Changes to the famous Facebook algorithm are in process. I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Mark Zuckerburg made a major announcement earlier this week. While we should expect a big adjustment to what we see, it seems the biggest change will be in the News Feed. Expect more posts from our friends and family. Facebook is looking to shift the focus back toward “meaningful Interactions” with our personal connections.
At first glance this change may not make sense. Why would Facebook make it more difficult for a paying segment like publishers and businesses to get attention?
Remember who is Facebook’s core audience; social users. Facebook’s goal is not to make life more difficult for small businesses, non-profits, publishers and brands, but rather to provide a fun, enjoyable experience for users. Critics of Facebook have chastised Facebook’s News Feed for providing too much “passive content” in the past.
What is passive content? Articles, videos and other branded content that requires little of us in the way of interaction. This type of content has filled our News Feeds leaving less room for vacation photos, baby videos and photos from family gatherings. Facebook wants to return to a more personal and interactive format in the hopes of making the Facebook experience pleasant and fun. Facebook is betting that a better user experience will mean users will stick around longer. And in the end, be a winning proposition for both Facebook and the businesses that use Facebook as a communication and advertising method.
However, if you have a business Facebook page this may be unsettling news. Your content will be seen less than it was before. Non-profits and small businesses who use Facebook extensively to reach their audience will likely feel the impact of these changes in a drastic way. Until the roll out is complete and we see in real-time how the News Feed will work, we can only guess at what tactical changes will be needed. There are some things we can consider now to prepare for the changes ahead.
While this may feel like a doom and gloom announcement, there is an opportunity for small businesses and non-profits to pivot and succeed with great content. What Facebook really wants to see from users is content that resonates with others. Content that people want to engage with.
The algorithm changes continue to slowly roll out, the exact nature of the adjustments we need to make aren’t yet known. The next few weeks will help answer those specific questions. But if we had a focus on good content to begin with, this new announcement should mean shifting what you are doing in your business, not an apocalypse.
So what can a business do to maintain or even grow a Facebook audience? One part of that answer is: good content.
Click bait posts won’t cut it anymore. You know, those articles or videos that start out….”You won’t believe what happens next!”. The content isn’t actually that unbelievable (or good) but rather use a catchy hook to gather reactions. This is exactly the content that will be minimized in the new algorithm.
For some time now, many businesses have tried to find short cuts in the algorithm to produce less than great content quickly and post more frequently in order to see higher engagement. The new algorithm, I believe, is a way to correct that for all of us. We, as marketers and small business owners, may need to work harder for our engagement but the benefit will be that our good content will no longer have to compete with click bait style content.
As a marketer for small businesses, I am encouraging my clients to take a breath and take a look at their overall social strategy. A good social media strategy will focus on good content anyway. Informative, fun, educational, valuable. Articles, videos, posts that people want to share with friends and family. That’s good content. Fabulous content is harder to produce. It takes more creativity, more thought and more time. But if you do it correctly, the effort will be rewarded with engagement and interaction: likes, comments and shares.
The tactics we use to produce great content may change. Instead of posting daily, a small business may instead choose to post less frequently, but post really great material. The type of material may need to adjust too. Video, which until now, has enjoyed a higher engagement rate than other post types, will not get the naturally higher organic reach anymore. The quality of the video and how your community interacts with that video will determine it’s success.
Facebook has hinted before that the company is looking for a way to expand their ad revenue. This latest change may be the first step in making that a reality. Be prepared to use an advertising budget to engage with your community this year. While we work to understand the specifics of this week’s announcement and it’s impacts, take time to review your own strategy. Adjust your marketing plan to include a Facebook advertising budget. And if you already have a budget, find room to make it bigger. Expect to pay to be seen by your audience.
If your business has relied on Facebook as a lead generation tool and not much else, maybe this is the time to explore other options. When we use marketing tactics that rely solely one one platform; like Facebook, for success we are gambling with our overall business success. If there is one thing we know about life and social media, it is to expect change. A good marketing strategy can help ensure that announcements like this will not make or break your business. When we spread our marketing efforts across multiple platforms we can minimize trouble when change happens.
Diversify to social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Pinterest. Other marketing tactics like, Google search, email marketing and print marketing could yield results for your business too.
While the major announcement this week will have vast implications for many of us who use Facebook as a marketing tool, take time to revisit your organization’s marketing strategy. Think about how you can bring the most value to your Facebook audience. We know from experience, change is a given with social media and Facebook. Plan to adjust your content, budget and strategy to pivot with the changes ahead.