The internet is abuzz following Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement on Thursday about the changes he has planned for Facebook in 2018 – particularly with regard to the News Feed.
When Facebook was created, Zuckerberg says it’s purpose was “to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us”. In short, it was built for social interaction. Since then, it has changed radically and is now heavily used by businesses to reach their customers as part of their marketing strategy.
Zuckerberg has said he wants to change this and to shift the emphasis back to prioritising interactions between friends and family. He’s said the content published by businesses, brands and media “is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other”.
Here it is from the horse’s mouth.
What this means for business, is that they’ll have to re-think how to reach their Facebook audience. Because of the algorithm changes, it won’t matter how many hundreds or thousands of page ‘likes’ you have – it’s not going to help your placement in the News Feed.
There’s no question as well, that many businesses pay for people to like their page so their followers aren’t even genuine. I see it all the time and quite blatantly on platforms like Air Tasker where new owners buy ‘likes’ for their page – and those likes could be from someone in Timbucktoo who’s being paid 5c to like your page. How does that help you? I really don’t get it – but it happens a lot.
Now, in some ways, you could say, Facebook’s re-focussing is one way of unmasking some of the trickery out there (and of course to take the heat off themselves for not doing enough to tackle the problem of fake news).
An example below of paying for ‘likes’ and sadly the individual doesn’t realise that from now on, they are wasting their time and their money.
So what can you do?
One way around this may be to create Facebook groups, rather than simply having a business page. A Facebook group would create connections between people around a genuinely shared area of interest – so the group connection should, theoretically, help the ranking.
Michael Stelzner, Founder and CEO of Social Media Examiner has described the announced changes as “a big threat for businesses that use Facebook” – and suggests that it will drive more businesses to pay for Facebook advertising. What’s the betting Facebook will now jack up the cost of paid ads? However, businesses who want to be seen, can, of course, advertise on Facebook so they don’t have to rely on getting seen in the News Feed.
One thing no one is talking about is the opportunity this presents, especially for small businesses. For many small business owners, Facebook pages are a complete mystery – they don’t necessarily have the skills, understanding or personnel to manage their page. But what many do have – is their website.
Think about it – if you are sick of playing the Facebook game, then stop doing it and focus instead on driving traffic to your own website. You have control of your own website, what you put on it, what you want people to see, what you want to tell people about – where you want people to click and so on.
Your own website is the best place to capture and keep your customers – a long way away from Facebook’s reach and manipulation of algorithmic rankings.
And the easiest way to do that? By posting regular content to your business blog. Uploading posts which are interesting and useful to your customers and maybe providing them with incentives (could be a promotion, a ‘members only discount’ or even a forum on your own site) is one way to genuinely connect with your customers and keep them coming back to your site.
It’s something you can easily learn how to do. But to guide you, I created this:
So you see, Facebook only has power if you give it to them. As a small business owner you’ve got more power than you think – use it.