How To Navigate Facebook’s Redesigned News Feed

Earlier this month, hundreds of social media leaders gathered together at the AllFacebook Marketing Conference in San Francisco to take a closer look at Facebook’s recent innovations, as well as to share best practices and tactics to better navigate the ever-changing social network.

As part of the opening keynote panel, I was seated alongside some of the industry’s brightest from Kenshoo Social, Offerpop, PostRocket, and Ampush, talking about how best to navigate Facebook’s redesigned News Feed and still reach fans.

For context, Facebook made a drastic change to News Feed in March, allowing users to see posts from pages they like in real-time, view posts in chronological order, and even change their feed view so that only friends’ updates appear. Facebook wanted to give users more choice regarding the content they were seeing and create a better experience regardless of the device from which users were logging in — desktops, tablets or mobile phones. The user-focused changes, however, also changed things for brands. But as Ampush Co-Founder and CEO Jesse Pujji said, “Regardless of these changes, the News Feed is still the most compelling online real estate since the advent of the home page and paid search.”

During the panel discussion, we provided attendees with key tips to help brands engage more effectively and ensure that their content makes its way into the News Feed. Even if you missed the conference, here are some takeaways to incorporate into your Facebook marketing strategies:

It’s All About Being Organic

Mark Cooper, OfferPop’s co-founder and chief marketing officer, advised panel attendees to aim for organic growth by packaging up Open Graph actions with Facebook applications to increase placement in the News Feed from increased engagement and campaign virality. For example, with a photo contest, brands can ask contestants to submit photos, and users can then easily vote for their favorite photos from their phones. The vote will show up in the News Feed so that for every photo vote, a brand is likely to see an increase in contest participation. Those actions seen within the News Feed are an excellent way to promote brand awareness.

Sponsored stories are another great way to get organic growth. We trust the people we’re close with, and we will say, “I’m going to pay attention to that, since my friend recommended it.” It’s about organic juicing (excuse the pun) — taking organic content that’s performing well and putting money behind it to amplify the interaction.

Good Content Goes A Long Way

While capitalizing on user actions is great, Kenshoo’s director of channel partnerships, Patience Elfving-Yi, noted that content is still king. If you don’t start with good content, your paid efforts simply won’t be as effective. As marketers, we frequently fail to think about our audience in the “right” way — that is, what’s going to be most interesting to the audience you want to reach, rather than the message you want to push out. Set some time aside to identify who you want to reach — basic demographics, where they live, and what their interests are. In short, determine your archetypal consumer. Then decide how you’re going to narrowcast who you want to reach by pushing out relevant content that will make them stop in their News Feed tracks. Knowing who you want to reach and what matters to them will further compel users to take an action, whether that action is a like, click, or share.

Paid And Owned: They Go Together Like Peanut Butter And Jelly

You’ve tackled Twitter and figured out Facebook with an owned media strategy, but at what point do you add paid to the mix? Elfving-Yi hit the nail on the head when she shared that it depends on your goals — which can range from building brand awareness to something more conversion-oriented, such as lead generation — and sometimes, it’s not intuitive. For example, the most engaging post isn’t necessarily driving more revenue, so tracking these insights is crucial to know when and where to pull the trigger on paid.

A siloed approach to paid and owned no longer works, because the two types of media are converging in Facebook’s News Feed. In many organizations, there are two marketing teams: one focused on driving revenue, and the other focused on brand. These teams should collaborate and learn from one another so that they can determine which organic posts are best to amplify with paid social ads and vice versa. Having an integrated paid and owned strategy will not only increase your audience engagement on Facebook, but it will allow you to drive better business results and make the most out of every ad dollar spent. Elfving-Yi recommended a book by Paula Adams titled Grouped; it points out that the better you can target your audience and then deliver content that resonates with it, the more success you will see.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy to navigating the Facebook News Feed, assessing organic success, honing in on content performance, and focusing on the big picture of how paid and owned positively affect one another are three vital elements to add to your Facebook road map. How is your brand going to change the way it engages on Facebook based on these three considerations?

Jordan Slabaugh is director of social media at social marketing software provider Spredfast.

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