Facebook wants to become the television in your pocket.
To that end, the company continues to improve video features at a rapid rate, as well as offering an innovative array of products for media publishers.
Plus, improved communication tools for businesses to chat real time with customers.
Here are four trends that businesses would do well to focus their marketing efforts and budgets on in 2016:
Related Article: 7 Cool Facebook Tricks You've Never Heard Of
1. Creative Use of Facebook Video
It’s all about movement in the News Feed that catches our eye. Starting with automatically playing videos back in December 2013, Facebook’s massive growth of video views has now surpassed that of YouTube.
But, it’s more than users and businesses uploading native videos (which I strongly recommend for optimal organic reach!). Facebook video features now include:
Facebook Live – allows people to broadcast real-time to their audience via mobile devices. Verified pages and profiles have access to the feature, as well as a small percent of iOS users in the United States and a few other countries, so far. Facebook Live is very similar to Periscope, Meerkat, Mevee and other live video streaming apps. The difference is, users can broadcast to their existing audience on Facebook, and don’t need to build one from scratch again.
- Facebook 360 videos – it’s all about creating an immersive experience for users as Facebook keeps giving more emphasis to 360 videos. To inspire more 360 video content creation, Facebook launched a microsite dedicated to providing filmmakers best practices.
- Instant Articles – Facebook has partnered with hundreds of media organizations throughout the world to offer this powerful feature. Facebook hosts content for media partners that publish using Instant Articles, and the content loads ten times faster. Instant Articles isn’t a video feature, per se; but it does create a more immersive experience for the user with embedded moving images, videos, audio, maps and more in the articles.
- Animated GIFs – both Facebook personal profiles and business pages support animated GIFs. I’m seeing a lot more mobile and desktop apps for creating animations lately.
- Facebook profile videos – lets users upload a 7-second looping video in lieu of a profile image. This feature is slowly rolling out and is currently only available to a small number of iOS users.
- Cinemagraphs – these are a still image (shot as a short video clip using a tripod), with only partial movement. The exported file can either be a video format or animated GIF. My favorite tool for creating cinemagraphs is by Flixel. See this post for how to create Facebook profile video cinemagraphs. Flixel recently found that cinemagraphs drive results on Instagram.
With all this video and video-related development, you can imagine Facebook has big monetization plans. However, the good news is that Facebook has plans to roll out revenue sharing to content owners.
Mark Zuckerberg states, “Over the next few years video is going to be the most engaging content online, and by continuing to innovate here we have a chance to build the best place to watch and share video.”
Plus, Facebook started testing a dedicated News Feed just for consuming video content.
2. New Facebook Messaging Tools
Facebook recently rolled out an array of improved communication tools to aid businesses in providing real time customer support.
Such tools include setting your own typical Response Time, setting an Away status, creating Instant Replies and Saved Replies and private messaging people who comment publicly on your page. The latter is a great new feature (rolling out soon to all pages) that allows businesses to take more sensitive conversations private before possibly escalating.
3. Increased ‘Shareability’ Factor of Content
Given the fact that organic reach on Facebook has steadily declined, when you focus on improving your ‘shareability’ factor you can help bring back a bit more reach.
When crafting your social media content, think about how you can get more of your fans, colleagues and team members to share with their audiences. Ask what would make your audience look good in front of their audience? This mindset helps you create content that your audience members feel more compelled to share with their friends and fans.
Two quick examples by contrast:
I created a wonderful 2015 Year In Review video. I put so much thought and effort into the video… which was certainly relevant to some of my audience, mostly people who know me well and friends and family. But it wasn’t the most compelling content that my audience couldn’t wait to share with their fans.
I shared the video on my Facebook Page and it got 1,300 views and just 2 shares. This is very low by my standards.
2015 Year In Review
My one-word theme for 2015 was PARTNERSHIP and, whew, it sure did come true in *so* many ways!!! Check out the blog post: http://www.marismith.com/2015-year-in-review-magical-year-of-travel-speaking-and-partnerships/(I'll be sharing my 2016 word very shortly! Do you have yours yet?)Video created using the awesome Animoto app.Posted by Mari Smith on Thursday, December 31, 2015
Granted, timing had something to do with it. I published the video at 9:09am PST on the morning of New Year’s Eve. Likely many of my audience (certainly global folks) were already in full party mode by then!
Later that same day, I posted an animated GIF with Happy New Year and fireworks and a simple narrative. I published this post at 11:49pm PST.
At first, the post got a few comments and likes from people in India. But, to my surprise the next morning, the post had quickly become one of my most popular Facebook posts all year with over 110,000 reach and 380+ shares. Why? Timing, for one. And, because fun animated GIFs are still very new to Facebook pages and this one was very eye-catching, very relevant and highly shareable!
Of course, this is not prescriptive. I drew the contrast between these two posts to illustrate how the second example picked up steam quickly as it made my audience look good with their audience.
I would caution against overdoing fun, animated GIFs on your business page – unless these happen to be relevant and your audience loves to engage with them.
My typical posts are highly educational, like this video tutorial showing how to report a fake account that got 26,500 views and 330+ shares.
4. More Carousel-Type Ads
Facebook introduced multi-product ads in June 2014 to help businesses drive more conversions. Since then, advertisers have seen carousel link ads drive 30-50 percent lower cost-per-conversion and 20-30 percent lower cost-per-click than single-image link ads.
Advertisers can showcase 3-5 images and/or videos – each with a separate headline, different call to action, and linked to a unique URL – within a single ad unit. This helps to direct people to specific locations on your website.
The carousel format is interactive, attention-grabbing and helpful for both direct response and brand awareness marketing. The carousel format is available to all Facebook users, although the ability to use videos in ads is rolling out gradually. Also, the carousel format is rolling out to Instagram as well.
Related Article: Best Facebook Marketing Strategies: The Latest Tips
Guidelines for Carousel Ads
- Recommended image size: 600 x 600 pixels
- Image ratio: 1:1
- Text: 90 characters
- Headline: 40 characters
- Link description: 20 characters
- Note: images may not include more than 20 percent text. To test images, use Facebook’s Grid Tool.
These are just some of the big changes and trends happening on Facebook this year. Stay tuned for many more as I’ll be sharing on Business.com, my own blog and social channels.