photobucket, Agilent, Brocade, Quantum, Bell Labs, and Pacific Community Ventures, as well as a number of startups. Behind his marketing mind lies deep engineering expertise. He has engineering degrees from Michigan State and UC Berkeley and an MBA from Wharton. He's a cycling fanatic, aspiring guitarist, and (slow) swimmer.
March 19, 2014