Social in 2015: If content is king, then Facebook is its evil grand vizier

To be blunt about it, we are in the same place we were a year ago. Brands are still pumping out awful content every day and every social media manager and their brother thinks that doing STAR WARS DAY is a cool idea and yet none of them can actually justify the reason as to why they’re doing any of it.

James Whatley

Thanks, Oreo.

In case it needs to be made clear: THIS IS NOT HEALTHY.

End of rant.

Well.

I say that.

The point is: content trends come and go but business objectives stay the same. Fundamentally: you sell, or else.

If you’re a content planner and you’re in the midst of getting your June/July efforts signed off, I ask you: can you name the objective behind every post? If so great! If not, then what the hell are you doing?

End of rant.

I mean it this time.

If this were a chapter from a Bret Easton Ellis novel, then this next bit would read thus:

Chapter 17:

VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO.VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO.VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO.

If you read any of the 24,000 social media trend prediction decks of 14/15 (yes, that’s the actual number), all the focus was on video content. Shiny, shiny video content.

If you missed the memo, content has been king all this time but while it wasn’t looking, someone went and made visual content the actual GOD of everything. Not any old visual content mind, oh no – visual content that moves.

That’s why you’re all rushing to get video content (‘can we just called it video?’ ‘No’) published on your Facebook pages real quick because ‘ZOMG, LOOK AT THOSE ORGANIC REACH NUMBERS!’

Fair enough. But still. It’s ridiculous.

Look around you.

  1. May 2014: Facebook tweaks its algorithm just in time for the ALS ice bucket challenge (had many client requests for their own version of that?)
  2. Oct 2014: Zuckerberg announces that video is a ‘big priority’; Facebook decides it wants to be the number one video platform in the world and goes after media partners and news outlets.
  3. Nov 2014: Facebook kills organic reach and then resuscitates it just long enough to sucker you all into uploading native video content to its platform.
  4. Apr 2015: Facebook is now serving [an average of 4bn video views per day (on a par with YouTube’s last reported number).
  5. By the end of 2015, expect Facebook to announce it is the number one video platform on the planet (funny how that happened, right?)

Hurrah and hurrah again!

But do you think the free ride will last forever? Of course it won’t. I haven’t started my trend report for 2016 yet (it’s May, for crying out loud!) but I know that when I do, Facebook conducting a review of how it treats video content in the newsfeed will absolutely be there (if it doesn’t happen before).

Facebook’s users are its number one priority and if you haven’t heard many of your friends or family complain about the sheer volume of video content in their feeds yet, you will. Eventually, the video gravy train will come to an end and all that investment you’re making now into the best video content possible will go to waste…

When the sun shines, make hay. And right now the newsfeed algorithm sunbeams are shining so brightly upon video content, it’s a wonder any other content makes it through.

You know it, I know it, and guess what: Facebook knows it too.

The catnip-like organic reach numbers that Facebook uses to influence its [brand page] users content output is so completely obvious it’s almost insulting.

But it’s OK. Let’s all bury our faces in Facebook’s video nosebag and not worry at all about how it does, and more pointedly how it does not, affect our collective bottom lines.

According to the big blue behemoth’s own research, just three seconds of video exposure impacts positively on brand awareness. Three seconds you say? Amazing! Mmm, lovely, lovely nosebag.

Look, I’m not here to tell you to stop posting videos on Facebook. Hell, I’d advise any client to do just that. What I’m saying is:

a) be aware of the reasons why this is happening

b) think of your business objective, and

c) remember that what the Facebook giveth, the Facebook taketh away.

If content is king, then Facebook is its evil grand vizier, whispering quietly in its ear as it blindly does what its told.

Facebook is a paid media platform. I told you this 18 months ago. Stop dancing with the crack hit of organic reach and focus your efforts on targeted messages to those users that actually want to hear from you (not the 0.4 per cent that only liked your page to complain about your last product).

If you’re doing this already then fantastic! You’re doing things right. If you’re not...well, what are you doing reading this?

Drop me an email later today and I’ll arrange for someone to come and help bury your head a bit deeper in the sand.

James Whatley is Digital Director of social @Ogilvy. Follow James on Twitter @whatleydude

He is hosting a talk for Digital Shoreditch on social trends, ‘Seriously, What Now?’, Thurs 14 May, 17:20, Shoreditch Town Hall.

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James Whatley

James Whatley is Planning Partner - Innovation at Ogilvy & Mather Advertising London. He has a history of working mobile, social, and web as for his innovation remit at O&M, that's just one simple four word brief: new stuff made useful. You can find him on Twitter @Whatleydude

All by James