Facebook’s News Feed Bombshell (And How to Protect Your Business)

The Facebook News Feed Bombshell

Facebook is making major changes, severely cutting down the access businesses, brands, and media have to the Facebook news feed. This means your feed should see more posts from friends and family, but what does this mean for your business?

The official reason Mark Zuckerberg gave for this was because Facebook’s all about bringing people together. Whether you believe that, or Facebook is looking for new ways to squeeze businesses for money is completely up to you and your world view. It’s probably somewhere in between. If people go to Facebook and aren’t getting the experience they desire, they’ll go elsewhere, which is bad for Facebook.

In their recent press release, the head of Facebook News Feed admits that “Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease.” Replace may with absolutely 100% will and you get a good sense of what your company’s future on business may look like.

Despite some recent reports I’ve seen, Facebook says that they are not removing all Page content from the feed, just prioritizing friends and family and Page posts that “generate conversation.”

They also state that they’ll continue their crack down on what they call “engagement-bait”–posts that aggressively ask you to like, comment, or share (possibly by telling you that puppies will be killed if you don’t or Jesus wants you to)–by demoting them.

What do the Facebook news feed changes mean to you?

In short, less organic (free) visibility. 

They’re not saying your access to the newsfeed will be completely cut off, but I envision a car parked on a garden hose when I think of the the future of organic posts for business reaching the newsfeed.

On some level, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. While a few years ago, Pages could expect 80% – 90% of their fans seeing their posts, recently it’s been as low as 1% – 3%. This is Facebook just twisting the spigot ever so much more to the right.

What changes should you make to your marketing?

Let me start off by saying I can’t predict the future, and Facebook is free to continue to play around with their news feed algorithm in ways that may benefit your business in the future. But here are the immediate changes we’re making at flyte for ourselves and our clients.

Alter your organic posting strategy. It’s been years since the Facebook marketing gurus told us we had to post 3 – 5 times a day to be relevant (thank goodness for that, right?) I’d make organic posting even less of a priority for your business, especially if you’re in B2B. 

Bob's BurgersI’d focus on less “posting to be seen” posts and instead craft posts that encourage engagement and conversation without crossing the line into click- or engagement-bait. 

If you’re a sandwich shop who regularly posts daily specials, maybe try posting a new sandwich and ask for clever names for the sandwich. (Think the Burger of the Day at Bob’s Burgers.)

This should encourage more people to try and out-clever the last person and start a conversation, at least by Facebook’s definition.

Do more video, and do it live. Facebook said it: “live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos.” 

Facebook rewards video with more eyeballs. Whether you want to do a regular “show”, or just occasionally turn on Facebook Live on your phone or computer, you’re apt to reach a wider audience than with any traditional post.

Get more aggressive with ads. You should already be advertising on Facebook if you want to reach your ideal customers. You can target based on interest, geography, gender, pay, job title, and a thousand other interests that will make you want to cover up your webcam with tape.

We actually have a free Free Facebook Ad Planner that you can download here

Play the Daily Double with Facebook Video Ads. If you really want to increase your reach and engagement while driving traffic back to your website or landing page, start to explore Facebook Video Ads. I recently did an interview with David Patton, Digital Marketing Strategist at TechSmith, on how they’re using Video Ads on Facebook to generate more sales of their Camtasia software. You can listen to that interview here.

Explore chatbots. When people do want to reach out to your company on Facebook, it’s great to respond to them quickly. However, that’s not always possible. With chatbots you can handle some of the more common questions and concerns with automated chatbots that will provide answers, direct people to the right department, or even get cheeky with your customers.

Start a Facebook group. A lot of marketers are finding that they can avoid the news feed trap entirely by creating a group on Facebook. There are a lot of benefits here, including curating the group and the fact that new activity in the group often appears in group members’ notifications, increasing your visibility.

Post more Facebook events. Create events off your Page and then invite your friends. Often updates to an events page will show up in an invitee’s notifications unless they’ve sent their regrets. Events can include a wine & cheese tasting, a workshop, a webinar, or anything else that seems valuable.

Like a lot of things on this list, don’t abuse this opportunity at risk of being muted or unfriended. Don’t invite people on the other side of the country to the grand opening of your local barber shop. 

Post as yourself. As a small business owner or marketer, you often are the face of your business. To avoid the “penalties” around Page posts, post as yourself. Your company is never going to get the reach and access you can achieve when you share something about your business in your own profile.

However, if you are constantly posting on your personal profile about your latest sale expect that Aunt Suzie (among others) may start muting you or even unfollowing you. 

A little goes a long way.

Explore other platforms. Facebook is the world’s largest social media platform, but it doesn’t mean it’s the only way to reach your ideal customer. Your audience may be on:

  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram (admittedly, owned by Facebook)
  • Reddit
  • YouTube, or
  • a hundred other platforms, discussion forums, or channels where your ideal customers congregate.

And don’t forget blogs (like this one), or podcasts (like The Agents of Change, where you can get great free digital marketing information delivered free to your favorite device once a week, or paid search to drive people to your latest ebook or white paper.

Do things that are extraordinary. We were just discussing this internally the other day. Learning Facebook Ads or Google Adwords is a skill that anyone can pick up given enough time and interest. Knowing how to run these ads isn’t–or won’t be–the deciding factor of whether you get noticed or not.

The trick is in creating something that worth talking about. Most PR professionals will tell you not to write a press release unless you have something that is newsworthy. So, stop sharing mediocre content, stop running 10% off sales, and start doing something that will get people talking. 

Next Steps

You don’t need to do all of these things to stay in front of your audience. At a minimum I’d suggest focusing on Facebook ads and exploring other digital advertising opportunities as well as creating more valuable content at your blog and optimize it for the search engines.

If you need any help with your Facebook marketing, or you want new ways to generate more leads and sales for your company, let us know.

Rich Brooks
You Can Find Me In The News Feed (Maybe)

How to use Campaign URL Builder for Better Reporting

Google's Campaign URL Builder

Google’s Campaign URL Builder is a free tool that allows you to better track where your highest value traffic is coming by using UTM codes. Sound confusing? Don’t worry, it isn’t. And in this post I’ll show you how to set up these codes so you can generate more leads at your website. 

Google Analytics is an amazing tool that provides a lot of information on how people discovered your site and what they did once they were there. But it doesn’t always tell the whole story.

For example, it might tell you that some portion of your traffic came from your email newsletter, but which email newsletter? Or it might tell you that someone who registered for a class came from Facebook, but was it from a post on your business page, something you shared on your own profile, or a Facebook ad campaign you’re running?

If you’re just getting started with Google Analytics, this level of detail may make your head swim, but if you’ve been using Google Analytics for a while and you want start getting granular with your data, start getting more detail about exactly what’s working and what’s falling flat, you’ll need to use UTM codes.

What are UTM codes (and what does UTM stand for)?

A UTM code is a simple code that you can add to any URL (webpage address) to pass additional details to your reporting software, Google Analytics in this case. 

UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module. Does that clear things up? 😉

Urchin was the software Google bought way back and turned it into Google Analytics. Why is it still called Urchin Tracking Module? I don’t know…why is the Utah basketball team still called the Jazz?

How do I create UTM codes?

Google offers a free Campaign URL Builder that you can use. 

Google's Campaign URL Builder

Start by entering the Website URL you’re trying to drive traffic to, such as https://www.theagentsofchange.com/podcasts/

Next, enter a Campaign Source. This is the source where the traffic is coming from. It could be a specific website, a newsletter, directory, and so forth. Source and URL are the only required fields, but you can include information in any field you want to track that information.

Campaign Medium is the medium that the traffic came from…examples include email, banner, or social. 

Campaign Name can be used to specify or group campaigns, such as “earlybird” or “photocontest.”

Campaign Term can be used to specify paid search terms.

Campaign Content can be used to “differentiate similar content, or links within the same ad. For example, if you have two call-to-action links within the same email message, you can use utm_content and set different values for each so you can tell which version is more effective.” That’s according to Google. Talk about granular!

As you enter more data into the fields, the URL Builder will begin to build your URL. For example, if you enter:

Campaign URL Builder in Action: Building UTMs

Google will create a long, ugly URL like this:

Campaign URL Builder: Results

You can then use that URL how you would use the original URL. In this case, I would use that URL in our email newsletter for the 225th episode of our Agents of Change podcast. 

Pro Tip: In the case above, we can put the URL behind a link or button. But if for some reason you can’t and you don’t want to show the long, ugly URL, you can use a URL shortener like bit.ly or I like PrettyLink, a WordPress plugin.

Where do UTM codes appear in Google Analytics?

Your UTM codes can be found in a number of places in Google Analytics. In Acquisitions > Campaigns > All Campaigns is one place to start looking.

Campaigns in Google Analytics

Here you can see the name of different campaigns you ran, how many sessions they drove, goal conversion rate, and even the value of that traffic (if it’s tied into a monetary goal.)

By choosing Source or Medium above, you can sort reports by the traffic source or medium as well.

We’ve got a primer on how to set up Google Analytic goals if you’re interested. 

You could also go into Behavior > All Pages and then choose a specific page you’re interested in. Selecting a Page in Google Analytics

From there, you could choose a Secondary Dimension. In this example, we’ll choose Source, to see where the traffic to our registration page is coming from.

Selecting a secondary dimension in Google Analytics

And now we can see our results.

Sources for a given page in Google Analytics

 Be consistent with your UTM codes.

If you’re going to be creating a lot of UTM codes, or if you’re working as part of a marketing team, consistency becomes critical if you want to generate meaningful reports.

Without consistency, you might find that one person enters medium as “banner,” while someone else calls it “banners,” and someone else wants to tag their vertical banner as “skyscraper.”

While that may not seem like a big deal, it makes running reports more difficult. The best solution is to create a Google Doc that spells out the appropriate name for each item.

UTM spreadsheet

Last thoughts on Campaign URL Builder

Here are some last thoughts from having used Campaign URL Builder for several years:

  • Not every link you create needs a UTM code. Only track the things you really want to measure.
  • Don’t use UTM codes on internal links (links from one of your web pages to another.) This just overwrites the real data Google Analytics is collecting and results in worse reporting, not better.
  • Bookmark Google’s Campaign URL Builder in your favorites bar for easy access. 
  • Use a URL shortener if you can’t hide the UTM code behind a button or inside a link. It’s just messy otherwise.
  • Create a spreadsheet of your UTM codes for consistency in your reporting.

Any other thoughts on Google’s Campaign URL builder? If so, let me know in the comments below!

Rich Brooks
Tracking You

How (and Why) to Use Google Posts

How (and Why) to Use Google PostsIf you’re looking for new ways to promote your business, products, services, or events, Google Posts could be just the ticket. They allow businesses to post fresh content that can appear in local searches as well as the Knowledge Panel on certain results pages.

If you don’t know what a knowledge panel is, here’s an example outlined in red.

Google SERP Knowledge Panel

What are Google Posts?

Google describes Google Posts as “up-to-date posts from verified people, places or things, directly in search results.”

I describe them as snack-sized content packets that can promote anything from an in-person training sessions to a recent blog post. To get started, you need to “verify” your business or organization through Google My Business. (There are so many reasons to have a GMB account there’s really no reason not to have one.)

Once you have your account, you will see Posts as an option in the left hand navigation.

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How to Build Your Email List

If you’re looking for tips, tactics and tools to build your email list so that you can generate more leads and close more sales, you’ve come to the right place. In this post we’ll look at some of the most effective ways to generate signups online and off so you can reach more of your ideal customers.

These slides came from a recent presentation I gave on list building tactics. You can check out the interactive slide deck at the bottom of this post.

List Building: How to Grow Your Empire

List Building…or “How to Grow Your Empire”

Email and list building has always been a passion of mine. When people come into my office to talk about a new website, or ranking on the first page of Google, or running some Facebook ads, I always direct the conversation to, “how will this help build your email list? How can we turn those email subscribers into customers and revenue?” 

On my digital marketing podcast, The Agents of Change, I get to interview marketing experts each week on topics like Pinterest, Local SEO, paid search, and Instagram stories. But regardless of their area of expertise, they are all focused on building their email list. They know that if they want to get hired as a consultant or sell more courses they need to have a robust email list. 

Even if you’re a Facebook marketing expert, you pay more attention to getting new email subscribers than to getting more Facebook followers.

In fact, when I get asked the question, “if you were starting your business today with everything you’ve learned over the past twenty years, what would you do differently?” the answer is that I would start building my email list from day one and never let up. 

Grab the slides & notes now!

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Does Your SEO Suck? [13 Point Checklist]

Does your SEO suck?

Do you wonder why you’re getting so little traffic from the search engines? Why Google ranks your competition higher than you? This 13 point SEO checklist will help you navigate your way to page one.

The Best Place to Hide a Dead Body...Lately I’ve been reviewing a number of business websites that seem to be ignoring SEO completely. Now, obviously, the reason I’m reviewing these sites is because they’ve reached out to flyte because they feel like their website isn’t working and they want to know why. 
 
So, they know something is wrong.
 
And just because their SEO is non-existent doesn’t mean that’s the only hurdle to generating more leads at their website, but it is a critical piece. 
 
So, if you feel like your SEO isn’t working, maybe it’s time to take a look at the basics…at least the basics as they stand today. 
 
Needless to say, this isn’t everything you can be doing to improve your chances of beating your competition at the search engines. There’s plenty of advanced SEO tactics we’ll save for another day, like schema, rich snippets, and externalizing JavaScript and CSS.  
 
In the meantime, here’s a 13 point Basic SEO checklist broken into 5 distinct categories that will impact your ability to get discovered by your ideal customers using their favorite search engine.
 

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How to Avoid Squinting at Your Smartphone

Are you like me? Do you find yourself squinting at your smartphone to read it? Or maybe you can’t read the menu in the restaurant any more? (Ever stick the menu under the bar track lighting, or put a candle over the menu to read it? You’re not alone.)

Well, the maker of your iPhone or Android phone feels your pain. There are a number of features on your phone that make it easier to read the text on the screen, or even off it! So, I took these tired old eyes and chatted with accessibility features for farsighted people with Rob Caldwell on 207. You can watch the segment below! 👇

Here are some of my notes from the show. They’re focused on the iPhone because that’s what I own. If you want information on the Android you can buy me one and mail it to flyte, c/o “The Rich Brooks.”

Larger Text

Under Settings > General > Accessibility > Larger Text. Turn on Larger Text and then you’ll see a scroll bar that allows you to change the text as necessary. Works on many, but not all apps.

Zoom

Under Settings > General > Accessibility > Zoom. Once you turn this on you can use three fingers to double-click on the screen. That will create a zoom window that you can navigate around with three fingers. Click outside the zoom window to hide it.

Speak

Under Settings > General > Accessibility > Speech. Turn on Speak Selection. Once it’s on, whenever you select text, along with Cut, Copy, and Paste, you’ll have a Speak option. Choose it and Siri will read to you. 

Magnifier

Under Settings > General > Accessibility > Magnifier. Once this is on you can triple-click the home button and your phone turns into a magnifying glass, complete with a slider for increased magnification. 

Attaching “Cheaters” to your smartphone

Under my iPhone > ThinOptics case. I hate bulky iPhone cases. However, I recently purchased a pair of ThinOptics cheaters (readers) that attach to the back of my iPhone. They’re so slim I don’t even notice them, but they work great. Not for long-term reading, but for that menu in the romantically-lit restaurant, they’re just the ticket.

In Conclusion

It sucks getting old! I hate having to buy cheaters by the five-pack at Amazon! But, at least there are some nice features on my phone that make it easier. Any other thoughts on how to make smartphone browsing easier for farsighted people? Let me know in the comments below.

The Power of Scarcity in Marketing and Advertising

The Power of Scarcity

Do you want to motivate your prospects or clients to take action? There are few things as effective as scarcity when it comes to marketing your product or service. 

A few weeks back I found myself at one of those all-day seminars put on by a national company that offers workshops on everything from Project Management to Excel to Managing Difficult People.

I wasn’t enjoying myself. Over the course of the morning I had learned little about Leadership, Team-Building, or Coaching Skills. What I had learned was available in countless blog posts, ebooks, and podcasts, all for free.

During the lunch break I took my car to Jiffy Lube and decided that afterward I’d either return to the office or find a coffee shop and catch up on some emails. However, Jiffy Lube turned my car around in record time and I saw that as some sort of sign that I should return…so back I went.

The afternoon was no better. 

Here’s Where Scarcity Kicks In

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The Breakdown: The Social Media Marketing 2017 Industry Report

social media breakdown 2017

The 9th annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report is out, filled with information and advice that can help your business succeed online. What are other social media marketers doing? Where are they spending their time and ad dollars? What is the future of social media marketing?

Social Media Examiner has been releasing their Annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report for nine years. First things first, thank you to Michael Stelzner and his team for putting together an amazing report year after year. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, we’ve put together a list of our biggest takeaways below.

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WordPress Security in Two Minutes (Give or Take)

WordPress SecurityDo you worry about your WordPress security? Do you wonder if hackers, spammers, or other ne’er-do-wells are able to hack into your website and do damage? Get up-to-date information on securing your WordPress website in the article below and put your mind to rest.

I’ve heard–mostly from non-WordPress developers, that WordPress is prone to hacks and malicious scripts and attacks. This isn’t true. The fact is that WordPress is by far the most popular CMS (content management system) on the planet for good reason, and powers anywhere from 20% to 25% of the world’s known websites.

Because there are so many WordPress sites out there, there are naturally going to be more WordPress sites that get hacked. The sheer number of them make them an inviting target. However, a few logical steps will keep your WordPress website safe.

Last week during staff our lead developer, Andy Woznica, shared with us how we can keep our WordPress sites–and those of our clients–safe and secure in a world of hackers, spammers, and ransomware. It was so good I asked him if I could share it with all of you.

He consented.

I’ve kept his original document mostly intact. Feel free to read it with an English accent, as Andy’s from London.

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Digital Marketing for Small Business…Demystified

Digital Marketing for Small Business

Do you find digital marketing confusing? Does it always seem like there’s something new—like SnapChat or Facebook Live—that you’re expected to master? Does it feel overwhelming, and there’s not enough time in the day to get everything done the social media gurus tell you to do?

After 20 years in business, and 500 plus websites and digital marketing campaigns under our belts, these concerns have been raised by a large number of the people who have come into our offices. 
 
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to digital marketing. Different businesses and industries need different strategies, tactics, and even strategies to reach different audiences. Even best practices don’t always equal best results. 
 
However, in working with all these businesses over the years, I’ve developed a framework that works for almost every small business, and I think it will work for you, too. The name has changed over the years, but while working with my book coach as I wrote The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing, we hit upon a name for the framework that I feel is going to stick. 

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