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IS IT THE END FOR BUSINESSES ON FACEBOOK?

If you’re a business or social media manager who relies on Facebook to drive a significant portion of your business, you may be freaking the hell out about the recent announcement by ol’ mate, Mark Zuckerberg, father of Facebook, creator of connections, lord of Likes… okay, I’ll stop now.

See the original post here at www.facebook.com/zuck/posts/10104413015393571

So, is this the crash-and-burn end for businesses on Facebook? No.

It’s a new beginning.

Before we all run amok and think that there’s no hope for businesses anymore, let’s look at why it has to happen and what you can do as a business in this very moment.

The first thing we need to understand is WHY all of this is happening and the best way to do this is to think of yourself purely as the user – not a business owner, not a brand and definitely not a social media marketer. As Facebook users, we’ve become inundated with all kinds of posts, videos, “news”, quotes, memes and ads from business and media pages, and we’re seeing less content from our friends and family (unless we engage with them a lot to begin with). Facebook previously introduced an algorithm to try and filter the content in your newsfeed to what you’d like to see more. In a nutshell, this algorithm valued posts with high engagement, being a combination of likes, comments, tagging others, re-posting, video views and so on. This worked for a little while, but pages began beating the algorithm by using engagement bait and even turning memes and quotes into video format to hack the algorithm. Just ask any group of Facebook users, and you’ll usually receive love/hate feedback about the platform. One thing is for sure, Zuck was right about the decreasing quality of connections. Negative sentiment towards the platform has been on the rise for a while and if nothing is done, you as a user will see the decreasing value of that platform, and you certainly won’t be jumping to engage with another bloody sponsored post (even if it was relevant to you).

For those who already struggle with organic reach and engagement (and I mean those with valuable offerings for their target audiences): Don’t despair, you should actually be relieved that a change is coming, because at this rate you realistically wouldn’t be seeing any improvements in your objectives if the newsfeed stays the same. Those who have abused the system will continue to reap undeserved reach, while others with less resources or who are new to the platform will continue to struggle connecting with people who might actually want to discover them. Anticipating this change, whatever it may be for businesses, is going to give you a head start to nail a new strategy in a fresh environment that hasn’t been hacked to pieces. It may take a while, but it’s going to be worth it.

Change is coming, we don’t know when exactly yet, so it’s still business as usual for a lot of brands, though you might already start to see a drop in organic reach (and it’ll continue to plummet). In the meantime, what can you do as a business to stay afloat before the storm hits? I don’t have any hacks, because you’ll need to do your homework to put an end to terrible marketing tactics. BUT here are 3 things to consider.

Strengthen your existing channels

Facebook is just one marketing channel. Some will rely on this platform more than others, but when it comes down to it, your customers/clients engage with you through multiple touch points. Do you have an optimised website? How strong is your email strategy? Can you collect leads from other channels? Does your site SEO need brushing up? Have you been neglecting your other social channels? We all have a key channel that performs above and beyond over others, but now is the time to make the experience on your other channels AMAZING and see the numbers pick up elsewhere while Facebook undergoes its facelift. One tip – explore how you can tell your brand story on LinkedIn through people, processes and progress topics but don’t start spamming the feed with sales messages!

Invest in valuable content

Work on a strong content strategy that truly means something to your customers and your community. A lot of businesses ask me for the reasons why they might not be improving in growth and engagement on social. Sometimes it’s beyond their control. Other times, I see one-sided content and messages that are favoured by brands but mean very little to their audience. One example is when a fashion brand wants to keep a clean, polished look on their Instagram feeds to maintain a “consistent brand” but then see no improvements in engagement and wonder why. Or business Instagram pages that focus too much on being creative inspiration and not enough on solutions for their community’s relevant lifestyle and values. Always put yourself in the user’s shoes and ask yourself “how and why would I engage with this post?” or “why would I click through?”

Encourage meaningful community involvement

It’s not just about likes and tagging friends. Explore how you can involve your community in meaningful conversations. It can still be light-hearted, but the entire point is to bring people together in a way that’s relevant for you. Here are some fun examples straight out of my head: A real estate business could encourage other agents and people in its community to write their own funny/outrageous descriptions for a property like a child’s playhouse. Mad Paws recently shared a fun post asking its community to post their dog photos in the comments, then the Mad Paws team would guess the breed. A fashion brand lets its community vote for the best shoes for a Friday night date. A local café allows its customers to give their newest menu item a name and the list goes on.

Lastly, breathe. Everything is going to be okay. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m excited for this change because it’s going to bring new opportunities for the smaller players and it’ll keep the big names on their toes to deliver valuable content and explore what it means to be a community, instead of riding on the power of their brand.

About Karen: I left my full-time job in 2016 to help businesses and startups grow in social media, digital marketing and content strategy. I also teach some fun social media workshops at General Assembly in my spare time.

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