Facebook News Feed Case Study: Maybe the Sky Isn’t Falling After All
On Jan. 4, Mark Zuckerberg announced his New Year’s resolution to “fix Facebook.” When it comes to your news feed, family and friends are in—brands and publishers are largely out. Regular Joes rejoiced over the idea of a less cluttered social media experience that shows them only the stuff they really want.
Meanwhile, in offices around the world, content creators and marketers collectively let out a nearly audible gasp at the prospect of fewer eyeballs from what was once a near-guaranteed source. All signs pointed to monthly traffic reports with precipitous drops, no leads and disappointed current clients soon to become former clients. Hey, it’s the risk you take with social media since you’re building on rented land.
But did the sky, in fact, fall? Well, it’s still too early to tell what will ultimately happen to publishers in the news feed. But from where I sit, the sky is still firmly in place.
Not only that, but things from a content-marketing-on-Facebook perspective are downright rosy. Trends have been moving up and to the right ever since that announcement from dear ol’ Zuck. Here’s a mini case study to capture what I’m seeing and some thoughts on why.
Facebook Is Driving More Traffic My Clients’ Way
Scribewise works with a client in the travel insurance industry on branding, content strategy and execution. As part of those efforts, we’ve built and managed an online community for them outside of Facebook. I’ll toot our own horn: We do a great job with creating interesting and valuable articles that spark conversation. Some of our traffic comes from Facebook, and historically it’s been fickle.
Until the now. Since Zuckerberg’s announcement, we’ve seen the following on Facebook (changes are from Dec. 2017 to Jan. 2018):
- 100% increase in Actions on Page
- 394% increase in Page Views
- 146% increase in Page Previews
- 387% in Page Likes
- 79% increase in Reach
Our targeting from December didn’t change and our paid spend is the same—no radical shifts in strategy that would drive these increases. So what, right? Vanity metrics and all that. True, but we’re seeing a similar uptick in traffic on the site. Check this out:
The source of the increase in site traffic this month? You guessed it…Facebook.
Qualitatively, our Facebook posts for this client are driving more comments, likes and shares, and our cost per engagement is the lowest we’ve seen. In addition, subscriptions to the blog are up (that’s the real goal and value of all this).
And it’s not just this one case. We have another client in the home improvement space who has been running a Facebook campaign over roughly the same timeframe. Their traffic on Facebook is up too, and the gated piece of content that campaign points to has generated 3x more leads in January. As in the first case, nothing else about the campaign has changed.
Why Is this Happening? (Not That I’m Complaining)
It wouldn’t be a very useful blog if I just said “I don’t know” and called it a day. But honestly, I can see several potential scenarios, or a combination of them, driving these positive results.
- The Facebook Change: Facebook really did change something in the way it serves content that we benefited from. We make it a point to ensure that none of our clients post anything overtly salesy or spammy—it’s content marketing in its purest form, truly there to help the consumer get information or do something better.
- Content Quality Has Gone Up: Any worthwhile writer is always trying to improve their art, and we’re no exception. I’d like to take all the credit, but I’m merely editor-and-sometimes-writer for a crack team of content producers doing good research and creating useful articles. It’s entirely possible that what we’ve produced over the last 30 days is better overall and better suited to the audience we’re targeting.
- We’ve Hit a Tipping Point: We’ve coincidentally hit that point where things take off. We’ve rocked the proverbial vending machine back and forth enough to finally push it over. We’ve gone viral, and friends-of-friends are learning about us.
- It’s a Fluke: I’m willing to admit that a year from now when I view results on a longer scale, this will just be a temporary blip on a (hopefully) upward trend. Given that we’re seeing the same things for other clients, I’d say this is less likely but still possible.
As for next steps, we’ll accept a couple high-fives from the client. But of course, content marketing is never done and you’d be silly to bank on something that worked well being your go-to strategy forever. It’s about constant iteration to improve, taking smart chances that will sometimes work out, and learning from those that fail.
And like the rest of you, we’ll be watching Facebook and every other social media channel like a hawk to see how things change and evolve.