What Facebook’s algorithm changes mean for your small business and what you and do about it

Facebook social media

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

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.

Facebook.

many businesses pay for Facebook ‘likes’

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:

Supercharge Your business blog (it’s free)

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.

 

Business storytelling 101: everyday superhero vs my mother-in-law

In my opinion, the kind of guy who can deal with a mother-in-law crisis at short notice is the kind of guy I need to have on speed-dial.

Cut-through Copywriting_business storytelling

And that’s why I’ve just added Dave Harris to my list.

Dealing with emergencies is Dave Harris’ stock in trade.

And I’m not talking about running into burning warehouses or leaping tall buildings in a single bound (although if that was necessary, I’m sure it wouldn’t be a problem).

No –  I’m talking about the kind of guy who can deal with a mother-in-law crisis at short notice.

Especially at this time of year.

Dave Harris of Hastings Locksmiths rescued my mother-in-law these holidays when she locked herself out of the house.

That feeling of helplessness you get, when you realise how much of your life hangs on a key ring, is a feeling you don’t want to experience too often.

Even more so when those keys are firmly out of reach.

So when a freak gust of wind slammed shut both the front and security screen door, with the keys solidly jammed between the two, my mother-in-law was not exactly calm.

And that’s ok.  It was a nano-second before Christmas and a house-load of guests were about to beat a path to her door.

Unfortunately, no amount of jiggling, rattling, heaving or cursing would release the keys.  And being trapped outside in your slippers is never a good way to start your day.

Thankfully a friendly local recommended we call Dave and we couldn’t type his name into Google fast enough.

Dave turned up with his burly frame and friendly smile and within less than 10 seconds had the security screen door open, the front door unlocked and the keys back into the hands of my mother-in-law.

But not just that – no call out charge was the icing on the cake.  Christmas really did come early for the mother-in-law.

That’s what I call amazing service.

Now, while the bread and butter of Dave’s work is the installation of deadlocks, window locks and the keying of security systems – his true value is that he provides security, safety and peace of mind.

What I love about being a copywriter, is that I get to tell the business stories of the Daves of this world.  The people behind the business, product or service who make it all happen.

The quiet heroes whose superpower and stock-in-trade is their knowledge, skills and experience but whose real value can’t be squeezed onto a business card.

Business storytelling is about demonstrating value – whether it’s for locksmiths, mechanics, hairdressers, graphic designers – fill in the blank.  The Daves of this world make my job easy.

So this is what I do – I tell your business story via your website, business blog, social media or marketing materials.  And when I do that, I focus on the benefits you offer, not just the features of what you sell.

If you’re a small business operator and you want more people to really get what you do – not just the thing that you do, but the value you bringget in touch and let’s talk.

Three of the best places to get free images for your website or business blog

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Image credit: Pixabay.  https://pixabay.com/photo-1758183/

You know how some people have made literally thousands of dollars because they were onto Bitcoin right from the get-go?  Or even put an early bet on Donald Trump when everyone said he wouldn’t win?  Well, I’m not one of those people!  But I do have one hot money-saving tip that might interest you….. Continue reading

Business owners – do you really need a website if you already have Facebook?

Website content

This is the six million dollar question and one which many business owners ask.  In the social media age when half the planet seems to be on Facebook – you might wonder if having a website is even necessary anymore?  Well the short answer is that it is – and here’s why.

Your website adds credibility and serves as a shop window

Having a website makes it easier for people to visit and to check out your products, services and pricing.  People often like to window shop first and having a website enables them to do that.  It also allows them to find out a bit more about you and your organisation and to get a feel for your brand.  Having a website adds credibility and professionalism.  By contrast, there’s only so much you can squeeze into the ‘About’ tab on your Facebook page.

Maintaining a website presence is fairly low maintenance

Your website should never be a ‘set and forget’ task but the good news is that once you’ve created it, maintaining it shouldn’t take up too much of your time.  Of course you’ll need to edit or update specific pages from time to time.  However for the most part, once your website is up and running – it’s fairly straightforward to maintain.

Facebook social media

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

Facebook is a social media platform and requires you to be social

Having a Facebook page doesn’t guarantee you will have customers stampeding to your door.  And in fact answering the question of whether your website or Facebook is better for reaching audiences is a complex one.  Ultimately Facebook is a social media platform so you need to be prepared to socialise.  It’s also the place where you interact with your customers or followers who often want to chip in, provide feedback or ask questions.   Doing that takes time, effort and commitment from you.  As a business owner you need to think about whether you have the capacity to monitor, manage and respond to queries on your Facebook page.

Facebook is like looking after a hungry pet who always wants feeding

Now, because Facebook is an interactive social platform – you have to have regular morsels of content for your followers to digest.  This means regular information posts, stories, pictures, graphics – curated or shared content on relevant subjects.  In short you need have a content calendar or timeline for posts at least a few months ahead.  Not only that – it shouldn’t just be about self-promotion. Best practice for social media says you should apply the ‘rule of thirds’ with regard to your content.  What that means is mix it up a bit.  Make one third promotional in nature, one third of original articles (maybe a blog post from your website) and one third an industry expert/leadership view or opinion piece.  It goes without saying that the content should tie in with your key messages, mission and organisational objectives  Now ask yourself do you have the skill, staff or time to manage all that?  If not then having a website is often much less work.

The debate about whether websites or social media are better for building your business will continue to rage – there are benefits and drawbacks to both.

My advice is that ideally you should have both.  You need your website to drive traffic to your Facebook and Facebook to drive people back to your website – they’re interrelated.  Facebook has also changed it algorithms meaning the days of organic reach are virtually dead – Facebook wants you to book advertising so you pay to get your business offering in front of audiences, which in the past, you may have been able to reach organically – no more my friends.

This is only a brief overview of some of the things you need to consider.  If you’d like to learn more or if you need help with your website, Facebook or content for your social media then get in touch.

Here’s what you need to know to write a great speech

Speech

It’s an often stated fact that public speaking is said to be people’s number one fear – with death coming in at number two – yes you read that right.  The reality is, that at some point in your life, you’re probably going to have to write and deliver a speech.  However as they say in the military:  Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.   Get off on the right foot by following these six simple ‘rules’.

Understand your audience

Always remember, this speech is not about you – it’s about your audience. The type of speech you deliver will depend on the audience and that will determine the tone and style of speech you make. A business speech will have a very different tone to the one you give at your best mate’s wedding so think about your audience. We’ve heard it a million times before but in this instance it’s relevant – when you make a speech you’re taking people on a journey – so give them a head’s up about where you’re going and tell them what you’ll be talking about and why.

 

Deliver a powerful opening

Grab your audience’s attention early by starting with a funny anecdote, hitting them with a shocking statistic or even by asking a question and asking for a show of hands. The earlier you gain their attention and the stronger the emotional connection you create – the more likely they’ll hang in there with you for the remainder of the speech.  Authenticity matters and so do personal stories so make your speech relatable and memorable.   Check out Steve Jobs How to live before you die speech.

Keep the language simple

The best speeches use simple language and avoid jargon. Be human – talk to the audience as if you were talking to a friend. Use short sentences and write like you speak. What reads well on paper doesn’t always work in the verbal delivery. Read your speeches aloud and discard anything that doesn’t work – or that you find yourself stumbling over.  Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generations used straightforward language but but it packed one hell of a punch.

Do your research

As you deliver your speech, your audience will be judging the credibility of it and of your authority as the speechmaker, so make sure you know your subject matter. Think about what you’d like people to take away from your talk and work that into your narrative. Limit your speech to two or three key points and repeat those points during the course of the speech. If you overwhelm your audience with too many stats and facts they’ll either switch off or they won’t remember any of them.  If you have to deliver bad or unexpected news in your speech make sure people understand why.  Check out Alan Joyce’s 2010 ‘Qantas grounding speech‘ where he makes the case for his decision (although he was widely criticised for it) – the speech itself ticks all the boxes.

Martin Luther King

Tell a story

All good speeches tell stories and it almost doesn’t matter what the occasion is. Think about what story you’re trying to tell and then weave it into your speech. For some occasions (for example at weddings or funerals) you will probably already have a wealth of stories to choose from. In business, you should link your new product or service back to the story of the company’s reason for being and its mission – paint a picture using words and walk people though the landscape. Authenticity matters and so do real life experiences. People won’t always remember facts and figures but they’ll remember a good story and it will make the occasion more memorable.

Keep it short

People have limited attention spans, even for subjects which interest them and after a while their attention will naturally start to wane. This is an audience so don’t make them feel like hostages. Rehearse your speech, stick to your messages and finish on time. Some of the most powerful speeches in history have been the shortest – like Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Gettysburg Address which was less than 300 words.

It goes without saying that if you want to learn how to deliver a great speech, listen and learn from the best. Paul Keating’s former speechwriter Don Watson gives his tips on how to write a great speech here.

Finally practice makes perfect – take a deep breath, smile and enjoy holding the audience in the palm of your hand.  You’ve got this!

Five important reasons why you need a business blog

business blog

Let’s cut to the chase.  If you have a business website but havn’t included a blog then you’re seriously missing out.  Here are five reasons why you should definitely have a blog on your website.

1. A business blog provides an additional opportunity to showcase what you do

People coming to your site will check out what you do, but you can guarantee they’ll also check out your competitors.  Having a blog which tells the story of your product or service is another way of connecting with your customers and gaining their business.  Research shows that blogging for business is very effective in increasing enquiries and generating leads so why wouldn’t you?

2. A business blog enables you to better understand what your customers are looking for

The back end of your website enables you to see what customers are clicking on when they come to your site.  If you have articles on your small business blog (related to your products or services) then you can see which articles are most popular with your customers and that means you can better target them.

3.  Having a business blog increases traffic to your website

More traffic to your website will help increase your Google ranking making it easier for search engines to find you.  Posting regular content which is relevant and interesting for your customers is a win win because you’re meeting their needs and increasing your profile at the same time.

4. Your business blog enables you to directly engage with your customers

When you post a blog article, you can invite comments from your readers.  Allowing readers to comment and then responding is an easy way to humanise your brand and to foster a deeper connection with your target audience.  Not only that, every post should include a call to action.  A call to action is designed to persuade readers to do something – for example to buy, sign up, start shopping, continue reading or to register.  You could even include something like a discount voucher or limited offer.

5. Your business blog has the potential to reach a wider audience

If you have a blog on your website and readers like or value what you’ve written, then chances are they’ll share it with others which means that your audience and your reach, increases.  There’s no question that spending time developing a business blog can increase the success of your business at a relatively low cost.

So – that’s my top five tips.

Writing for small businesses is what I do, so if you don’t have a blog for your small business but this article has got you thinking – then get in touch.  I can help with setting up your blog and content creation.

Steve Jobs was right about so many things but especially this

 

Steve Jobs once said “customers don’t know what they want until we show them”. That was his reply to a team member who asked if Apple should undertake market research when they were building the first Mac.

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image courtesy of Top News

 

I’ve never owned an iPhone but after reading Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson a few years back – I felt like rushing out and buying one. By the time I reached the end of the book, I was totally convinced by his vision, what he wanted for end-users and his foresight about how mobile technology would change the way we connect with each other and across the globe.

 

It goes without saying Steve Jobs was one a kind – a creative genius, a flawed and complex personality – almost devoid of people skills some might say and a die-hard hippie to boot. But his charisma and capacity to galvanise others is what enabled him to create a future, which up until that point, only existed in his imagination.

 

Steve Jobs was a leader but he couldn’t have done it without the support of those around him and he acknowledged that.  Who can forget his powerful words about it being the square pegs in the round holes, the misfits and the crazy ones who change the world.

 

So what he said about customers is true.  And although it seems back-to-front, sometimes customers really don’t know what they want until they are presented with it.  But once they’ve got it, they then wonder how they ever lived without it. Like the iPhone.

 

As a copywriter, my job is to help you reach your customers and clients through the power of words. Maybe you have a product or service which customers don’t realise they want.  Yet.  But when they do they’ll be tearing your arm off.

 

I never did buy an iPhone but regardless, I found Steve Jobs’ story utterly compelling.

So what about you?  Who or what has inspired you on your own business journey?