Reaching your target audience in an organic manner just got tougher. With it’s new update, Facebook has made it clear that it will prioritize posts from users’ friends and family, and that updates from other pages they may have subscribed to, liked or followed will get a lower preference. This means businesses that utilize Facebook for social media marketing will have a more difficult time showing up in user’s feeds.
“We’ve heard from our community that people are still worried about missing important updates from the friends they care about. For people with many connections this is particularly important, as there are a lot of stories for them to see each day. So we are updating News Feed over the coming weeks so that the things posted by the friends you care about are higher up in your News Feed.”
This includes all the news users typically consume via Facebook plus updates from businesses. That is a lot of competition for a much smaller share of pie.
What does this mean for businesses and more importantly, what can we learn from this development? A few thoughts come to mind.
Facebook has put the user first
While this isn’t a welcome twist in the plot for businesses, it is great for Facebook users, and that’s ultimately the biggest lesson here for smaller businesses.
This is exactly what is taught in management workshops all over the world: The customer is always right. Put the customer first.
There’s always the temptation to accommodate advertisers first and foremost, and rake in the revenue. This causes a rough user experience, as users don’t often enjoy a lot of ads. Facebook’s update has flipped things around: Accommodate users first, not advertisers. If the user has a good experience, revenue will follow.
Even though a number of us use our Facebook News Feeds to find out top news stories and the developments in our areas of interest, the platform is still primarily about connecting friends and family.
Just a few weeks ago Facebook launched Instant Articles, which was in response to the growing consumption of media articles via New Feed. We were happy that businesses and media publications would be given a spotlight of their own through this format.
But while that stays as it is, Facebook’s algorithm has found that users prefer the posts from those in their networks to show up at the top. The social giant, like a smart business that it is, took cognizance of that and decided to give the users what they like the most.
It kinda sucks for businesses, but is great for the average user.
If users go, business goes, too
Facebook’s user base and universal popularity is legendary. How many people do you personally know that are addicted to Facebook?
The only reason Facebook has grown is its appeal to a mass user base. The people came first and the businesses, and all the ad revenue associated with it, followed.
Facebook now makes over $5 billion a year in ad revenue alone. While these numbers may and will likely keep climbing, the company hasn’t forgotten its core set of values. As it has grown, it has used these values as guiding principles and keeps reverting to them whenever users indicate dissatisfaction with Facebook state of affairs.
What does this mean for small businesses, and how can they find social success in the new update?
Facebook has said it anticipates “that this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some Pages.” That is not difficult to understand.
If as a business you are struggling to get your head around it, in practical terms this means:
- Step up the research into demographics. The better you know your audience, they greater your insights into them. If your research is top-notch, you will know what they love to read the most, the problems and challenges they face, and the kind of guidance they prefer.
- Target the right set of people. It’s become more important than ever to really zero in on the people who are most likely to buy your services/products. Don’t spread your efforts (and advertising dollars) thin.
- Put all best practices into content creation. Now that the likelihood of your stories being seen by a vast majority of users has decreased somewhat on a particular popular platform, it becomes even more important to produce content that stands out and is shareable. Research is one way to do this. Another is to execute concepts in a distinct fashion. If your content is good, and if your business is relevant to users, they will still follow you and welcome your articles.
- Look elsewhere for content promotion. Facebook, while useful on the whole, is not the be-all and end-all for businesses. Through research you might even find that Instagram or Pinterest are better suited to your purposes.
- Find Facebook groups for sharing your content. Groups are like-minded communities within a target market, and the algorithm has not impacted posts in these groups.
Marketers cannot do with half-hearted content anymore. You have to make every piece you publish count. Since Facebook does not treat lengthier articles preferentially, and since everyone seems to be starved of time, the length of articles and videos is not a big factor with Facebook. Focus on creating value for your users and do it often. If a 500-word article could do that, you don’t have to take it to 2,000. Remember, platforms matter when promoting content.
This development is a mixed bag of sorts. On the one hand, Facebook is a leader in teaching small businesses the importance of valuing user experience and customer happiness. A business will find more sustainable profit when customers and clients are satisfied. On the other hand, the bid to capture user attention just got more difficult.
However, there are still many recent changes to the platform that help businesses. Facebook’s chat bots to help with customer service, for instance. If you can manage to create resourceful content and provide reliable customer support through your business Page, you will assume a credible place in the minds of your followers and they will keep visiting.
More than ever, social media expertise and professional marketing will help your business succeed in the constantly changing digital environment. If you need some help navigating, our digital gurus are here to help!