I love a good underdog story. This may be why I have such a renewed appreciation for Facebook. Last year, things changed on Facebook and in the blink of an eye, advertising on this platform went from prioritizing brands with the deepest pockets to those who have the most value to offer. What’s not to love about that?
The 2018 Drama
In 2018, Facebook was surrounded by scandal. They were caught in the middle of a giant data breach with Cambridge Analytica while also being strongly suspected of influencing the 2017 Presidential election.
In other words, the trust their users had in the social network seemed at a crossroads. #DeleteFacebook was trending and supported by some big time celebrities like Elon Musk, Cher and (not surprisingly) Jim Carrey.
They needed to react, but nobody could predict what came next. Ad prices skyrocketed overnight, penalizing advertisers who weren’t meeting the requirements of the new algorithm. Strategies that were tried and true suddenly just stopped working – nobody knew what happened!
Except what happened was a major algorithm shift – a change in the way Facebook prioritizes its advertisers. No longer was it only about money.
Now Facebook was looking at something completely different: engagement.
They knew if they wanted to keep their users from jumping ship, they had to do something radical. Something like only showing the ads people want to see.
They started prioritizing ads by what’s called the share to reaction ratio.
Coined by the dynamic duo Molly Pittman & Ezra Firestone, the share to reaction ratio is a simple calculation that divides total shares by the total number of reactions. The goal? 20% minimum.
If people are sharing, the ad is good. You wouldn’t share something with a friend or family member if it sucked, would you?
Why this matters
This changes the game for Facebook advertisers in two ways.
- There is no way to game the system. The only way to have a high share to reaction ratio is to put out good, value-driven content. This really separates the good from the bad, and creates limitless possibilities for brands that are looking to make meaningful connections with their audience.
- The only way to create good content is to know and care about your audience. It’s all about intentions and not seeing customers strictly as a means to an end but instead focusing on providing value they are happy to pay for.
This levels out the playing field, removing the threat of huge mega-brands dumping all of their print and TV budgets into the platform and outbidding the little guys.
The little guys tend to be the ones who are most connected with their audiences – who have the most value to give.
While it may be temporary, this Facebook shift to me is reflective of a much larger societal shift towards authenticity. People are compelled by brands with personalities and moral beliefs, that feel more like friends. Buying products that change their lives or the lives of others for the better.
Historically, marketing hasn’t always had the consumer’s best interests at heart. Facebook has decided that if brands want to be successful on social, they have to care, and what’s more beautiful than that?