The small business world appeared to be rocked by the latest Facebook news feed announcement last week where Mark Zuckerberg stated that Facebook was going to refocus on people & relationships, sparking conversation and meaningful interaction. (Did you miss it – have you been hiding under a stone?! If so, have a read here…)
My interpretation = let’s get back to a social platform rather than a business promoting platform.
Parts of the world went crazy. Some people thought that was the end of their business and that Facebook was being unfair.
Having reflected on the announcement, I’m really not surprised. It’s become harder and harder to get a business page featured in news feeds or gain reach more recently, and then there was that rather special trial last year that moved business pages into the Explorer arena, removing them from news feed all together!
What is shriekingly obvious is that we need to embrace the change. Facebook was created as a social platform initially & this has been watered down over the last few years. Zuckerberg needs to answer to others in terms of business performance and revenues. It makes sense to make the change from a business owner’s perspective, despite what that means for small businesses who utilise Facebook features to communicate their business advantage.
The release from Facebook’s newsroom states that the space in news feeds is limited and therefore feeds from family & friends will take priority, thereby encouraging conversation, interaction and community spirit. Public content including videos from publishers & businesses may see a decrease in terms of reach, video watch time and referral traffic.
But all is not lost for the Facebook Business Page user. This refocus will target those pages that tend to spam or ‘bait’ and fill up news feed with news that isn’t really news, content that isn’t really engaging and who tend to desperately attempt to scattergun their proposition to all and sundry.
For those with a genuine business, servicing clients with authority, honesty and authenticity it means that content just has to be created with more of your client in mind. Ensuring that it is thought-provoking, inspires, educates and tells a story are all key to being ranked higher in the news feed. Live video may perform better because this tends to promote conversation and local communities will service their audience with relevant events and updates. In addition, by educating your audience to add your page to their ‘See First in News Feed’ preference, you will remain visible to them every day.
This announcement doesn’t mean that business pages are coming to an end, but it does mean that we can’t just rely on Facebook to market our businesses, especially for free. But this should never have been the case anyway!
Social media platforms should form part of a wider, all-encompassing marketing plan that reaches our identified audience via a number of varying channels. To market your business is not to repost on your Facebook business page 30 times a day hoping that someone will spread the word for you.
So my tips to embrace the change that will be coming to Facebook Business Page users over the next few weeks would be:
- create your content in a varied, engaging and informative manner; with humour, education and inspiration.
- use live feeds to engage with your audience (but not necessarily all the time!)
- build relationships and encourage discussion
- revisit (if you haven’t already!) Facebook Ads as paid work may become more influential (and to be honest we’ve all taken advantage of the free advertising Facebook has offered us for years. You wouldn’t expect to not pay for any other form of marketing)
- stimulate your community to interact with each other on your posts to create conversation
- ask your audience to check their preferences are set to ‘See First’ for your business page (if you’re reading this, please do it for mine! :-))
- stop (if you are, which I really hope you’re not!) posting 30+ times a day – spamming is not how to secure new clients
- don’t ‘bait’ your audience – this is in terms of competitions as well as general post engagement. Check Facebook’s guidelines for detail but as a general rule – yes ask your audience to like your post or page, but do not ask them to share on their timeline, on their friends’ timelines or tag their friends to enter a competition or giveaway, or as a blatant blanket post.
All in all, there are few things guaranteed in life, but change is one of them. It’s amazing this hasn’t come before now. But for all genuine businesses – don’t panic, just carry on talking to & engaging with your audience, stimulate conversation and don’t overlook personal networking, email marketing, newsletters and of course your business’ website to support your business growth.
Have some further questions or need some help with what to do next? Just drop me a message or give me a call…