Last week, Mark Zuckerberg and the powers-that-be at Facebook dropped a huge bombshell on us. They announced a major change to Facebook’s algorithm that will completely change what we see in the Facebook news feed.

The winners? Us – Facebook’s users.

The losers? Pages. (Brand pages, public figure pages, media pages etc.)

Here’s my take on what this means for brands, and what you should do next.

How to not panic when Facebook changes things

What changes are being rolled out?

To summarize:

Facebook wants to prioritize more meaningful conversation between people. This means organic reach for Page content will reduce, in favour of more content from our personal connections (friends and family).

They’re not saying we won’t see ANY posts from the pages we follow – we’ll just see less of them. And what we do see is likely to be content designed to encourage engagement on the platform.

Secondly, Facebook is looking for ‘meaningful’ engagement. That means Facebook will favour long and thoughtful comments, as well as people commenting with each other, rather than hitting the ‘Like’ button.

Social Media Examiner gave a widely-shared and insightful analysis of the announced changes here. If you haven’t watched it yet, I recommend you do so.

First up – don’t panic!

As a brand owner or eCommerce retailer, I’m sure probably have some reliance on Facebook to drive traffic to your website. Hopefully you’re also advertising on Facebook as well.

Keep in mind – Facebook’s own income relies on businesses continuing to pay for advertising on the platform. And businesses won’t continue to do that if they don’t get good results.

Whilst we won’t know for sure until the changes are rolled out, my own instinct tells me that it won’t be all bad.

As a Facebook user, I think reducing click bait, fake news and the kind of content we mindlessly scroll through is actually a positive move. People will enjoy their time on Facebook more.

What you shouldn’t do now

  1. If you’re using scheduling software to schedule posts, stop that now. Just use Facebook’s own scheduling function.
  2. If you’re posting multiple times a day and getting very little (or no) engagement – stop posting that kind of content.
  3. Don’t bait your audience to engage with your posts. No ‘Top 10 girls names who will find love in 2018. Tag your friends with these names’. No ‘Comment below to win the giveaway’. I’m sure you know the kind of posts I mean!
  4. If you’re posting highly promotional posts on your Page, stop doing that. For example, product or sale posts designed to get people to click away from Facebook. This is not engaging content at all.

What you SHOULD do now

Like I said before, the first thing you should do is to not panic.

You want to focus on creating and posting less but better quality content to your page. Content that people will want to engage with, and that might encourage conversation between your fans as well as with your page.

What kind of content?

Think about what it is that attracts people to your brand or your store. It’s rarely just about the products.

Let’s say you sell kids clothing and accessories. What kind of kids? Do you focus on kids who love a good outdoor adventure like my client Babiators? You could spark a conversation around the latest outdoor adventure their kids have been up to (wearing the gear you sell of course).

Let’s say you sell food or food-related products. What kind of food? Vegan? Organic? Paleo?

My client Happy Tummies sells allergy-free foods and does a great job of sparking engagement. She shares recipes and educates her audience about the products in a way that is meaningful and desired by her customers, and they respond.

Bottom line: Make sure your content is helpful, educational or entertaining.

A big tip: remember that Facebook is a social platform and the kind of engagement they’re looking for is about human interaction.

Humans don’t want to interact with brands, businesses or corporations.

They want to interact with other humans! So share content that shows the personal side of your business (ie you, your staff, your customers).

Have a budget for paid advertising

Facebook has not said anything in their latest update that their changes will negatively impact the results of paid ads. Although it’s logical that with organic reach dropping, you’ll need to rely more on paid ads to drive traffic to your website.

Facebook ads will continue to be a valuable source of quality traffic to your site. Possibly even more so if people are more actively engaged on the platform rather than mindlessly scrolling through fake news or cat videos!

So my advice is, you need to make sure you allocate budget consistently for paid ads. From putting a budget behind some of your engagement-related content (boosting posts is fine for this!), to setting up paid ads designed to drive traffic to your website and convert website sales.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!

How to not panic when Facebook changes thingsI talk a lot about the importance of email marketing as part of your marketing mix. Also, making sure you have a well-designed website that converts. (Of course there’s loads of other marketing activities you could do as well, but that’s not what I’m talking about today.)

When I started my last business, Facebook wasn’t a thing yet. We had to rely on things like SEO, search engine ads, ads with other online media, and, building an email list and regularly sending marketing emails.

Building your email list is so very important – it’s an asset that you OWN. Your marketing results, therefore, are not at the whim of someone else (here’s looking at you, Facebook…)

I’ve seen it happen before, where businesses relied entirely on free exposure from Facebook (remember the glory days of Facebook, back when brand pages got enormous reach?). But then, when Facebook changed the algorithm, their entire sales came to a grinding halt, because all of a sudden they couldn’t access the audience they’d built up.

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