December 11, 2014

Facebook changes how marketers can promote posts.

Facebook surveyed users on promotional posts.

Facebook surveyed users on promotional posts.

On January 15, Facebook users are going to see a cleaned-up newsfeed with less clutter and more controls for promotional posts. Facebook decided to make these changes after surveying users and learning they want less promotional content and more stories from friends and posts from pages they opted in to see.

Facebook decided to crack down on:

  1. Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
  2. Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
  3. Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

Think of a post crammed with too many calls-to-action or deals: “Don’t forget to tune in — and buy our product — and sign up for our newsletter!” Or one that rushes you into a sale: “You have fifteen minutes to buy this product for 50% off!”

Marketers will have to dial back the direct calls-to-action and sales pitches, and foster more organic relationships with their audiences. Rather than aggressively pushing the brand’s message, marketers should listen to their audiences and use their Facebook pages as a two-way communication to deliver content people need or want.

We gave our Healthy Delaware contest a more organic feel.

We gave our Healthy Delaware contest a more organic feel.

For example, AB&C recently ran five promoted posts for Healthy Delaware, a community helping Delawareans learn more about cancer prevention and treatment programs. The posts offered a chance to win a bike. To give them a more organic feel, we also encouraged Delawareans to check out local trails at Cape Henlopen State Park and Killens Pond State Park. Promoted posts increased the reach of this campaign >4,000% compared to organic reach.

In their Posting Tips and Best Practices, Facebook recommends posting consistently and keeping text and pictures fresh to engage audiences. For posts about discounts and deals, it’s best to publish a link to a landing page hosting the deal, and write the copy to be conversational and less like a sales pitch.

Also, marketers should keep an eye on their Facebook Insights, specifically their Posts and People tabs, to see what content is stirring up high engagement and which demographics (gender, age, geo) are interacting with their brand page. This will help them craft the tone and content of their posts.

Facebook’s initiative to put controls on their Promoted Posts will help the platform retain its organic nature of sharing. To adapt, marketers will have to think in story, rather than pitch.