In mid-January 2018, Facebook announced yet another change to their algorithm. So what?
Facebook changes their algorithms all the time. What’s special about this one?
Well this change is a big one. Facebook has changed the news feed aspect to give preference to posts shared between friends and family.
It’s been well understood that over the past couple of years, the number of people that see your organic posts had been reduced to around 30% of your reach.
This latest change will reduce it to around 1% – 2% of your organic reach.
Advertising on Facebook will not be affected however.
What this means to you as a business, is that you will now have to work harder if you want your posts to be seen ‘organically’ i.e. not paying to reach people on Facebook.
With over 2 billion active users, Facebook is not a social media platform that can be ignored so how can you respond to this shift?
There are some that believe this latest change from Facebook is a direct result of the over-supply of low quality, meaningless content that fills up people’s inboxes designed simply to drive engagement for brands.
Facebook has often stated that it is a social media platform and not a media organisation.
Reading between the lines, what this means in reality is that as long as you are creating content that provides value to people, is original and encourages meaningful conversation, then your posts will continue to be shown.
It also means that managing organic posting campaigns on Facebook will require greater research, planning and execution to have the same impact as before.
Your posts announcing your latest treatment or the opening of a new clinic will now get lower priority and be pushed to the back of the queue to make way for family members sharing moments online.
This change will frighten some whereas others will see it as an opportunity to change their approach.
Your alternative is to start paying for advertising on Facebook.
And for those that are advertising on Facebook or thinking about advertising, there is no better time to sharpen up your skills and start creating ad copy that is designed to engage and motivate your audience into taking action and becoming a customer.
The most successful method is ‘Direct Response’ marketing.
What is Direct Response Advertising?
Direct response marketing elicits a specific, measured response resulting from a consumer’s direct response to a marketer. It facilitates the delivery of a call to action and outcome via direct online interaction for immediate feedback and response.
It’s in total contrast to most adverts that we see on television that are often highly creative but are designed to stick in the mind to raise brand awareness. Television adverts for Guinness and Coca-Cola are good examples where it’s often just the imagery or a catchy song. You’re not told the price, the ingredients, who it’s for, what it can do for you or even that you should buy it.
Often the more left field and creative the idea; the more brand awareness campaigns are deemed as successful.
Direct response advertising on the other hand, requires less in the way of abstract creativity and more about following a process.
This process is actually very simple and is based along the lines of:
- This is your problem
- I have a solution to your problem
- This is how I prove my solution works
- Buy it now
The creativity direct response advertising requires comes in how you format the advert. Story-telling and information-giving are two of the most popular and successful methods.
Story telling works because it creates interest and seeks to connect with and ultimately engage the reader. Information giving works because it provides value straight away.
Now although following a process may seem easier than developing a ‘mind-hook’ brand awareness campaign it is not easy.
The following tips should however prove helpful when you are constructing your direct response copy.
- Respect the reader. Don’t try to be clever, mislead, coerce or impress people. Speak to them on a level; be neither superior nor overly keen to gain approval.
- Use the language your audience would use. Especially the opening statements. The first few lines have to connect with people quickly.
- Don’t be scared to use bad grammar. You’re not in an essay writing competition. You’re communicating with people so write in a way that you would speak with them if you were talking face-to-face. If that means using slang or colloquialisms then do so. It’s more important to be understood than grammatically correct.
Equally don’t get too sloppy, over familiar, use too much slang or attempt to be too clever.
- Use everyone’s favourite word—YOU. Why is this important to them? What’s in it for them? Why should they continue to read? Why should they take action? Too much about yourself and people switch off.
- How will their life improve? Generally this will be how it can save them time, save them money, make them money or improve results in an area of their life they want to improve. It can also be a combination of any or all of these things.
- Is the audience Cold or Warm? Be aware how much your audience is likely to know about the problem you are looking to solve. If they have little awareness of the problem, you will need to construct your copy in such a way that they can quickly relate to the matter.
- Are you addressing a previous or existing customer? If so, then it’s important to recognise their value and your relationship but don’t over-indulge. You will still need to get to your point quickly.
- Less isn’t necessarily more. In fact it’s ok to write more than one page. People love stories so give them the chance (as well as a reason) to get to know you.
- Always keep the end result in mind. Build up to a call to action but make it flow by following these steps:
- Get their attention in the first couple of lines
- Build their interest
- Get them to make a decision
- Make it clear what action you want them to take
- Is it easy to read? Everyone scans first before deciding to launch into a full read. Like a newspaper article, use headlines, sub-headings and even a P.S. at the end.
- What do you want them to do and when? Make sure you have a clear, unambiguous call to action: ‘Book A Consultation’, ‘Call this number’, ‘Visit this website’
- Use urgency. The threat of scarcity or Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) works. Deadline dates, limited spaces etc. are effective. Some adverts even have an animated countdown clock.
If you really want to go into detail about direct response marketing, then David Ogilvy’s (of Ogilvy & Mather) 1983 book ‘Ogilvy on Advertising’ will give you the perspective from one of the most recognised world experts as well as some great examples.
Facebook’s Rules on Advertising
In addition to our own industry guidelines on what we can and can’t say when promoting our businesses, Facebook has some very comprehensive rules about what is and is not permitted.
I’d need several more pages than the word limit of this article will allow to put them all in here so I’ve picked out some of the most important ones:
- Adverts must not contain “before-and-after” images or images that contain unexpected or unlikely results
- Advert content must not imply or attempt to generate a negative self-perception in order to promote dietary, weight loss or other health-related products
- Adverts for health, fitness or weight loss products must be targeted to people aged 18 years or older
- There are also guidelines around what is ‘prohibited’ vs. what is ‘restricted’ content
Relevance, Accuracy and Related Landing Pages
When online advertising first started, you could put up any headline that would get people to click on it and it could take you to an entirely unconnected product or service. Today, Facebook will test your advert for relevance, accuracy and related landing pages before it gets published. The following standards are taken directly from Facebook.
All advert components, including any text, images or other media, must be relevant and appropriate to the product or service being offered and the audience viewing the advert.
Adverts must clearly represent the company, product, service or brand that is being advertised.
Related landing pages
The products and services promoted in an advert’s text must match those promoted on the landing page, and the destination site must not offer or link to any prohibited product or service
No one will know your business like you do so although there are many reasons to outsource ad creation to a copywriter or someone like myself, your knowledge of your own business is one big reason to write your own adverts. I hope this guide will help.