No matter how big the business or the brand, you can bet your bottom dollar that it has a presence on Facebook. The world’s largest social network boasts 1 billion members and a unique opportunity to sell products and services to a massive audience.
But as Facebook matures as a network, its users are becoming more savvy, and many of the tactics that marketers use have been singled out as being downright irritating. Nothing will turn off your clients quicker than a stream of annoying Facebook updates; they’ll simply un-Like and move on. As a marketer, that’s the last thing you want.
So what’s the secret to finding that balance? Let’s go back to basics.
Understanding How Brands Use Facebook
Before we look at ways to avoid annoying customers, we need to understand all of the ways we could potentially annoy them. Let’s quickly run through the different types of Facebook marketing.
Broadly speaking, we’ll split them into four:
- Most brands and businesses post updates – that’s free, and the aim is to engage as many fans as possible (or is it? More on that in a second).
- There’s also a wide range of advertising options, including powerful targeting rules that allow marketers to focus on particular demographics.
- There are sponsored search results – these can’t be targeted.
- There’s the Facebook Exchange.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on the first two, since they’re the ones regular businesses tend to use most.
How to Make Facebook Updates Less Annoying
In the last week, we’ve been hearing that EdgeRank is no more, and Facebook is now using a more tailored algorithm to determine which posts get shown to which users. In doing so, it’s removed the most annoying type of post from our list: the ‘begging post’. In clamping down on crude attempts to game the system, such as asking for Likes, Facebook’s deftly removed a major irritant from the News Feed.
But Facebook has gone one step further. We know users like to see pictures, but memes are out. However, Facebook is helping out: it has made link images truly massive: the optimum size for an image on a link share is now 1,200px by 627px. Clearly, it’s trying to coerce marketers into posting content rather than standalone posts: users love content and adore big, beautiful photos.
How to Make Targeted Ads Less Annoying
When discussing targeted ads, we’re basically looking at four types of advertisement on Facebook, at least as far as the average small business is concerned.
1. Marketplace Ads
Ordinary Facebook ads appear in the right hand sidebar as users browse the site. They’re arguably the least annoying posts because they’re easy to ignore. (Also, they’re routinely blocked by browser extensions like Ad Block Plus).
2. Promoted Posts
Brands can pay to elevate a post beyond the exposure it’d normally get, giving it greater visibility in fan News Feeds. In terms of annoyance, they’re low on the scale: only Page fans see them, so they’re pretty much guaranteed to be interested. It helps if you only promote posts that are relevant, interesting and of a high quality.
3. Sponsored Stories
A sponsored story is a real-life update that’s plucked out and sponsored by a brand. Buzzfeed did an excellent breakdown of how a sponsored story tends to evolve. As you’ll see, some users find them seriously annoying, not least the innocent Facebook users that find their words turned into ad copy overnight.
Will the Future of Facebook Be Less Annoying?
Facebook’s clearly noticed that some marketers are annoying users, and it’s trying hard to cultivate quality and make the News Feed more relevant. We’ll see more Sponsored Search, more Sponsored Apps and/or Events, and a greater reliance on retargeting using Facebook Exchange. All of these advertising methods are designed to be less obtrusive, more useful and more relevant to users.
But wait: the real biggie will be video advertising, something Facebook said it would roll out before the end of the year. There’s no sign of video ads just yet, but many blogs and news sites have already decided that video will be the most annoying Facebook marketing development so far.
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