How the American Heart Association is Preparing for Facebook’s Algorithm Changes

Change is a constant part of life, so it stands to reason it’s also a major part of the PR landscape.

But change can also bring uncertainty, which has been the case since Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced earlier this month that major changes are coming to the juggernaut social platform—specifically, a de-emphasis of branded content in news feeds.

Smart communicators are readying their social media plans for the algorithmic shift. At PR News' upcoming Social Media Summit Feb. 22-23 in Huntington Beach, CA, Jacque Marianno, digital strategies director at the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association will touch on the coming changes and discuss how there are still ways to make organic, non-paid social content work.

Jacque Marianno, digital strategies director, American Heart Association and American Stroke Association
Jacque Marianno, digital strategies director, American Heart Association and American Stroke Association

Marianno, who will be speaking on the session, “What Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook 'Fix' Means for Your Brand's Social Content,” sat down with PR News to share how communicators can bolster organic reach in order to prepare for the changes to come.

PR News: What are your recommendations for brands that have assumed that organic is completely dead at this point?

Marianno: If you produce great content that engages people in conversations, customers will crave your content and look forward to interacting with it. Be sure to keep the "social" in social media. Many organizations think of social media as a one-way conversation; a marketing tool. And that’s when we get it wrong.

Analyze what your competitors do well,  as well as what your top channels are. What are you doing well? Do more of that. Become more strategic and focus on quality.

PR News: How might Zuckerberg's announcement of a de-emphasis on branded content in news feeds affect the American Heart Association’s Facebook strategy?

Learn more from Jacque Marianno at Social Media Summit, Feb. 22-23 in Huntington Beach, CA. Brand communicators from Ticketmaster, BuzzFeed, SAP, Disney, American Heart Association and many more will speak on topics ranging from user-generated content to paid social to measurement and more.

Marianno: Facebook’s algorithm is constantly changing, so the key to every social media marketing strategy is remaining flexible and constantly reevaluating what works. We rely on a third-party platform to get our messages out and to connect with people across the globe, so we have to understand that the rules can change at any time.

A few of the things we will be doing: paying closer attention to the data to understand what content resonates with our customers; becoming more strategic with our advertising and lobbying for more dollars when we can; focusing on more live video opportunities. We’ve had a heavy focus on video this year but now that we have a live closed captioning service, we are able to focus on engaging live video. We have a few other strategies but I’ll save some of those for the upcoming summit.

PR News: Influencer marketing is a proven way communicators can drive organic growth, but can be expensive. Can you share one tip for working with influencers with no budget to speak of?

Marianno: Nonprofits have an advantage here, but every company can lead with their story. [Author and speaker] Simon Sinek says to start with "why" and he’s right. When someone is truly engaged with your mission, they will want to be involved.