Facebook Newsfeed – changes that could change everything.

I am a regular Facebooker user – some may say a ‘power user’ and I spend a lot of time preparing content, engaging with followers and monitoring what works and what doesn’t.

We do this for our own businesses and for the accounts that we manage for other people and it’s vital that we keep on top of what works and what doesn’t.

I’ve already seen a huge amount of change in what can be seen on Facebook recently, and thats before the current proposed changes are implemented.

For those who follow the marketing press, you will be aware that Facebook is currently testing a  new newsfeed, which separates friends and paid ads from the remaining pages and groups.

It’s a scary thought for those businesses who don’t have the budget or the time and experience to generate paid for ads. The organic reach from ‘shares’ and ‘likes’ that used to be enough is already dropping dramatically and these changes could see it disappear.

In business networking groups there is a lot of chatter about just how it can be overcome – and lots of people who are thinking of leaving the platform completely.

Before we cut ourselves away from Facebook entirely, perhaps a better understanding of the reasons for the potential changes would be a good idea.

It’s clear that FB has to change as feeds just get more and more cluttered.

There are a few people – personal users – who manage their newsfeeds well, but many others who have already switched off because ‘people just share rubbish’ or ‘it’s all too depressing’

Facebook run their business based on advertising revenue and without an audience, no one is going to pay. Facebook has to protect its market.

What used to gain good organic reach is already changing. Even small businesses and charities need to understand how they can better use the tools available to them.

Marketplace was introduced to remove selling sites from the general newsfeed, and the new ‘discover’ functionality is one more step towards helping the audience compartmentalise what they can see. Brands, organisations and companies big and small will have to get clever if they don’t want to start paying for ads or increase their current expenditure.

How does a small outfit, with a little page get their updates seen? Without any significant organic growth, how can you increase your audience without paying to be on the main feed and if everyone starts paying then what comes next?

There are things you can do to protect your Facebook reach but you need to start today – before any newsfeed split happens – and you need to do it on your business page, in interest groups AND on your personal profile.

This subject is massive, and constantly changing. We train and coach our clients to help them understand the changes as they happen, but the reality is they often don’t have the time needed to get the best from the platform.

In years gone by, my training would focus on making regular updates, with short text descriptions and as many photos as possible. I would talk about immediacy and how it was vital to react to any comment as soon as possible.

It meant that Facebook managers had to be available 24/7. They needed to get the story shared while it was happening and it didn’t matter how poor the quality was as long as they were seen to be up to date.

Asking your audience to ‘Like and Share’ was a legitimate way of promoting your page and  talking about your product was a way of ensuring it was always seen.

I also used to advocate the curating of content from other pages – sharing their updates to encourage mutual support and save you from having to create something when someone has already done the work.

Finally, we used to encourage the use of cross posting, using autoschedulers such as Buffer and Hootsuite.

All of that has changed.

These days noone wants to see 5 or 6 updates a day as an event plays out. Especially with poor quality photos.

A request to Like and Share will see your update hidden from a lot of people and a simple share from another page will be seen by very few people.

Page managers are going to have to be far more social with their social media – even if you pay for ads or got amazing reach with one of your posts, you need to get actively social to take advantage of those results.

If you had a great week of reach and didn’t follow that up then you are missing out. Without interaction, your reach is nothing but a number.

You may read this and tell me ‘but I do all those those things and my reach/interaction is fine’ – well that’s great! You have a good audience who is listening and interacting. They probably actively follow you and enjoy your updates, but if you want to grow and reach new people in the future then perhaps it’s time to switch things up a bit?

If your current audience are already sold on the idea of ‘you’ then it’s great to have their support – but if your Facebook exists with a goal to increase your audience, get more customers, encourage new volunteers to join – then you need to be seen outside of that existing circle.

Here are 10 things you can do today on both your personal profile and your business page to boost your visibility on Facebook and create good habits that will help future proof your business page even when the changes happen:

1) Stop asking for people to react. If you ask for a 👍🏻or a ❤️, FB lowers you down the rankings (I won’t even write the words here) you can put it on a graphic – but not in the text. Beware of sounding spammy.

2) stop talking about costs/price – FB wants all transactions to be in the marketplace and not on the main newsfeed. Graphics are ok although you may not want to be that obvious as ‘salesy’ graphics are often marked as Spam. The key is to share – don’t sell. Never tell people to ‘join you’ or ‘come along’ – tell them why you love the product or the event – and do the same on your personal profile as well.

3) stop sharing from other pages without adding real value. A lazy share which is just a link from somewhere else or someone else’s update simply clutters newsfeeds and adds no social value. A website link is even worse. Theres a good chance that people are hiding those shares. Don’t do it. If something is worthy of being shared then tell the audience ‘why’. Make it personal.  Worse still is lifting photos and text from another persons page. Facebook often recognises this as spam and people who do this often find themselves in jail (see blog post Facebook Jail)

4) avoid using autoschedulers. While some appear to still gain reach, many of them are proactively hidden by the audience and are ranked far lower for fear of spam. There are a number of apps where this applies such as newspapers and fundraisers, not just the obvious hootsuite and buffer apps.

5) interact genuinely on your business page and your profile. You need to respond to your customers and your followers. Thank them for their comments and questions. Post quality content with real information instead of just dumping a load of photos into an album. Photos need captions and detailed information – an image is not enough. If someone comments – you need to reply. Never post an interactive post without being prepared to chat to those who make the effort to reply.

6) Use eye-catching graphics and videos. The goal is to stop the scroll! Remember that your audience has potentially got thousands of updates to look at when they log on. Give them something nice to look at. One great photo is far better than 200. Use albums for photos and put them under logical headings. An album entitled ‘various’ May get an initial spark of interest but will look untidy later.

7) stop pity-liking others updates. When you do this without spending time reading, clicking or watching, Facebook knows that it’s not a genuine interaction. It makes you look fake and it can adversely impact the page you have reacted to.

8) interact on your personal profile. The profile is the start of it all. If you only log on to administer your business page, read a few updates and then casually post your opinions on Brexit/the football or share your latest kitchen win before switching off for another week then Facebook will not consider you to be social. Use the full range of reactions – they were created so that FB can find out more about how the audience feels. Use it.

9) Embrace cross posting but not through the autoschedulers! Instagram and Twitter traffic – even with low interaction – will raise your SEO. If you’ve been avoiding Instagram because you are in a service industry or because its not a pretty product and it’s not your target audience then it’s time to think again.

10) create original content and post directly into Facebook. That means adding your video to your FB page as well as YouTube rather than just a link to a YouTube video. Upload those photos to Facebook as well as Flickr. Add decent captions for each one and engage with people as they engage with you. Don’t panic about everything being published as it happens. It’s far better to post one update at the end of the day or 24 hours later than to add poorly thought out and unplanned content every time something happens.

The truth is, noone really knows ALL of the factors that Facebook takes into consideration when a person opens their newsfeed – but those tips I have listed will certainly help. In a growing online community it can be very easy to suddenly get lost – even without the proposed changes.

On pages where multiple people have manager access it becomes even more important than everyone understands how to get the best from the platform.

Small changes today will certainly improve your visibility later.

Good luck and contact us if you need any further help or advice.

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