Is the Facebook News Feed Change as Scary as It Sounds?

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For years, Facebook has been the “go-to” platform for targeted marketing as well as social sharing. It was fairly easy and inexpensive to reach your customers. Businesses could set up a free page and begin publishing and sharing content that would be seen by many of their followers. If a post didn’t perform well, they could spend a small amount of money to “boost” it, or sponsor an ad, and even pinpoint the audience they wanted to reach.

The recent change will favor stories from friends and family in user News Feeds over promotional posts and news. Marketers and business owners reacted to the news swiftly and with trepidation. The question top of their minds: How can we maintain our presence on social media and get results?

Applaud Good Intentions. Address Worrisome Consequences.

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the change earlier this month, explaining that true human connection was always the goal of the social network. In returning to its more noble roots, Facebook is seeking to nurture more authentic connections and engagements. And this is great, but now what? How can brands and small businesses that rely on social media reach their customers? Will there still be a place for their content in the News Feed? How much money will they need to spend to boost or sponsor their content— – and will it still not make a difference?

While it’s too soon to know what direct impact this algorithm change will have on business pages, it’s not too soon to start thinking about your strategy.

Evaluate Your Game Plan.  Don’t Throw In the Towel.

While concern about this change is prudent, throwing in the towel is not; Facebook is still the dominant social network. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 79 percent of online adults use Facebook and its 1 billion daily users spend nearly a half hour each day on the site. And who are these 1 billion daily users, you ask? Eighty-three percent of them are women and 75 percent are men. Let’s not forget age: People 18- to-29 years old make up 88 percent of Facebook’s users, followed by those who are 30- to 49 years (84 percent), and 50-to 64 years old (72 percent). Lastly, adults ages 65 and older make up 62 percent of users.

There is no better time than now to get creative with your social marketing strategy. Now that Facebook has signaled that engagement is the top priority, businesses need to make it theirs. Sooner than later.

Take a good hard look at your page, and ask yourself:

  • What kind of content do my followers react to?
  • How can I tell my brand’s story in a way that gets our followers excited and inspires their engagement?
  • Which kind of posts get the most engagement?  
  • Who are my most engaged followers?

Facebook knows when you’re not on your game. A stagnant page has little to no authority over Facebook’s algorithm.

Get Creative. Try New Strategies to Increase Engagement.

The answer is clear. To stay in the game, you have to find new ways to play. More than ever, you need to encourage an interactive yet authentic exchange of information on your page. That means more than “likes.” It means shares, comments, views longer than 10 seconds. In other words, real engagement.

Just make sure you don’t resort to posting “comment bait” or using other tricky ways to get your users to reply. In the past, it was OK to reward your audience for responding to a post. You could offer an incentive or discount to the first 10 people to respond, for example. It was a simple and fairly effective way to make the algorithm work for you. It’s not going to work as well anymore.  Here’s what will:

1. Post content that is top of mind. Maybe even a little edgy. Definitely thought- provoking. We are not suggesting you post political opinions on your business page but rather something that is a hot topic for your particular audience. It is more likely to get a conversation started than endlessly posting blatant self-promotional content.

2. Create a Facebook Group. There is no better time to start a community-driven Facebook Group, if it makes sense for your business. A Facebook Group is a closed network of people who are interested in your brand or message. You may not be able to push your message out to the world, but everyone in the group will see your posts. Most of all, Facebook has come right out and said it will favor this kind of content.

3. Increase your activity on other platforms. Good content is still the King of SEO, but Facebook just made it a little harder to use it to drive traffic to your website. Rather than dropping a link in your Facebook post to your website, you should consider posting longer blog summaries and sharing them on LinkedIn. You should make a point to send people who are engaging with you on Twitter and YouTube, for example, by linking your content back to your Facebook page. Facebook doesn’t like to see you sending all of your users off its platform; it would rather see you bring people in. When you post a new blog on your website, include a link to your Facebook page, for example. There are also many plug-ins that allow you to add a Facebook feed right to your website.

4. Engage with other brands. Make a point to comment and like content on other pages relevant to your users. In return, these brands may start to engage on your page as well. Content sharing can boost your engagement quickly.

5. Stick with a few basics. Continue to post clear calls to actions, as well as strong visuals, feature more video (including live video), and keep your content timely and relevant. In other words, don’t throw out your entire playbook. These strategies are just as important as ever.

If you don’t have the resources to keep up your page—not to mention all the changes at Facebook—a consultation with a social media specialist can help.