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Facebook Says Conversations Are Now More Important Than Reactions

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Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement about the upcoming changes to Facebook’s newsfeed has a lot of us talking. Coincidently, that’s exactly the desired outcome that he wants for the platform. These latest updates will place higher value on comments and sharing, so any content with an empty comments stream will reach less people. Ultimately, he believes these changes will ensure “the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent.”

He says that Facebook was built to connect family and friends. These types of connections make us happier and that’s important. Yet somehow, we’ve ended up in a place where there’s more brand and publisher content than personal content. To fix this, the ranking system in Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm will be adjusted.

How it is now?
Rankings place high value on clicks and reactions, placing content that attracts a lot of these types of engagement higher up in our newsfeeds. Sponsoring this type of content almost certainly earns you a place in people’s newsfeeds based on the type of targeting you employed and any engagement will increase reach.

How will it be after the changes?
More value will be placed on content that people share with friends, as well as content that they comment on. Sponsoring will not necessarily guarantee you a place in your audience’s newsfeed any more, unless a certain amount of active engagement is garnered first.

Why? Because Facebook wants us to talk to each other more, click on website links less and actively engage with content. According to Zuckerberg, watching a video or clicking like is considered passive engagement, commenting and sharing is considered active engagement.

This move is back-tracking from previous strategies, in the past 12 months Facebook has pushed video content and supported publishers, relaxing restrictions on sponsoring content. At this point, it’s clear that the platform had lost much of its original purpose. Users are sharing less of their personal stories, and even if they do, they will often get buried under sponsored content. These proposed changes will reverse this effect, bringing us closer to how the platform used to operate a few years ago.

What does that mean for a brand’s PR and social strategy? It means that content posted on social channels needs to focus on things that are sharable and start conversations. Any content that purely drives to websites will most likely suffer a sharp decline in reach. Content that typically drives a lot of reactions (likes, loves, laughs, etc.) will probably suffer the same. Videos may also suffer if they do not generate any “active” engagement.

At this point, before the changes kick in, current evergreen social strategies need revising, especially if it is sponsored content. These new changes will make it much trickier to reach people unless share-ability and conversation are at the core of the content. However, it’s important to remember that, at this point, we have no true understanding of how these changes will manifest. Each brand page will be affected differently and whilst content calendars should be revised, it’s a matter of adjustment, not abandonment.

The Brand Launch

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The brand launch: while it’s not rocket science, even the minds at NASA – you know, the guys who sold a nation on ‘The Moon’ – will tell you that there’s an art to telling a story that people connect with. Of course, not every brand has the benefit of captaining one of mankind’s greatest achievements, but with some careful planning and consideration, any story worth hearing can find its audience.

When we were given the task to launch Alternative Meat Co’s range of plant-based meat alternatives to market, one approach might have been to lob their brand story aimlessly into the sky and hope it would take off. We decided against this. Instead, we opted to create a campaign that would get people fired up and create a bit of controversy, and ultimately drive consumers in-store to purchase the product.

The premise of the campaign was to ignite a conversation with two tinder sparks:
1. Meat alternatives are inferior in taste
2. Eating meat makes you more Australian

Based on these insights, we rolled out a two-part integrated campaign that used well-known Aussie comedian and vegetarian Dave Hughes to kickstart the conversation. Phase one of the campaign saw a disguised ‘Hughesy’ serving kebabs to unknowing customers, grilling them on what they thought of the taste, before revealing the kebab was made with a plant-based substitute. Video of the Kebab prank divided an impassioned audience on social and traditional media and was viewed more than a million times.

Phase two successfully newsjacked the launch of Meat & Livestock Australia’s (MLA) annual ‘Eat Lamb on Australia Day’ campaign. With Hughsey again at the helm, our video parodying MLA ads hit on a hot topic and was distributed to a selection of key media outlets.

Having reshaped the narrative, we worked with popular millennial publisher Junkee Media to create a native content video depicting ‘What Australia Day looks like without meat’, which positioned the brand as an Australia Day meat alternative. The video attracted more than 80,000 views and 750 engagements.

While the campaign didn’t put man on the moon or cultivate a nation of would-be astronauts, it did successfully generate significant amounts of coverage and conversation across traditional and social media, with a total combined reach exceeding 90 million. The result of this being a tangible increase in brand awareness and, perhaps more importantly, consumer action – sales figures quadrupled in the week following phase one of the campaign and almost tripled in the week following phase two.

We also picked up a shiny award for Launch Campaign of the Year at Mumbrella’s CommsCon.

Winner, winner, (faux) chicken dinner.

Alternative Meat Co Product Range Featured on Social Media

Social Media Strategy & The Decline of Organic Reach

By Food for thought, Poem news, Uncategorised

Businesses on Facebook have a new challenge to overcome, the decline of organic reach. In 2016 alone, the organic reach for Facebook pages fell a massive 52 percent, meaning it is and will become even more of a challenge to utilise social media marketing to effectively reach a large online audience.

Before you freak out and abandon your social media strategy, there are some things to consider moving forward. Content creation, optimisation and the digital strategy involved will naturally have to evolve as businesses battle to reach a lot of the same consumers that are all within the one space. Basically, content needs to be unique, effective and relevant for it to gain traction online.

Take for example our 2016 launch of Alternative Meat Co. With an audience unaware of the product, we created a content led campaign that featured Dave Hughes sparking conversation around meat free substitutes in a playful and comedic way. In a room dominated by meat eaters, a vegetarian/flexitarian voice was heard.

A kebab shop stunt video that saw Dave Hughes dupe self confessed meat lovers into eating Alternative Meat Co’s plant based meat substitutes achieved a huge organic reach of 2.79 million, which massively outperformed our paid reach of 1.89 million. We then released a second video within an hour of the MLA’s annual Australia Day TVC which sought to give a voice to the vegetarian/vegan population of Australia. Again, the organic reach (2.59 million) heavily outperformed the accompanying paid strategy (911k). Apart from high social traction, the well timed Australia Day video was also covered by around 160 individual editorial publishers both on and offline.

The reasons for the success of the organic reach was due to strong granular targeting and retargeting based off audience ad recall, insight led content and the use of graphic supers and a hook to encourage engagement and discussion on the posts. This allowed for our paid strategy to complement the already existing strength of the organic reaction and meant we were able to communicate to an even broader and larger audience.

The social strategy and content optimisation meant the video was able to act as a conversation starter which snowballed the organic reach as viewers tagged their own audiences and shared their thoughts on the product and the campaign itself. The Alternative Meat Co campaign went on to win Mumbrella’s Comms-Con Launch Campaign of the Year.

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