As Facebook has grown, and more and more businesses have jumped on the Facebook bandwagon, this amazing social media network is quickly running out of real-estate where businesses can advertise. Facebook has also reported a change in the habits of its users. More and more people are scanning down their newsfeed and not really interacting with the content. Why is this? The answer is that more and more business content is now appearing in the news feed and users are simply not finding it interesting. Mr Zuckerberg has made a very brave announcement which takes the company back to its roots by claiming that:
We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. That's why we've always put friends and family at the core of the experience. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness.
But recently we've gotten feedback from our community that public content – posts from businesses, brands and media – is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.
How will users now see your business posts?
The regular newsfeed will now include posts from people that matter to the user (friends and family), posts from groups, as well as business page content that people have nominated to “see first” (see in the video below for how to ask people to select your page as a “see first” page). Users can select up to thirty people or Pages to “see first”. Your selections aren't ranked (i.e. your first selection isn't seen first, your second selection isn't seen second, etc.).
If users have not selected “see first” on your page then how will they see your content? Users will need to click on another tab within Facebook called “page feed” or the “explore feed”. I predict that these feeds will be merged together in the future. This is NOT good news for business owners. How many users will remember to click this little tab so that they see posts from the business pages that they are following?
What changes do you need to make for your Facebook Marketing Strategy?
I have put together a video explaining the changes (see below), but in a nutshell, if you have a business page then you will need to implement the following changes with IMMEDIATE effect:-
#1 – Content on your page
The new algorithm will give priority to “community” style posts. These are posts that encourage communication and discussion. Gone are the days when you can post “sales” messages to your audience. Think about discussion topics that can relate to your business. If you are B2B then you will need to be a bit more creative than B2C.
In the Facebook blog announcement, they mention that engagement baiting will be more prominent, so you have been warned. If you continue to try and manipulate the algorithm then you will be penalised. See last week's video to understand a bit more about engagement baiting.
#2 – Immediately remove any external scheduling tool
We have mentioned for a while now that using external scheduling software such as Hootsuite, Buffer, eClincher, etc. has less reach in the Facebook algorithm. This new update will reduce the exposure even more. Therefore, we have made the decision to only use the internal Facebook scheduling tool for all of our clients' accounts. It's a big project to change all of our clients' content from eClincher directly onto Facebook, but it needs to be done, and completed quickly otherwise our clients will suffer. If you are running a social media account for yourself or a client, then please consider changing the way that you distribute content.
#3 – Consider creating a group for your audience
Groups are an area that Mark Zuckerberg has decided to focus on in addition to friends and family. Group content will have more of a priority than business pages. Here are his words of wisdom:
We started making changes in this direction last year, but it will take months for this new focus to make its way through all our products. The first changes you'll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups.
We have seen many changes for Facebook Group Admins over the last six months, including being able to link your group to your Facebook page and being able to have a “business voice” in your group rather than an individual. We can now schedule posts within a group, add repeating events, ask questions before we accept someone into a group and have group insights/stats. We have seen this coming for a long time now. In a recent webinar, I mentioned the success some of our clients have had from running groups. If you have not considered a group then please think about setting one up, but have these thoughts in mind before you jump in:-
- Groups are hard work and need daily maintenance
- Do not set up a group in your business name. It should be a title that helps your audience. If you are a recruiter, do not set up a group in the name of your recruitment agency, it should be something like “The Best Jobs in Manchester”. Think about community, not sales. Sales will follow. (I feel another blog is in order to talk about this subject in more detail).
#4 – Think before you post your blog link
We need to embrace the changes and accept that if we want Facebook to drive traffic to our websites we need to design content that “helps start conversations”. If you are posting links to your blogs and you want to guarantee these posts are seen, to put it simply, you will need to invest in advertising. (Which is what Facebook wants you to do).
If you are a regular blogger (like Green Umbrella), then we recommend activating the Instant Articles feature on your page. This is a built-in publishing feature that feeds from your website. The process of implementing Instant Articles can be complex and you need to have a regular content strategy for your website. If you want to know more then please speak to the Green Umbrella team.
#5 – The Free Fun is Over – Pay to Play is Where It's At!
We are no longer living in the world of social media marketing, we have entered the new world of social media advertising. If you do not have a budget for Facebook advertising, then be aware that the time you are spending on Facebook as a business will unlikely see a return on your investment of time. Time costs money.
With immediate effect, Green Umbrella will not be accepting new Facebook clients for our social media management service without a budget for Facebook advertising. We need to draw a line in the sand and accept that this is the way forward. People may not like it, but let's face it, we have had it good for the last ten years!
How much money should you invest in adverts? What type of adverts should you be putting together? What is the best practice for adverts? These are all questions which I know you may be thinking of, and which we will answer for you in the coming weeks (it's too complicated to include in this blog).
Facebook are going back to basics. They are aware that without people having a good experience on the platform and wanting to use Facebook, they won't have a business. Connecting people is what they are all about and they have certainly lost sight of that over the last few years. It's time for business owners to understand that people don't want to be sold at. They want to feel part of something and part of a community, which is what your Facebook business page should represent. Express your culture, your views, your opinions. Don't sit on the fence and just sell stuff, that simply doesn't work anymore.