Success for a business page on Facebook, or any social media platform for that matter, is a moving target.
Those pesky algorithms that determine what shows up in people’s feeds are constantly changing, forcing us to adapt just to avoid losing the progress we’ve made so far.
I’ve been running my blog’s Facebook page for just over three years now, and the experience has put me through a gamut of emotions.
Frustration. Excitement. Hope. Anger. Disappointment. Joy. Frustration. Frustration again. And some more frustration still.
Because, let’s face it (no pun intended): Facebook has Facebook’s own interests in mind, not ours.
And when they make changes to their algorithms, it’s for the benefit of the average Facebook user, not business pages.
Algorithm updates are supposed to improve the user experience, showing people more content from people they care about (friends and family) and less content that can be deemed “promotional.”
The most recent update is intended to prioritize meaningful interactions above all else.
If you think about it, this isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually a very good thing.
I’m sure most of you use Facebook for personal reasons, too, and have benefitted from these updates even if your page growth has stalled.
But, as business page owners, how are we to cope? How do we continue to reach the people that matter to us?
With Facebook’s latest round of updates this year, we’re struggling more than ever. I don’t know about you guys, but my page has seen a shocking decline in organic reach recently.
Posts that used to reach thousands of people effortlessly are now reaching just hundreds. Even powerhouses like live videos aren’t proving as fruitful as they once were.
At times, it’s enough to make me want to give up on Facebook entirely.
Should we all just give in to what Zucks really wants and start emptying our pockets to buy paid advertisements–just to reach the people who already like our pages?
Or do we do what we’ve always done and ADAPT and EVOLVE to continue thriving in this challenging new environment?
As someone who has very rarely run paid promotions on Facebook, my instinct is to adapt and evolve.
Sure, it may be the more difficult route, but there’s actually a reason I prefer not to pay to promote my content on Facebook.
Several reasons, actually, but here’s the most important one:
I value organic growth over explosive growth.
Organic growth is the best measure of how well my methods are working.
It’s the best measure of how engaging my posts are, whether I’m choosing the optimal posting times, or whether I’m sending my readers the messages they most want to read.
And in the end, organic growth will leave me with followers who truly value what I have to say, connect with my writing style and my voice, and are willing engage with me in meaningful ways.
THAT’S what I’m after–an audience that finds value in the things I share and actually looks forward to reading them.
Not just numbers for the sake of numbers.
Here are just a few of the other reasons paid promotions on Facebook give me pause:
- Paid promotions have been known to kill organic reach–once Facebook knows you’re willing to pay, you’ll have a harder time reaching your fans unless you continue to pay
- You may gain followers quickly, but you still risk getting some fake ones in the mix
- Having lots of followers who don’t engage with your content can diminish your organic reach even further
- I’d rather have high engagement with fewer followers than lots of followers who don’t give a shit about my content
In fact, it’s not hard to spot a page that has used paid promotions as a growth strategy. They’ll have tons of followers–maybe 20,000 or more–and yet, just a handful of likes on each post.
They may be quite successful in growing their following this way, but it typically doesn’t translate to an engaged following.
Of course, this isn’t to say that all paid promotions on Facebook are worthless. There are plenty of good reasons to promote certain content on Facebook, which I’ll get to in a minute.
But, for the purpose of gaining more followers, I would be extremely wary about spending your marketing budget all willy nilly.
If you’re a business page owner like me and are struggling to cope with the latest round of algorithm updates, here is the number one question you need to ask yourself before you start running paid promotions or paying someone tons of money to create flashy video content for you:
What is your ultimate goal with your Facebook page?
If you’ve never stopped to consider what it is you’re actually trying to achieve with your Facebook page, you’ll never know when you’ve reached “success” and you’ll have no idea where to focus your efforts.
So, why is your Facebook page important to your business?
Is it where you connect with potential clients and answer their questions? Is it a place for you to build authority in your field? Is it a way to drive traffic to your website, gain new email subscribers, or sell your products or services?
Are you a blogger who wants a big follower count in order to prove your influence and wow potential sponsors? (Dubious, but I figured I’d mention it since plenty of brands do care about numbers).
Here are those goals again:
- More clients
- Build authority
- Page views
- Sales of products or services
- Proof of influence
Your goal may not be listed here, but it’s important that you know what your main goal is. Your entire Facebook strategy depends on it!
If you know your goal with Facebook is to book more clients, this is a clear, measurable goal. It gives you a framework within which to plan your content because your content will ultimately serve this goal.
One of my goals is to help people achieve a location independent lifestyle. Fancy that! A goal that has nothing to do with making me richer.
I also use my Facebook page to build authority within in the location independence niche, and as a way to promote my products and services.
As for page views, I decided long ago not to put too much stock in Facebook as a traffic source. I’ve had far better luck driving consistent traffic with Pinterest and SEO, and while Facebook can certainly give me a boost every now and then, it’s not my go-to, and that’s okay.
As long as I am providing people with value, the posts don’t have to be from my own site. Like I said, a large part of my goal with Facebook is to inspire people to go after what they want in life and to assist them on that journey in any way possible.
But, the problem of how to get our existing audience to actually see our content still remains. Because Facebook isn’t human and its algorithms can, at best, make educated guesses about what people want to see.
So you, the Facebook Business Page Owner, have to pick up the slack.
Here are my top observations since the newest changes were rolled out and how you can work WITH the algorithm–not against it–to reach your goals.
How to Work With–Not Against–Facebook’s New Algorithm in 2018
Comments and shares matter more than ever
My posts that perform the best these days are the ones that generate the most comments and shares. Likes and clicks don’t seem to give them the same boost.
So, we must do everything we can to initiate conversations and generate shares, but without using clickbaity language.
Controversial posts are great for this reason because they get people talking, but I’d be careful not to enrage people altogether (unless, like that scary dude from the Dublin hotel that I won’t bother naming, you think any publicity is good publicity; then, by all means, piss people off on purpose).
No matter what kind of comments you generate, though, it’s important that you take the time to respond to each one. Your followers are still real people with real feelings, so show them you care about what they have to say.
This can also be great for keeping the conversation going. Ask follow-up questions, ask them if you’ve answered their query thoroughly, or get their opinion on a related matter.
Video still outperforms other types of content
Video has long been known to crush other types of content on Facebook. Especially if it’s in a square format, features catchy music, and has closed captioning so people can watch without sound if
they’re at work they’d like.
But LIVE videos are a secret weapon all on their own.
As I mentioned above, I don’t see as much of a discrepancy between live video reach and the reach of other posts anymore, but they’re still a great way to connect with your audience authentically, letting them see the REAL you, in real time, answering their questions and engaging with them.
For the last four weeks, I’ve been sharing one live video each Monday and the feedback I’ve gotten is extremely positive! Even though it still feels a little awkward and uncomfortable for me, I think it’s an option worth exploring if your own Facebook reach is in the gutter.
The interactive nature tends to generate more comments than a typical video, and by saying each viewer’s name as they join, you’ll be showing them your appreciation which can encourage them to like, comment, and share.
Encourage people to turn on post notifications
Your followers can choose to be notified whenever you post new content, and they can also choose “See First” which means your recent content will be at the top of their feed whenever they log into Facebook.
These are two great options for people who really love your content and never want to miss a thing. But, they may not even know these options exist, so it’s helpful if you spell it out for them.
You can also ask them to get your updates in other ways, such as your email list or other social media platforms. Which brings me to my next point…
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
If you’ve been relying heavily on Facebook to bring you new business, now’s the time to get serious about diversifying your marketing efforts.
Get on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter if you’re not already, and make sure your website is optimized for the keywords you want to be known for.
And build an email list, like, yesterday.
The way Facebook is going, there may come a time when the ONLY way to reach people is through paid promotion, so it’s smart to have several other channels through which to connect with your audience.
Consider promoting certain types of posts
If you can’t see a way around using paid promotions on Facebook, make sure you’re promoting posts that will serve your goals and provide a return on your investment.
I’d be most inclined to promote posts that:
- Sell a product
- Get people on my email list
- All of the above
I am running a business, after all, so while page views are great, I will be in a much better position to help someone if I can connect with them more than once (ideally on an ongoing basis).
New page likes are the least of my concerns at this point if I won’t be able to reach those people organically anyway.
But if I can get someone on my email list, I’ve reached a new level of trust and now have the opportunity to provide them with tons of value for free before ever asking them to make a purchase.
If something is no longer working for you, let it go
What used to work for you in the past may no longer have the same power, and if you notice this with certain types of content, it’s probably time to move on.
The worst thing you can do right now is cling to your old ways just because they are familiar.
Experiment with new things until you find something your audience can’t help but engage with.
My page is still growing
This one isn’t so much a tip as an observation, and I’ll be curious to hear if you guys have noticed the same on your pages.
Interestingly enough, my page’s growth hasn’t slowed down a bit since Zucks rolled out the newest changes. Not that it has ever grown at lightning speed, but I’m pleased to see new likes at roughly the same rate as before.
Another interesting observation is that my engagement hasn’t seen a drop, either.
I reach far fewer people (i.e. my posts are showing up in fewer people’s feeds), but I still get roughly the same number of likes and comments as before, meaning my most engaged followers are, in fact, still seeing my content.
Likes and comments now come almost exclusively from people who already follow me, which tells me that my posts are no longer being shown to their friends, or friends of friends.
This does take away my ability to gain new followers by inviting people to like my page after they’ve liked a post, which just means I’ll have to work harder for those shares.
Resist the Urge to Resist
It’s totally understandable to be upset and frustrated with Facebook’s constant algorithm updates–especially this latest one which threatens to be the end of Facebook for publishers as we know it–but the worst thing you can do in this moment is try to resist.
Your dissatisfaction won’t change things back to the way they were before; it will only stand in the way of your own growth and progress.
So roll with the changes, continue experimenting with new strategies, and make sure you’ve diversified so that if Facebook ever gets rid of pages completely, you’ll be ready.
How do you plan to work with Facebook’s new algorithms to grow your business this year?
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