Many of you will work for or with brands that enjoy great success by following the fundamental rules of a good social strategy: listen to the conversation, establish your social presence in the correct channels and always stay relevant to your audience.

It is no surprise therefore that Facebook is the single biggest traffic driver after organic and paid search and has firmly established community pages as a solid part of any online marketing strategy. This is great news for brands - and for Facebook.

“Your promoted content budget should merely be used as a vehicle”

But building your Facebook page to a level where it offers a direct impact on your traffic (and bottom line) takes more than just time and good content. It takes a paid media budget. Community building, or ‘fanning’ as it is often referred to, commands its own budget line on the modern digital marketing plan.

As more brands build their presence, newsfeeds have become overcrowded with branded content and this has forced Facebook to update its newsfeed algorithm (formerly EdgeRank) taking into account some 100,000 variables deciding what users see/don’t see on a daily basis. The result has been forums and blogs filling up with page/community managers complaining their overall organic reach has dropped from 15%-20% to as low as 2%. But what does this really mean?

The main challenge is for brands experiencing a low reach of about 2%. The only way to improve effectiveness is to give your audience the opportunity to engage with your content via a newsfeed impression - a newsfeed impression that Facebook is unlikely to grant pages it deems to be of low relevance to the user.

Conveniently, Facebook has the solution in the form of a ‘sponsored post’ boost, allowing your brand to pay your way into your audience’s newsfeed. This isn’t a way to avoid a good content strategy, however. Your promoted content budget should merely be used as a vehicle to get a newsfeed impression in front of your audience.

If your content is relevant enough, the user will engage and Facebook will upgrade the relevance of your page to that individual, driving future organic reach. There should be little doubt of Facebook’s commercial motivation, but if the algorithm really has improved accuracy, perhaps the reach we previously enjoyed was irrelevant anyway?

The most effective way for your content to stay prominent in the newsfeed is to understand the passion points of your social community. While this change means paid media will play a greater role in driving engagement in 2014, the relevance of your content strategy remains as fundamental as ever.

John Barton is managing partner and co-founder of