What The Facebook Algorithm Changes Really Mean

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Change is difficult. As humans, we avoid change as much as possible. So when something so many businesses rely on 'changes', we can expect uproar and chaos.

Uproar and chaos has been everywhere since January 11, when Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook would change its news feed algorithm to prioritise content from “friends, family and groups.”

“As we roll this out,” Zuckerberg wrote, “You’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard - it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

Zuckerberg cites “a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being” as justification for the change, admitting that businesses will need to work harder to gain their customers’ attention. 

But let me ask you a question: When was the last time you got quality advertising for free on a platform other than Facebook

If we want to be on TV, we pay for it. If we want to be in a magazine, we pay. If we want a billboard, we pay for it. Paying for advertising is standard practice.

For some reason, we expect it to be different for Facebook. Facebook has given us an incredible method of reaching the right people, at the right moment. The only technology that comes close is Google Adwords - and that only works when someone is actively searching for what you offer. And we happily pay for Adwords...

So Why Facebook?
We have an amazing opportunity to build brands, create engaging content, get real life feedback, reach highly specific groups of people, target and pay for the right people to see it - and yet we complain that it isn't free.

If you're lucky enough to have built an established and engaged audience, you might be okay with the new changes. A few of my clients have huge followings and they still get nice engagement. It's dropped, but they still get great reach. However, if like my Facebook business page you have a couple thousand followers and very little engagement, it's time for Plan B. 

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But First...
Before I go into what you need to do, I want to explain how Facebook works:

Imagine your newsfeed as a long list with each post being a 'slot'. Originally, some of those slots were filled with posts from our family and friends, some for business posts and a small selection for paid ads.

As Facebook grew, they won for a while. We were excited. We were engaged and we loved spending time on Facebook. And that list became pretty long. We would scroll for a while, happily engaging with friends and seeing new content from businesses we might like - whether paid or organic. There was plenty of room for everyone.

But then everyone wanted to advertise on Facebook and more and more brands started taking up those paid slots. Facebook had to take some personal and organic slots and turn them into paid ones.

The result was, we were left with very little news from our friends and family, very little from the businesses and pages that we liked and a rather boring feed full of ads and content we didn't want to see. So the slots we initially had were being taken over by advertising, with Facebook running out of space. The space could no longer be used for organic posts. Facebook has to turn away paid posts because there simply isn't the room. And if you've ever paid for an ad and it hasn't spent - now you know why.

The new algorithm gives more spaces to your friends, family and groups you engage with, leaving less slots for businesses - and Facebook isn't going to give those leftover slots away for free. The result will be a more engaged audience - which at the end of the day, is a very good thing. 

 

Plan B
Here are my tips to make the most of the Facebook changes:

 

For Pages With Good Engagement

  • Start boosting posts that get the most traction - even if for $5 a day. It'll help your content reach more people
  • Make sure you have a clear Facebook Ads Strategy and the Facebook pixel installed
  • Keep a very close eye on your engagement rates. If they start dropping, keep promoting your best posts
  • Consider implementing a loyalty program that rewards people for liking and engaging with your Facebook

 

For Pages Not Getting Engagement

  • Consider starting a Facebook community group as they receive infinitely more traction and are seen by more people
  • Don't waste any time or money trying to get new followers on Facebook
  • Keep your feed updated with new arrivals or new information and leave it at that
  • Start work on your paid Facebook ads strategy


The Moral Of The Story
Facebook isn't a free marketing tool. 

Facebook is, however, one of the most powerful marketing tools around. With a clear strategy, a good offer, great visuals and an identifiable target market, we can do amazing things.


You Can Do It
Work with the new changes, adapt, and prosper. These changes are going to throw a lot of people off as they rush to adapt. Focus on what you do best. Be clever with your ad spend and Facebook can still be your best performing marketing tool.


 
 

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