As the new year begins, major social media networks are, or soon will be, providing some new and some different options. For best results, keep the changes described below in your mind while you develop social media marketing campaigns.
The Dwindling Facebook Reach
Facebook “reach”—in other words, how many of your page’s fans actually see a given update—is determined by the Facebook feed algorithm, which takes into account a number of factors meant to improve a user’s experience on the social network. (To keep up with specific changes to the feed algorithm, see Bufferapp’s running blog post featuring the most relevant changes in plain language.
Facebook has been tweaking its feed algorithm for some time now, with the result that fewer of your followers are seeing your page updates. But in 2015 the company plans to get still more aggressive in monitoring and removing what it deems “overly promotional posts.”
According to Facebook, these include:
- Posts that do nothing more than push people to buy a product or install an app
- Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes and have no “real context”
- Posts that reuse the exact same content that appears in ads
The new Facebook policy on “overly promotional posts” will help weed out a good deal of spammy content, but it could also have a negative impact on people who post such content only occasionally.
Facebook uses the update reproduced to the right as an example of these types of posts.
Facebook Promotion Policies
Unless you have a ton of loyal Facebook page fans, your best bet for getting important announcements to a decent number of people may be through Facebook paid promotions.
- As you may know, there are several types, including:
- Facebook ads (which show up alongside the feed)
- Promoted pages (to get more fans)
- Promoted posts or “boosts” (to get more eyes on one update)
Boosting individual posts is the best option for publishers on a tight budget. And the good news is that you can get good mileage out of just a little boost.
In addition to using Facebook’s own promotions, you might use a service such as StackSocial.com. If you do use a service, make certain its methods do not violate Facebook’s policies. And in any event, take note of two specific policies.
- Any image used in a promotion cannot contain more that 20 percent text, whether the image is one you uploaded or one pulled from a referenced URL.
- Facebook has banned “fan gating” yet again. Fan (or “like”) gating is the practice of requiring someone to like your page in order to get some type of reward, such as entrée to a contest or the right to download an e-book. Because Facebook has gone back and forth on this policy for some time, I find it best to avoid fan gating altogether.
New Twitter Cards
Now that Twitter has gone public, rumors abound that it is going to follow Facebook’s lead with a timeline feed algorithm. There are no confirmed reports that this will happen soon, but if and when it does happen, you will still have plenty of new Twitter ad formats to work with.
Twitter has created some awesome new “cards” for generating leads and selling products. This specific type of update includes additional information such as images, descriptions, or videos from a referenced URL (you can read more about the cards here.)
Most Twitter cards are free to implement, but Twitter has added some premium cards you can use for promotional purposes. The lead generation card is my favorite among them. It allows Tweeps to enter their contact information directly into a form on the Twitter timeline. The card will even integrate with e-mail or CRM services such as MailChimp and HubSpot. If building your e-mail list is a goal of yours this year, check out lead gen cards.
Google Plus Practices
Google Plus probably changed more during 2014 than any other social networking platform. It now seems to be slowing untangling itself from Google search results.
The biggest negative consequence, in my opinion, pertains to Google Authorship. Google slowly killed off the images and author information that had appeared in search results for authors who utilized the feature. (You can read more about Authorship’s demise here)
But Google Plus is not dead—especially when it comes to video in the form of Hangouts and YouTube. Google Hangouts continue to grow in popularity as a way to hold video meetings and live video conferences or webinars. What is particularly nice about them is that you can hold a video “hangout” and post it to your YouTube channel as soon as it is concluded (for more about Hangouts).
Also, Google Plus is still very much integrated with YouTube—to the point where every YouTube channel automatically has its own Google Plus page.
Video Marketing Power
Video marketing remains the fastest growing digital marketing strategy. If you don’t have a video marketing strategy yet, this may be the year to start one. A few changes within the most popular video platforms make using them for marketing even easier.
For example, YouTube “partnership” is now much easier to get. In the past, you had to jump through several hoops to become a YouTube partner. Today, it is a matter of keeping your channel in good standing and verifying your YouTube channel against your website.
Becoming a YouTube partner means you get access to features such as custom thumbnails for your videos, the ability to post videos longer than 15 minutes, and the ability to link to your website from within videos (to learn more about working with YouTube).
Another welcome changed happened within the video app Vine (which is owned by Twitter and similar to Instagram). Vine allows you to post six-second looping videos to the app and to the Twitter timeline. Previously, however, Vine videos had to be live ones taken with your mobile device, which was pretty limiting. Now Vine allows you to upload existing videos from your mobile device to the app. This opens up more opportunities for video marketing, especially on Twitter.
Finally, on a fun note about video marketing, you can now take advantage of an app called Hyperlapse that Instagram launched this past year. Hyperlapse allows you to take timelapse- like videos and post them to Instagram. The app also utilizes stabilization technology that helps reduce shakiness (to learn more).
Two Key Takeaways
Video is the past, present, and future of digital marketing. And when you think video marketing for 2015, don’t think only YouTube. Video viewing consumes most of the time people spend online. That includes viewing on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and any number of other social media platforms. So create your YouTube channel and share your videos far and wide.
Sometimes you need to fork out a bit of cash to get any major results from specific social media campaigns. As hard as that is for me to admit, I have accepted it. With Facebook continuing to filter promotional content from users’ feeds (as Twitter may, too), I feel better knowing that I have control over how often my most critical updates are seen. The types of updates I typically pay to promote are announcing new products, offering special deals, and publishing press releases.
Deltina Hay is the founder of the digital marketing e-learning hub, DeltinaU.com, and currently serves as chair of the IBPA board of directors