Do you rely on your Facebook business page when it comes to social media marketing? If so, then you need to know about the latest algorithm changes.
Specifically, Facebook is changing the way that it displays content in news feeds. The new ranking system will prioritize posts that help people connect with one another.
In a nutshell, Facebook is making social media more social.
That might be good news for Facebook users (opinions vary on that point), but it’s not good news for people who use the social media platform to promote their brand.
In other words, it’s not good news for you.
All is not lost, though. There’s a silver lining on this cloud and we’ll explore it more.
Here’s what you need to know about the algorithm change and how you should approach digital marketing with your Facebook business page.
How Will the Change Affect News Feeds?
Facebook management wants to create a healthy online environment for its users. Unfortunately, the current news feed algorithm doesn’t cultivate that kind of positive experience.
At least according to some academic studies cited by Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself.
“The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post. “We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health. On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos — even if they’re entertaining or informative — may not be as good.”
As a result, Zuckerberg said that a “major change’ is in the works. That change will affect what users see when they scroll through their news feeds.
Soon, the social media giant will show people more content that’s more relevant to their interests and results in “meaningful social interactions.”
The Fake News Scare of 2017
There’s little doubt that at least part of the reason for the upcoming algorithm change is because of the hue and cry over the purveyors of “fake news.”
A number of journalists saw that activists used Facebook to broadcast misleading or overtly false new stories designed to benefit a specific candidate during the 2016 election. Some of them went so far as to allege that Russian agents used the social media platform to alter the course of American history.
The outrage wasn’t just limited to journalists, though. Even some former Facebook executives criticized their old company.
The pile-on was enough to force a change. At the beginning of this year, Zuckerberg issued a public New Year’s resolution that promised to “focus on fixing” Facebook.
The new algorithm is at least a partial fulfillment of that promise.
Your Facebook Business Page Will See Less Engagement
In his post announcing the upcoming change, Zuckerberg was quite candid about how he expects all of this to affect Facebook. He predicted less engagement.
That’s not a typo. The CEO of Facebook is forecasting fewer online interactions with his social media platform.
Is that a bad business decision? Some people think so. The company’s stock price is down almost $10 per share since he made the announcement.
On the other hand, Facebook is now emphasizing quality over quantity. Even though there are fewer engagements, those engagements will be more meaningful.
Zuckerberg also said that people will spend less time on Facebook because of the changes.
If you’re somebody who believes that the Facebook founder has only noble intentions, then the move is an act of social responsibility. The changes will improve the well-being of Facebook’s 2 billion monthly active users.
On the other hand, if you’re a cynic, you probably think there’s ultimately a profit motive here. It certainly looks like a long-term profit motive given how the company’s stock has performed lately.
Zuckerberg, for his part, claims his company is taking the high road.
“At its best, Facebook has always been about personal connections,” he wrote. “By focusing on bringing people closer together — whether it’s with family and friends, or around important moments in the world — we can help make sure that Facebook is time well spent.”
That’s just a fancy way of saying that Facebook is getting back to its roots as a social media company.
Okay, not all the way back to its roots. Otherwise, Facebook would go back to ranking hot women. But that’s a subject for another article.
All Engagement Is Not Created Equal
So what’s the difference between engagement that’s meaningful and engagement that’s not? A lot, actually.
According to Zuckerberg, too many Facebook users who read a news story, get a page update, or even watch a video are participating in a “passive experience.”
He wants active experiences.
As a result, users will see fewer posts from brands, businesses, and media companies. Instead, they’ll see more content like photos of their second-cousin’s newborn baby.
The new algorithm will also prioritize live streaming. Facebook’s research shows that engagement during live broadcasts is one of the most positive experiences on the platform.
Also, users will see more content from the Facebook communities that they’ve joined.
If you’re under the impression that all of these changes will practically eliminate the organic reach of your Facebook business page, you’re right.
A New Facebook Business Page Strategy for 2018
If you rely on Facebook organic reach to build brand-name awareness, generate sales, or get clicks to your website, you’re going to have to make some changes.
You’ll need to follow a social media marketing strategy that fits in line with Facebook’s new algorithm. Unfortunately, that’s probably going to cost you money.
Yes, you have to advertise.
Although that sounds like bad news at first blush, there’s a positive side to the story as well.
It’s true that Facebook just eliminated the value of your business page as an organic tool. That means all the effort you put into to gaining likes on your page is about to become nearly worthless.
On the other hand, Facebook just improved the quality of its platform. Only businesses that are serious contenders (those willing to advertise) will appear in people’s news feeds.
Companies with plenty of cash on hand will get a better chance to outshine the competition. That’s because they can direct more resources to advertising.
However, all is not lost for small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs). They just have to more carefully select the content they promote.
Overall, it’s a positive change for the platform. That’s because each ad will have more value as the news feed space is less crowded.
Facebook Business Page Advertising Options
Now that you know you need to spend some money to advertise on Facebook, the question becomes: what’s the best way to advertise? The answer to that question depends on the nature of your brand and your business model.
If you’re running a media company, you’ll want to promote articles that are likely to go viral. Be advised, though, that even shared content on Facebook isn’t necessarily active engagement. It’s not a good idea to rely on brand ambassadors under the new algorithm.
If you’re running an e-commerce company, you’ll likely want to promote your products. It’s especially important to use Facebook to promote new product releases and current sales.
If you’re running a service-oriented business, use Facebook advertising for social proof. Advertise customer testimonials and case studies.
Remember, even before the news feed changes, Facebook was a top-of-the-funnel advertising platform. It’s always been challenging to find people with purchase intent on social media.
However, you can find people at least a little bit lower in the sales funnel with retargeting. If you haven’t yet installed the Facebook pixel on your website because you’ve always relied on organic reach, now might be the time to do so.
Once you have that pixel, you can use Facebook as a powerful advertising engine to reconnect with people who’ve already engaged with your brand. That’s probably one of the best ways to use your Facebook business page going forward.
Reaching a Core Audience on Your Facebook Business Page
That’s just a fancy way of saying that you can target people based on the following criteria:
- Demographics – Reach people based on their age, gender, job title, relationship status, and other traits. This is a great option if you’re promoting a product or service that appeals to people within a specific demographic.
- Location – Reach people based on their location. Obviously, this is your “go to” option if you’re running a local business.
- Interests – Reach people based on their hobbies, favorite entertainment options, and so on.
- Behaviors – Reach people based on their past purchase activities, device usage, and other activities.
When you decide to create a Core Audience, it’s generally a great idea to define the audience as narrowly as possible. Segment your market and create a different audience for each segment.
Then, set up an advertising campaign suited to each audience.
Reaching a Custom Audience on Your Facebook Business Page
You can also create a Custom Audience in Facebook. That’s basically a list of people that you already know.
For example, you can export an email list from your CRM. Then, you can build a Custom Audience by uploading that list to Facebook. Your audience will consist of all Facebook users who have an email address that matches one of the addresses in your list.
Additionally, you can target mobile users who already use your app. Of course, that option only applies if you have an app.
Finally, you can create a custom audience from people who’ve visited your website. That’s the retargeting option we looked at earlier.
Reaching a Lookalike Audience on Your Facebook Business Page
Facebook also gives you the ability to create a Lookalike Audience. That’s an audience consisting of people who look like another audience.
For example, you can create a lookalike audience from one of your custom audiences. Facebook will use an algorithm to find users who are similar to the ones in the custom audience.
You can also create a lookalike audience from people who like your Facebook page. That’s a great way to find new customers.
Wrapping Up Changes to Your Facebook Business Page
There’s a change coming and it’s going to affect how you reach people with your Facebook business page. You’ll need to start advertising.
Fortunately, the full rollout of the upcoming change is months away. That gives you plenty of time to prepare.