Facebook has evolved quite a bit since its launch in 2004 …for better or worse. When it comes to your business, you may lean closer to the “worse” category considering how hard it’s getting to reach your audiences without paying for ads. On the bright side, there are more options than ever for connecting organically to your audiences in effective ways. For instance, Facebook’s emphasis on live video can create a quick path to engagement since the platform eagerly notifies people when a Page or person they follow goes live. Facebook messenger is also exploding in popularity, giving businesses the opportunity to create chatbots or personalized social support through chat channels. So what exact changes should your business take note of the most, and how can you adjust your Facebook marketing strategy in response? Read on to find out!
Organic Reach Plummets for Facebook Pages, BusinessesThe first thing businesses need to recognize is that organic reach for their Pages is plummeting. What this means is that if you have people who “like” your Page, and you post an update hoping it will reach them, there’s a good chance it won’t. According to some agencies, the portion of their total audience that saw their unpromoted (no paid ad budget) posts was just 2%. This change happened at the same time that rates for promoting posts shot up 35%. Clearly, Facebook wants to motivate companies to spend money on advertising for the reach they once got for free. “Because space in News Feed is limited,” the company’s public announcement reads, “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.” According to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, the aim of the update is to “prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people.” That’s fair since most Facebook users really do prefer to see posts from friends over businesses they follow, but that isn’t true across the board. Even if someone loves a local restaurant or wants to see what a friend’s business is up to, posts made by businesses just aren’t likely to show up as often anymore. However, the announcement contains a silver lining: if your Page gets lots of engagement, you won’t notice as much of a decline in reach. “Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution” asserts Facebook, while “Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.” So, the aim of your new content strategy should be to create things that get a response from your audience. It could be a quote they want to share, or a question likely to stir up debate like “should you put mayonnaise on your hamburger?” Think in terms of what people enjoy seeing when they log on and have this type of content dovetail with your marketing goals. You can also make smart use of a few tools we’ll mention just a little further down.
Live Video Gets a Relative BoostFacebook’s live video feature already has a pretty obvious presence on people’s newsfeeds. Any time a person or Page they’re connected to goes live, the app automatically shows the video and sends out an alert by default. Reading between the lines of another section of Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm changes, it sounds like business Pages can still reap all of these benefits.
Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in the News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos. Many creators who post videos on Facebook prompt discussion among their followers, as do posts from celebrities. In Groups, people often interact around public content. Local businesses connect with their communities by posting relevant updates and creating events. And news can help start conversations on important issues.Live video provides many great opportunities to businesses that know how to use it right. You don’t have to spend a lot of time or money preparing for a video since you’re basically hosting a webcam-type session. You get to be yourself and give people a behind-the-scenes look, two things that breed authenticity and therefore trust. So, start experimenting with live video as a way to keep your audience’s attention and stay on their newsfeeds. Options for a live video session include:
- Behind the scenes tours
- Q&A sessions for common questions your business gets
- Interviews between key staff members
- Step-by-step explanations of the process the business uses
- Marking events, like singing “happy birthday” as an office to celebrate the anniversary of the business’s founding
- Silly stuff, like office pranks or mascots engaging in everyday work
Connecting to People Through Facebook Messenger Becomes More ImportantWhile getting your Page’s posts on people’s newsfeeds may have gotten harder, nothing’s there to stop you from receiving messages through the Facebook Messenger platform. The Facebook Messenger app sees over 70 million daily users and 1.3 billion users a month. Sending a quick chat through the service is incredibly convenient, and for some people, it has even reduced the amount of text messages they send. People also really like being able to reach out to businesses through the service. They can ask the staff a question, place an order, voice a complaint, or get pretty much any information they need. In fact, one out of every three social media users say that they would prefer using social media to a phone call or an email. Ignoring these help requests can be enough to sour a customer’s opinion of you, too. According to one study, companies that don’t respond to complaints have a 15% higher churn rate. Another study found that over 30% of people will complain to friends both online and offline about their bad experience. So, people are willing to connect to businesses on social media, and companies need to be prepared for these types of interactions. Those that are prepared create excellent opportunities that stem from personalized, 1:1 conversations. You get to hear the exact information the customer or lead needs to hear to get you closer to a sale, and you build a relationship in the process. If you want to scale your ability to handle these conversations or be able to respond 24/7, you could always rely upon a chatbot. These computer-controlled services can automatically respond to messages and answer simple questions. If they get something they don’t think they can handle, they can hand off the conversation to a human. Whether using chatbots or your own thumbs, don’t overlook the potential of interacting with customers through Facebook messenger can offer.
Starting a Facebook Group Is Now Even More EffectiveAnother method to bring your audience to you is to create a new group on Facebook. People who join your group are very likely to see most of the messages posted there. You also get the advantage of directly interacting with people while gathering information on things they talk about related to your area of business. The key thing to remember about creating a group is that it’s not just another chance to throw ads at someone. Instead, the group should offer them value. Typically, this value comes in the form of information or talking about a thing the entire group loves. So, for instance, a handyman company may start a new group about handling do-it-yourself projects around the house. The company can tell people how to fix things on their own, but in the process, they can reveal how much work really goes into doing it right. If anyone thinks they’d rather go to a professional, they have a strong pull to turn to the group creator first. Or, a landscaping company can start a group about lawn care and inspiration for designing your own outdoor areas. People can share photos of their projects, swap tips, and talk about their passion for gardening or landscaping. With this strategy, the connection between the company and the group focus is obvious but not obnoxious. The business demonstrates what it can offer and builds a community while also creating new lead opportunities.
Facebook Local Launches, Could Be Worth a Look for Event-Based Facebook MarketingFacebook Local is a recently relaunched version of their old Events app. It acts very similar to Yelp in that it can provide reviews and directions to local listed businesses. It also allows all users, including businesses, to create new events. Combining these features can be very handy, especially if your business happens to throw lots of events. Creating Facebook events is a convenient way to gauge how big attendance will be and send people automated reminders about when the event’s happening. On the other hand, adoption of the Facebook Local app has been slow to pick up. If it feels like a good fit for your business because you’re a social butterfly, feel free to give it a try, but others may want to wait and see.
More Incentives to Try to Find Your Local InfluencersSince posts crossing from brands to people seem to have a hard time earning reach, a business’s best bet is to try and make person-to-person mentions of their brand more common. In other words: you want to find your own version of “influencers.” That doesn’t mean paying a YouTuber with a million followers thousands of dollars to create poorly edited videos on your behalf. But rather, find people within your community or industry niche who already tend to engage with your brand on social a lot. Each time this engagement happens, it can show up on the newsfeed for friends of that person. You can then cater your approach towards these highly vocal and friendly individuals. Let them do the broadcasting of your content for you. This strategy works especially well if you create things they are willing to share directly to their wall or tag someone else in. Keep an eye out for allies, tap the resources you have available, and get creative with how you drive engagement. If you can do all of these things, the Facebook changes currently going into effect won’t have to hurt your marketing performance.