You may no doubt have read about the changes that Facebook are making to their mysterious algorithms in the coming weeks. It’s all part of an apparent push (sceptical, moi?) to make people use Facebook LESS but get MORE value out of it.
And as part of this concern for their users’ wellbeing and the quality of their Facebook experience, this means they will prioritise posts by family and friends above posts from the pages of brands and companies that you have liked. They want to encourage meaningful interaction between people rather than between brands and people.
For those of you who have worked hard to build followers for your Facebook page, there’s no denying that this isn’t the greatest of news and you’re going to have to work a lot harder in the future to ensure results from Facebook. My personal belief about these changes are that it is partially about getting brands and companies to spend more on Facebook advertising because, if you do, these posts will continue to get shown in the same way, with the same frequency etc. to the chosen target market, regardless of how interesting the content is or how much ‘meaningful interaction’ it generates. So hmm.
I could bore you further with others valid reasons as to why I don’t think Facebook really have the user experience as their number one priority but instead I’ll focus on my thoughts and advice on how to change your Facebook game, or improve it, so that your ability to promote yourself through the platform isn’t compromised by these changes.
Here are the key areas that I think would be best for small businesses to focus on to ensure that their Facebook activity still gets results.
Make excellent content
Simple eh?! One of the things that Facebook have said is that it’s going to be important to have posts that provoke genuine engagement. So you need to go beyond mere likes and actually create content that creates comments. And the only content that really provokes comments is GOOD content that’s engaging and makes an attempt to start and create a conversation with your followers. So write about things that people will have opinions on. Or which make people want to answer them, agree or disagree with, or add to. Ask questions, ask for feedback, create content around topical and interesting subjects around your brand.
By doing this, a small business page with say a 1,000 followers, or less, may actually get more exposure to their posts than a larger brand page with 10k of followers but little engagement. I have noticed so many pages which have managed to build large followings but have virtually NO engagement on their posts, certainly not in terms of comments. Their time may be up. But your page with a smaller following could actually THRIVE in this new environment if you take the time to create great content and to engage with your followers.
Let’s face it, it should always be about the content.
Facebook groups have been growing in popularity with brands and businesses for a while now, simply because they offer a more private atmosphere and generally speaking someone who joins a group, rather than follows a page, is doing so because they want to engage. They can be used in many different ways and I really should write a whole article just about groups alone as it’s complex, but for now, what you need to know is this;
a. Group members automatically get a higher number of new posts from groups pushed into their feed
b. The more someone engages with your group, the more posts they see and;
c. You’ll get so much more engagement, which can in turn create more content on your page if you have a strategy of pushing people from the group to the page regularly to do and see different things. Plus, more engagement is just more satisfying and more fun and you get a much better opportunity to build relationships through conversations in groups.
So why not start to explore groups and give serious thought to what the purpose of your group might be?
Yeah, Facebook Live – eek! No I haven’t done this either, but depending on your confidence levels and your business, starting to use Facebook live on your page (and in your groups) could be a very smart move as the algorithm is going to favour video content and live in particular. Live gets much more interaction than ordinary video, it provokes comments and so, it’s back to that engaging content that is really at the heart of it all. And playing nice with Facebook on their comments thing.
Of course a poor Facebook live strategy could do more harm than good so even though it’s all instant and tempting, don’t just jump on and don’t do unplanned, off the cuff live broadcasts unless you have to show something that’s happening right now, something that you haven’t had prior warning of AND it’s interesting content (in which case go ahead).
The best Facebook lives are, in my opinion, planned, thought out and actually promoted or have a regular slot so that people are expecting them. Of course there is something quite cool about just jumping on live to show something brilliant, or tell people something that they need to know NOW. But if you adopt this strategy just to get attention, without the all important great and useful content, then it will quickly annoy and alienate your followers.
Watch some lives, notice which ones get real engagement and just go with your instincts about how this tool could work for your business.
Look to up your advertising spend
As I said previously, promoted posts and adverts will still get shown in the same way as ever, so one way to ensure that your posts and your company still gets Facebook exposure, is to up the amount of ads that you run. Organic reach has been in decline for a while anyway, most brands have felt this over the past year or so as the platform has got busier and the number of pages that people have chosen to follow has increased. And there’s nothing like paying for the placing of content to focus the mind as to whether it is genuinely interesting!
I know being asked to increase your advertising spend is a little annoying, however like all good marketing, this is an investment. If you see a return on your ads there really isn’t a problem. And if you don’t, you need to think about why and stop pouring money down the drain anyway.
Ask followers to follow your page
As well as being able to like your page, your fans can also follow your page. This ensures that your content is still prioritised. Sounds simple but this will take a concerted effort and communication to convert as many likes to followers as possible. But there’s no need to feel awkward; if people genuinely like your content and enjoy seeing your posts in their feed, whether because it’s useful information, fun or guarantees them the best offers and deals, they will want to ensure that they continue to see your posts.