RIP Facebook: How musicians can thrive in 2018

Amber Horsburgh
Jan 16, 2018 · 4 min read

Marketers are freaking out about Zuckerberg’s update. So how can you maintain a successful Facebook strategy after the algorithm is destroyed?

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On Thursday Jan, 11th 2018, Mark Zuckerberg announced a colossal change to the algorithm that will strip the Newsfeed of news taking Facebook back to its original mission of bringing us closer to people who matter — family and friends.

This update will be a huge change because unlike past ones, Zucker’s has made his personal New Year’s resolution to “fix Facebook”. In the new update public figures, (fake) news, and brands will take a beating — expect zilch organic reach, pricey ads, and more power to fans.

Here is how musicians should focus their Facebook strategy to thrive in the change.

1. Prioritize comments over shares

For years, shares made content go viral and therefore “share” was the most important success metric. Now, it’s comments.

According to Facebook,

“Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.”

The new update prioritizes posts that keep people in comment threads incentivizing long-form responses and subsequent follow-ups. Creative content should be designed with discussion in mind. Ask yourself “what makes this worth talking about?” otherwise, it’s fluff no-one will see.

This is different from how music marketers treat Facebook today — as an official website and advertising network. Look at any band’s page today and you’ll see it used for broad awareness with tour dates, PR announcements, track releases and music video posts written by label or manager personnel.

If this has been your focus, it’s time to change strategies.

2. Rejig the media spend. Skill up in paid social

When Facebook first started they were hell-bent on getting people to spend more time on site. More time on site meant more available ad inventory to sell ads to brands and publishers. This earned them 6 million advertisers who spent $23.2 billion between Q1 — Q3 2017 alone.

Now they’ll focus on “time well spent”.

“Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses. Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease.”

Less people on site will cause ad prices to skyrocket.

Moving forward, paid posts must be more engaging and social media managers need to be proficient at paid media strategy. It’s not enough to rely on a budget to ensure things are seen or something is so cool it’ll be spread. The two go hand in hand.

3. Treat official music videos and Facebook videos separately

Oddly enough, Facebook is still pushing Live. They claim live videos get 6x as many interactions as regular videos. In Zuckerberg’s post he says

“We’ve seen people interact way more around live videos than regular ones. Some news helps start conversations on important issues. But too often today, watching video, reading news or getting a page update is just a passive experience.”

What Zucks forgets to mention is video exploded because Facebook designed its algorithm that way and paid publishers to make boatloads more video content. In any case, Facebook Live videos are here to stay (for now).

Marketing budgets must include social video content and not rely on repurposing official music videos from YouTube for Facebook because their passiveness is not good enough for Facebook.

4. Create a loyalty club to distribute information

Content by family and friends will be prioritized over public pages by up to 5x so fans become powerful bearers of content distribution. Now’s time to build a street team to spread information on behalf of the artist.

Majors have been doing this for years, think Swifties, Rihanna’s Navy, Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters and 30 Seconds to Mars’ Echelon but in 2018’s Facebook, this is a relevant strategy for indie artists too.

A street team allows top fans access to special opportunities in exchange for posting an artists news, moderating comment threads to stoke discussion and manage community.

5. Encourage followers to change preferences

One very direct way to get around the algorithmic demotion is to have people update preferences to see a public page’s content. This can be done in a simple CTA on Facebook, just be wary of “engagement baiting”, i.e.: offering a coupon in exchange for a preference update — Facebook is slapping those folks on the wrist too.

As a marketer and a consumer, I am thrilled about the changes. It rewards creativity and encourages community back on platform and I’m interested to see what products they roll out to make people unlearn the like-baiting they’ve do encouraged over the past 10 years. Bring it on.

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Amber Horsburgh

Written by

Music marketing consultant. Downtown Records & Big Spaceship alumni. Writes about music, strategy and feels at Deep Cuts

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