The series of changes Facebook has made this year require social marketers to change the way they share and the content they post on the platform.

Last week, eMarketer reported that 83 percent of American companies have made Facebook a part of their social media marketing strategy. As the platform evolves and more organizations gain experience with it, it’s critical for efforts on the site to change and integrate new features. In 2012, Facebook’s various paid marketing efforts have changed drastically from the usual display ads to focus on the promotion of organic site content shared on the platform.

Brafton highlighted some of these changes in a recent feature, the Top 10 Facebook Marketing Changes of 2012 … So Far. Each of these new capabilities allows marketers to highlight specific pieces of content their audiences will likely find most appealing. Whether it’s Sponsored Stories or Scheduled Posts, the focus has shifted from the separation of paid and organic marketing on Facebook to a unified strategy that requires high-quality original content.

Each of these new capabilities allows marketers to highlight specific pieces of content their audiences will likely find most appealing.

The issue, now, for many is developing a modern strategy for Facebook as social media marketing is moving to a new generation.

Site content: The focus of new Facebook features

Brafton highlighted a study from Brandpoint and the Content Marketing Institute earlier this year that found 87 percent of businesses in the U.S. have adopted content marketing in some form and plan to make it a cornerstone of their web strategies moving forward. Some have opted to include news content marketing, while others focus on industry-specific white papers. Each type of content works to increase site traffic and position a company as an authority within its industry.

Sharing some of this content on Facebook and other social channels is critical to ensuring reliable deliverability. While the almost 90 percent of Americans that start purchase research with search will find this content organically, sharing it on Facebook can boost engagement and visibility for content and the brand publishing it. However, making use of these new features can be difficult, especially for marketing campaigns developed around the platform’s previous capability.

Finding ways to integrate Sponsored Stories, Scheduled Posts or Unpublished Posts into a social strategy goes a long way to making social marketing more visible to fans and prospects. A report from Marin Software found that Sponsored Stories increased click through rates of its clients’ social content by more than 20 percent. While sharing any content will drive traffic, Sponsored Stories ensure the link appears on a certain number of news feeds.

Furthermore, Facebook rolled out audience targeting options for these hybrid marketing tools similar to those available for paid content.

Visual content: A key social traffic driver

Another new element of Facebook marketing is the Timeline page layout. While many fretted over the format during its rollout, it has offered some benefits for marketers who have changed their strategies to optimize for it.

Videos, infographics, photos and others saw as much as 65 percent more engagement, according to the study. Making use of new marketing options is important, and they’re helping social campaigns drive traffic.

More than any other content type, sharing visual content on Timeline has resulted in substantial engagement. Earlier this year, Brafton highlighted a report from Simply Measured that pegged visuals as the greatest source of engagement and traffic growth with Timeline. Videos, infographics, photos and others saw as much as 65 percent more engagement, according to the study. Making use of new marketing options is important, and they’re helping social campaigns drive traffic. However, it’s similarly important to add new kinds of content to a social strategy as well, especially as Timeline changes the way consumers interact with brands and other users on the platform.

The evolution of social marketing has followed a similar path to other web channels and strategies with an emphasis on promoting relevant organic content rather than ads to drive traffic, leads and conversions. Making these options a cornerstone of any strategy can help marketers compete more effectively as fans grow accustomed to seeing the content.

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.