Facebook Changes: Has it Lost Its Likeability With Marketers?

With the recent changes to Facebook, social media marketers may be wondering what approach to take in 2015. Following an extensive survey, the firm is introducing less promotional content in its news feeds next year - changing the game for marketers, says expert Jeremy Burnel writing for Travolution.

Facebook announced the changes in a blog that read: "Beginning in January 2015, people will see less... promotional content in their news feeds. As we've said before, the news feed is already a competitive place - as more people and pages are posting content, competition to appear in news feed has increased. All of this means that pages that post promotional creative should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time."

As a result of the changes, marketers can no longer incentivise people to use social plugins or to like a page using gating apps for example; a well-liked tactic employed by all Facebook marketers.

The best news to come out of Facebook's announcement is the fact that the Facebook 'like' will finally be deemed worthless as a social media performance indicator, says Burnel.

So how do travel marketers adapt? Well email will be more important than ever before, Burnel states: owning a direct email relationship with an individual is 50 times more valuable than having them "like" you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter or subscribe to your channel on YouTube, he says.

Unlike social networks, email addresses tend to have a longer shelf life. Keep communications relevant by ensuring that your data is up-to-date and that you can segment your mailing lists according to each individual's demographics and purchase intent.

With the value of likes having depreciated, original, engaging content is king once again. It used to be so easy: lots of 'likes' and 'follows' meant lots of clicks and sales - simple.

But today, companies that want to gain attention must relearn the art of conversation.

Striking up a conversation with your customers is no different from small talk really; ask a well-placed question, show something that will spark curiosity and what follows could be the start of a beautiful relationship. The rule is to be interesting and interested, says Burnel.

Facebook's relentless pursuit of advertising revenue means that travel companies must pay every time they post content to their page to ensure their posts are seen by their fans.

Yet with YouTube, for example, content creators are paid for every play their content receives. So, has Facebook shot itself in the foot?

Perhaps, says Burnel. There will inevitably be a rebound effect in the short-term as marketers invest less time and more money into Facebook-only marketing initiatives and concentrate more on building their own permission marketing data and driving more traffic to their websites - particularly with click-through accelerating on other more media-led social networks such as Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat.

One thing is for sure: 2015 will be a challenging year for travel marketers looking to exploit Facebook.