Facebook’s algorithm changes and what it means for small businesses.
Recently Facebook announced a drastic change to its algorithm, which determines what posts will show at the top of news feeds. It came about because Facebook saw a marked increase in global mental health issues and an increase in ‘fake news.’ CEO Mark Zuckerburg took some time to reflect and refine the Facebook business model and returned its focus to people, relationships, connectivity and the happiness of its users.
So what does this change mean for your social media marketing?
I talked to Anne Buttar from WonderlandPR to garner insight and she starts of by saying…
“There’s nothing to be afraid of, but be prepared to ride the rollercoaster of fast change.”
The first and most obvious consequence will be the limited organic reach that your content will obtain. This means that you will have to refine your digital marketing strategy and look for new ways to communicate with your audience. Anne breaks it down into some key focus areas.
1 – STOP posting daily. It’s all about quality, not quantity. Businesses need to be more creative about the types of content they share. Post with meaning, with purpose. Make people laugh, cry, ask a question, have a conversation with you.
You will have to develop and implement a social media strategy that allows people to engagewith your brand and have meaningful dialogue.
2 – KNOW your audience better than you currently do. By understanding exactly whom you want to reach it will really help you target them more effectively. Take some time to look at your audience personas/ buyer personas and refine them. In social posts businesses often drill down too far, or not far enough – understanding what you need to do is key.
3 – Look at alternative ways within Facebook to ENGAGE with the audience. Groups pages and event listings are good if you have a strong community. Cherish those interactions in groups where people feel safe and exclusive, part of a team, out of the public eye and free to be themselves. If you can work that into your plan it offers high visibility, but don’t force it.
4 – It’s now ‘PAY TO PLAY’. Organic (unpaid) reach is still important, but to really see meaningful results, paid content is key. As Mark Zuckerburg predicts –this algorithm change will result in people spending less time on the platform, so to get the most from any budget, be smart with your content, and continuously test and refine. Try different things. You don’t need to spend a fortune. Start with $10 or $20 and see what happens. Refine. Log the results. Try again till you find something that works.
5 - Don’t put all your eggs in one social media basket. DIVERSIFY. Use other social channels that work with your target customers – Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Linked In, Snapchat, etc. (Be aware that Facebook also owns Instagram – so be prepared for changes there too.) Social media platforms should work for you simultaneously. Diversify and extend your reach so they compliment each other.
6 – PLAN ahead and be MINDFUL. Facebook will reward positivity and content that creates positive engagement from users. Know who your audience is and plan to speak to them in a way they respond well too. Plan and schedule your posts, add them to your calendar and always be mindful of the timing, the length and how these things might affect the reader/viewer.
“Now is the time for out of the box thinking!”
Anne recommends all businesses START NOW and be early adopters… that means trying new things with Facebook and watching and refining. I asked Anne about blog posts and video content specifically. The information was a little sobering for someone who uses both in business.
Videos are no longer getting pushed to the top of the feed – EXCEPT Facebook Live. Embrace it. Use it. Find a way to make it meaningful for you and your brand. e.g. a product launch, behind the scenes video, event announcement, a Q+A forum, a full length workshop etc. Aim for real authentic, human moments on video – even the stuff-ups have value.
Blogs will also be demoted in the page rankings so tweaking your content and investing in boosted posts might be the way forward if that’s a tactic you currently use.
In the podcast Anne drills down and offers A LOT of insight and real life examples, how-to’s and plenty of dos and don’ts. It’s a podcast rich with ideas for targeting effectively, working with these new changes and what you can do RIGHT NOW to be ahead of the game.
We also touch on what you can do if it all seems overwhelming and you’re considering using a social media manager or agency – what questions to ask them, and how long it might take to see ROI.
If you’re at all unsure about what these changes to Facebook mean, take the time to listen to the full podcast – click here I’m confident you will learn something new and want to try something different!