Facebook has been in a constant evolution since it broke free of the college crowd and began expanding to the masses. From the early days where brands were desperate to accumulate millions of fans for their pages, to the latest political ad scandals and lack of data transparency- every talking head tries to guess where Facebook is headed before it gets there.
I've been working as an influencer since 2011 and a freelance writer and social media editor since that time- and as enveloped as I am in the space, I've come to realize nobody can predict the future, but we do have some pretty good guesses on how to adapt to these changes now.
There are some trends and updates that have made standing out on Facebook even more complicated, but the platform is still relevant. For brands wanting to ensure they're seen and connecting with their target audience, it's possible to adapt, and luckily, it doesn't involve spending thousands of dollars per post just to make a dent.
While we all can lament the fact that Facebook is no longer "free," we can do our best to strategize for the new landscape and capitalize on opportunities where we can!
Your Reach Doesn't Go As Far As It Used To
I still think Facebook is absolutely relevant for any brand, large or small- to reach who they need to reach. If you are trying to get noticed on the world's most popular social media network though, you will struggle to fight the algorithm and advertisers who are dumping in large corporate budgets to fight for those eyeballs.
If you are trying to hit your target audience, you'll need three things to help stand out against the other brands out there- namely: eye catching content, honed in targeting & yes, dollars.
What Is Eye Catching Content on Facebook?
Think about it- how in the world can you compete with an adorable puppy? If you're advertising on Facebook, you are interrupting your customers or potential readers at one of their most intimate times: when they're trying to zone out, catch up on the latest engagement announcements or whatever adorable child Ellen has brought on her show.
You are competing with people's networks and the highlight reels of their lives- the new babies, the puppies, the big news and the beautiful vacation photos. You also have to work against the clutter of large corporate advertisers who can spend $250,000 per DMA to talk about Doritos.
So, how do you get noticed? Stop posting links to your blog articles. Start posting video clips- even if it's just text that is saved as an MP4 or a series of still with text over it.
Get Smarter About Your Targeting
You are competing with the Coca-Colas and Doritos of the world who have limitless corporate budgets and ad agencies that can dump as much money as they need into Facebook advertising. While they can afford to target every single man, woman and child in the larger Atlanta area across every single income bracket and interest category, you likely cannot cannot.
To make up for a lack of a limitless Fortune 500 sized budget, get smarter about who you're talking to and how you target them. Using A/B testing to create two Facebook posts to support with your ad dollars and segmenting your targeting (between male and female or different regions for example) could help you make your advertising dollars more effective and your ads more engaging.
If you're not seeing the results you want on Facebook, you need to be more specific in your targeting and split test your creative. If something isn't working, turn it off and try something else. Within 48 hours of an ad running, you should have enough data to decide whether to pivot or stay the course. If you're not seeing results, shut that ad off and test something new!
Spend Them Dollars...After You Get Creative!
Yes, to compete with multi-national corporations who can be sloppy in their targeting (since everyone does indeed buy toilet paper and "moms" is a gigantic category) and adorable puppy videos that trend on their own, you'll need dollars.
As stated above, if you can use your brand's resources to create better content with design and movement in mind, you can create more effective posts. With more effective creative and honed-in targeting, your dollars go much, much further.
To stand out on Facebook, strategy and creative should come before budgeting. Instead of simply posting your latest blog article or a static image with a link- think of other formats that would get people to stop that millisecond needed as they scroll past pictures of cute babies and vacation posts. Have you tried posting a video clip, or carousel?
Investing in your creative process and being specific about your audience is not just smarter for your advertising budget, but it's truly essential in a crowded feed on Facebook.
So, all in all- is Facebook still worth it in 2018? Absolutely yes! While reaching your fans is no longer free, there's still much to be gained by getting your people right where they are. Facebook might be more expensive and complicated than it used to be, but there's still room for everyone to play.