What do Facebook's news feed changes mean for your business?

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In January, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg publicly outlined the social media platform’s marketing plans for 2018, and one decision in particular will have a substantial effect on businesses and associations. In the coming months, Zuckerberg writes, users will see “less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media” in their news feeds. While business pages will still exist and their followers can still opt in to see their posts at the top of their news feeds, this algorithm change will inevitably result in lower visibility for companies and organizations that use Facebook as a way to reach their audiences.

However troubling this announcement may be, especially to those who may not have the budget for using Facebook’s paid ads to increase their audience reach, here are some best practices to keep your business or association page a successful marketing tool:

Connect with the Community: While this has always been an important goal of posting on social media, it is especially vital now – Facebook’s news feed will now give more visibility to content that demonstrates genuine engagement with followers (i.e., likes, shares and comments). Your posts should foster discussion, so view them as conversation starters rather than announcements to your followers. Zuckerberg states, “public content […] should encourage meaningful interactions between people,” so talk with your followers, not at them.

Produce Quality Content: To engage with your followers, you first must create content that draws them in. It’s not enough to just post a link to a press release on your website or share an article about an industry trend – content that Zuckerberg considers “passive” in nature. “Too often today,” he states, “watching video, reading news or getting a page update is just a passive experience.” The best content provides valuable information as well as an emotional, human connection for your followers. So, instead of announcing a new product, consider sharing a brief behind-the-scenes video about the process involved in its creation (e.g., “Meet Bob, leader of our research team, as he explains what goes into developing a new concrete admixture.”).

Avoid Engagement Bait: You may be familiar with “clickbait” – those sensational, misleading headlines that lure you in to read an article (“You’ll never believe what happens next!”), which Facebook has targeted in recent years. However, some pages have found a way around the algorithm that punishes clickbait – while also taking advantage of the algorithm’s boost to high-engagement posts – in what Facebook calls “engagement bait.” Posts with lines such as “LIKE if you think asphalt is the best or SHARE if you think concrete is!” are meant to game the system, positioning this type of content higher in people’s news feeds due to the artificially inflated number of likes, comments and shares. Facebook is cracking down on engagement-baiting by pushing these posts lower in news feeds, and pages that continue to use this tactic may soon see the reach for all of their posts – baiting or otherwise – reduced.

While some social media marketers are bemoaning the changes, look at them as an opportunity to strengthen your online presence with your followers. In essence, nothing earthshattering has changed – best practices have always encouraged thoughtful, engaging posts rather than low-quality spam – but now, businesses and associations who have coasted by on little effort need to put more time and thought into the things they post. And though similar policies have not yet been announced for other platforms like Twitter, it would be wise to review your content strategy for any other social media accounts you may have.

Whether you need an assessment of your current social media or are looking for assistance in adapting to these changes, the AOE team can help. Reach out today!

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