What “Meaningful Engagement” Means

Two important events took place recently: Facebook held its most recent F8 conference and Social Media Examiner released its 11th annual Social Media Marketing Report. Both deserve your attention if you are involved in online marketing.

From the F8 conference, the message was clear: Facebook really is focused on “meaningful engagement” on its platform. It is honing its attention on two Facebook products: Facebook Groups and Facebook Messenger. There is also wide acceptance across the industry that the newsfeed will start to recede into the background as Groups and Messenger gain prominence.

What does this mean?

If you have not done so already, this is the time to consider creating Facebook groups (notice I said “groups”) for your organization or business. If done right, groups can be an alternative to the exposure you are used to getting from the newsfeed. Developing a group will take planning and effort, but will help you get ahead of the curve as well as get some experience under your belt. Some key items to consider inlcude: Creating groups with a focus and purpose; being prepared to moderate and cultivate group discussion; knowing how this ties back to your bottom line/ogranizational goals.

In terms of Facebook Messenger, be prepared to walk away from this. The marketing side of Facebook Messenger is “bot” technology: pre-programmed, automated answers and responses to messages from your Facebook followers. As you will read below shortly, Messenger has tremendous potential, but requires a significant investment. Done poorly, a Facebook Messenger bot can lead to a very bad user experience. Marketers are abandoning Messenger because it’s hard to do well and requires a lot planning. However, if you have resources, this could be your chance to distinquish yourself from the crowd and really shine.

Just a few days ago, Social Media Examiner released its latest annual report on Social Media Marketing. The key finds are a wake up call: Marketers are starting to back away from Facebook as their primarily social channel. Big shifts over the last year have dramatically reduced organic reach making Facebook a true “pay-to-play” platform. Time and effort spent on creating and posting content on Facebook is simply not reaching followers uless you pay to distribute it. Even video, which used to get preference, is being limited.

“There’s a clear indication that marketers are diversifying away from Facebook. For the first time in the last 5 years, Facebook lost share as the most important platform for marketers, dropping from 67% in 2018 to 61% in 2019.”

Marketers are responding by reaquainting themselves with other social media channels. Instagram, owned by Facebook, has surged in popularity. There is also significant interest in YouTube. Important to note as well, only 4% of marketers think Twitter is the most important social platform (down from 13% in 2015). Marketers simply don’t see the channel as key player in their efforts.

In additon, there are some interesting details on how marketers continue to use Facebook in the study. Facebook Messenger bots, which were wildly hyped and tested last year, are no longer a consideration for most marketers. As stated above, these are not easy to make. Michael Stelzner, founder of the Social Media Examiner, author of the annual study, calls bots one of the most complicated online marketing tools out there (I am paraphrasing comments from his podcast).

“Only 14% of marketers are using bots (down from 15% in 2018). Only 32% of marketers plan on increasing their bot activities, down from 39% in 2018. Interest in learning more about Messenger bots dropped to 45% from 70% in 2018.”

So, how should you respond?

First, be sure to download the report. There is tons of data. Knowledge is power!

Second, depending on your organization, your resources and your comfort level, some opportunities present themselves here. Do you have access to the skills and resources to create an awesome Facebook Messenger bot? Go for it. The competition probably isn’t doing it.

Third, a little voice in the back of my head is telling me that Twitter may be worth your time. Twitter has become more consumer friendly and its audience is growing. Once again, this is a resource question. Do you have the staff, time and money to tweet 3 to 5 times every day? If so, with marketers walking away, this could be your chance to step into the void and fill a need. Do a little market research and see if this makes sense for your company or organization.