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How to respond to Facebook changes? Be human on scale.

While I’ve got tons of stuff to share from SMMW18 in the coming weeks, this week I’m looking only at Facebook. A lot of people and businesses are on the platform, and recent changes will dramatically impact how you use it in 2018 and beyond.

What has changed?

Facebook changed their goal in late January from “helping people find relevant content” to “helping form meaningful social interactions.” Basically the emphasis has gone from DISCOVERY to CONNECTIONS.  We could blame regulators coming down on the platform for their role in perpetuating misinformation from sketchy news feeds during world elections, or we could believe they wish to get on the right side of history and return to their roots as connecting family and friends. It really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you understand how to alter your approach and still deliver impact in this new environment.

The changes are major, especially for anyone used to putting content in the feed with the intent of pulling viewers back to where it was originally published. News sites are scrambling and bloggers will need to adapt.

According to Social Media Examiner, a company that researches how marketers use social media, 89% of marketers currently use external links on Facebook for exposure and 81% use links to generate traffic to a website. Curiously 62% planned to increase organic content in 2018, with 67% saying Facebook was their most important platform.

Essentially, a lot of marketers are planning to do in 2018 exactly what Facebook says will no longer work. Yes, you read that right.

What is the impact?

Meaningful interactions are now prioritized. That will favor a PERSON commenting and liking, not a PAGE. A person or publisher that a friend has shared will get priority. Longer comments will be weighted more then shorter comments, or simple likes. Videos will get less watch time, with changes being made to show fewer viral videos. Links to external pages will also get less visibility. Facebook has said that the update applies to ALL post types – pages and personal accounts. So if you are a small business, or a consultant that uses your personal account in addition to your page to engage people, there will still be an impact.

Since organic reach will go down, demand for Facebook ads will increase. That will likely cause a demand and supply problem, so pricing will go up.

Video will grow. Live video gets 6 times more interaction then other content according to research, so since interaction is now favored, expect that to help live video. The beauty of live video is it can also be re-targeted as sponsored content.

What should you do?

In this new world order of Facebook 2018, a smaller more relevant and engaged audience is more valuable then a larger less engaged one. That’s because engagement with your content now matters. And having someone share your content or comment on it is favoured over you broadcasting it yourself. This is going to fundamentally shift the type of content you create, and how you engage an audience around it. Small is the new BIG. The answer is to “be human on scale.” How do you do that?

1. Go live imperfectly. For the time being Facebook live still has good reach. I suggest using it to provide content and character to your brand. It doesn’t need to be perfect. In fact, it might be better to be imperfect. As you’ll see I’m using this approach to give a quick heads up on weekly blog post content.

2. Share content links in comments, not your post. Since post links will be penalized, they are better placed within comments, or better shared by people who are engaging with your content.

3. Ask fans to share your stuff from their personal account.
People commenting and sharing is now the trump card for organic reach. A simple ask or prompt can go a long way if you are sharing good content. In fact, you can share a shortened version of these tips from my blog this week. Here’s the LINK.

4. Commit a budget to promote content from your page.
Since Facebook has clearly shifted to a pay-to-play format, this is likely now necessary to continue to reach your target audience. The key is creating audiences well for re-targeting from website visits using your Facebook tracking pixel, or uploading emails to the database.

5. Diversify. It may be time to revisit other platforms such as LinkedIn or Twitter depending on your business. Remember that Facebook also owned Instagram, and these changes are across platforms. Or maybe it’s time to not rely on social media so much at all, and building out your own database and direct readership of enewsletter and blog content!

Do you know someone who should be getting my content weekly? Share this post and suggest they follow the blog, And if they’d like to be on the inner circle with my 5-Minute Tips enewsletter every Sunday morning, suggest they subscribe here. Simply HIT THIS LINK and we’ll get you on the list.

What impact have you experienced with the recent Facebook updates? What changes have you made that were effective? Are you shifting some efforts to other platforms?

Mary Charleson

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