Julia Roberts - Marketing JumpleadsThe web is on fire with controversy, confusion and debate amongst marketers over Facebook’s recent major announcement. Mark Zuckerberg said that his New Year’s resolution was to ‘fix Facebook’. This official announcement starts that process and I believe it’s GOOD NEWS! Stay calm and I’ll share some great strategies and why you should be pleased, as a business owner, by these Facebook updates.

To be honest I’ve not been enjoying my personal feed much lately as it’s just a series of ‘sponsored posts’ and ‘click bait’. That’s me saying that…the number one Facebook junky! So something has to change and it’s a game of balance: Photos of your night out vs business marketing. Now most of us would choose the drunken/food/real people photos. Your job as a business owner is to blend into that social chat and have conversations – NOT SELL. This update raps the knuckles of all us marketers who have forgotten that rule and just blasted out sells pitches and expected Facebook to show them for free.

Facebook is about to shake things up and have announced some changes coming to the ORGANIC News Feed which will affect business pages that don’t drive people to connect, engage and have conversations.

The important word here, that most comments on this subject seem to ignore, is organic. ie the free reach you currently enjoy from your business page that lets your posts be seen in the newsfeed of your followers.

The FREE party is over folks and quite frankly has been since 2012. Savvy Facebook marketers will have been paying for reach on Facebook for several years. As it currently stands Business pages only get on average 1-5% organic reach, which means that if you have 100 people ‘liking’ your page, only 2 – 5 of them are likely to see one of your posts. So if you lose that free organic 1-5% in the news feed is that really going to stop your business success? NO!

The end of the world or Facebook marketing is not nigh! Here I’ll share my advice for moving with the changes. So many small business owners won’t do this, so it’s a GREAT opportunity for those of us who do.

Really if you’ve been creating APPEALING, INSPIRING content that gets people ENGAGING not very much will change for you.

If you remember, when Facebook first appeared it was to unite old friends and family. The announcement affectively says over the next few months they’ll be changing the rankings so people have more opportunities to interact with those they care about. These algorithm changes will ultimately see:

“less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people”

So what does this mean for a business page and what sort of content will Facebook be prioritising in their newsfeed – both personal and business…..

“Content that brings value to your community, that sparks a conversation so that there is on-going community discussion”

If you aren’t currently getting reactions, comments, or shares, you will more than likely see a drastic decrease in the reach of your posts.

NOW is the time to really work out your Facebook and overall marketing strategy going forward as these updates won’t happen overnight. There have been warning signs from Facebook over the last few years and if you watched the maturity of Google PPC you’ll have ‘seen the writing on the wall’ and the shift to pay for your reach was coming.

Let’s not forget Facebook is a commercial business with shareholders to delight. Why should they provide us all with a free way to market our business? You can’t have space in a magazine, air-time on TV or leaflets printed for free. Why should we get Facebook reach for free?

NONE OF THE ANNOUCEMENT SAID PAID ADVERTISING WAS CHANGING. You just need to brush up your skills on the Ads Manager/Power Editor and know how to manage paid advertising so you maximise the money you spend (or employ an expert to do it for you.)

Although the ‘free organic reach party for Business pages’ is over, Facebook is still my number one tool for targeting, finding and engaging with people who are interested in what we do. There are over 2 billion active users EVERY DAY on Facebook and that is not going to stop. In fact Facebook hopes these changes will mean more will come to the site, more often and stay for longer.

The costs of paying for exposure on Facebook are still ridiculously cheap compared to other mediums and the targeting options are the best on the world. Yes, I understand the demand for the limited ‘brand space’ on the newsfeed will ultimately drive up the advertising costs, but we’ve been spoilt so far. Plus big hikes are not here yet so what can you be doing NOW to help your content be seen?

Facebook states: “Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.

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.”

How do Facebook RANK Posts?

If you interact (like, comment, share) with posts they will get a higher score and therefore are more likely to appear higher in the News Feed. Don’t just post any more – comment and interact as you and your page.

You will NEED to create content that drives conversation on your posts – but not just by your followers – YOU need to get actively involved in the conversations – more conversations, more interactions = content being seen by more people.

So, what should you do going forward?

A real cliché I know, but BE SOCIAL and start building a community by having real and authentic conversations with your audience. Learn who your customers are, what they want and start talking with them, and providing engaging content that is of value, instead of marketing to them.

There is a lot of great content out there, but unfortunately our news feeds are also full of fake news and click bait and I really welcome this change and seeing more authentic and valuable conversations and content within communities.

Remember you can build free ‘custom audiences’ of anyone who engages with your page and then go back to them with paid, highly targeted marketing messages. Re-marketing like this keeps you ad spend down and your business top of mind to your ‘warmest leads’.

How To Win On Facebook

1) SEE FIRST: Let your followers know that they can continue to see your posts in their News Feed if they click the ‘SEE FIRST’ button – Click the ‘Following’ tab and you will get a drop down menu to select from. Maybe think of an incentive to do this, show them how to find the link with a quick video and use other communications, like email, to share this option.

2) FACEBOOK POSTS: create relevant, interesting content that sparks conversation on the post – be sure that YOU join in on the conversations too. Continue to mix it up with Video, FB Live, photos, text, other people’s content etc, but make sure it’s interesting and relevant. Overall I’m going for quality rather than quantity. 1 -3 REALLY good posts a week that invoke reactions, will win the day.

3) WEBSITE: is the digital space you own. NEVER forget that. Give your website the love and attention it needs. Facebook is just a tool (yes my favourite, super powerful tool!) for building awareness of your business and driving traffic to your website. If your website sits at the centre of your on-line strategy you won’t fail. There won’t be some big announcement or change that can threaten your success if your website is truly working for your business. You own it and make the announcements!

4) SHARE: Share your Business Page and posts on other mediums eg email, to drive people to your content. Use your email footers, website, printed literature to promote your Facebook page to keep people coming to see your quality posts and comment on them.
Plus share on your personal profile, if it’s relevant – whatever conversation and engagement happens on a personal profile post that has been shared from a Business page goes towards the ‘Ranking’ of the post in the News Feed.

5) FACEBOOK LIVE: Mark Zuckerberg pulled out Facebook Live as a good medium to invoke engagement. Create a Facebook Live strategy – Live broadcasts get 6 times as many interactions as regular videos. But don’t abuse it. Have a proper strategy of when Facebook Live would really work for your business, not because it works for this new algorithm.

6) VIDEO: Overall post more videos. Something to be aware of though, in saying ‘create videos’, Facebook have also said that there will also be fewer videos appearing in the News Feed, as Facebook considers this ‘passive’ watching.

So this means you have to create the right sort of video. W when making your videos it will be important to get creative. Have a reason for your video and ensure you have a good call to action that drives conversation, whether that be humorous or educational.

7) GROUPS: will be a powerful way to drive a good community. Always offer value in your groups, do FB lives, Group Stories etc. I’ll be posting more on growing and nurturing groups in the coming months.

8) FACEBOOK ADS: The days of free organic reach of your business content is OVER!! You must include a Facebook Ads Strategy in your overall business marketing and invest in Facebook advertising.

Facebook Ads DO WORK and will continue to work (remember those shareholders!)
>> Install the Facebook pixel on your website
>> Retarget website viewers
>> Target your email list
>> Create Look Alike Audiences similar to your warm/dedicated followers
>> Create Facebook Video engagement audiences and retarget to them. Shout if I can help.

9) MESSENGER BOTS: You’ll see more and more on Messenger as a communication tool. Messenger Bots and subscriber lists are a powerful and largely automated way to open up real conversations. I’ll be posting lots more on Messenger Bots in the coming months. Now is most definitely time to get involved.

10) BUILD YOUR FOLLOWING: Put strategies in place to build your email and subscriber lists so you can always talk to your audience off line from Facebook.

11) DON’T PUT ALL YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET: Speak and engage with your audience and target market on other platforms – Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest etc, wherever your ideal target market ‘hangs out’. As Facebook owns Instagram it’s a good place to start. As you’ll be running paid ads you can easily reach ‘grammers’ from the Facebook Ads Platform.

12) MARKET OFF-LINE: Remember some of the most meaningful and fruitful connections happen off-line. Take an on-line conversation off-line – meet with people, network, have REAL conversations. It’s amazing what possibilities eventuate when you start building these off-line relationships and Elite6 is your perfect starting point.

13) COLLABORATION & SHARE: Now more than ever it is going to be so important to collaborate within your community, with businesses or micro-influencers to help share your story. Let’s do more within Elite6 to comment and engage on each others’ content.

What Not To Do On Facebook

“Using ‘engagement-bait’ to goad people into commenting on posts is not a meaningful interaction, and we will continue to demote these posts in News Feed.”

That means, no vote baiting, reaction baiting, or share baiting…

OR no tag baiting or comment baiting…

So, this is NOT the end Facebook, far from it. These changes will help make Facebook a more enjoyable experience for all and as a business, if you do the work you will see the results. Like anything, it is not a quick fix, it’s all about building authentic relationships, collaborating with your community and providing real value. As it’s always been. The only difference Facebook will now penalise those that miss this point.

Overall I’m not really going to be making drastic changes. For my own and clients Facebook pages I’ve just been given a kick, a sharp reminder of what social marketing is all about. Your customers and potential customers are on Facebook right now. The opportunity is as big as ever.