Several of our clients asked us what they should do in response to the recently announced changes to the Facebook News Feed. This will change what Facebook users see when they open Facebook. There will be fewer videos, posts from business pages, news reports, and paid advertisements shown.
Instead, the Facebook News Feed will be predominately posts and status updates from the user’s friends and family members.
So, what does this change mean for the average local business?
More specifically, what does this mean for the average local business Facebook Page?
Will you need to spend more money to be seen on Facebook? Are you looking at a “Facebook Ad Spend Race” to establish branding, stay competitive, or remain connected to customers?
Sure, you could spend more money to be seen on Facebook, but this doesn’t make sense for a number of reasons:
One, Facebook is reducing the number of advertisements shown on Facebook. Facebook is looking for a happy medium to satisfy its shareholders and its users. Right now users are unhappy with Facebook Ads, so the number of ads visible will drop. How? Will Facebook be more restrictive with the ad bidding process? Will there be additional restrictions on what can and cannot be advertised on Facebook?
Two, Facebook ads will be more expensive. Facebook is beholden to its shareholders. With fewer ad spots, the remaining spots will have to increase in price to maintain revenue. Short-term, Money spent on Facebook ads is probably money wasted. Paying more money for a worse result… never a good business decision.
Three, Facebook is making the news feed change relative to advertisements because Facebook users are turned off by the Facebook ads. Fighting other businesses to show something that the Facebook user base doesn’t want to see is counter-intuitive.
Ok, so Facebook ads for businesses are out for right now. Are there any tips or tricks that businesses can use to stay up on the Facebook News Feed? To stay relevant to Facebook users?
Let’s take a step back before the announcement about the News Feed change…
Before the Facebook News Feed Change
Here at Focus Web Works, we developed and utilized a Facebook marketing strategy for our clients, but some of it leveraged actions that we already put in place in the past.
Facebook is constantly tweaking their News Feed algorithm. In fact, this latest update is in response to a change a few years back when Facebook gave video a higher priority in News Feed showing. That was around the time that FB Live was launched.
Two years ago, Facebook changed where business pages were not shown as much in the News Feed. That’s right, the change to the Facebook News Feed relative to businesses pages has already happened when Facebook de-emphasized them relative to friends and family posts.
This latest update is just a tweak to this change made back in 2016. Facebook is removing the larger business pages from the News Feed. Smaller local businesses are already dealing with the News Feed change that emphasizes friends and family.
We will say this again. The Facebook News Feed change that businesses fear has already happened. You are currently dealing with the effects.
Does this mean that you should stop reading? No, because now you know about the problem and we are going to take you through steps to make it so that your business will show on the News Feed.
Facebook is a Useful Way to Get Your Business Out There Online, But it is not the Only One
As we watched all of the scrambling after the Facebook announcement, we were reminded of one of our favorite mantras and an important lesson: “Never put all of your eggs in one basket”.
Facebook is a platform on the web that operates and serves at the whim and discretion of Facebook and Facebook’s shareholders. Changes can and will happen at any time and if Facebook decided one day that something was not in line with Facebook’s interests it would be removed. This could be a person, a business, or a popular Facebook product.
In other words, it is ok to play on the Facebook playground. Just keep in mind that it is their playground and we play there because they let us. They can remove access whenever they want.
Ok, so, businesses have already been restricted on the Facebook News Feed. Because of this, many businesses will be spending more money to have their content shown on Facebook through Facebook Ads. As a rule, following everyone else’s lead is a bad idea. So what should a business do to stay competitive on Facebook with these changes?
The answer could not be simpler.
Facebook is more likely to show content from family and friends in a Facebook user’s newsfeed. Businesses must produce content that Facebook users will want to share in their News Feed to family and friends. More importantly, businesses must actively control the process of getting their great content in the hands of their customers. You need to be an active participant in this process.
Facebook Business pages should…
Produce Facebook content on Facebook that your Facebook Fans Want to Share to Their News Feed
Are your Facebook Page Fans sharing what you post?
- Facebook is pushing content shared by user’s friends and family to the top of the News Feed. Wouldn’t it make sense to produce content that people who like your Facebook page want to share?
Do you have shareable posts?
- Find industry content that your patrons want to read about or watch. If you can’t find any, create it, or have it created for you.
Are you asking them to share your content?
- Get involved with your Facebook page’s fans. Begin a dialog. Open polls. Start surveys. Get the conversation going. The hope is that your Facebook fans like, comment, and share your content with their family and friends, exposing them to your Facebook Business Page and your business.
Do you post often enough?
- When you write great content on your website, be sure to share it on Facebook so that your Facebook page fans can share it. When you find something you think your customers will like, share it. Get their thoughts on what you share.
Are you sharing content from your website?
- If someone finds your content through an online search, make it so that they can easily share your content on Facebook with just one click.
Make Your Facebook Business Page as Attractive as Possible to Maximize Conversions When You Get Visits
What does your Facebook Business Page look like? Are you proud of the way it looks?
Produce online and offline Content that Engages People that Want Your Business’ Products or Services
Beyond the content on the page, your Facebook Business page displays your character. Imagine if someone wanted to know more about your business after reading about it on a friend or family member’s newsfeed.
What would they see when they first land on your page?
In our experience, they would see your business’ default photo and they would see billboard space, taking up most of the page to the right of it. That is your business page’s first impression. If they like what they see, they will scroll down the page.
You should give them no choice but to like what they see.
This free Billboard Space is often the most under-utilized part of a Facebook Business page. Most Facebook Business Page owners (admins) do not know what to do with this space, so they throw up a random photo, a photo of their staff, or maybe a front view of their business.
Wouldn’t it be great, if you could show new visitors to your Facebook Business Page how much your fans and customers like your business and how happy they are with your products and services?
Wouldn’t it be great to use this free billboard to send holiday greetings or highlight special events unique sales for your company? Showing off your unique offerings and reasons why people should do business with your company is easy. You just need to know what to do.
For a quick start on how you can start leveraging your Facebook Billboard space and leave happy “first impressions”, click here for our Social Media Cover Makeover.
Share Engaging Facebook Content through Email
An active and engaged email list is essential for the maintenance and growth of any business. Think back to what we said about having multiple avenues for maintaining/growing your business.
It really doesn’t matter if you got someone to opt-in to your email list in exchange for a sale price, through a standard purchase, or in exchange for an opportunity to win your product or services.
If you have their email, you should reach out to them. Nurture the lines of communication. Keep your business on their minds. Encourage them to buy from you or refer family and friends.
In addition to all of that, you should share your Facebook content and posts in your emails to them and encourage them to share it on their News Feed. Include a share button to make it easy to share and add their own comments. Give them convincing calls to action with every email and watch as your overall interactions go up.
Leverage Facebook Chatbots to Stay Connected Outside of the News Feed
When Facebook introduced Facebook Messenger, it was inevitable that bots would be created to message people automatically. Fortunately, Facebook, currently allows businesses to create automatic messages without spamming. Not all Facebook chatbots have been created equally
Imagine having someone come to your website, sign up to learn more about your products or services and get added to your email marketing series.
Now imagine, if your Facebook Business page could send a message to this person on Facebook where you could make limited-time special offers. Think about the chances of them sharing this on their News Feed.
Something as simple as a Facebook chatbot connects the old and new way of communication and follow-up. You will get a direct connection to potential business when email is just not timely enough.
To learn how our Facebook chatbot can help expand your business’ reach, just click here.
Understand Facebook’s Underlying Purpose
It is easy to come to grips with Facebook’s News Feed update when you remember that Facebook exists to make money. Facebook needs to be a platform where advertisers can present their products and services in front of people who will buy now, buy in the future, or share with someone who will buy now/in the future.
If Facebook alienates its user base, then people will stop using Facebook and advertisers will lose their advertising audience. With the heavy push of news, and video, and advertisements in the News Feed, Facebook was turning off its audience.
Truth is, Facebook wants people to use its platform and Facebook wants people to use its platform for as long as possible.
Everything it does is to ensure that those two things happen. So, when it finds something that brings people to the platform like video did three years ago, Facebook promotes it in a big way to bring people in and to keep them on the platform. When Facebook realizes content is keeping people off Facebook or reducing the time spent on the Facebook platform, like false news reports last year, Facebook will reduce the chances of these items being seen by the user base.
At the core, Facebook users are groups of families and friends of varying group sizes, connected by a few common points of interest. Regardless of how we feel about everything else, we will always care most about our family and friends. With distance, time difference, or obligations keeping families and friends apart, Facebook will be there to provide a connection.
Connections are made by sharing things of worth… of value. Sharing content that brings a laugh, a strong reaction, or joins your solution to an underlying issue to a pain point for the Facebook user.
Facebook will always act in a way to maximize user satisfaction and length of time on their platform. If this latest update to the News Feed negatively affects either beyond acceptable numbers, another change to the algorithm will be made.
You Have the Knowledge: What Are You Going to Do With It?
After we made these points clear to our clients, we realized that we had to document why this change to the Facebook News Feed was not “the end of the world as we know it”. Knowing the actual impact of the News Feed change, having a plan for the worst-case scenario for the News Feed rollout, documenting ways that businesses could leverage other products on and off Facebook to combat the changes, and understanding the reason behind the Facebook changes in the first place, should put anyone using Facebook for business at ease.
After reading, we hope that we also put your mind at ease. You can work through difficult and complicated online marketing issues when you have an understanding of what is happening and have a comprehensive and well-reasoned solution for it.
If you have any additional questions about how the Facebook News Feed change might affect your business or if you have other digital marketing requirements that you are working through, contact us today.
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