The Scary Changes Facebook is Making and What Businesses Should Do About Them

It was the post heard round the world by social media marketers on January 11, 2018.

“I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions,” announced Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

That doesn’t sound bad. We are all for “meaningful social interactions,” right?

“We started making changes in this direction last year, but it will take months for this new focus to make its way through all our products. The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups.”

OK, more from your friends, family and groups. That seems great!

“As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media.”

AWESOME! No, wait! NOT awesome for businesses, particularly for those businesses that have worked hard to earn loyal fans and grow their business’ online community.

As we’ve watched Facebook change over the years, we have learned to adapt to the revisions of the algorithm or the user experience of the platform. We have changed our approach to the type of content we post on Facebook Business Pages as we have realized that Facebook continues to reward meaningful, engaging content by allowing it to live in the news feed longer. We have also learned that providing a mix of engaging content allows us to sprinkle in a self-promotional post every now and then and have it get seen.

Now that we’re realizing that even with necessary strategic posting, Facebook still — well, let’s face it — TRIES TO FORCE BUSINESSES TO ADVERTISE. Social media marketers still know that Facebook is where a business needs to be. They know that 60% of consumers visit your Facebook page before visiting your brick and mortar location. They know that 80% of consumers are more inclined to purchase from you if they find a credible, authentic Facebook page associated with your business. They know that 52% of Facebook users have discovered a new retail product on Facebook that they were interested in buying. And that 62% of consumers say Facebook is the most important and useful social media channel to research small businesses.

Pause for a moment and think about what’s running through your head right now. Do you still need convincing? Here is where it gets scary for marketers and business owners:

This change to Facebook is projected to decrease the already abysmal 2% organic reach of a business’ post by 2/3 or more.

Thanks, Zuckerberg.

So, what does all of this mean? Your news feed will now default to friends, family and group activity and there will be a new option rumored to be called Explore. When you click the Explore feed, you’ll see activity from the businesses, brands and media you have liked as well as posts from similar pages that the Facebook algorithm thinks you might like. Those users only interested in their friends’ vacation pics and selfies? They’ll never click into the Explore feed and never see any organic posts from businesses.

Businesses: Unless you PAY for an ad, the likelihood of a user seeing your business’ activity is super minimal. You now have two options.

OPTION 1: Post Engaging Content and Hope and Pray Someone Clicks on Explore
Zuckerberg offered a teeny tiny ray of hope to savvy social media marketers who know what constitutes great social content when he said, “And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.” You see, they already know how to do that. They know video gets preference, especially Facebook Live. And not links to YouTube. It needs to be uploaded to Facebook and shared. In fact, outbound links are discouraged. Sure, you can post links to your most recent blogs but don’t expect it to get much visibility. When you do post original content on Facebook, positive, uplifting posts with great images perform better. Your original content should be something of value. How-to videos top the list but PDF “cheat sheets”, giveaways and discounts also work well to engage users.

Use these tactics and you might just gain some visibility in the cold, dark tundra of the Explore page to which you’ve been exiled. Perhaps a fraction of a percentage of those who have liked your business page will see your posts.

OPTION 2: Advertise
Get back into the news feed and get seen. Yes, you’ll have to pay, but it won’t cost you much. With an average cost per click of $1.72 (as low as $ .45 for some industries), Facebook offers what many feel is the best ROI for your advertising dollar thanks to their massive audience (and their data about them all) and sophisticated targeting options.

Let’s face it – even if you go with option 1, you still need to consider option 2. But realistically, going with option 2 and advertising online is probably going to be your best path to leveraging the power of Facebook. And, it’s the only way to guarantee you’ll get in front of your customers.

Think of it as a way to get the momentum going on engagement for your post. If boosting the post for a few dollars garners good engagement, then naturally it will organically begin showing up on the engaged users’ news feeds. And if the content is really good, which means that it encourages some type of meaningful interaction for your audience, then let’s cross our fingers that it goes viral and lives even longer organically!

Online advertising can be complicated and the technology is always changing. Sure, business owners and marketing executives can attempt to post their own ads but companies who contract with an agency or professional online marketer that specializes in paid media consistently experience better ROI. Not only that, but that allows you busy business owners and marketing executives to stay focused on your business instead of trying to keep up with the ever changing world of online marketing. Here’s a word of advice, the better the person doing your online advertising, the more efficient your advertising dollar is going to be.

An exceptional online marketer can get your company in front of your customers on Facebook for probably less than you think. But how do you know where to find an exceptional online marketer? To be honest, it’s more difficult than you think. You can’t look at their resume or portfolio and really KNOW whether or not they are the kind of exceptional online marketer you should trust with your money. You also can’t jump on a call and have them spit a ton of online marketing jargon at you to believe that they’re exactly what your business needs. In our experience, only one in every 40 people who calls themselves an online marketer actually has the skills and drive you’d want in someone running your online campaigns.

OnMark Advisors has built a strong network of exceptional online marketers and agencies because we want to help you. We offer agency vetting and selection services designed to match you with the online marketer or agency that best fits your needs. Not sure what you need? Or maybe you’re questioning the effectiveness of what you’re doing now? Well, we offer a solution for that, too. Our independent third party audits can assess the quality and efficiency of your existing online marketing activities and provide you insight about how to take things to the next level.

Here’s the million dollar question: are you ready for the Facebook changes? Our social media audit can tell you. 

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