In a world where Facebook rules and regulations are always changing, it’s crucial that your content strategy is top-notch. Between competing with friend and family-oriented posts and staying within your budget, choosing when and what to promote on Facebook is the cornerstone of any successful marketing play.
The Importance of Third-Party Content
While you can share virtually anything on Facebook, there are a few content types that we like to consider the bread and butter of our client social strategies. Unique original creative/messaging, user-generated content, product updates, service promotions, event updates, media wins and industry news make up the majority of what we share on social. In fact, media wins and articles from subject matter experts both happen to fall into a category we like to call third-party content.
Sharing third-party articles on your brand’s social channels is a great way to position your organization as an industry expert. Whether your CEO was quoted in the article, or you feel the article touches on a topic your audience should be aware of, your followers want to know that you know what you’re talking about.
Because third-party articles are an essential component to your content strategy, it’s hard to help but wonder, should you be doing something more to help push that information out to your audience?
The Role of Facebook Ads
Facebook’s ad platform is a monster in the advertising industry. Last year, CNBC reported that Google and Facebook together took 20 percent of the world’s advertising budget across all media in 2016, according to Zenith’s Top 30 Global Media Owners report. And as Facebook continues to transition to a “pay to play” platform, those numbers are likely to rise as we fight for space on the News Feed.
With the new Facebook algorithm changes, not only will you have less eyes viewing your organic content, but you will also have to deal with the consequences of Facebook favoritism. As social networks continue to prioritize content that remains on their sites, rather than posts that link to external pages, content strategists are left in a bit of a sticky situation. Do these new changes warrant a paid promotion behind every post shared?
In our opinion, probably not – especially from a budget perspective – but everything is circumstantial. When it comes to social media marketing, the end-goal is to promote your organization’s product or service to make a return on your investment, right? However, from a PR perspective, we understand the motivation behind wanting to squeeze every drop of value from a killer media placement. Decisions, decisions.
So, let’s talk about boosting best practices. Take these thoughts into consideration when deciding if promoting third-party content makes sense for your brand.
When Awareness or Engagement Matters
Facebook offers a number of advertising options that support engagement and awareness as a primary objective. If you want a third-party article to get in the hands, and News Feeds, of as many people as possible, adding a paid budget to your promotion makes sense. It creates an opportunity for an expansive audience, or your existing followers, to be exposed to a positive story about your company.
Audiences can also engage with the article within their feed. This means that positive messages can be amplified… while simultaneously opening the door for unrelated criticism.
The biggest challenge with promoting third-party content: you’re not in control of the audience experience. When you link to an external site that isn’t your own, you lose control of the visuals and messaging your follower is seeing when they click on the link. What if the website is not responsive or is flooded with awful ads? What if the story eventually becomes gated and is moved behind a paywall. You don’t want to lose a fan because of a weird pop-up or questionable article that you didn’t know about.
When Conversions or Traffic Matters
If your ultimate goal with Facebook ads is to promote a specific marketing or business objective, such as an event registration or webinar sign-up form, it’s hard to reach that goal when utilizing third-party content. Third-party content, especially media stories, add credibility and authority to a brand and its services.
But these stories typically live on sites that a brand cannot control. Once a stranger is pushed to a property that your business doesn’t own, we have zero insight regarding their behavior and lose the ability to promote supporting offers or messages. Even if the article you’d like to promote is in alignment with a key business or digital marketing objective, we recommend saving your promotion dollars for posts that link back to a popular blog post, content offer, whitepaper, or event registration landing page.
Essentially, make sure you’re putting dollars behind information that you can effectively manage and measure.
Promote What You Own
The bottom line is, when it comes to social advertising, always use your dollars wisely and have a goal in mind. By all means, third-party content is necessary for any business to share, but it should be shared organically as a means to educate your followers about the industry, not to drive traffic to someone else’s website.
If you’re going to spend additional dollars on Facebook in order to support a specific marketing initiative, we highly recommend driving people to a location that you can influence and change based on performance. While there are opportunities that come with supporting third-party articles, we feel the cons outweigh the pros.