Facebook is not dead for businesses. Here are 3 things to know about the news feed changes

What do you like to see when you log on to Facebook? This week the company announced it was changing the news feed algorithm and content from pages will be bumped down in favour of updates from family and friends.?It was news that social media managers were dreading. But is it really such a bad thing? I think it’s an opportunity for businesses to up their game.

What has Facebook actually said about the news feed algorithm changes?

In a post on his blog, Mark Zuckerberg said: “The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups.

As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

Facebook has also released a video explaining the changes.

Were changes to Facebook’s algorithm expected?

Yes. Facebook started experimenting a few months ago. You may remember talk about business pages being moved to Facebook’s new ‘Explore’ feed. That isn’t happening but trying to find a balance between the Facebook many users enjoyed using when it launched and the crowded feed they now have where pages and groups jostle for attention and people complain they are missing posts from their friends from school, has been troubling Facebook for some time.

If you run a Facebook page, you will have noticed your organic reach has been falling for some time. The average is now around 3%. This means that for every post, Facebook will show it to just 3% of your followers. If they do not interact with it, it won’t get much further. But if they do like, comment and share, then Facebook will show it to more people.

Facebook doesn’t like people trying to game the system. It announced recently that it would penalize pages who ask people to like or share, or who use formulas to get interaction.

What does this mean for businesses using Facebook?

There were various cries of panic when the news broke yesterday. Is this the end of Facebook for business? No, it is not. Facebook remains a valuable platform for businesses. Here are three things businesses need to focus on to take advantage of it.

1. Create engaging content

Facebook wants to be confident people are getting value from what they are seeing. How do they measure that? By seeing how many people react, comment and share. It values the emotional reactions far more than likes.

You need to create content people actively enjoy. Be useful, educate and entertain. Share the latest information in your field, answer your customers’ questions and share content which will resonate with them.

2. Facebook groups are valuable for growing your audience

Mark Zuckerberg said people can expect to see more from groups in their news feed. I have found I am spending more time in groups than on my news feed these days. In fact, I often ignore the news feed altogether. I use groups to keep up with issues which interest me, network and learn new things. They are a brilliant place for organisations to build communities around the issues which matter to them.

What are your core values? Why do you do what you do? Spread your enthusiasm with like-minded others. This isn’t about created a space you sell to. It’s creating an environment where people can chat about issues which matter to them and feel at home and supported?in what they are doing.

3. You need an advertising budget

I know people don’t like paying money to Facebook but it is a business. This company hasn’t created a phenomenal database of information about millions of people telling you everything from their favourite football team to whether they are interested in Bitcoin, just for the fun of it. That’s a very valuable resource and unsurprisingly, they would like people to pay for it.

Marketing is something businesses should expect to pay for. Facebook adverts can be a very cost-effective way of getting your message to a very targeted audience.

Don’t boost posts though. It’s not an effective way to spend your money. Create a proper advert instead.

Facebook’s announcement is a timely reminder that using other people’s platforms for your marketing means you’re not in control of it. Facebook may be a good fit for your audience but you need to focus on growing your own list and driving people to your website. If you would like help with your content marketing plan, get in touch with me.

Mark Zuckerberg said in his blog that he expects the time people spend on Facebook to go down. For all of us, that can only be a good thing!

  • This article was written in January 2018.
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Rachel Extance

Award-winning journalist and blogger. I help service-based business owners communicate who they are, what they do, and why. If you struggle to talk about yourself on your website or your content marketing, get in touch with me.

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