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3 ways PR pros can win with content after Facebook’s algorithm changes

There’s hope for brand managers still struggling with Facebook’s changes for business pages.


In January, the social media platform announced it was making branded posts less prominent in users’ news feeds, dramatically decreasing organizations’ already struggling reach.

Andrew Brown, director of media relations and online content for Kalamazoo College, warns PR pros not to panic. He says:

The brand managers who are best at their jobs are data driven from the start. Stick to your social media plans, analyze the new data, and make adjustments where you see your reach slipping, assuming reach is your most important analytical target.

Here’s how brand managers can follow Brown’s advice—along with tips from other savvy communicators—and win with content despite the change in protocol:

1. Start with your own assets

Facebook is a crucial part of PR and marketing efforts, but that doesn’t mean PR pros should post content only there or on other platforms. Instead, start by crafting content on your organization’s newsroom or blog, and then tailor content to fit multiple channels outside your owned venues.

Brown says: If you don't yet have a blog, or if yours has been forgotten in your marketing strategy, get one going. They're vital for search engine optimization, audience engagement and contributing owned content to social media. They also can provide additional reach when content managers see it slipping.

A recent CooperKatz survey revealed that 45 percent of Facebook users in the United States glean their news from Facebook—and after the algorithm change, 65 percent said they’ll go directly to news sources, not other social media channels. If you’re housing your organization’s news and important information on your newsroom or blog, you stand to win big with increased traffic and interaction.

Amy Burke Friedman, president at PR firm Profiles, says a “multi-channel marketing mix leading with PR” is crucial to increasing your stories’ reach and getting your content seen.

Friedman suggests using your organization’s own website as the “home base” for your content, and says by using your own assets and “taking ownership of [your] expertise,” brand managers can “see huge benefits and increased reach.” Those assets include online newsrooms full of photos, video, copy and other elements that tell your story.


Amy Burke Friedman, President at Profiles
We also recommend a holistic approach to disseminating information using more than one platform so you’re incorporating social media, websites, blogs/podcasts, traditional media outreach, participating in panel discussions (grassroots marketing) and networking.
Amy Burke Friedman, President at Profiles

2. Create compelling content

Whether content is housed on your organization’s website or newsroom and then shared across social media platforms or it’s created directly on Facebook, PR pros should focus on high-quality text, images and video—rather than the number of posts created.

“Great content is still just as important as it was before, but good storytelling is paramount,” Friedman says.

Rachel Blanks, account manager at ARPR, says Facebook’s algorithm change is forcing brand managers to evaluate whether their content efforts are truly what audiences want:

Brands will need to step back and look at their content from their audiences' perspective and ask, "What can we share that is actually useful or interesting or will facilitate conversation?" At the end of the day, when done right, this is how social media content should always be approached.

“One thing that brand managers can do to combat decreased reach is to make content customer focused rather than having content that is always self-promoting,” says Cassie Gonzalez, community manager and marketing coordinator for OnePitch. “Social media should be used as a platform to connect with customers on a more personal level rather than to make an immediate sale.”

Using data and analytic insights, PR pros should seek out the questions audiences are asking and then create valuable content providing the answers, Gonzalez says. PR pros can also incorporate popular subjects or trending hashtags into their writing and conversations for added relevance.


Cassie Gonzalez, Community Manager and Marketing Coordinator at OnePitch
As a result of both active social listening and user-based content, we have seen increased engagement and customer loyalty
Cassie Gonzalez, Community Manager and Marketing Coordinator at OnePitch

3. Test purposeful tactics to achieve your goals on Facebook

After creating content that will resonate with your audience, you can then test methods for gaining more eyeballs and engagement on Facebook.

Andy Jelic, social media specialist for Re:Group, shares several tactics PR pros can employ to boost their Facebook pages’ reach, including swapping posts, getting sponsors involved and tagging local businesses. He also suggests having employees share your content, writing:

By motivating your coworkers to share content, you can turn them into effective brand advocates. Brand advocacy is one of the best methods of social media marketing. According to the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report, 83% of people trust recommendations of friends and family, and the same percentage take action on these opinions at least some of the time!

Jelic’s insights are shared in a blog post on Re:Group’s website, ultimately underlining the importance of housing your content, stories and expertise on your organization’s own digital property.

PR pros should aim for moving past superficial interactions (views and passive “likes”), instead persuading their organizations’ fans to engaging meaningfully with posts.

Friedman says:

With Facebook giving more value to engagements like comments and shares, and even testing down-vote buttons, it’s important to give users a meaningful reason to react that isn’t just superficial “liking.” Comments have always been more valuable than “likes,” for example. Achieving these more valuable reactions from users means you have to share or tell a great story without presenting problematic content, which Facebook penalizes.

Posting several times a day won’t solve your problems, either, Friedman says:

It’s not a best practice anymore to flood your feed with 10 posts a day that receive no engagement. We’ve seen clients who post one to four times a week achieve higher engagement rates and reach, and publishing content strategically is important for optimization. Timing can be everything.

Brown says brand managers should think twice about throwing money at the problem of declining Facebook reach, as well:

It’s important to remember why you're on Facebook in the first place. Is it for word-of-mouth or is it for engagement, driving traffic to your website and boosting sales? Content managers should remember what provides them with a return on investment, especially if it's something other than reach. Then, target that return rather than assuming that reach is the end-all, be-all of social media success.

The platform’s algorithm change certainly has caused PR headaches, and it will continue to do so as brand managers battle to gain consumers’ attention and encourage audiences to act.

However, you can overcome this digital content setback by focusing on a stellar newsroom or organizational blog as your foundation, crafting outstanding content there to then push out across channels, and testing posts for what works. Blanks cautions PR pros not to focus only on one platform.


Rachel Blanks, Account Manager at ARPR
Facebook is by far the biggest, but it's not the end-all, be-all. Don’t put all your social media eggs in one basket.
Rachel Blanks, Account Manager at ARPR
This revised article has been published before on on February 22, 2018.


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