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Less content, more engagement: what can brands on Facebook expect in 2017?

by James McAndrew | 21.02.2017
Social marketing platform Mavrck waded through 25 million user-generated posts from Facebook in 2016, with several key behaviour trends emerging from the study. In short, users in 2016 on the platform posted 30% less content than they did in 2015, with a 26% increase in average engagements per post in the same time frame. Influencers and micro-influencers achieved some of the most encouraging rates of engagement from original content on the platform, trumping brand content.

2016 was the year that brands truly understood the power of the influencer, but it was also the year of the micro-influencer. Categorised as a user with 500 to 5,000 friends, these influencers’ earned rate of engagement is 3.5% higher than the average Facebook users. With the average number of friends on the platform at 388, these micro-influencers are thriving off platform popularity to drive their average post engagements sky high.

With some of the highest average rates of engagement on Facebook, brands will need to incorporate and harness the power of micro-influencers into their platform strategies for 2017 – who certainly won’t dent budgets quite as significantly as the most popular YouTube personalities and beauty bloggers.

Last year, UGC content containing a brand delivered a 6.9% increase in engagement over that of shared brand-generated content. With 26% of desktop users now using adblockers whilst browsing, the impact of micro-influencers and UGC content has never been more significant when looking to infiltrate the News Feed.

Breaking down these engagements further, users were commenting and liking content more in 2016, with a 19% and 30% increase respectively. As users, we’re much more likely to tag friends in content as a form of engagement, than we are to create and post content of our own. Platform habits have certainly shifted from what they once were, with key 2016 algorithm changes supporting this.

In June, Facebook shifted feeds to bring users more content from friends and family members “to show users more of the content that’s relevant to them”. This tweak, in particular, led to a 0.5% increase in the average number of engagements per post (6), month over month to July 2016. With friends and family now trumping brands at the top of the News Feed, the time is now to implement an alternative platform strategy or face being left for dead by more original, uniquely branded content.

But how do I create a successful UGC strategy on Facebook in 2017? Mavrck state that these are best formed following these 3 key steps: Use Facebook users who publish original content, user-generated content featuring your brand, and engagements obtained from that user’s network.

With users more reluctant than ever before to share updates with friends and family on their own timelines, the expected introduction of Facebook Stories this year will no doubt change the way we share snippets of our lives once again. 150 million users flocked to Instagram Stories in 5 months: “The way people share today is different to five or even two years ago – it’s much more visual,” Facebook say.

Facebook’s newest Stories feature is poised to sit front and centre of user’s home screen (much like its Instagram counterpart) and the company also revealed in January that testing of full-screen video ads had begun for Instagram. All signs seem to point in the direction of full-screen Facebook advertising becoming the 2017 phenomenon, with many brands already testing the water over on Instagram Stories.

With changes expected to Facebook imminently, 2017 will be the year that changes the way we engage with content and alters the way in which brands advertise to users. By looking at the warning signs from 2016, brands who are fastest to get to grips with these new additions will ultimately reign supreme come 2018.

Read more about Facebook content decrease on Facebook page.