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As David Martin of Coca-Cola defines bad content as virtual “rubbish,” Facebook warns of penalties for brands who abuse its newsfeed.

“Better not to post at all than fling out bad content just to tick a box”

If you are an avid Facebook user, it’s easy to see how something had to give in terms of policing of branded content. On average, a Facebook user could see upwards of 1,500 posts per day. About a third of these are presented to you by Facebook’s algorithm, which attempts to ­calculate what might be most ­relevant to you based on a number of variables surrounding your behaviour with a brand and the content it shares. 

As part of a recent survey, Facebook’s audience cited irrelevant, promotion-focused posts as one of their major gripes, an issue that Facebook insists it will take seriously as early as Q1 2015 by issuing penalties to brands that insist on posting content that is overly ‘salesy’ or ‘offer/action’ led. In essence, if you use your Facebook page primarily to sell, your overall organic reach will slowly and continually deplete. 

While 2011/12 saw huge budgets dedicated to building ­’monster’ numbers-focused social communities, 2013/14 saw that monster needing to be fed. We have seen shifts in budget towards branded content ­production and seeding under the rationale of relationships and engagement. 

This sounds good in theory, but lot of major brands are still getting the basics wrong. 

Speaking at last week’s IDM conference, David Martin - Coke’s European digital director - went on to say brands should focus on ­creating content which creates “personalised solutions” that are meaningful and put the ­customer’s needs first.

I think David said what a lot of us in the industry have been thinking for a while. I would argue it is better to create no content at all than keep flinging bad or irrelevant content at your audience just to tick a box on an annual marketing plan. Facebook’s announcement goes some way to addressing the issue. 

So should agencies and brands be worried? I would argue it’s time for a review of your strategy. Facebook has produced a number of example posts online, which it deems to fall into the category of ‘too promotional’ which can be used as a guide for your team. (I should add the new changes come into effect only for posts that are organic and not officially promoted paid copy. It seems Facebook wishes to draw a distinct line between communications positioned to sell and those positioned to engage and enhance the user experience.) 

Ultimately, if your content remains focused on adding value and remaining relevant to your target demographic, earned engagement, peer recommendation and sales revenue will be your reward. 

John Barton is managing partner and co-founder of Testify Digital

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