Sharing on social in the wake of Facebook’s recent algorithm update: what you need to know
If you're worried about Facebook's changes to its News Feed, don't panic just yet. Columnist Rachel Lindteigen shares ways to expand the reach of your content in the wake of the update.
If you’re like many marketers, you’ve heard about the update to the Facebook algorithm and the likely impact it will have on organic reach for that channel. Did the update leave you wondering what exactly will work on Facebook and where it fits into your overall content marketing mix?
Here are answers to some of the questions you may have.
What is the latest Facebook algorithm update?
This latest algorithm update reduces the number of posts from business pages, publishers and news sites in a user’s newsfeed. Instead, content that is sparking engagement and conversation from people’s Facebook connections will be prioritized.
Why the algorithm update?
The change is intended to clean up the News Feed. Facebook wants to return to its original mission: to help people connect. In many ways, it’s similar to the way Google Panda and Google Penguin worked to clean up the search results. And I think in the long run, we’re going to find this latest update to be positive. Like Panda and Penguin, it’s going to force businesses to produce better content, and more importantly, engage with their fans and followers.
Facebook is a business, and if its users don’t enjoy the time they spend on the site, they’re going to go somewhere else. And if users aren’t on the platform, it’s not as enticing to advertisers. So, to protect its business, Facebook is making changes to provide a better user experience. Again, doesn’t this sound a lot like Google Panda and Penguin?
The Panda and Penguin updates from Google ushered in the era of content marketing. It was no longer enough to buy a bunch of links and write up a bit of crummy content. You had to have a strategy and provide content your audience was interested in, go deep into your content and help your users. Google rewarded sites that focused on content. And I think we’re going to see similar results on Facebook.
Wait! This isn’t the end of Facebook for business?
I know some have dubbed this update the “Facebook Apocalypse,” but that feels overly dramatic. Facebook hasn’t said they’ll stop showing your business page’s content. They’ve said they’re focusing on content that inspires meaningful conversations and engages users.
Facebook told us if you’re publishing content that’s getting no engagement, it’s not going to be shown and won’t work. Let’s face it — if you’re distributing content today that’s not getting any engagement, your strategy wasn’t working anyway.
What’s going to work for business pages on Facebook?
Content creators are going to have to think more about their audience and what needs they have. The days of sharing every blog post or special offer on Facebook are over. Your organic reach will be limited unless you focus on creating engagement with your audience.
Right now, I find that live video is the single most engaging type of content that I produce for my business. As an example, my last Facebook Live video training session had 95 percent organic reach. Compare this to my blog post or industry updates, where the reach is closer to 30 percent these days. And I know those numbers are higher than a lot of people are getting. I’ve talked to some business owners who are struggling to get 10 percent reach right now.
Think strategically to expand your reach
Know your audience
I teach marketing to small business owners on my Facebook page, and I run a group for those who want to learn how to market their business because they can’t afford to hire a professional marketer yet.
Understand their needs
In that group, I ran a poll to see what their biggest questions about marketing were. I asked them about their businesses because I want to get to know them and be able to help them.
Use that information to shape your strategy
- I’ve used the data from my polls and comments in the group to generate content ideas for both the business Facebook page and group. By doing this, I know I’m giving my audience exactly what they need from me, and in return, they engage.
- New people have liked the page because they saw a friend’s comment on my live video show up in their News Feed. People have tagged friends in the comments because they thought what I was teaching would be helpful.
- When I’m sharing examples in my training, I try to tailor them to some of my group members. If I know there’s an example that would work exceptionally well for someone, I’ll share it with the audience.
Take organic performance up a notch
When I have an organic post that is getting significant engagement, I spend a little money on ads to expand my reach. It’s worth it to me because I know it’s something my audience is interested in and it’s being seen because they’re engaging. I’ll create an ad from the Facebook Live video and spend $5 to $10 a day on ads to share it with a targeted audience. Using this strategy has resulted in up to a 5,000 percent reach on some of my training videos.
Since the reach of blog posts is lower, I’m starting to use some ads to support those as well, so they continue to get read by my audience.
What should your Facebook strategy look like for content?
If you haven’t incorporated video yet, it’s past time. Video is the format that converts the most on social media channels right now. Facebook, in particular, is favoring live video in its algorithm. In my testing, I’ve seen a 30 percent to 50 percent increase in reach for live video vs. prerecorded and edited video.
If I were trying to figure out what to do with my business page in the wake of this update, here’s what I’d do (It’s pretty much what I’m already doing).
- Poll the audience to find out what they’re interested in, have questions about or want to know.
- Create content that addresses their issues.
- Test which format of content works the best for your audience. Try updates, prerecorded video, live video, GIFs and whatever other types of content you have in your mix. Test and measure the effectiveness of everything you do.
- Create ads out of the best-performing posts or videos.
- Support your blog posts and content with Facebook Ads for expanded reach.
Stay strategic and focus on your audience, and your business page will survive this algorithm update.