Facebook’s new algorithm will make life harder for many small businesses
On January 11th, Facebook announced a change to its news feed algorithm. Over the next few months, the algorithm will come into force. The new algorithm aims to promote content from family, friends, and groups and cut down on messaging from brands. The implications for a small business are not very heartening. Today, small businesses can hope to reach a section of their audience in an organic manner. Going forward, that will become difficult.
Facebook has made this decision ostensibly to foster meaningful communication on the platform. While it may probably bring friends and families closer, it will hamper businesses trying to reach their target audience. If you run a small business, you may have to increase your Facebook marketing spend to get the message out to a wider audience.
If you already run a successful Facebook page for your business, and the number of views and interactions are where you’d like them to be, then you may not have to hike your Facebook marketing spend by a lot. But, it seems that with this move, Mark Zuckerberg has taken the “social” out of social media for small businesses.
Earlier, small businesses could leverage great content and organic reach to compete with big brands that have deep pockets. That will not be so easy now.
However, small businesses need not despair. An increased ad spend is not the only way out. Zuckerberg has stressed “meaningful engagement” and on Facebook, comments on a post are the gold standard for measuring engagement. If your posts can generate comments, they stand a better chance of appearing on your followers’ timelines.
How do you stoke engagement? Ask questions. Publish a quiz. Run a contest. You can even tweak your Facebook page settings to allow page followers to post. You will have to monitor what’s being posted. But such “crowdsourcing” is a wonderful way to get pertinent content. For example, if you are running a travel website, then questions and answers posted by followers will get you eyeballs. Your goal to be to garner more likes, comments, and shares.
A word of advice – small businesses have an advantage of appearing more personable and approachable as compared to big businesses. Use this advantage to the hilt. Mom and Pop stores and startups can share vibes with readers with greater ease because small businesses can project a name and human attributes. With brands, readers don’t know who they’re interacting with.
Facebook page fans will still be able to check out your posts regularly by selecting the “See First” option. That is an important item to remember. It’s a good idea to remind your followers subtly every once in a while to exercise this option. Tell them about the benefits of doing this – discounts, deals, breaking news, life news…whatever it is.
Your business will have to utilize Facebook ads in a very smart manner. Increasing your Facebook ad budget is fine, but to get the best out of your ads you need to thoroughly understand your target audience and use the available analytics data intelligently. If you run Facebook ad campaigns, then you may already be at the top of your marketing game and won’t have to begin from scratch.
According to Zuckerberg, Facebook Live Videos are a wonderful way to boost engagement. Data gathered by Facebook shows that live videos generate up to 600% more engagement than regular videos. That’s huge. When Facebook itself is giving out such powerful hints on what is going to work with the new algorithms then as a small business you need to pay heed. It will bring in business, help you get an advantage over the competition, and will keep your ad spend low.
With the new algorithm, engagement seems to be the name of the game. So, up your audience engagement efforts, play to your strengths as a small business, and you’ll be all set to ride the crest of the wave to success…new algorithm notwithstanding.