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 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.
I'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.
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:
- Instagram (admittedly, owned by Facebook)
- 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.
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.