Thought Leadership
  • Content marketing

How great content can help brands to beat Facebook’s plans to bury promotional posts

Stephen Hobbs
18th October 2014

Brands have to think smarter. And, crucially, they have to be friendly.

Facebook has made some significant changes to the way it treats posts from brands. In short, it’s reducing ‘overly promotional’ page posts from users’ news feeds.

While cynics would say this is simply a way to generate more advertising revenue by making brands pay to target their own fans, the truth is that Facebook is a social network, not a marketplace. Facebook users want to find out what their friends are up to, and share pictures, jokes, stories and links with them. They don’t want endless streams of posts from brands desperately imploring them to install their apps or buy their products.

But don’t worry, that doesn’t mean that brands have to beat a hasty retreat from Facebook – it just means they have to think smarter. And, crucially, they have to be friendly.

Build trust and sales

A friend doesn’t arrive at the pub and immediately try to sell you a watch (if they do, seriously consider changing friends and/or pub). A brand shouldn’t begin a social conversation with a sales pitch – you have to build trust before your build sales. And you do that by giving your audience something that has value.

Tell stories that inspire action

Brands should always aim to share content that has value, content that users will feel motivated to share. So don’t bother posting stuff that isn’t either entertaining, inspirational or useful. If you manage all three, you’ll find that your audience will pass your message on for you.

Express your personality

Of course, anyone can share a cute kitten gif – simply sticking your brand’s logo on it isn’t going to help build followers and sell products. That’s why a well-defined brand personality is crucial. Brand personality is often something that senior people in a business understand intuitively but don’t clearly define and share with staff and agencies – which makes it pretty tricky to communicate to the brand’s audience.

Have a plan

Finally, brands need an overarching content strategy – because every post needs to reinforce your brand’s personality and worldview.

As users, we think carefully about the stuff we share on social networks – and when we don’t, we usually regret it. Same goes for brands: everything needs a carefully thought-through, consistent voice.

Stay on the feed

By punishing overly promotional posts, Facebook is actually rewarding good content – just as Google has been doing with its Penguin algorithms. Brands simply need to learn there are fewer shortcuts on social media these days. The age of one-night stands is over: like it or not, users want a long-term relationship.

Postscript: I showed this post to our head of insight & performance, and he pointed out how these algorithmic changes make his life hell because it becomes harder to predict precisely which posts will have cut-through and which will flop. But the truth is that Facebook, like Google, is trying to become ever more intelligent when choosing the content that it puts in front of its users. Aim to serve the reader, rather than game the algorithm, and you’ll be on a good path – even when the technology changes.

If you’re looking to boost your brands social media content strategy please get in touch by emailing us at

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