Why Facebook’s Move Towards Personalization is a Good Step for All of UsJanuary 18, 2018
In recent weeks, Facebook’s algorithm change has warranted the publication of countless survival guides addressed to the brooding brand or publisher.
If you haven’t heard, Facebook officially decided to kill organic post reach for pages, opting to prioritize posts from friends and families over branded content.
This follows Facebook’s announcement that it’ll demote posts that bait users into liking or sharing content.
But while these changes may mean the end of pages as we know it, Facebook’s move towards authenticity and personalization may be steering us all in the right direction.
Personalization as a Standard, Not a Nicety
“Personalization” is one of those words that has graced the marketing world for years but has yet to be integrated into many marketing strategies. Some marketers aren’t sure where to start, while others feel that they lack the resources to focus on personalization.
While personalization isn’t easy to get right, genuine human connections are at the very core of this experience. In Facebook’s world, this still means a golden ticket to the front page of your consumer’s newsfeed. Your page may not have the power that it once used to, but your interactions with individual users, groups, and influencers still carry clout.
But here’s an important caveat: personalization doesn’t simply mean relevancy. It can’t come in the form of one-way exchanges or one-off clicks on your content.
“Personalization doesn’t simply mean relevancy.”
Facebook says that its pivot stems from the belief that “passively reading articles or watching videos” isn’t good for the well-being of any user—or any human for that matter. And so, it will prioritize “meaningful social interactions” that begin with active back-and-forth conversations between humans.
While Facebook may be publicly boxing out brands and publishers from the News Feed, it leaves room for the marketer who’s willing to make some changes and join in its moral renaissance. No more sidestepping personalization. No more closing your eyes and invariably serving updates, ads, and content to a general audience. Now, your brand needs to go beyond walking and talking like a human, and actually thinking like one.
What will personalization on Facebook look like?
There’s a lot of unknown in terms of how Facebook will specifically implement its changes, but here are our predictions on how the platform will morph in the upcoming months.
1. Positive Changes to Pages (No, They’re Not All Dead)
Not all pages will be purged from the newsfeed. Pages with highly engaged audiences can reasonably expect to be seen, given that their followers are still actively commenting back-and-forth on their content. This means that if you’re not already in bed with The New York Times, Taco Bell, The Denver Broncos, or other popular pages, you need to start prioritizing real community among your followers, and a different approach to initially attracting someone to your page. One potential avenue may be through associated Groups with which you can connect people with similar interests.
The main thing to remember here is that your page is no longer about sharing content that’s entirely focused on you, or blasting all your followers with content that matters to just a handful of them. For this reason, page admins will likely start paying more attention to their individual followers and recognizing the different segments of users that they attract. Pages will stop serving as bulletin boards for company updates or general content, and transform into a place where consumers can interact with other likeminded consumers.
2. Pivot to Groups
As mentioned above, Groups will take the cake in Facebook’s utopia—so long as brands don’t abuse and ruin them. As it stands right now, Groups sit in royal chairs with friends and family because they connect people with other people. While some forecast that marketers will screw a good thing up, there’s a chance that Groups can still exist as positive, personal environments. There just may be a very clear separation between the marketers who remain uninspired and fixated on reaching consumers through self-promotion, versus those who start playing by Facebook’s rules and connecting with people as people.
3. People Talking to People
The day has come where marketers can’t hide anonymously behind their brands, speaking as “we” and “our brand” in every customer interaction. Facebook is emphasizing personal moments—that is, conversations in which people are clearly present. Brands will likely start leveraging influencers, customers, and employees to advocate for their brands and to initiate one-on-one conversations. While you might lose the convenience of notification blasts, you’ll benefit from routinely talking with your consumers—trading in quick sells for relationships that bear more meaningful transactions and loyal customers.
4. A Reform in How You Measure Success
No more chasing impressions, empty video views, or even one-time clicks. Reach isn’t your primary goal. Your goal involves depth, interaction, and real empathetic relationships—imagine that! Marketers won’t have a choice but to prioritize different metrics than those traditionally valued. Comments and shares will take priority over likes and follows. Other (perhaps new) metrics relating to depth of engagement (e.g., time spent on content, or are people reacting to each other’s comments?) will take precedence.
Yes, it seems that a lot will be changing on Facebook. However, adjusting our marketing plans to value authenticity and personalization isn’t a terrible idea. It may, in fact, revolutionize how we engage consumers across all social platforms, raising our standards for what we constitute as a healthy, mutually beneficial brand-consumer relationship.
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