We already knew that changes were coming on Facebook as Mark Zuckerberg promised to “fix” the social media platform but it now seems that businesses the world over need to reconsider their digital strategies if they are to remain visible.
In essence, Facebook has gone full circle, after in recent years favouring businesses who paid them money over just about everything else.
“We feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on his own Facebook page.
“As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media,” Zuckerberg added. “And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”
The changes, which were promised within 90 days are already being rolled out as the website puts the emphasis back on family and friends, essentially going back to the basics which saw it grow faster than any other social media site.
In an article titled “Bringing People Closer Together” by Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s Head of News Feed said: “As we make these updates, Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease. The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it.
“Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.”
At the time of writing it is still impossible to say exactly what impact these changes will have to business pages – but ultimately if you are successful in achieving the new goals set by Facebook then you will be ok and your posts will still be seen.
Let’s be honest though, if you take your business head off and think of how you use Facebook from a personal point of view, putting the emphasis back on the news from your family and friends is a good thing, after all, that’s what we all signed up for in the first place.
We all want to know what people are up to, granted not always for the right reasons, but that’s always been what Facebook has been about but in the last 12 months you were probably seeing around 30% of your friends’ updates as the rest of your feed was packed full of adverts, fake news and hard sell posts, which is not what anyone really wants to see.
For a while now the platform has promoted posts based on how many people react to, comment on or share, which is why old posts can appear top of your news feed days after it was originally posted.
This is set to remain the same as the site “prioritises posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people”.
Taking that into account, depending on your business making simple changes can not only help your Facebook ranking but also means you can use your account to get to know your customers better and personalise their experience – which can only be a good thing.
5 tips to make sure you remain visible
Create compelling content
With the emphasis on “meaningful interactions,” it’s down you as a business to post content which stimulates conversation and appeals to users to like and share on a larger scale than before.
Asking people to like and share is not the way to go though as Facebook has already clamped down on what it describes as “engagement baiting”.
In December they promised they would “begin demoting individual posts from people and pages that use engagement bait” following research on what people like and more importantly don’t like.
The good news though is that posts that ask people for help, advice, or recommendations, such as circulating a missing child report, raising money for a cause, or asking for travel tips, will not be adversely impacted by this update.
Would you page benefit from being changed to a group?
A group will be viewed differently by Facebook, during these changes, because they have already engaged with you to join the group – so any posts and updates will still be favoured content when it comes to news feed updates.
The annoying thing is that you can’t change a page to a group, instead, you have to set up a new group and start again from scratch but it could be worth the hard work and effort in the long run.
Once you’ve set up your group you can invite people to join, while also running a campaign on your page telling people of your plans and when you plan to stop updating your page so they will have to join the group if they still want to see updates.
Build the relationship
The latest changes will mean that hard selling will be falling on deaf ears. Less people will already see the posts than are seeing them right now and the more hard sell you do that number will continue to decrease.
Facebook should be seen as the platform to build your brand and your relationship on and hope that’s enough for them to engage with you via other platforms and even buy from your website.
Use your posts to understand your audience better and talk to them on a personal level – not only will that help your organic reach but it can also help your business grow.
Anyone who likes your page, who has already changed their preferences to “See First in News Feed Preferences” will continue to see the posts from their favourite pages – so you can request that people make the changes to their settings so they don’t miss out.
Be timely with your updates
Despite “news” not being overly favoured in a news feed, timely updates which join in a discussion which is already taking place will take priority. So continue to follow what is trending and see how you can get in on the action.
One big change will be to avoid posting external links to your website which can be seen as direct sales pushes. Facebook wants all activity to take place within the platform but if you sell actual products you could utilise their shop carousel.
Post directly to Facebook
It’s hard to completely predict the impact the changes will have but at least in the short-term, we recommend posting directly to Facebook rather than use a third-party application.
This is so Facebook recognises time is being spent trying to engage with your likers rather than just automating your social media.
Moving forward sites such as Hootsuite and Buffer will no doubt make tweaks to get around the algorithm changes but in the short term it makes sense to post and schedule your posts directly through the Facebook site – at least then you won’t be being penalised any further.
It’s time to rethink your entire Facebook strategy. It’s time to move away from poking your audience to tell them what you want them to hear and instead you need to listen more.
If you want your account to still offer a return on investment you need to use it to “encourage meaningful interactions between people”. It’s time to stop posting and leaving your page alone and instead it’s about sharing, inviting discussion and commenting on posts to stimulate the conversation further.