So, Facebook came up with a couple of announcements over the past two weeks which have been getting a fair bit of attention – the news about coming down on like-gating by November, and cutting down on click-bait, Upworthy-style headlines immediately by de-prioritising them in the Newsfeed.
This points to Facebook desiring more genuine engagement for its users which is a good thing in my book. In particular, I’m a big fan of ending the process of like-gating. I’m going to argue that it’s good for brands in the long run. Why? Because your fans, especially those who truly love your brand, won’t have to clutter their Newsfeed by liking brands that they aren’t really passionate about. It’s a given that everyone is attracted to a nice freebie or two, and since contests keep on coming, very soon almost everyone will have liked tons of pages that they don’t really love, which, from a brand perspective, isn’t good in the long run since it decreases your organic engagement. Hence, look at the end of like-gating as an opportunity to potentially see organic engagement increase again.
And on click-bait headlines – I’ve observed that less Upworthy stuff is appearing in my Newsfeed compared to around half a year ago when the hype was at its highest. Not sure if Facebook already started implementing the changes earlier and only announced it now. But if that’s not the case, that already goes to show that such content only holds short term potential because ‘crying wolf’ is, as Aesop said, never a good idea and loses you the trust of people. The whole idea behind this move (including the fact that Facebook will downgrade posts which only show links but not the story) is transparency for the Facebook user. So stick to this principle whenever creating/curating content and drafting content posts and I think you’ll not be impacted by whatever changes are coming your way too much.
On a whole, I don’t think this really is going to be a big change for brands which are engaging well on Facebook. These brands probably already understand that the most important principle is to share content that makes people talk and content that resonates at an emotional level with the audience. I love the Maxis and Digi ads in celebration of Malaysia’s national day – have a look at the videos and let me know whether or not you feel a slight tear form in your eye.
That’s the kind of stories I’d love to be part of telling. And as we know today, engagement can be bolstered by a small investment in advertising spend which is something that brands should be looking more at doing these days. There’s a snowball effect if advertising is used properly to target the relevant people – you get your great content out, it receives engagement from the audience, which then increases the propensity of future content being organically exposed to your target audience.
To conclude, if there’s one approach that overcomes these two perceived hurdles – it’s really telling human interest stories that will engage people on a personal / emotional level. If there’s one thing that humans can innately connect with, it’s stories. Since we were kids, we’ve been told stories, be it orally or through books. And the stories which I remember until now had characters I could strongly identify with or storylines that resonated due to some quality that inspired or touched me. That’s the approach brands can and should take as it still remains relevant in today’s digital age. Perhaps even more so. As we get bombarded by more information, a good story cuts through the clutter and draws attention.