Facebook strategies are misguided. You need a content strategy.

Posted on January 17, 2013 9:44 am by | Content | Facebook | Marketing | Social Media

Not worried about a Facebook strategyIn a discussion I had a month or so ago after shrugging off Facebook’s changes to how Pages updates get into news feeds, I was told that the move frustrated marketers who had invested so much time, energy and money into their Facebook strategies. The unintended consequence of Facebook’s introduction of Graph Search may be more marketers and communicators embracing the idea that they need a Facebook strategy. Developing a strategy for any single platform is misguided and a waste of your organization’s or client’s resources.

Advertisers used to know better (and many still do). Nobody had an ABC or New York Times or Redbook strategy. They had strategies for TV, newspaper and magazine advertising. They selected the platforms for those ads based on demographics and other criteria. But if audiences stopped watching one show and started watching another, they didn’t wring their hands and lament the hours spent strategizing ads for that program. If a magazine changed its focus, nobody directed ire at the publisher, complaining that all that energy spent on crafting content for the magazine had been wasted.

The mentality that leads to a full-blown strategy for Facebook is the same one that causes angst among communicators whenever a new platform emerges that gains popularity. I’ve actually heard professionals say they have enough bandwidth only for three platforms (like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter); if a Pinterest or Instagram becomes a hot social channel, they just can’t make time for it.

None of this would be an issue if they had communication and content strategies and viewed platforms as the channels for deploying content. Platforms come and go. They change. The audiences that embrace them are fickle and abandon them easily for something that better suits them. (Recent research, for example, shows that teens are gravitating toward Tumblr and away from Facebook.) For communicators with a content strategy, adjusting to these changes is simple, just like a Mad Men-era advertiser sliding content into new or newly-popular TV series or publications.

Pity the poor marketer who once poured time and energy into a MySpace strategy!

Now, the Graph Search announcement has sparked a flurry of posts about how brands can optimize their content for the new offering. (There’s no agreement yet on what to call it—Facebook Graph Search Optimization (FGSO) or Facebook Search Engine Optimization (FSEO) or some other initialism.) The fact that people are thinking about this is great (like this), but I worry that marketers will be distracted from overarching content strategies and begin investing unreasonable amounts of time on this single opportunity. Optimizing content for Facebook’s new search should be factored into your general SEO effort, which should be part of a larger content strategy. It should not be undertaken as a discrete activity.

For communicators, stellar outcomes begin with understanding what a strategy is and how it differs from objectives and tactics. Facebook, Strategies define overarching approaches to achieving business goals. Tumblr, Instagram and every other platform on the planet are tactics selected to meet the measurable objectives you identify in support of your strategy.

So if changes at Facebook have you pulling your hair out because of the disruption to your strategy, it’s time to rethink your strategy.



  • 1.You’re right. Various tools will always come and go. I always stress to clients that they should never be dependent on anything over which they have little or no control. Facebook’s Graph Search doesn’t change this conversation in any way. Of course smart marketers will include this newfound tool in their comprehensive content strategy. You’d be stupid not to. But no matter how shiny the new penny-of-the-day may be, the focus should always be on pointing people back to your social hub—to your own platform. Doing so demonstrates a sound long-term marketing strategy.

    Jack Hadley | January 2013

  • 2.It's impossible to have a single strategy that works for every business in the same way that certain advertising will and won't suit. These bespoke plans are way too generic and complete nonsese.

    I say watching the opppsition and seeing what works is the best way to go at it.

    Computer Repair Ipswich | March 2013 | Ipswich

  • 3.I don't disagree with you, Computer Repair Ipswich. (Is that the name on your birth certificate?). I do not, however, agree that watching the competition is the best approach. Nobody ever won a tennis match by keeping their eye on the scoreboard. Best practices are fine, but you need to look at your customer base, your messages, your culture and a host of other factors that are unique. And, of course, this does not mean that it's ever appropriate to develop a strategy for a tactic.

    Shel Holtz | March 2013

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