You and your team may have created the content equivalent of Moby Dick, but unless you're using the right marketing tools and can distribute your content to the right people at the right times, no one's going to care.

Distribution can mean the difference between content that's nice to have and content that actually works to push your business toward its goals -- and social media distribution is key to a comprehensive content promotion plan. But maximizing social has become more difficult, thanks to trends affecting audience engagement and shifting algorithms of popular social platforms like Facebook.

New findings from Buffer, a social media management tool, show that Facebook page engagement is declining. The platform announced earlier this year that it would begin prioritizing posts from family and friends in users' news feeds, so brands could reasonably have expected to see a dip in engagement.

What many brands may not have expected, though, was just how steep that decline turned out to be. Buffer analyzed posts from the top 20,000 brands on Facebook and found that page engagement has dropped more than 50 percent in the last year and a half and that the decline has affected most types of posts, including video.

3 Ways to Re-engage Audiences

To marketing leaders, news of such a steep decline in engagement might sound kind of dire. So how should you respond to these findings?

If you dig a little more into Buffer's data, you'll see there's more than meets the eye. A content strategy that includes social media is still crucial and can be very effective -- when executed thoughtfully. While Facebook's engagement is dropping, these findings also expose opportunities for your brand to buck the trend. Here are three ways marketers can continue to use social in an age of declining engagement:

1. Embrace the image.

Marketers have been sold on the importance of videos in their content strategies, but Buffer's analysis shows that images are actually key to engagement on Facebook. Now, this isn't to say you should call it quits on your investment in video content. But it is worth noting that images are the post format that generates the most user interaction -- likes, comments, and shares.

Try using images as the bread and butter of your posting schedule. Create custom images to accompany your posts and engage audiences, or consider sharing actual pictures of your team, the work you do, and the culture you've cultivated.

2. Become more social with structure.

The report looked at the relationship between page engagement and post frequency and found that posting five times per day led to the most engagement. That might be more often than you've been aiming for, but don't worry. The trick is to create a schedule. Document your posting times and content types, schedule as best you can, and stick to it to keep your content out there.

And if you can't manage five posts in a day, that's probably OK. Just because this is what the research found doesn't make it a hard-and-fast rule for all pages. If five posts per day isn't doable, then try to commit to at least one post each day. The report found that pages that posted once per day saw the lowest overall engagement but the highest per-post engagement, so one each day is a fine place to start.

3. Diversify your distribution.

Honestly, it's never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket. For as valuable as Facebook can be, a successful distribution strategy will always supplement that channel with other methods of distribution, like Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, email newsletters, and influencer relationships. Don't rely on Facebook alone as your sole content distribution vehicle.

Another part of this diversification is getting your whole team involved with social distribution. If posting remains the job of one or two people on your team, it's probably keeping your posts pretty similar. Experiment with handing off different forms of content to different team members to distribute in their own way. For example, encourage members of your sales team to share content in a way that makes sense for their specific audiences, and let your customer service reps distribute messages in ways that are authentic for them.

It's true that Facebook engagement is dropping, and it's getting harder for brands to reach audiences on the platform organically. But that doesn't mean the end of social strategies using Facebook. Pay attention to social media speakers and other thought leadership sources to stay on top of any major changes. Start by thinking visually, sticking to a schedule, and expanding your idea of what content is, you can help make sure that none of your masterpieces go unseen.

Published on: Sep 16, 2018