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What Facebook’s Algorithm and Page Layout Changes Mean for Hotel and Destination Marketers

This post was written for Hawthorn Creative and originally published here

Rather than beat a dead horse, let’s start out by admitting the obvious: Facebook is prioritizing personal content over content produced by brands and publishers. This means the posts that will show up most now in Facebook feeds are those that your friends and family have liked, shared, or commented on; the algorithm change is suppressing posts from other sources. It’s going to affect brands in the hospitality industry to varying degrees – we’ll get to that. The other big change we saw in the first week of August was the roll out of a freshly designed Page layout. Brands are now seeing a more streamlined look for their company’s Page, with some new features that are an unexpected gift from Facebook. Does that make up for the algorithm change? Not particularly, but at least it’s something, and we’ll take it.

Why the Facebook Algorithm Change?
For one thing, research by SocialFlow in June found a 42% drop in the reach of publisher stories. Facebook has to stay on the cutting edge of what its users want, meaning that when it sees a drop in interest in publisher stories, the company acts quickly to hold onto the interest of its 1.65 billion users. One contributing factor? In recent years, Facebook has become “too public” for people to feel safe sharing personal private updates. The problem for Facebook is that its users still want to share those personal photos and anecdotes – but they’re doing it on platforms like Snapchat or Periscope. Facebook’s algorithm changes show us that they’re adjusting course to retain the favor of its USERS, rather than brands and publishers. It’s also a not-so-subtle way to force businesses to pony up for paid promotion.  

What We Know about the Impact So Far
Brands who rely on the content they post on Facebook to build their audience have likely already seen a drop in reach and referral traffic. However, the brands who see their traffic come from individual users sharing their content will see less of an impact, and therein lies the key: to stay competitive, your goal for content on Facebook is how share-worthy it is, because to get any traction now, your followers need to share it. This requires a fully fleshed-out social media and content marketing strategy, diligent posting, and social listening.

BUT – that’s not the complete solution. Most individual users share content they see in their newsfeed, so if the content isn’t showing up there, the web of sharing gets stalled out before it begins. Only the branded content from the companies users regularly engage with is likely to show up organically. Brands and publishers are going to have to examine their marketing budgets to figure out how they can allocate more dollars for paid promotion. That can feel overwhelming to brands who haven’t yet dipped a toe into paid promotion on Facebook. In that case, it might be time to look into having a creative digital agency like Hawthorn manage your social to optimize your results.

Key Algorithm Takeaways:
·      Focus on posting content that followers will find so meaningful, engaging, and relevant, they are compelled to share it to their friends and family.

·      Make sure your website has “share” buttons on its blog and other pages, so that individual users can share your content to their friends and family, who will then re-share and engage with it.

·      Beyond that, pull out your wallet and get ready to pay for the reach that used to be organic.

Late Breaking News: A Brand New Page Layout
There were rumblings in the spring of 2016 about a new, more streamlined Facebook Page Layout, and as of August, we started to see the changes roll out in selected users. It’s still not clear if Facebook is in the testing phase or the early stages of a roll out. Either way, you can expect to see some changes to your look of your Page in the coming weeks. The good news? All of the changes are GOOD news for the hospitality industry: your “Book Now” CTA button just got boosted, your photos have a better chance to shine, and your followers can now find that special on a weekend getaway you posted a week ago MUCH more easily.

Best New Features for Destination, Resort, and Hotel Marketing

The CTA Button

Let’s get to the most exciting news first. In the new layout, the call-to-action button is much more prominent. About time, right? There’s no better place for that “BOOK NOW” button than front and center. It looks like Facebook heeded the complaints from social media managers across the board who struggle to prove the ROI of social media. Planting the CTA button front and center might help marketers argue more effectively on social’s impact on the bottom line.

A Cleaner Cover Photo

The new layout has allotted significantly more white space to the profile, making the Page look much more streamlined and clear. The cover photo and profile photo are now separate – the profile image now lives at the top of a sticky menu on the left side, which leaves the cover photo wide open for creative interpretation. Whether you manage your page or have a company like Hawthorn do it for you, making sure to resize your photos and finding a way to make the best of the bonus space creatively is key.

The Long Overdue Search

Have you ever tried to go back to find a post you know you saw on a company’s page, but had to weed through who-knows-how-many posts to excavate the exact article you KNOW AdWeek shared? With the new Page Layout, gone are the days of endlessly scrolling through a Page’s newsfeed to try to find a post. This means your audience can always find that good content about your hotel or destination you posted back in March.  

And there you have it.  All of the Facebook changes we’ve seen roll out over the summer…so far. When and if we see more, we’ll keep you posted on how to stay ahead of the pack. 

 

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