This article was originally published on Business2Community.
As many of you know, Facebook announced a major change last year that will give promotional organic posts less visibility, starting in January of 2015.
Well, it’s already 2015. So what should do marketers do (other than panic)? We decided to ask 17 Facebook marketing experts to tell us how to deal with this latest algorithm change. Here’s what the experts think you should do.
Get your Facebook Fans onto an email list
With Facebook’s algorithm change it’s more important than ever to focus on getting your Fans and targeted Facebook users onto your e-mail list so that you can deepen your connection through e-mail. Use a valuable piece of content such as a free webinar, a free e-book, coupon, a mini-course, or something similar to entice your Fans to optin to your list. You can also use Facebook ads to target your perfect customer to optin to your freebie as well. Then make sure you continue to deliver value through your e-mail updates when you continue to connect with your subscribers.
Another recommendation for the change in Facebook’s algorithm is to focus more heavily on high-value posts rather than posting more often. Watch what types of content get shared more regularly and post more of that type of content and consider using Facebook Ads to boost the content so that you are amplifying it on Facebook. Using tools like Facebook Insights and Buzzsumo will help you find that perfect content to share.
– Andrea Vahl, Co-author of Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies
Practice storytelling with each Facebook post
The main thing to keep in mind is that the algorithm change is not a form of punishment on Facebook’s part; rather, it’s an extra reminder for brands to produce engaging, innovative material for their social media audience. Think of a user’s News Feed as a noisy conference room, with many people who have something to say and wish to be heard—so your brand’s presence should command attention. There are three ways to do this without being overly promotional: share timely content; use media-rich messaging; and let each post tell a story.
Discussing trending topics can add value to your brand’s product or service by placing them in a broader context—just remember to do this tastefully, and avoid forcing a connection to your brand or field if there isn’t an obvious one. High-quality images or videos increase the post’s visibility; if you have a call to action in the post, avoid using promotional phrases such as “buy now,” and place all your links in the correct link format in the post. Finally, practice storytelling with each post—for example, by highlighting how the latest product fits into your brand history.
We have a few resources addressing the recent algorithm change, please choose whichever you see as most fitting for your article:
How to adapt your Facebook strategy to the coming News Feed changes (this would be my top choice)
Facebook marketing is changing—is your brand ready?
How blogging can remedy decreased organic reach on Facebook
– Olsy Sorokina, Blog Writer & Coordinator at Hootsuite
Understand what excites your audience
My advice to marketers remains the same as before the changes. Know your audience – specifically what gets them excited. To do this, you really need to pay attention to what’s working by checking your post reach regularly. Be diligent and ruthless about what makes it onto your page. At the same time, don’t be afraid to test things.We’ve been surprised time and time again by the type of content that takes off on Facebook. Figure out what your audience is craving and really cater to it.
Also, be sure to respond to comments on your Facebook page. Every successful post we’ve done recently has had a healthy amount of conversation. Nothing promotes conversation quite like the brand chiming in.
– Andy Au, Paid Social Media Lead at Hootsuite
Make sure your content has context to the reader
In light of the Facebook changes that are coming in January, 2015, I think it is more important than ever that your content has context to the viewer. For example, take a look at both of these examples and ask yourself, which one you are more likely to respond to and specifically, which one would YOU buy from?
“Click the link below to buy my new eBook! It’s going to save you tons of time and I just know you are going to love it! Only $19.99! Buy now!”
“A major challenge many small business owners face today is how to find new customers. You know…when I was first starting out, I figure it took hours and hours of work just to land one new client! This is the primary reason that I have put together this step-by-step guide that helps new small business owners find new customers quickly and easily.”
Your results with a post that is structured with a “how will this solve a pain for them” mentality instead of what’s in it for you, will get much higher results and keep your posts showing up in your fans newsfeed!
– Kim Garst, Keynote Speaker and CEO of BoomSocial
Have a friendly and relaxed approach when posting
Facebook has always been changing their algorithm on a regular basis, so the first thing marketers should do is stop chasing it. It’s a lost battle.
Rather than getting upset over ‘what Facebook has done this time’, they should try understanding ‘Why they’ve done it’, and adapt their strategy to follow the same logic.
In this latest iteration, Facebook aims at making users feel more comfortable with their News Feeds, feeding them content that resonates more with what they expect to receive, so they will use the social network more often. After all, without users Facebook would not exist; and more traffic means more advertising opportunities for Pages, thus more potential revenue.
And what most users expect is a friendly and relaxed approach, something similar to the type of conversation you could get when you go to a bar with some friends. This is the type of content that works best on Facebook: ask for opinions, engage in conversations, make users feel you value them as a friend, rather than as a source of revenue.
Don’t say ‘Buy our new product’ but rather ‘What do you think of our new product?’ Leave the pricing and promotional message for advertising campaigns – where this latest algorithm change does not apply.
– Antonio Calero, Consultant, Multilingual Keynote Speaker, and Blogger
Use Facebook for lead generation but convert on your own site
The thing that keeps me ahead of Facebook changes is this: I see Facebook as a tool. Like a hammer. Would I build at house ON a hammer?
No, I would build a house (or table, whatever) WITH a hammer, not on it. Facebook is a tool, so I build with the tool not ON it. Therefore from the very first time I used Facebook, I leveraged it for the ability to send me people I would then convert elsewhere.
For that reason, them changing the algorithm to prevent me from getting free ads isn’t a problem. If you didn’t start out that way, my tip is to shift your strategy to use organic Facebook tools for lead generation and convert on your site. So you can still share things on their platform. Just move the conversion part of the conversation to your own web properties that you own and control, rather than those you are “leasing”.
– Tinu Abayomi-Paul, Founder of Chief Visibility Officer of Leveraged Promotion
Learn how to be more relevant to your customers’ lives
The new Facebook algorithm alterations to suppress overly promotional organic posts changes nothing for brands that have been paying attention. It will only hurt the most stubborn brands, and those that just don’t “get it.” What do you need to “get”? Facebook is about you engaging your audience with content that they at least like, if not love. If you want to just promote products or push more aggressively in social media, you will have to pay to play. Advertisements are an important and healthy part of the social media ecosystem, and the Facebook ad system is the most powerful tool marketers have ever had access to. But there’s no free “organic visibility” ride for companies that merely promote themselves. Why? Not because Facebook is bad or greedy. Because of what regular Facebook users want. We want interesting, meaningful, fun, amazing posts.
My Contagious Content ebook revealed that one of the surest ways to dampen social media users’ enthusiasm is to talk about yourself. Just like you would ignore the narcissistic person at a party, users will ignore your brand unless you think more about them. If you, as a brand, want to learn to do that, then welcome! Contribute! If not, you will only be able to advertise, and you will miss out on the power of affecting your audience, bonding with them, and laying a solid foundation of loyalty (which hopefully you will win with a great offering and customer service). My hope is that you will embrace content marketing by learning how your company can be more relevant to your potential customers’ lives.
– Brian Carter, Author, Speaker, and Consultant
Empower your employees to scale your content
To get people to visit your Facebook page more often, you have to give them a reason to be there by adding value in one form or another, by interacting and engaging with those who visit, and by building relationships. Empower your employees to help you scale your content and conversation, and for heaven’s sake, make it a requirement for, or incentivize, as many employees as possible, especially those in the marketing department, to visit the pages of your fans, get inside their heads a bit, and report back about what they’re talking about and what’s of interest to them. Do this with your competitors as well.
Have employees link to your Facebook page in the “About” section of their own Facebook profiles. Seek out groups that fit your company niche and encourage employees to join. You’re doing this not to spam others with your messaging but to find ways to contribute, answer questions, share expertise and learn.
I’ve been asked by a lot of people how they can be more successful in building relationships on social channels and on Facebook in particular, especially with the changes to the algorithm that favors those who do the work, engage, interact, and do the work. And the one thing that keeps coming to the surface is the importance of being “present” when you’re being “social.”
You know how it is when you meet someone at a conference or in a networking situation and they’re constantly looking around the room to see who else is there, or they’re looking at their device—basically looking anywhere except at you? Those signals mean they aren’t really “present” in the conversation, so there is no true connection.
The same principles apply to online social relationships, so I’m a big proponent of doing what I call “looking people in the eye digitally.” To get the most out of Facebook requires the same personal attention as the human touch and eye contact in a physical relationship.
So participate by actively engaging on your followers’ pages, not just on yours, and show real interest. Look your audience in the eye digitally, and let them know you’re interested.
– Ted Rubin, Social Marketing Strategist, and Keynote Speaker
Simply stop writing promotional posts
It seems like businesses sometimes brush off social media algorithm changes (or they don’t hear about them because they don’t get as much publicity as a Google update), but acting fast is incredibly important. Not only are more and more consumers searching for businesses via social media sites, but social sites are starting to make more appearances in the Google SERPs.
My advice for dealing with the latest algorithm change, therefore, would simply be to listen to it. If it says that promotional status updates will be given less distribution on the platform, then avoid them at all costs. You don’t need promotional status updates to succeed on social media. In fact, most consumers would probably agree that they are more likely to click on an engaging and interesting status update that doesn’t have to do with something the company is offering. Start writing status’s about the latest news in your industry, posting funny images and quotes, and asking your readers for feedback.
– Amanda DiSilvestro, Higher Visiblility
Focus on building relevant, high quality content
With Facebook you can always guarantee one constant – change! Here are some tips that may help business owners to thrive in spite of the next round of changes to Facebook’s algorithm.
– Focus on relevant, high quality content that is useful to your target audience – including quality visual content, link posts and original video uploaded directly to Facebook. Post native content that fans love to see and post themselves on Facebook.
– Start experimenting with Facebook Ads – Facebook still has some of the most targeted ads around, allowing you to hyper-target who you promote to. If you want to be successful on Facebook moving forward, “paying to play” is inevitable, so start playing with ads now.
– Have a clear content and sales funnel – Don’t expect to “sell” on Facebook but do guide fans into your funnel for more great value and the option to subscribe and buy outside of Facebook. Know what you want them to do with your content at any point and have a clear call to action.
– Build your content castle on your website or blog – be sure to post your best content on the real estate you own.
– Grow your subscriber community – empower your community and your fans to share your content. Fans sharing content is how organic reach and engagement happens… regardless of “algorithms”.
– Build your community/following on other platforms that resonate with you and where you know your audience is hanging out. Now is the time to explore Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, or Google+ – all of which can bring significant results and drive traffic to your website.
– Donna Moritz, Socially Sorted
Focus on providing value
I’ve always said that Facebook is not a place to sell but a place to engage with existing and potential clients and to share valuable information. I believe the latest algorithm changes support this even more. If marketers don’t want to pay-to-play they’ll have to double down their efforts and refocus on content that is valuable and not promotional. My team recently wrote a blog post about these changes and they mentioned six alternatives to the most common Facebook marketing tactics. They include things like utilizing email marketing, adding traditional media into your promotion strategy and exploring other social networks. If you currently do use Facebook for a lot of promotional strategies that article can help you redirect some of those strategies outside of Facebook. However, the biggest change businesses will need to make is a focus on value and not just posting to post. Include a mix of original and shared content that is interesting to your fans and your page won’t see a hit from these changes.
– Jim Belosic, CEO of ShortStack
Analyze what’s working and produce more of that
The recent Facebook algorithm change that promises to punish promotional organic content basically offers marketers two options: invest more in ads or determine how Facebook defines promotional content and avoid it. Obviously, blatant calls to action will not be tolerated. However, there are creative ways to encourage people to buy, such as asking them to “swing on over to our place and have a look.”
If you trust Facebook and believe their goal is to “show people the things they want to see” in their News Feed, then the challenge is to seriously analyze what’s working and strategically focus on providing more of that contextual content. Presumably, this will include relevant stories, images, videos, and graphics. The truth is this will only make us all better social media marketers.
– Jeff Korhan, Keynote Speaker
Create more video content
I think it is kinda sad on one hand that Facebook is only providing a paid option for what it deems as promotional posts by radically reducing the news feed exposure for those posts. On the other hand, we typically pay for our promotional posts to our events already anyway. We find that using video is a great way to get exposure into the newsfeed and have been producing weekly videos with great success. However, in the end the big question of the day is what exactly is promotional? Is promoting an educational blog post on your own blog promotional? Let’s hope not!
– Michael Stelzner, Social Media Examiner
Know more about your potential buyers
With the new Facebook algorithm marketers are going to have to work hard to produce content that is genuinely interesting to their potential buyers, simply because when they do this those who are most engaged will have a higher chance of seeing the promotional posts, clicking, and buying.
I make the distinction between potential buyers and fans because they can be different personas at different stages of the buying cycle. I might like Apple, but if I can’t afford their products, I’m not a potential buyer. Or I might like animals, but I’m not about to go adopt a few more right now.
Knowing more about these potential buyers gives you the knowledge to run highly targeted ads. Specific targeting like this causes the CPC to be low and hopefully cost effective for small businesses.
I wouldn’t encourage marketers to try to game the algorithm, which I think will be based on the contents of the post, and certain flag keywords adding up to a higher promotional score, causing it to lose reach. Think of this as a downward slope on a graph. Gaming it in anyway will help it to evolve over time and cause the same loss of reach after each ‘trick’ is exposed.
We recently took to discussing what marketers are going to do as a result of the new change on Inbound.org. It’s interesting to see that many of the respondents (though few in number) will spend less on future ads, when Facebook is trying to get people to spend more.
– Mary Green, Content & Community Manager at Inbound.org
Know what works for your audience
I always advise bloggers to get to know what works for their audience. It might all be well and good to read the current advice, but that won’t work if that advice says to post at a certain time and you know your readers aren’t on Facebook then. Plumb your own Insights – when is your audience online? What posts do they respond the most favourably to? (mine are actually backwards – plain status posts are the least popular, which goes against convention). Look more closely at targeting, and cater your content to reader needs. You are the one who can experiment and gather your own data – use that valuable information to work Facebook to your best ability.
– Stacey Roberts, ProBlogger
Remove or adapt your promotional posts
Facebook’s news didn’t catch me by surprise. If there’s one thing I learned from marketing on Facebook, it’s that they have always moved in the direction that’d primarily benefit and satisfy users. That is good news for brands for two reasons:
1. We’ll be able to continue taking advantage of Facebook’s platform to reach our target audiences in more targeted ways than any other media.
2. Users continue to stick to Facebook and use it in varied ways. For one, visually attractive images have turned from a winning tool to a minimum requirement to get users’ attention in the newsfeed, while videos seem to be the “in” thing right now. Continued changes in the newsfeed landscape allows new businesses with small communities and new businesses on Facebook a chance to win and gain visibility against the juggernauts.
In short, my advice is to remove and adapt previously promotional copies and focus more on what you’re posting, how you’re engaging, and most importantly, the results you’re getting out from Facebook’s platform. Using Facebook to drive leads to your website and nurture them separately is one good idea.
– Jason How, Blogger and Marketer
Diversify your social media platforms
Marketers should expect that Facebook and other social media platforms will continue to change and tweak their algorithms over time just as Google, Bing and other search engines do. The digital marketplace is dynamic. Therefore, whatever currently works may not continue to yield the same results into the future.
To minimize the impact of any one specific change by a third party social media platform, marketers should do the following:
1. Create a social media marketing strategy aligned with their business goals and target audience needs that can be measured back to these objectives.
2. Build owned social media outposts in the form of a blog and house email file.
3. Diversify social media platform use, specifically select a mix of networks to maximize your reach despite changes in the social media ecosystem.
– Heidi Cohen, Marketer, Professor, Journalist, and Speaker.
Become indispensable to your audience
Smart Facebook marketers should focus on becoming indispensable to their audience. When you publish Facebook updates you should ask, how is this useful? How is this entertaining? And most importantly, how does this content differentiate us from our competition?
– John Haydon, Digital Marketing and Fundraising Expert for nonprofits