At the moment, our Facebook feeds are a happy mix of off-the-cuff weather reports from Uncle Bob in the mountains, videos from huge news publishers, and sponsored calls-to-action from websites we visited in the past week.
Or something to that effect at least.
But all that is set to change when Facebook’s new algorithm comes into play. In an announcement on January 11, Mark Zuckerberg claimed that Facebook would be having an overhaul to prioritize “meaningful social interactions”.
This will bring posts with the most interaction (we’re talking likes, comments, and shares) to the top of the news feed and push those that are published to the sound of crickets to the bottom.
And it’s got businesses everywhere quaking in their boots.
This fear wasn’t helped when Facebook experimented with putting public content from brands into a separate “Explore” tab on the homepage for six countries, sparking outcry from a number of publishers in those destinations.
The new algorithm won’t be as extreme as that, but it will mean businesses will have to compete for the attention of users more than ever before.
Social media is making human to human interactions more prevalent and, instead of brands paying their way into user news feeds, Facebook will start using engagement as an indicator for what people want to see when they’re having a scroll.
Social Media is Not Like Traditional Advertising
There’s one key difference between social media and advertising and that’s how they nurture interaction.
Traditional ways of advertising, like print, TV, and even PPC campaigns act as a one-way vessel of communication; as in, the brand is speaking at consumers. With social media, it’s more of a two-way encounter, with consumers able to respond and engage with updates and content.
And this is having an effect on the success of different marketing methods. For example, research shows that millennials are immune to traditional ads. So much so, that only a measly 1% would trust a brand more after seeing a compelling ad.
So brands are having to do more to engage their people in a dialogue.
This has bred a new revolution of marketing methods, where savvy brands are shaping consumer behavior by creating community-driven content and implementing influencers that straddle the line between the old and the new.
Because, let’s face it, budget doesn’t matter if people aren’t engaged. And, as Facebook ploughs ahead with its new algorithm, we’re reminded of why social media was created in the first place – to nurture social connections.
The Rise of User Generated Content
The thing brands are struggling the most with after this announcement is the idea of connecting up advertising with social. For those that get by from throwing a few thousand bucks at Facebook ads and hoping for the best, it’s time to change things up.
Which is where user generated content (UGC) comes into play.
UGC bridges the gap between advertising and social dialogue by integrating customer reviews and visuals which, in a time when people are craving more human connections, taps into that need to relate.
It seems like we’ve come round full circle.
Before the internet, businesses relied on word-of-mouth advertising, and today it’s similar, though the internet is used as a portal to reach further and wider than ever before.
Today, 83% of consumers trust digital word-of-mouth more than content produced by advertisers, and Facebook is bringing this to the forefront with its new algorithm. It’s putting consumers first (which is what every brand should be doing).
What Facebook’s New Algorithm Means for Brands
It means that we’ll see a large step away from branded content splashed across news feeds and a leap towards content that’s created by consumers and shared amongst their peers.
People trust people more than brands. Source.
“As we roll this out,” Zuckerberg said of the new algorithm, “you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard – it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”
The algorithm is coming into play now, which means it’s vital for brands to start switching up their strategy and implementing UGC now. Leaving it for a few months and hoping for the best might mean getting left behind in the wake of brands that are really nurturing engagement with their fans.
If that’s not enough to kick you into action, here’s what you could be facing when the new algorithm is put in place…
1. More Content From Family and Friends
Your customers will be shown more content from their family and friends than from you, so your lovingly crafted updates will disappear under Uncle Bob’s weather updates – great for Facebook users, but not for brands that rely on getting eyeballs on their social content.
2. Even Less Reach on Pages
Your business page will reach fewer people unless the content is truly engaging. We’ve already seen the reach on pages diminish over the past few years, but it’s set to dwindle to almost nothing if the content published isn’t truly engaging.
Engagement is the key word here. In a Forbes report, 62% of millennials claimed that if a brand engages them on social networks, they’re more likely to become a loyal customer. Not only do consumers expect brands to have a presence on social channels, but they also expect them to be engaging.
3. A Decline in News Feed Engagement
There’s bad news for brands advertising on Facebook, too, as there’ll be a noted decline in engagement across the board. This means fewer opportunities for ads to be displayed and increased competition to get your content in front of your people.
Basically what it boils down to is this: if you’re not investing in methods that engage your audience, like UGC, you won’t be able to reach your audience anymore – or at least, it will be significantly more difficult.
How to Make the Most of UGC on Facebook
Whereas the goal of Facebook content in the past was to get millions of views or generate a few likes here and there, the key goal now needs to be generating conversation between people.
That’s not just sparking conversation between you and your consumer, but getting your consumers to engage in a dialogue themselves.
So how can UGC help you do this?
1. Live Videos
The whole Live trend is really taking off – and for good reason. It’s the closest consumers can get to talking to someone in person, creating that human connection that people are craving.
And when it comes to engagement, there’s no better way to go than live. Live videos are watched 3x longer than non-Live videos, and drive more than 10x the amount of comments.
And remember: it’s this kind of engagement that will keep getting your content shown in front of your audience.
You can combine Live videos and UGC by encouraging your customers to share their experiences in-the-moment, or tapping into influencers in your industry to share information about your brand in a Live with their audience.
Kohl partnered with vlogger ItsJudyTime on Black Friday to promote their sales via Facebook Live. To date, the Live video, which features Judy’s mom, has generated more than 200,000 views.
2. Create Dialogue Between Customers
One of the key things to note about the new Facebook algorithm is that it won’t take into account any comments from you as the brand; engagement will be determined by the conversations taking place between your fans and customers.
Which means it’s up to you to generate a discussion between your audience – kind of like a community event rather than a two-way dialogue.
Around 45% of internet users look at user generated images for inspiration once a day or more (and we all know what happens when we’re inspired – we want to participate, get involved, and shout about it from the rooftops!).
Purdue Day of Giving 2017 Powered by TINT from TINT on Vimeo.
Let’s look at the Purdue Day of Giving as an example.
In 2017, Purdue University raised more than $28 million for their Annual Day of Giving in just 24 hours using user generated content brought together with the help of TINT. The Purdue community generated over 32 million social impressions, which was a huge 190% increase from 2015.
3. Identify UGC Opportunities
The three primary signals that will determine where your content is ranked in the new Facebook News Feed algorithm are who posted it, what kind of content it is, and how many interactions it has generated.
Your UGC campaign needs to tie into this by tapping into influencers who will openly post original content. These are people that are regularly posting about you and who drive plenty of engagement from their own network.
But Facebook’s algorithm will alter the reach of mega-influencers, paving the way for micro-influencers to swoop in. These are people who have a smaller but more focused following than mega-influencers. Their sponsored content is far more successful because social media sees them for what they really are – people rather than businesses.
Zuckerberg specifically stated that Facebook would be sharing more “people content”, and these influencers started their accounts as your average Joe (or Josephine) blogs simply using the platform to interact with their family and friends.
So, the power is about to fall directly into the hands of influencers.
And the best kind of influencer is the one who is a loyal customer of your brand and has a following filled with the type of person who fits your ideal customer. Unlike mega-influencers (we’re looking at you, Kardashians) who won’t get out of bed for less than a million pounds per branded shoutout, micro-influencers take much less convincing to become brand advocates.
And, when 85% of consumers note than authentic messaging from peers they can relate to is far more persuasive than branded content, it’s easy to see why marketers are keen to shift their budgets over to these influential media faces.
Loews Hotels and Resorts Travel For Real Campaign from Catch New York on Vimeo.
Take Loews Hotels, for example, who, instead of getting big-name celebrities on board to promote the event, encouraged guests to share their experiences at the resort using the hashtag #TravelForReal.
They then used TINT to bring together the shared content throughout every stage of the customer journey, resulting in a 35% increase in bookings.
The Future of Facebook and UGC
Facebook’s announcement about its new algorithm didn’t necessarily come out of the blue, but it shows just how quickly social channels can switch up their approach, leaving brands to pick up the pieces.
Implementing UGC on Facebook is a great way to start conversations and tap into the human connection people are craving (and that Facebook is promoting), but for it to be successful, it needs to be part of a bigger marketing strategy where it is encouraged and shared across every part of the customer journey – not just on Facebook and other social media channels.
The new algorithm means brands will have to rethink their approach on social media, but it’s a great opportunity to use the power of your audience to create new connections and drive a community feel towards your brand.
Brand content will be less exposed so, if you want to engage with your audience, it’s time to invest in UGC and let your community be your marketers.
Are you ready to integrate UGC into your marketing strategy? Schedule a free strategy session with TINT today.