Businesses and publishers reliant on Facebook will face a massive shake-up after the social media giant announced an overhaul of its content distribution methods.
In a recent post on the site, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced impending changes, saying that “recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content – posts from businesses, brands and media – is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other”.
“Based on this, we’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions,” he wrote.
He said changes already began last year, but will take “months” to be fully implemented.
“The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups,” Mr Zuckerberg said.
“As we roll this out, 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.”
Less visibility for businesses and media will make the platform more difficult for those brands to reach their target audiences, unless of course they take up paid advertising and marketing alternatives.
“It’s no surprise that this is the direction that Facebook is taking. Organic reach on Facebook has been declining gradually over the past few years. But it’s now official: Facebook is pay-for-play for businesses and public figures,” marketer Tiffany Wilson of Chronicle Republic told My Business’ sister publication REB.
“Essentially, Facebook is going to show more posts shared by friends and family and fewer posts from businesses and brands (Business Pages). It’s important to note here that they are referring to content from Business Pages that has not been promoted or boosted. There has been no claim made that they will reduce the number of ads that they show to users.”
However, Ms Wilson suggested the change need not be the end of Facebook for businesses, but rather the opportunity to refresh established practices.
She proposed these six points as a means for businesses to adapt to the impending change:
1. Don’t rely on free reach on Facebook
Our clients all have a paid social media strategy and budget as we believe this is imperative for results. In the past year, Business Page content on Facebook has received, on average, 3 per cent to 5 per cent organic reach.
So, if you post something on your business page and you have 500 followers, only 15 to 25 people will see that post if you aren’t putting budget behind it. With the recent changes, this small percentage will dwindle to zero.
2. Embrace the way the platform is supposed to be used
Facebook for Business is designed to be used as a promotional avenue but not in the same way as traditional advertising — it’s supposed to be social after all. So, ensure that your content is not too promotional, focus on educating and entertaining your audience.
And if you are thinking the answer is to switch to a personal profile, the reality is you will be missing out of the immense targeting and reach capabilities that Facebook has to offer as well as any ability to measure your results.
3. Have a paid strategy in place
If you are going to use Facebook as a marketing platform for your business, it is essential that you have a budget allocated for Facebook media spend for every post. You may choose to allocate more budget to some posts over others, but you must pay to promote your posts if you want them seen by your audience.
If you don’t have the budget to dedicate to promoting your posts on Facebook, perhaps consider another marketing avenue.
4. Create high-value content
Simply putting budget behind your posts won’t be enough to get into the News Feed and in front of the right people. The more you spend, the more you reach — that is a myth.
The content needs to be valuable and relevant to the audience you are trying to reach. Even promoted or boosted posts are subject to the Facebook algorithm factors to protect the user experience.
5. Be prepared for the cost of advertising on Facebook to increase
With these recent changes, I anticipate that more and more businesses will increase their Facebook media spend and people who haven’t used Facebook Advertising in the past will now jump on the bandwagon.
With more advertisers, ad competition will increase, and as ads are charged on an auction system, you can expect the cost per result to increase.
6. Get an expert involved or become an expert
If you are serious about using social media to build your brand, then you need to get an expert involved or commit to learning how these platforms work and staying up-to-date with the latest changes and trends yourself.
Facebook is now a powerful and complex tool; gone are the days when the receptionist or intern had the expertise or capability to create content for your social channels. It takes a social media expert to cut through these competitive platforms these days. Hire someone who can help you with content, frequency, budget allocation, promoted content, scheduling and results tracking.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.