In this article, I will take you through the 4 point checklist for creating evergreen content for Facebook.
But before we dive into that, let’s look at how the Facebook algorithm has changed over the last few years. Plus how that has affected brands & content creators.
Table of Contents
Changes To The Facebook Algorithm
June 2016: Facebook changes its algorithm again, and publishers (read content marketers) started to panic. Again. Facebook said it will prioritize the posts of friends and family over publisher’s posts.
March 2016: Facebook prioritizes live video. Marketers scramble to create live video content.
January 2016: Organic Audience Optimization.This new update allows publishers to set preferences to target a specific audience based on interests, demographics, and geographic location.
June 2015: The Facebook “See First” user preference update.
January 2015: The first update where Facebook “penalized” promotional posts, and began to crack down on Pages publishing “buy this” posts or posts with the same wording as paid ads.
That’s since 2015. Since 2007, Facebook has been adding ways for users to control what they see first with the introduction of the “like” button and then the introduction of news feed preferences in 2009.
Every time Facebook alters their formula for serving up content, marketers scramble to change what they are doing to fit the latest Facebook trend. Why?
Facebook’s popularity is unrivaled, at the end of last year Facebook had 1.6bn active users:
Because 40 percent of top publishers’ traffic comes from Facebook, as the social media giant continues to beat Google at directing readers to content. While publishers should be responsive, being overly reactionary wastes time and resources better spent on doing one thing: creating great evergreen content.
Long form evergreen content is not enough by itself. You need some short form content and excellent landing pages, and those need to be responsive and regularly updated as well, something I explain in more detail in this article on Long and Short Form Content and Why You Need Both.
But long form evergreen content still gathers the most traffic over the long-term and is worth investing in. That article on Pokemon Go may get you a ton of views this week or this month, but next year, no one will be sharing or talking about it.
There are some things worth noting in the way Facebook is changing though. Contently put together a great post outlining the changes in five easy charts, but they are summarized here:
- Average Shares have been falling since January
- Link posts are doing even worse
- Photo posts are down too
- Publishers are posting more videos than ever
- It’s hard to make money with Facebook video
So what should your content marketing strategy look like? What should you change, and what should stay the same?
4 Keys To Writing Evergreen Content For Facebook
1. Relevant and Informative Content
The same rules still apply for what readers will click on, stay and read. Content should be relevant to your brand and your customers and filled with information and statistics that move the reader to action and/or increase their interest.
How do you make that content more appealing to Facebook, and more likely to be served up in the news feed of readers? There are a couple of steps that almost always work no matter what the current Facebook focus is.
- Add one or more photos instead of just posting a bare link. While shares of photo posts appear to be down, they are still performing better than just link posts overall.
- Add video where possible and appropriate. Share the content link above the video, but upload the video to Facebook rather than linking to YouTube or Vimeo. (Then the post acts like a link post rather than a video post)
- Use Live Video to talk about your content. Given the opportunity talk about the post “live” as you share it on social media. This is Facebook’s latest ploy for engagement, so utilize it.
Producing and editing video does not have to be expensive, but it can be. It depends on how elaborate you want your content videos to be. A decent webcam and a good microphone in a quiet room can be enough, and if you can share Powerpoint slides, charts, or illustrations at the same time, that is ideal.
Think of the simplicity of a company like Moz, who shares Whiteboard Fridays on a weekly basis. The videos are rather simple with a simple set and simple props, and is hosted most frequently by founder Rand Fishkin, who is already an expert and accepted authority on the subject.
Here is a great Whiteboard Friday example:
It does not matter of course what else you build if the content is worthless or irrelevant. Quality content is key.
2. Respond to Current Events
It is a safe bet that politics will be in the news on a regular basis, and responding to issues rather than just candidate statements or opinions makes a piece evergreen while at the same time gaining shares and views from what is currently in the news.
For instance, a marketing firm can write an article or post a webinar about how social media is being used in political campaigns and tie that trend to digital marketing related to other products, and how companies use it as well. This makes current events both relevant and evergreen.
While Pokemon Go may just be the latest game fad and may fade from the headlines, gaming itself and its application to business and marketing will be around for a long time to come. Also, there is nothing wrong with using current events to get some exposure for your brand using shorter, news type content. This short term exposure can be converted to long-term gain if other content in your marketing funnel is structured properly to drive the curious toward conversion.
Facebook and Twitter like things that are trending and readers often pay attention to those things. Even though Twitter is more about who and how many users are engaging a topic, Facebook often picks what is trending rather subjectively, focusing on things that are both popular and positive. While publisher content may be displayed less in newsfeeds, topics that are trending or being shared will always have priority with Facebook, other social media, and Google.
Remember, all of these platforms are trying to drive traffic toward ads: that is how they make money. The better user experience they provide, the more content they serve up to users that matches their interests, the more likely they will click on the advertisements that pay the bills. Being hyper-relevant to a popular niche is a sure way to get your content noticed.
3. Know Your Audience
Other than status updates, your content is not written for Facebook. Nor is is written for Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, or any other social media network. Although keeping those things in mind while creating your content, ultimately it is created for your customers and potential customers.
While it is important to keep those things in mind while creating content, it is a mistake to create content for anyone but the end user.
In the music industry, this shift took place when record labels mistook radio stations and record stores as their customers, rather than the listener. This resulted in the rise of indie music and small record labels. Publishing experienced the same phenomena, resulting in the closure of major chain bookstores and the rise of self-publishing and Amazon.
These trends turned two industries upside down, but ultimately the losers were the businesses that ignored the end user in favor of their distributors. Facebook is a distributor as is Google and other social media sites, but they are not the consumer.
Writing what your audience wants and needs ultimately serves your brand better over the long term. Relevancy still overrides SEO and social media doctoring. Ranking is important, but is best if it happens organically. Organic sharing comes from a strategy focused on quality content.
4. Don’t Chase the Exception
There are always exceptions to the rule. Some website with shallow, paginated content will rank highly in certain searches. Sometimes this will be temporary, other times they will stay for extended periods of time because they have found some way to rig the system.
Those rankings rarely lead to conversions, and though click bait titles may draw attention, they also result in high bounce rates and users that often flee before reaching the end of an article. You want your readers to stay, return to you for more information they can count on, and ultimately buy your product or service.
The psychology of branding tells us there are several steps to changing consumer behavior, and one of the first is to create comfort. Nothing makes a potential customer more uncomfortable than the feeling they are being manipulated. Consistent high-quality content will earn the trust of visitors to your website.
No matter what Facebook changes about what shows up in its News Feed, no matter what Google does to change how websites rank, content will continue to play a vital role in attracting organic and social traffic to your site. Posting relevant content, responding to current events, knowing your audience, and staying away from chasing the exception to the rules means your website can continue to thrive and attract the attention it deserves.