2018 is the year Mark Zuckerberg has vowed to ‘fix Facebook.’ While the concept of Russian meddling in UK elections might seem remote from the average UK business owner, we should still be very aware that regardless of the reasons, Facebook is a constantly evolving platform where the only consistency is change. Staying up to date with these developments is valuable if you want to make the most out of the time and money you invest in social media.
On Friday 12th January more details about these changes came to light, I had been tracking the progress of these announcements for a while so there were no big surprises but for many small business owners, this felt like a big blow. My inbox was inundated with questions from worried entrepreneurs about what it would mean for them. I want to take this opportunity to reassure you that this is not the death of Facebook for business, quite the opposite in fact; anyone that is committed to their online visibility can use these changes as a platform to transform the way they interact with their followers and actually grow their business.
I know it can be overwhelming but don’t worry, if you can just take one rule into 2018 then I promise you, your business page will be safe…
Stop The Clickbait, Please, Seriously, Stop Now
Facebook survey’s its users everyday, they have overwhelmingly reported that they hate feeling sold to all the time and so Facebook are seriously clamping down on promotional posts. The current reach for an average post on an average business page is just 2 – 5% but promotional posts will be reduced even further. For those who frequently insist on breaking the rules the reach will be strangled to 0%.
Let that sink in… no one will see your post, at all! You will just be posting (or promoting) into the abyss so why bother, just stop now and save your own time.
What is a promotional post?
- Competitions – we see these all the time but they will be going for good soon as Facebook just won’t allow them to be seen. This includes anything with the words Like, Comment or Share to enter as this is considered click bait.
- CTA – Adding any call to action into a post will be punished by Facebook. Once again this includes the direct instruction to Like, Comment or Share. It is also includes any sales pitch for your service or product or a request to message for more information.
As business owners we should always intend on meeting the needs of our customers and there has been a clear message sent to Facebook, these promotional posts are unpopular and they turn people away. Facebook users do not go onto Facebook to go shopping (with the exception of buy and sell pages obviously where this rule will not apply), so we need to stop pushing our sales.
People do business with people so let’s shift our perception of what Facebook is for, let’s stop thinking about our customers as just consumers of our products, let’s get creative and use it as a platform to create meaningful connections with other human beings!
‘But how do I do this?’ I hear you say and ‘is it worth my time?’
I have heard many people describe these changes and the end for Facebook business pages and many suggested just closing their page. Please DON’T DO THIS! Your Facebook page is a shop window to your business and regardless of any algorithm change an astonishing 74% of people check out a business on social media before making a purchase. You want your page to look updated and relevant to that individual so they know you are in business and you are able to make a connection. This has absolutely nothing to do with reach so your page always remains relevant.
In 2018 your success on Facebook is not determined by the amount of time you spend posting on it but the quality of interactions you make. Here is what you should be focusing on every time you log in (each one of these could be a blog post in itself but hopefully this will give you an overview).
I know you have probably heard this before but it is the backbone of any good social media marketing campaign. Know your audience, understand who they are as human beings, not just consumers of your product Consider what they are interested in beyond what you sell. Remember that social media is an opportunity to connect and it’s these connections that lead to conversions. For example, if you provide art classes to children you know that your audience will be parents so talk to them directly and show you understand them, their loves, hates, desires and fears.
Be the expert
This is of course part of giving value; through your cleverly crafted Facebook posts you are able to demonstrate your expertise. Give tips, advice and information that is relevant and useful to your audience. If we take the art class teacher as an example again, posts could include advice about getting paint out of clothes, art techniques to try at home and encouraging creativity.
If someone comments on your post take that as a starter to a conversation, the more you engage, the better the relationship you build. Also consider that the more comments on a post, the higher it’s relevancy score and the more people will see it.
Post trending topics
Check the trending topics daily and if your audience is likely to be interested in a story, share it. If other people are talking about it too, your reach will be bigger.
Upload videos straight to Facebook
Do not use competitor platforms, Facebook ‘hate’ You Tube and you will reach minimal people. Ideally go Live, Facebook love a good live (or even a bad one)!
Target your audience
Facebook brought back the ‘preferred audience’ feature last year, it allows you to target each individual post. This gives Facebook more information to assess how relevant your post is for your audience and it will subsequently be given a higher score and show up for more people. As Facebook get stricter this tool will be increasingly useful.
If you can’t do promotional posts then Facebooks ads are the only real way to get your offers in front of enough people. Facebook ads can be an incredible advertising platform because you are able to target more specifically than traditional platforms. You decide how much you spend by setting a budget so you are in complete control. You also have the ability to track those that click on your ads so you can re target them using Facebook’s simple tracking code called Pixels. If you are not sure about Facebook ads, they have their own free training called BluePrint which I recommend you access. Alternatively contact a professional who can either guide you through or take the reins and do it on your behalf.
Where do your ideal client’s hang out on Facebook? Where ever it is, be there. Again do so with the intention of connecting and helping, do not come from place of desperation trying to sell, just intend to open dialogue. A great tip is to search in groups for keywords that relate to your business, you will find posts from people asking for advice which is a great opportunity for you to show the quality of help you can provide.
Check your insights
How the rules will actually impact on our business pages is still unknown, we can only speculate based on the information Facebook has given us. The most productive thing we can do through this transition (as always) is stay informed and track what is happening. This is easily done in your business page insights which will allow you to identify what is working and what isn’t.
Remember your audience is unique and will respond to different posts, there is no one size fits all. You can also spot patterns using insights to ascertain the best time and day to post or if your links work better in the comments. Knowledge is power!
Optimise your business page
Make sure your business page profile is up to date and complete. The more information you give Facebook about you the more than can identify your relevance. Additionally you want anyone who lands on your page to instantly know who you are, what you do and crucially who you help.
One of the main reasons people will visit your page if they are researching before a purchase is to check out your reviews. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask your customers for feedback, I don’t do this as much as I should, I know it can feel awkward but if you have honestly helped someone then they won’t hesitate helping you in return.
Use your personal page
This is a fine line because you are not supposed to use your personal page to promote your business, this is very much against Facebook policies. Remember though, your focus shouldn’t be on promoting and selling anyway so this shouldn’t be a barrier. One thing you can do is make sure the profile your personal page clearly states in your job title, what you do and connects to your Facebook page, this makes it easy for people you are connecting with to find out more about your business.
Also consider what you can share on your personal page about your business, people post about their day in work so you can too. I know personally I have worried about doing this because I didn’t like the idea of people judging me but this was my personal block and one I have had to overcome (well, I am still overcoming it to be honest). The benefit of doing this is you will get more reach and long as you avoid selling posts and share your honest experiences then people will engage and your online visibility will increase. To optimise this, consider how many of your ideal clients are on your friend list.
Lisa Barry is a copywriter, content marketer and sales funnel coach, she makes it her business to raise the visibility of your business. To connect with Lisa come and join her on Facebook or send her an email on firstname.lastname@example.org