The January sale is one of the biggest retail periods of the year, but retailers on Facebook may have found their promotional posts falling flat at the beginning of 2015.

In November 2014, Facebook announced an update to the news feed that made it clear promotional posts would be demoted ‘beginning in January 2015’.

These promotional posts included:

  1. Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app.
  2. Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context.
  3. Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads.

And they pleasantly provided a few examples, one of which is below:

This change is particularly big news for retailers who would have been keen to push promotional discounts in the sales period.

But as of January 2015, Facebook has stated ‘people will see less of this type of content' in their News Feeds.

Fashion Ecommerce and Content Marketing research

In the research for Fashion Ecommerce and Content Marketing, I found in a sample of five top retailers that sales promotions and highlighting new products in were the primary method of communicating on Facebook.

Editorial content, entertainment or advice were only found in a couple of instances. Most retail Facebook pages were being used to push product. If retail brands want more of their posts to be seen, they will have to move away from the sales approach.

It’s evident that Facebook users don’t want to see this content in their newsfeed, and Facebook has reacted accordingly.

Facebook also wants to push their advertising platform, and it appears that’s firmly where they want sales messages to go. It’s simply going to be tougher to be seen unless pages are boosting sales related posts.

The Fashion Ecommerce and Content Marketing report shows that many retailers are creating some form of editorial content, but it’s rarely at the quality of that created by publishers, and it’s almost never shared on subscriber based distribution channels like social and email.

With this latest change, retail brands will almost certainly have to change their approach from sales from high quality editorial on Facebook if they are going to be seen by their large followings.

You can see a summary of the report at Four Key Trends from the Fashion Ecommerce and Content Marketing report.

James Carson

Published 3 February, 2015 by James Carson

James Carson is a media and content strategy consultant and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.

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Comments (2)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and Author at Fresh Relevance

My experience is with small retail brands, especially nails and beauty, and I don't see any reason for them to change their approach and produce "high quality editorial". That would be prohibitively expensive compared to other forms of marketing.

I think they will be unaffected and they should continue to use Facebook to maintain personal contact with their loyal customers, by posting photographs, local news and conversation.

over 3 years ago


Peter Cunningham, Product & Marketing at Buyapowa

In some ways the paywall policies of networks like Facebook have a salutary effect on content marketing. When it was effectively 'free' (apart from the time costs of getting an intern to create and post :)) to publish content on Facebook that meant all manner of low quality content was published like endless 'kittens playing with balls of wool' photos. Now you have to pay to get your Fans to see the post, you are probably likely to think twice about whether you post it as you see the cost directly. A good check is 'would you post this if you had to pay to do so?'. If you can't say yes then its probably low value content.

The key thing is that the monetization strategies of social networks mean that is the end of lazy social media marketing. Instead of just posting endless low quality content to Facebook Pages and hoping fans see it, brands should instead be making offers to their fans and followers that incentivise them to share on social. Due the decline of organic social reach this means that the first contact with your fans for an offer may be on the 'thank you page' after a purchase, or your email newsletter or any other touch point.

But by making offers that are inherently social, you can get your fans and followers to then share with their friends and family. It's basic 'word of mouth marketing' - make an offer that is attractive, one that gets better as more participate, make it easy to share and provide rewards for the people who do the most to help it succeed.

Regarding fashion retailing - a lot of the content produced by the brands is bland and uninspiring. We took a light hearted look at that in a recent blog post:

over 3 years ago

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