Prompted by criticism and concern over the evolution of Facebook, from social network to perhaps unintended monolith of modern culture, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced a change to the News Feed algorithm that will place a higher value on content from friends and family.
A major implication for small-business owners: It’s getting even harder for companies to reach customers through organic posts on the site.
“I’m changing the goal I give our product teams,” said Zuckerberg in his January 11 Facebook post, “from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”
Zuckerberg said the change was already being implemented — meaning it’s likely already reducing your reach. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to mitigate the effects.
- Be a voice for voices. Zuckerberg wants to prioritize content that creates “meaningful interactions” between real people. When it comes to your Facebook strategy, encourage discussion and discourse by asking questions, requesting input from your audience and customers and always, always, always take a human approach to your content (e.g. introduce your staff and make sure people see the human faces behind the business). People don’t like talking to “brands” and Facebook knows that, so check your tone on social media.
- Keep advertising! The algorithm that Facebook uses to display ad content is completely different from its News Feed algorithm. Remember, these changes are more focused on organic content, so make sure that you continue to take advantage of Facebook’s incredible advertising opportunities. Promote your best organic content on a weekly basis. Create event pages for all of your events and promote these pages to drum up local attention. Run full seasonal ad campaigns to bring people into your shop for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and prom.
- Go Live. Facebook loves Live video and will continue to value Live content from brand and business pages. “Live video prompts for conversation in the moment,” says frequent Society of American Florists speaker and Floral Management contributor Crystal Vilkaitis of Social Edge. “People tune-in to a live video because they want to know what’s happening in real time.” In short, if Facebook is looking for content that connects, engages and promotes meaningful interpersonal communication, Live video is a perfect avenue for brands to take back some of that lost organic reach.
- Own the algorithm with “See First.” Facebook has a built-in feature that allows users to aggregate content from people, pages and groups that they follow to the top of their News Feed. It’s called “See First” and it could help you recoup some of the organic reach that your content will inevitably lose when Facebook makes these changes. Encourage your audience to add your page to their “See First” preferences (and, while you’re at it, don’t forget to add our page to yours!) by reminding them of the value that they get from your content. Check out this quick tutorial on how to add pages to your “See First” list.
Don’t get discouraged that Facebook will be making it a little bit more difficult to reach your customers. Instead, use this opportunity as a way to optimize your strategy to get better at connecting directly to your customers and driving their participation and discourse. Facebook will reward you for it.