What The New Facebook Algorithm Means to You
The latest announcement by Lord Zuckerberg of the Kingdom of Facebook is that they are changing the Facebook algorithm to prioritize ‘meaningful’ person-to-person interactions between friends and family over content from Facebook business pages.
But as a small business owner who is using Facebook to try to reach new customers what does this really mean to us?
To summarize; users will be shown more content from their friends and less from business pages in their news feed. Ouch.
That’s the bombshell for business owners already trying to eek out an meagre audience from a very crowded platform.
This sent a few shockwaves across the interweb and many Facebook pages owners were left a bit stunned about what to do next. It seemed to confirm what had long been hinted at… organic (free) reach for business is going to be harder than ever.
But is this really old news?
Facebook is a friends and family platform and always has been. People are on the platform to catch up with what people in their network are doing. The primary motivation is not to buy or browse, but I believe it is still the case that consumers will look up businesses before they visit in store or online and evaluate your worth from your page content. I can’t see that changing anytime soon.
So, it’s still important to be present and to be providing really good quality content. Content that people want to share and discuss. That’s the key here – share good shit that resonates with your tribe and generates engagement. Long comments are much more valuable than mere likes, so get off the fence. Have an opinion. Stoke the fire! But don’t be rude or offensive. No one is impressed by that.
Your reach might be smaller, but those that do engage with your content are more likely to be interested in sticking around to talk about and share what you do. Aren’t they the best kind of fans to have?
Video is a bit meh
Interestingly Facebook seem to be moving away from showing a lot of video (this does not include live video). And I for one am delighted. They acknowledge that watching a video is a very passive, low-engagement activity and therefore does not provide the platform with the kind of meaningful interaction that they are looking for.
The current viewing figures of video on Facebook is appallingly low. Something like less than 6 seconds. I personally find the obsession and bombardment of video on my own news feed quite an irritant up to now. I’m often using Facebook when it would not be terribly social to play a video, and I am completely turned off by the ads they like to show after… let me see, about 6 seconds. Surely a coincidence?
Live Video is Yeah!
But all video is not created equal, and your live streams are going to be more important than ever. So make them interesting and full of valuable content.
Storytelling, answer customers questions, asking for feedback and sharing awesome behind the scenes footage through the medium of livestreaming is super easy and free free free!
Consumers are so forgiving of livestream videos, you can be your genuine, authentic self. You do not have to provide a polished performance. Just a confident one.
What content will be shown by Facebook?
Interestingly, this is probably the same as always but with a narrower focus.
Content that inspires, educates, amuses and entertains such as articles and news items that people want to share and discuss or content posted by friends and family seeking advice, or asking for recommendations.
The emphasis will be on content that encourages comments from people and BETWEEN people, which is weighted much more heavily than low value likes.
So, getting dozens of likes isn’t actually as useful as getting a few good long comments from people who have found your content inspiring enough to stop by and engage with it or share it.
I wrote a blog some time ago about getting better engagement on Facebook (read it here) and its pretty much all still relevant now.
What should you avoid posting?
There’s nothing particularly new to report here either.
Avoid link baiting crap. Leave that to the Daily Mail.
Avoid posting links that take the user off of Facebook – keeping users on the platform is after all the number one goal of Zuckerberg. So it makes sense for you to play the same game. It’s also where your audience chose to be, so offer the path of least resistance.
Don’t be dull.
Don’t just sell.
Don’t just post what you want to talk about.
What factors will affect reach?
FB’s algorithm is widely known to use a number of factors to decide what is a good post and therefore how widely it is shown to your potential audience.
You know what? Nevermind. Many of these things you can’t particularly control anyway.
My advice is to stop thinking about algorithms and think only of your potential audience – what do they want to see? If you always keep your audience in mind first and think about what they might like to see, read, consume, share and talk about (and not what you would like to show them), then you will be on the right track.
It’s the same advice I give to clients about website copy. Write for your audience first! We can tweak it for google later. Yes, you do want your content to be shared and viewed, but neither Facebook nor Google will ever buy from you. So write for your customers first and always.
Is Facebook still important?
Yes, in the world of social media it’s still THE most important platform for you to be to promote your business. That’s where the eyeballs are – it’s still the biggest and most used channel. We’ll just all have to get used to a smaller, more niche audience – but that is the same for a large company as it is for a smaller one. A bigger organisation is actually going to feel the pain of reduced engagement and exposure more acutely than us minnows.
Cost effective advertising
Facebook is currently still an incredibly inexpensive way to advertise to reach your audience, so don’t be too put off by scary headlines about the algorithm.
Boosting well-performing posts is a good start for beginners and I wrote a post on how to do this well here.
With a bit more confidence you can also progress to full blown ad campaigns. By choosing your niche well and experimenting with some ad creatives and copy (the images and text) then you can see really impressive results for not much money. This is especially true if you focus on warm audiences that already know you because they have previously interacted with your website or page. I cover how to do this in a really easy way in my 15 Minutes to Facebook Fabulous course – Facebook marketing for really busy small business owners.
Keep Calm and Carry On
In the long run this change I think will make for a better platform for us all, and therefore a more useful one to be on as a business. A less crowded, but more valuable feed is good for us all so I see no reason to panic. Just define your strategy, think of your audience and get on with it.
It’s also important to remember that Facebook is not the only way you should be marketing yourself. Social media should be ONE part of your marketing strategy to reach your audience. But it is still a great one for building relationships, we just need to adapt a little every now and then to feel the benefit.
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