Insight from the Global Team.

Brittani Baxter By Brittani Baxter

12 Nov 2012 The Evolving Role of Brand Page Posts in News Feeds, Plus Considerations for Pharma Companies

 

Recent changes in Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm and its treatment of brand pages continue to keep all brand page owners on their toes.  For instance, Facebook observers have recently noted that Facebook seems to be testing a page-only version of the News Feed.  Users who see this option seem to still be able to see page posts in their News Feed; but the Page Feed seems to provide a more complete listing of posts by pages that users have Liked.  Facebook has not provided any direction on their plans for a future Page Feed, but this move to segregate the posts suggests that the visibility of page posts in the News Feed may be subject to change in the future.

Not long before this option appeared for selected Facebook users, page owners began to complain of lower reach for their posts.  These allegations also came shortly after Facebook began more aggressively advertising its “promote this post” option – including allowing users in the U.S. to pay to promote their own personal posts for the first time.  This led some page owners to accuse Facebook of decreasing their posts’ reach so that page owners would feel forced to pay to promote their posts and achieve the same levels of reach that they had previously.  Facebook rebuffed these allegations, but mentioned that it is taking steps to reduce the number of “spam” posts by pages in users’ News Feeds, which has resulted in decreased reach in some cases.

Regardless of whether you believe all, some, or none of these theories about Facebook’s motivations for moving some brand page posts out of the News Feed, one thing is for certain: the best way to get your brand’s content into people’s News Feeds is to be sure that your content is engaging, shareable, and useful.  Though Facebook will certainly continue to change its methods over time, a strategy which favors posting a reasonable amount of highly engaging content has always been effective for brand pages, and will surely continue to be useful in the future.  As Facebook continues to refine EdgeRank to respond to users’ preferences (which are generally not to feel  marketed to!), brands need to be real and engaging to continue to receive attention.

For pharmaceutical brands, though, this call for increasing engagement is not so straightforward.  The FDA still has not released additional guidance on how drugmakers can engage with social media – our blog post from earlier this year has more information about the FDA’s last update, which is nearly a year old now.

 

Due to the FDA’s lack of guidance, pharmaceutical companies may feel that the safest option is simply to withdraw from social media altogether.  However, as outlined in our last blog post on pharma engagement in social media, there are several good reasons to maintain a social media presence, including:

  • Creating open lines of communication between your brand and target audience to foster brand affinity and help to eliminate any negative sentiment towards your brand

  • Patients and caregivers are looking to the internet for health-related information in ever-increasing numbers, and conversations about brands and their products are occurring whether or not brands are a part of them

  • Understanding what your target audience is doing and talking about online, which will help refine your brand’s approach to content creation and distribution

 

Deciding how to launch a new page or revitalize an existing page can be challenging, and does require the investment of a bit of time and effort.  Ultimately, the best way to identify the best type of content for your page is to take stock of what’s working on both your page and that of competitors.  This can be accomplished by:

  • Creating a monitoring program to track the types of content that is most and least successful on your page

  • Experimenting with the timing and presentation of content to determine how you can capture higher rates of engagement with Fans

  • Identifying your fan base and listening their thoughts and questions to better understand what types of content meets their needs.  What are they trying to learn or accomplish by coming to your page?

  • Looking  at the types of content that are succeeding on competitors’ pages

  • Collecting insights from your other media channels (like YouTube, Twitter, and even traditional media) about what your consumers want, and brainstorming about how to deliver that on Facebook

  • Revisiting these questions over time to ensure that you’re still delivering the most relevant and useful content for your ever changing and growing fan base

 

Though these projects require the investment of some time and effort, they will result in a brand strategy that is sustainable long-term.  This is far more reliable and effective than merely trying to game the latest changes to the EdgeRank algorithm.  Ultimately, Facebook users are interested in helpful, relevant, engaging content, and Facebook’s goal is always to deliver that to its users.  Creating something interesting that is useful to your fans will ensure that your brand will always be well-positioned, both now and in the future.

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