At a recent conference, we had many people ask about the new Facebook algorithm changes and what that means for social media. Don’t worry it isn’t a bad thing, in fact we challenge you to look at it as a great opportunity to reach a more engaged audience.
According to recent data, overall use of social media has been declining for years. Think about what frustrates you on social media. All the repeated, uninteresting posts from businesses? The ads that line up on the right side of your profile page because you just searched for a similar product on Amazon? How many of you follow a business to show support but then a few weeks later go back and hide posts from that same business because there are either too many posts or the content just isn’t something you want clogging up your news feed? Now multiply that action by the millions of users and businesses on Facebook. Can you see why Facebook realized there was a problem?
The recent changes aim to fix this issue. Facebook’s goal is to get back to why people originally signed up to Facebook; to see updates from friends and family. Now we all have that friend, and probably family member, that we have hidden from our news feed due to bad or excessive content, but that’s okay…as long as we don’t unfriend them. (If you don’t know how to hide someone without unfriending them, just click on the three little dots in the upper right hand corner of a recent post and select “Hide All Posts”, or you can also “Snooze Posts for 30 days” and give them a second chance.)
Friends, family and posts you, and they, engage in will take priority in our news feed going forward. So what does that mean for businesses? Many automatically say, “It means you have to pay to play and that Facebook is just trying to make more money.” Although, to an extent, that could be how it is interpreted, I for one think we all can benefit from this change and believe it will make Facebook a much more engaging platform.
Personally, I get tired of seeing all the ads in my feed. The other day I received an ad in my Messenger Inbox. Even though I’m in marketing and understand how it works, I was upset! You DO NOT get to invade my inbox when I haven’t agreed to it. That is where I draw the line.
Sorry, personal rant over, back to the main benefits of the new change, from both the personal and business perspective:
Posts from family, friends and groups will take priority over the daily lunch specials at the local café.
Users may not stay on Facebook as long but their time on Facebook will be better spent. It’s also likely they will be more engaged because time will not be wasted on filtering through all the business messages.
For those businesses that users follow and still want to see their posts, they can choose to “See First” by changing their news feed settings for that page. The “See First” option tells Facebook that this business is important and we want to see their posts.
As a business, you may not reach as many people, but chances are you will reach the right people. Followers that love your product, want to share it with friends and family, and are more likely to engage in your posts, thus giving you the boost needed to stay in News Feeds without “paying to play.”
No more “spammy” content, or random, irrelevant posts, that’s the idea anyway. This new change forces businesses to post good content, which in my opinion, benefits everyone.
So what do businesses need to do to reach possible customers? Below are a few techniques you can employ to still reach your target audience:
1. POST RELEVANT CONTENT!
I say this in every class and hope at least 50% are listening. It matters MORE what you post, then how often you post. If you are posting every single day and sometimes twice a day but no one is commenting or liking your posts, guess what…they don’t care what you have to say. You aren’t posting information that is relevant or considered valuable. It takes very little effort to just like a post, so if you aren’t getting likes, you need to take a long look at your content. With that being said, it takes a lot more effort to comment on a post because then you get notifications of other people who comment on the post, so most people have to really be motivated or find it valuable to comment. Under the new algorithm, if you aren’t getting comments or sparking conversations, it will become harder and harder to reach people, even your current followers.
Rethink your posts and how you present them. Below is a great example of how a local art guild changed how they shared art videos. In the past @ArtattheVAC posted videos of art techniques and commented, “a new trend that is really taking off” or “this is a new technique that some of our artists are using” these posts received some engagement with likes and shares, but very little comments. Why? There really isn’t anything that prompts viewers to comment. In a recent post, instead of just sharing and making a generic comment, they shared the technique and asked, “How many people would be interested in taking this workshop? If we get enough interest we will look at holding one in April or May.” This sparked over 20 comments to their post. Their engagement went up over 3000% in a week. They gained 23 new page likes over a 3-day period. Why? Because people decided if they hold classes like this they may want to follow them and keep track of other things they offer.
Rethink your posts, ask questions, get opinions from your followers on what they want to see. Just make sure not to use “engagement-bait” techniques such as “comment below if you love dogs”, as those will still be demoted by Facebook and will not help your cause.
2. Remind viewers to like your page.
Sometimes we all need a little reminder, and it doesn’t hurt to mention that if they want to make sure not to miss future posts to select “See First” as their News Feed preference. You don’t want to do this constantly, because then you become that car salesman that follows them around the lot. Once a month as a reminder, especially on a high engagement post, is a good strategy.
3. If possible, increase your ad budget.
If it isn't possible, at least make better use of the existing budget by targeting the right audience. When you boost a post or run an ad, take the time to set up specific audiences based on the content you are posting.
For example, if you are holding an event that is targeted to mostly middle age women, don’t select a generic audience ages 18-65 made up of men and women. It is a waste of advertising dollars. Select an audience ages 35-50, women only, and within a 60-mile radius (if it is a local event).
Don’t waste money on trying to reach people who are unlikely to attend your event. Use your dollars wisely, and increase your budget, if possible, to allow for 1 or 2 more ads a month, at least for a few months to build engagement. Don’t forget to make the content relevant.
4. Consider live videos.
Videos will continue to get more engagement than static posts, but live videos are key to keeping you relevant. Live videos speak to the nature of Facebook; to connect, to keep up with recent happenings. If you are uncomfortable being in front of the camera, think about some “behind the scenes” videos you could take. Maybe a chef creating a new dish for your Spring Menu or record the sound check of the band performing later that evening at an event. There are tons of ideas out there for live videos. Get creative, add them to your posts, and it will help you combat the new changes.
5. Engage with your audience.
This one is really important, you have to engage with those engaging with you. I see great posts every day that spark a lot of comments, questions and conversation, but the business that made the post never responds or gets involved in the conversation. I see followers of the business answering the questions, I see people making their own assumptions when questions go unanswered. Don’t do this. The point of posting on Facebook is not to mark a “To Do” off your checklist, the point is to engage with current and future customers. They are taking time to show interest in what you are offering, take the time to show interest in them.
Now you are well armed to take on the new Facebook changes head-on and continue your quest to conquer social media. In the famous words of Spock, “Live long and prosper.” I will be watching for those “must comment” posts!