When you tell people about your New Year’s resolutions, they probably will support you, encourage you, motivate you – or at least, they will ignore you and see what happens. But earlier in January, when Mark Zuckerberg published his New Year’s resolution “to fix Facebook”, no words of encouragement were written or said. As always, when Facebook announces major modifications to the news feed or algorithm, the news left publishers and advertisers in dismay.
At Zensations, we are not known for our panicking. So we sat down unhurriedly and figured out, what the upcoming news feed changes on the social media platform number one mean for you and your social media presence and how to overthink your strategy in 2018.
What exactly does need fixing?
The social component of the social network was lost somewhere between the boom of business pages and the last big change of the algorithm (Top Stories vs. Most Recent). Little by little our news feed got filled with news, that Facebook thought of relevant for us, because we – or people “like us” – interacted with similar content. On the other hand, we saw more and more sponsored posts and advertisements. As a consequence, we saw less updates and content by our family and friends in our news feed. The Facebook algorithm didn’t consider them as “relevant” to us.
Information vs. interaction
Wasn’t it the networking with friends, colleagues from school, university and work, relatives and family members etc. that made Facebook great in the first place? So this is the goal in 2018 again, to link users to their real life companions. The focus lies less on “relevant information” and more on “meaningful interaction”. The platform wants to encourage users to exchange opinions and experiences, share their own stories and points of view. Users should comment content actively instead of consuming it passively. Engagement baits like the polls, one can answer with the reaction emojis or “tag a friend”-postings will be punished with further loss of reach.
Live Videos might not be restricted. When a business page goes live on Facebook, every one of their fans gets notified. This leads to a rapid increase of interactions (video views, live comments, reactions etc).
How are page admins still able to reach the right audience?
This is the question. Especially for advertisers who service small businesses. In matters of bigger companies and corporates, only how the costs are distributed will change. In the new Facebook news feed, a limited amount of advertising space will be available, which leads to higher prices. So the one with the bigger wallet wins the race for these ad spaces on Facebook. But small and medium businesses too got some aces up their sleeves.
Reach will play a minor role in the future of Facebook. The main aim for a business must be to get into the user’s news feed and activate the responsiveness of the audience. Your Facebook page needs genuine fans, real enthusiasts who are able to identify with your business or brand and are willing to interact with your content on a regular basis. Reconsider your ad strategy when it comes to page like ads: It’s not enough to get people to like your page, you must also commit these page visitors to your business. Quality before quantity applies to your new fans AND your page’s content. For a lasting visibility, your motto should be: less but more. That means, less postings but more valuable ones. Polarizing content is often commented on in detail and therefore might overcome the news feed censorship as well.
As we stated before, it will get more important that your page fans commit themselves emotionally to your brand. For you, that means, you need to build an active community around your brand and page. Answer user questions and comments promptly. Your fans will appreciate it and return to your page, visit your website, your shop or your events more likely, if they feel valued.
Content and discussions that are shared in Facebook groups will presumably not be restricted. So how about a linked group to your business page? There you are able to reach really interested users, interact with them personally, answer specific questions concerning your services and products and show your expertise. Implementing a messaging bot, that informs your fans about new content, can be helpful. Bots also help you to welcome new fans on your page. But mind your language: Texts and lines should not sound robot-like.
A new era in influencer marketing is dawning. Reach and the follower count are not significant anymore on Facebook, so influencers and blogs with highly active followers are more important than ever. It’s the rise of micro (up to 5,000 followers) and nano (up to 1,000 followers) influencers.
A concept, that was unique in the german speaking market, was implemented in 2017 by the retailer Otto Versand: employees can attend workshops and learn how to be an influencer for their employer. So if you want to be successful on Facebook, you need to work on your customer loyalty als well as your employer branding.
Play by the rules!
Facebook published their own News Feed Publisher Guidelines, that describe which content is supported by Facebook and therefore will reach a bigger audience. Some inputs you get there are: Quality content is king. Clickbaiting comes from hell. And everyone likes to read articles on mobile optimized and responsive web sites.
In your own news feed preferences you are able to define about 30 persons or pages, whose content you want to see first. That means, this content is prioritised in your news feed. Not many users know about these settings, so as a business page owner, you could explain them how to make use of the see first option.
Live videos have great interaction scores and therefore will not be restricted. In the future, they will still do their part for a successful Facebook presence.
Neue Ziele setzen
Your goal should not be reaching as many people as possible, but reaching the right audience. Those, who are really interested in your business, your brand, your content. In the end, these are the users who are willing to pay for your services and buy your products. By getting your content shared and getting tagged in status updates by users with personal profiles, you stay in their timeline and therefore in their friends’ news feed. Your content must contain discussion material, be thought-provoking and encourage your followers to comment on them.
Discover new grounds
Does it have to be Facebook? The times of organic reach are over anyways. So analyze your target audience: Where are they besides Facebook? On other social media platforms? Do they like reading professional journals or magazines? What kind of event do they like to attend? Don’t make yourself dependable of one platform only, if you want to be successful in online marketing. Try out other social networks and fora. You web site still remains your most important online platform, because it’s in your hands what you do with it.