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Five tips to reach your fanbase in Facebook’s updated news feed

Gyles Seward, marketing director at 9xb, shares his top tips on keeping your content visible in Facebook’s updated news feed.

Big changes are afoot in the world of Facebook, which is set to radically alter the way brands create content in this space. The much revered ‘like’ button, once the primary focus of the typical marketing campaign, is now to take a back seat as brands are forced to create content that sparks deeper, more varied forms of engagement in order to get noticed.

We’ve heard about the forthcoming timeline, social apps and “frictionless sharing”, but for many brands (particularly those that don’t have the budget to spend on apps and sponsored content), the newsfeed remains the best place for them to interact with their fans. Data supports the fact that fans disproportionately encounter brands in the news feed compared with visiting a brand’s page, so in short, it matters...a lot.

With the introduction of the ticker timeline and a more selective news feed with added user control, brands will have to work harder to get noticed in this space. Here are five tips that should get your brains buzzing when planning your next piece of activity.

Know your EdgeRank from your PageRank

If at this point you’re scratching your head, then you’d better listen up! EdgeRank is the (rather complex) algorithm that decides what pieces of content are given prominence in any given person’s newsfeed. In other words, it determines whether that fantastically illuminating status update you’ve spent so much time on reaches your fans.

It will play an even more important role in this new environment, where “smaller” actions, such as liking a page or commenting on a status update, may only appear in the ticker timeline, the less visible column that displays condensed, real-time updates.

Rich media, such as photos and videos, are favoured by Edgerank and will feature more prominently in the news feed, so brands will have to be much more strategic about the updates they produce if they want to appear regularly in this space. Marketers should understand the rules of the algorithm and adjust their strategies accordingly.

Invite sharing and interaction

Social media marketing has always been about engagement, at least in theory, but it’s surprising how much brand activity is broadcast based. Now, active participation has become a prerequisite for visibility.
EdgeRank also favours high levels of user engagement and unless your fans are active participants on your page - sharing, liking and commenting on your posts - your updates will stop appearing in their newsfeeds. In effect, you will not reach your fan base.

Brands will have to earn their place in their fans’ news feeds by generating content that their community deems interesting enough to interact with. Participatory posts, such as polls and questions, are a good place to start.

Content that’s valuable to your fan base

Facebook has added a control in the top left corner of each story in the newsfeed, which users can check or uncheck to mark or unmark a top story, using this information over time to automatically generate relevant news feeds for individual users via an algorithm. What does this mean for marketers? Now that users have more control over their newsfeeds, brands will need to publish content that is of real value to their fan base as bland, irrelevant content will be actively demoted.

Encourage photo sharing

Facebook has dramatically increased the size and prominence of users’ photos in the news feed, displaying thumbnails in a much more creative, inviting fashion. Images posted by brand pages however, remain small in comparison. Some may see this as a disincentive to tell their brand’s story visually, as it becomes more difficult to achieve standout. However, re-shared appear prominently and in the larger format, so actively encourage your fans to spread the word.

Don’t forget the ticker

While the news feed remains the most valuable place to have your content appear, the ticker is still a valuable real-time marketing resource. The mainstay of the ticker will be action orientated updates, such as people liking, commenting and sharing, meaning that the life of a post will be prolonged every time someone takes an action against it. Encouraging ongoing dialogue around your content will make sure your brand appears regularly in this space.

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