In February of this year, Facebook announced a new algorithm update that seemed to particularly alarm social community managers and brand marketers. In one of the articles about this news feed change, one chart showed a dramatic decrease of engagement of posts from business pages, which at first glance, did seem to be a real cause for concern for companies wanting to reach the communities they have cultivated on Facebook.
While many businesses do take advantage of Facebook’s robust advertising and targeting features, most Facebook pages shared a mix of content that was organic and paid. The common fear was that Facebook became a pay-to-play platform for brands: by prioritizing content shared by friends and family as opposed to brands, it makes it all that much harder to reach customers.
The change also prioritizes content that is more news-related and timely and elicits engagement/comments, which makes it that much harder for brands to get by with just any other content.
The common belief was that brands would have to increase their ad spend.
A Move to Increase Engagement
Contrary to popular belief, Facebook’s move to update their algorithms was not meant to drive revenue from advertisers, although it’s easy to see why businesses would think that. Mark Zuckerberg explained that Facebook now aims to prioritize content from family and friends, which makes sense for a social network.
In the same explainer, he said that they want to discourage passive posts, and not only find relevant content, but encourage meaningful interactions with others.
However, the current model of a Facebook business page is, more often than not, a broadcasting platform: you share a post, pay to boost its reach, and then try to encourage engagement via likes, comments, or shares. Sometimes you strike gold with a post that does really well with your target audience and starts conversations.
Regardless, most content shared across Facebook and other social networks do not enable brand fans to participate in interactive activities and collaborate in more meaningful ways that drive real change and innovation - all things that great communities (both online and in real life) strive for.
The latest Facebook news feed update therefore, presents a new opportunity to marketers and customer engagement professionals everywhere: build and invest in your own community.
A Company Page Does Not A Community Make
In the age of social media, Facebook has been unparalleled by other networks as the social network of choice for marketers to reach a mass audience. After all, it seems like a no-brainer to create a Facebook page for your brand and get people to like it. While social media still serves as a incredible medium for reaching audiences, sharing company updates and clever marketing videos - it’s never been easy to foster a real sense of community when you’re renting space on someone else’s property.
Trying to nurture engagement and participation on a platform like Facebook can also be restrictive due to the limits of what users can do on the page. Besides reacting and commenting, brands often have to run any additional content like contests or submissions off of the platform, which can discourage some users from participating because the process involves too many clicks and too many platforms.
Brands today must focus less on broadcasting content and more on activities that fans want to get involved with, and figure out how to leverage all different sorts of engagement tactics -- from blogs to surveys to polls to ideas contests -- and do so on channels and properties they own which will never be at the mercy of Facebook’s temperamental algorithms.
Taking Control of Your Own Community: From Facebook and Beyond
Although Facebook offers Groups for Facebook pages, managers are hesitant to invest time and effort into them, as Facebook has dropped even seemingly popular features in the past.
In the year 2018 and beyond, brands need to get serious about Community and marketers must move away from being at the mercy of social platforms. This algorithm update is the best thing to happen to brands -- especially those with passionate fans willing, or dare we say, demanding to play a more active role with the brands they adore.
At Chaordix, we have seen firsthand that the time to build and invest in real online communities that encourage idea exchange, collaborative innovation, and co-creation with active participants is now.
“The concept of open-innovation communities is gaining popularity as a highly-desirable method to tap the ingenuity of customers, citizens, suppliers and employees."
- Sharon McIntyre, Chief Social Scientist at Chaordix
Creating a community starts with reaching out to your biggest fans. Brands need to get to know their superconsumers better and create a special place where these fans can collaborate, communicate and co-create without distractions, annoying ads, low-quality content sponsorships and dwindling organic reach.
If you want to advertise and promote your amazing products to new potential customers or first-time webs visitors, then Facebook is still golden. Tweet real-time company updates and join relevant industry conversations - there’s a social channel for that, too. Motivational tips and inspirational quotes? Open up Instagram. But for establishing a real sense of community, where your most loyal customers gather to share deeper insights and put their own ideas to work, a social media page just won’t cut it. .
Having your own brand community allows you to set the parameters and the programming in a way that you could never do on a social media platform. It provides a dedicated place for your most dedicated fans to connect and support one other.
In developing our community building philosophy, Chaordix has looked to McMillan & Chavis’s (1986, 1996) influential studies on the “Sense of Community,” which outlines the four elements for developing and maintaining a healthy community:
- Shared emotional connection
By creating and growing your own community on a platform that your brand owns outright, your company can manage how you can fulfill the above four elements and better collaborate with your biggest fans. Moderating a brand community is also easier when you own it.
At Chaordix, we work with companies to find the best way to keep fans engaged by working together, not against each other.
Your Community is Not Just on Social Media
Having a presence on a platform like Facebook is still a good move if your audience is there. Anyone looking for information on your brand will probably look you up on the platform and many casual fans will probably settle for following your brand in this manner. However, marketers and innovators can use social media as a gateway for superfans to find their co-creative communities and become further involved if they want to.
If You Like This, Read This: 7 community management tips for better customer insights
LEGO Ideas is a great example of an online community that continues to use social media well, alongside the brand community. More than 130,000 fans like the LEGO Ideas Facebook page, where the brand shares the latest on upcoming projects, events, and product lines.
Instead of treating Facebook algorithm updates as a lost cause, brands must reach out to their fan base by creating their own communities. Social media remains a powerful tool to draw your superfans to a new community where you can co-create and collaborate with them.
While brands shouldn’t completely give up on “renting” social media platforms for their space, it’s time to think about owning the real estate and full experience where your superfans can make genuine connections and participate in a collaborative community built just for them.