By Michael Quoc

While Facebook’s reach has always been huge, the platform has not always been the friendliest towards marketing influencers and brands. The company has increasingly prioritized profile posts over pages in the News Feed and essentially required page owners to “pay to play” if they wanted their content to show up.

Most notably, a 2016 algorithm update deliberately purged users’ News Feeds of brand and influencer content. The point was to give users more content from their friends, but it was done at the expense of brands’ and influencers’ – and the expense was large. Pages saw their reach and engagement numbers drop by 42 percent.

Despite all this hostility, Facebook remained popular as an influencer platform, likely for its ability to add links to post, see clear results, and reach fans where they’re at on a daily basis.

Fortunately, it appears that Facebook’s attitude towards influencers and influencer marketing is finally changing. With 63 percent of brands increasing their spending for influencer campaigns in 2017, Facebook has to make it a high priority to facilitate influencer marketing on the platform.

Three recent announcements in particular, including boosted influencer posts, Facebook Watch, and Live Creator Kit, all indicate Facebook wants in on the influencer marketing action.

1. Boosted Influencer Posts

This August, Facebook launched a new feature enabling brands to directly boost influencer posts whenever an influencer creates a sponsored post and tags them. With Instagram dominating the market on influencer marketing, this change gives Facebook a real way to make influencer marketing uniquely worthwhile on the platform.

Influencers appreciate the financial benefits of partnering with brands, but now they can also enjoy a powerful (and free) way to boost their follower count. In the old Facebook paradigm, influencers likely had to run ads, or drive traffic to their Facebook page from other channels, if they wanted engagement. Now, they can leverage brand’s budgets to boost their sponsored posts and increase their following.

Brands enjoy additional benefits, too. If they boost the post using their own account, it still shows as being posted by the influencer, rather than by the brand. Not only is this new process more efficient, but it’s much more effective. Fans may not even notice the grey “Sponsored” text, making it appear like a genuine endorsement of the brand by the influencer.

Brands can further optimize the influencer’s efforts, spending ad dollars on targeting the right audience, instead of forcing the influencer to do guesswork. New, enhanced analytics track total spend from the brand and influencer and provide summaries of total spend and CPM.

With boosted influencer posts, influencers can retain creative control, and leave the marketing to brands. It’s the best of both worlds for both parties.

How to make boosted influencer posts work for you:

  • Influencers should work boosted posts into their rate sheet and negotiations with brands. For example, it may be worthwhile to offer a discount or extra post in return for getting the brand to boost it and earn you more followers.
  • Influencer marketing is popular because it allows brands to rely on an influencer’s organic reach and engagement. Influencers should work closely with brands to ensure they’re targeting the best audience to optimize organic reach.
  • Marketers should continue paying attention to Facebook news. Facebook has manipulated the News Feed before to force advertisers to pay to show up. They might do the same thing by forcing brands to boost influencer posts.
  • Brands should ask for more money for their influencer marketing program next year. Some argue it’s about to get a whole lot more expensive.

2. Facebook Watch

When Facebook launched Facebook Watch this August, many marketers probably began to foam at the mouth with excitement. The feature will create lots of new opportunities for influencers and marketers to promote video content on Facebook, and the social nature of Facebook will make said video content highly shareable and visible.

Facebook Watch streams original video content – completely for free – to anyone using the platform. No subscription fee is necessary, since Facebook and the publishers profit through monetized ad breaks or product placement (as long as they tag the sponsoring brand). Users receive personalized recommendations based on what their friends like, chat with others through show-linked Groups, and discuss their reactions in a real-time comments section. To say Facebook Watch is hyper-personal and hyper-social would be an understatement.

And with publishers like BuzzFeed and Major League Baseball on board, it’s clear Facebook is willing to invest the big bucks to make Facebook Watch a success.

While Facebook Watch is currently only open to a set amount of publishers, all signals indicate they’ll open the floodgates to more publishers in the future – meaning brands and influencers.

How to make Facebook Watch work for you:

  • Prepare for the floodgates by re-engaging your Facebook audiences now. Experiment with different types of video content and try out live streaming with Facebook Live.
  • Re-invest in Facebook ads, and develop ads for Facebook Watch specifically. How should your CTAs and ad content change when they’re streamed via an ad break versus a scrolling News Feed?
  • Brands should think of Facebook Watch publishers as a new kind of an influencer – a hybrid between social media and traditional television. Consider which ones make sense for product placement opportunities.
  • Influencers interested in creating original content for Facebook Watch can join the Show Page waiting list here.

3. Live Creator Kit

Coming soon, Facebook’s Live Creator Kit is an app designed specifically to help people easily create and control a live broadcast, while simultaneously engaging with viewers via a separate tab. Enhancements include intro and outros, custom stickers and frames, and performance data to analyze for next time. Live Creator Kit augments Facebook’s already existing Mentions app for brands and influencers; anyone using Mentions will automatically be added.

With Facebook Watch, Facebook Live, and now Live Creator Kit, live streaming is poised to become an even greater focus of the Facebook experience.

Before, influencers and brands might share repurposed content from other platforms, like Instagram photos and YouTube videos. Now they have a reason to create wholly original, native video content to reward fans for following them on Facebook.

You’ve heard of YouTube stars, Instagram stars, Viners and Snapchatters, but never Facebook Stars. With Live Creator Kit, that may be about to change.

How to make Live Creator Kit work for you:

  • Dive in with both feet. YouTube is saturated with influencers, and many are now turning to Facebook. Using Live Creator Kit early on will help you get ahead of the game.
  • Use topics that perform best in a live format, such as a weekly AMA or Q&A session, red carpet events or conferences, and product launches. Address commenters by name and respond to them in real time
  • Post one day ahead of time to promote the live stream and encourage followers to turn streaming notifications on so they don’t miss when your video starts.
  • Make your broadcast 10 minutes or longer to maximize your chance of appearing in the News Feed, and give people a reason to stick around to the end by promising a Q&A or an exclusive promo code.
  • Ask fans to share your video. In March, Facebook revealed that 40 percent of a video’s total watch time comes from shares as opposed to the original post.

The bottom line is that Facebook is welcoming brands and influencers with open arms. Before, brands and influencers were on Facebook because that’s where their audience was. Now, they’ll be on Facebook because that’s where their audience is, and they can actually get a real return for their efforts there.

Facebook is reaching across the aisle to brands and influencers in a big way. Embrace the moment and make it work for your brand.