Friday, January 22, 2016

SEO finally comes to organic Facebook posts

Noticed how your free Facebook posts have had fewer and fewer people view them? I don’t blame paid ads for this.

Facebook tells us that on average users would have 1500 updates to see in the news feed each day. Facebook is partially to blame for this as they’ve made so many actions potentially news feed worthy – friends liking stuff, for example. The platform uses interest based filters to decide what to show people. If Facebook thinks a user is likely to be interested in a post then they’ll show it to them. That's tough for marketers. If only there was a way to nudge Facebook's system to consider a particular audience as you're pretty sure they might be interested in your post.

The problem with the busy news feed is that it’s now full of brands, pages and your next door neighbour all keenly sharing stuff that you might like. Brands suffer the most because they work hard on “branded content” or other expensive, quality, content that meets their own branding rules while trying trying not to look like corporate messaging. Facebook natural reach is declining because it’s busy; not just because there are ads.

If you’re sceptical then watch this video from Facebook’s Eric Sodomka, which explains this in detail. Watch it before Facebook realises what’s been said and asks the Simons Institute to delete it.



So what’s this about SEO for Facebook?


Wouldn’t it be good if you could use tags to optimise a free, organic, post so that its targeted specifically at people within your audience who might like that tag?

Sure, right now you can use Facebook’s Interest Targeting feature to mark posts – but why would you? What Interest Targeting does is to restrict who can see the post to only those who match the interest. Essentially, all that Interest Targeting does is reduce the chances of your post picking up Likes and Shares.

Today, Facebook has announced that Interest Targeting will go and will be replaced by Audience Optimization. It talks to my SEO genes.

Facebook’s new Audience Optimization comes in three parts;
  1. Preferred audience - tags that encourage Facebook show the post to people who might be interested in the tag.
  2. Audience restrictions - a bit like the old interest targeting; you can say who might not be interested in the post.
  3. Audience insights - want to see how the content actually performed against your tags? This will show you.


To recap;

This coming week, for English language Pages, you’ll be able to call out interest tags for your posts and Facebook will optimise the delivery of those free posts to matching people.

You’ll be able to analysis how successful your interest tagging strategy is. You’ll be able to see how different subsets of audiences are engaging with your content.

This is powerful


Imagine what can be done with this. Off the top of my head;


Sponsorship

Brands will be able to see which of their celebrity product champions actually resonate with their audiences and sports clubs will be able to see which brands might be the best match for them (or take the money anyway and apply audience restrictions to all-on going posts to reduce the impact of the sponsorship to fans who couldn’t care less about the sponsor.

Viral building

By deploying a series of test and learn posts marketers will be able to determine which interests in their audience are most likely to trigger shares and likes. Brands will be able to target vital candidates.

Media companies will be able to see which news angles work best with which audience subsets.

Linkbait and SEO


Using Facebook to help connect linkbait content with audiences with a high propensity to create links and other quality signals?

Facebook’s Audience Optimization for Publishers will allow brands (aka publishers) to refine that strategy; offering up insight on both the type of content to use and the audience to target.

I need to know more


It’s early days yet. Audience Optimization is rolling out as we speak and needs to be switched on by hand if your page has less than 5,000 likes.

It’ll take practice.

Facebook has already published Introducing Audience Optimization for Publishers and an Audience Optimization Get Started guide.

Here’s hoping your social media platform supports the new feature. Eh, Hootsuite?

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