Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve been hearing the rumblings about the announcement made by Mark Zuckerberg that Facebook is yet again changing things up. The social network has always moved to adapt its platform to give users what they want. Except this time the changes are different.
They affect you, the marketer.
Facebook is changing its focus. The goal is to get back to its roots with a community that’s more engaged and interactive. Instead of feeds that encourage mindless scrolling, users want more out of their time with Facebook. Zuckerberg has said that they’re stepping up to the plate by reprioritizing content, giving posts from friends and family the top spot.
If you’ve been around a few years, you might be having flashbacks of Google’s Panda and Hummingbird that pulled the rug out from thousands of businesses overnight, leaving them scrambling, attempting to adapt their digital marketing campaigns in hopes of salvaging some sort of ROI.
While Facebook is focusing on their user’s experience, much like Google did with Panda, there’s no reason to stress about how it’s going to affect your brand. In fact, with the right attitude, these changes are actually going to be great for smaller businesses.
So, take a deep breath and relax. You have some space between you and the starting line for Facebook’s new format. Plus, the social network has clued us in on a few ways to maintain a presence, and quite possibly grow from the experience.
Ready to roll your sleeves up and get busy?
Great, let’s get started moving past the obstacles and get to work on discovering the new ways you’re going to use Facebook to reach out and engage.
It’s All About Engagement, But Don’t Go for the Bait
The number one thing on the minds at Facebook right now is engagement. They’re looking for ways to encourage meaningful interactions. So, of course, posts that have the highest levels of engagement are going to be prioritized. But, that leaves you wondering just how they go about measuring engagement and what exactly counts as a meaningful interaction.
Basically, “meaningful engagement” boils down to comments, and the more you have, the better off you are. We have yet to see what the exact metrics for measuring engagement will be, but it’s a safe assumption that comments, especially those that drive further interaction, are at the top of the list. Other forms of engagement might include likes, reactions and sharing.
So, to get your posts noticed you need to get people talking. Sounds easy enough, but there’s a catch. You, as a business, can’t use “engagement bait”. You know exactly what I’m talking about here. Engagement bait are posts that say, “Comment on this post if you love puppies!” or even more subtle pieced of bait like “Don’t you love cute baby goats?”. Anything that elicits simple yes or no answers can be considered bait.
What will happen if you do use engagement bait every now and then? Your posts will get demoted in your audience’s news feeds, which is the Facebook equivalent to a slap on the wrist. So, you need to stimulate interaction without blatantly asking for it.
Improvise, Adapt and Overcome!
You’ve had a few minutes to get used to the idea of changing up how you operate on Facebook, so it’s time to stop pouting about these upcoming changes and learn how to work with them. Here are a few ideas to help you adapt to the new Facebook changes so that they work for brand, rather than against it.
- Get Them Talking with Winning Content. Before you decide to fold your hand on the Facebook poker table, stop and think about the content you’re posting. Is it the type of content that naturally encourages engagement, or does it fall flat?
Boring ads and self-promotion add no value to your audience and aren’t going to get you anywhere. The time to look at your content strategy is right now. You need to start making your content about your audience, and not you.
Constantly be on the lookout for stories, events and other opportunities that are going to strike a chord with your audience, especially on an emotional level. The more discussion worthy it is the better.
- Look at Me! Do your followers love your page? Facebook isn’t going to take away anything that their users actually want to see, and this includes you. The first step is of course creating a feed-worthy page, but the next step is informing your audience of Facebook’s new metrics and how to adapt their news feeds to make sure they’re still seeing your content that they’ve grown to love.
Facebook makes it so that users can choose the “See First” option for their favorite pages. This easy act of opting in means your content stays in front of them. The trick is communicating to your audience how to make this happen.
You can’t outright tell your followers to do this, so you need to get a little creative in your approach. You can start by sharing articles that give a rundown of Facebook changes and how users can adapt their own feeds. You could also make this known in content that isn’t shared via social media, like on your website, or through an email campaign.
- Go Live for Engagement. Here’s a quick number for you. Live events on Facebook get 6 times the engagement of standard video content. We know that video is crucial for engagement, so just think about the potential when you take it live.
What you’re going for here is something that draws a crowd or drives regular engagement. Think about live coverage of local or business related events, and consider doing a live event at the same time every week. Maybe do a tutorial or live Q&A every Saturday afternoon at 1pm. Give your audience something to look forward to and they will show up.
- Get Active. What are doing with yourself outside of Facebook? Surely, you’re up to something, so let your audience know exactly what it is by posting your events.
If you’re a cooking instructor who’s going to be doing a free demonstration at the trendy kitchenware store opening in town, make sure people know. Give them teasers like a few pictures of the dishes you’re planning on preparing and make sure to mention that the perfect wine pairing can be found at the local winery. Be part of your community, partner with other local brands and help each other out through events.
- Get Together. If you have no experience with Facebook groups, now’s the time to think about getting acquainted. Groups give people a reason to engage with each other, and they are great for encouraging your audience to pick you as one of their “See Firsts”
If you provide a niche service, put it out there in a group. Even if you’re feeling some trepidation at the idea of starting your own group, get out there and join and interact in other groups. Share your expertise and perspective. The more times you can organically put your brand in front of others, the easier this Facebook transition is going to be for you.
See, it doesn’t sound that bad does it?
Chances are you’re already doing most of these things anyway, you just need to make a few minor adjustments to your approach. A decent Facebook advertising budget doesn’t hurt, but you still need to reach your audience organically. This is a great start, and we’re sure that you’re fantastic and creative enough to make it through to the other side of these changes a better and stronger brand than before you started.