What the new Facebook algorithm means to the small business

Hand drawn math formulas on chalkboard. Vector illustration

Early January 2018 Mark Zuckerberg announced oncoming changes to Facebook’s news feed algorithms. And it left a sour taste in the mouths of millions of small businesses using the platform.

As this Hootsuite blog about Facebook’s algorithms reported: ‘As we roll this out’ Zuckerberg wrote, ‘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.’

What does meaningful interaction mean, how will your business page be affected and what, if anything, can you do about it?

There was a time when Facebook and Instagram feeds appeared in front of you in chronological order. In those halcyon days someone’s content appeared in front of you in the order the poster intended. As Forbes says: ‘Strategies were less complicated, control was with the user, and all was good within the social world. Then BOOM! The infamous algorithm of late 2016 hit.’ After that nothing was the same again. Facebook limited reach and allowed the algorithm to decide what to show. Content that once flowed freely had a dam put across it and business profiles reach diminished to a trickle. Though, according to this blog from Little Marketing Genius, the period between February 2012 and March 2014 also saw a drop in organic reach from 16% to 6.5%.

In numbers that you can get your head around, that translates to your posts getting in front of only 65 out of a 1000 of your followers.

Meaningful Interactions

Let’s return to Zuckerberg’s declaration about favouring meaningful interactions. By this he means comments, comments and more comments. As every online article on the subject reports, Zuckerberg announced ‘Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution.’ On the other hand, pages and posts prompting conversations, or meaningful interactions, between friends will see less of an adverse effect.  A reasonable question now would be ‘is there a point to maintaining a business presence on Facebook?’ The short answer to that is ‘yes’ – there is a point. If nothing else potential clients/customers will look for you on Facebook to check you out. So it’s worth getting reviews on it and keeping it active for that reason alone.

That aside, what can you do to make this bitter pill sweeter to swallow? The little marketing genius blog, about the effects of Facebook’s new algorithm on small business pages makes some good suggestions:

  1. Be active

As in the physical world, it’s important to stay active. Just as you might plan to go for a walk every day at 11am, plan your Facebook posts in advance.  Uses images and videos as much as you can – visual posts will see much more engagement than plain text posts.

  1. ‘See First’

Facebook has a ‘Following’ tab that allows you to manage your viewing preferences. Selecting ‘See First’ overrides Facebook’s algorithms. Get your customers to select that and they’ll see your content.

  1. Respond

You’ve posted some content that’s got some conversation going. Now engage with it. Tag people in replies. Show your fans – and Facebook – that you’re paying attention.

  1. Make Facebook Ad Manager work for you

The bottom line is this: organic reach no longer cuts the mustard. You’ll have to spend money if you’re serious about extending your reach. Get to know Ad Manager and use it to control who sees your ad.

  1. Don’t be camera shy

According to MediaKix.com ‘Facebook Live Videos are watched 3x longer than videos that aren’t live anymore.’ And remember point 1 – about visual posts seeing more engagement than text and static posts.

  1. Set up a Facebook Group

Where personal posts and pages are at the mercy of the algorithm, FB groups sends users a notification whenever someone has posted thus driving traffic to the group.

Visually Explained is here to help you with your social media strategy and get the best out of Facebook. We can take as much or as little of the burden as you’d like. Get in touch to find out more.

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