Facebooks new algorithm updates are posing a challenge for many businesses. Here’s how you can adjust your strategy in response.
It’s no understatement to say that the last couple years have been a PR disaster for Facebook. From the scandals relating to their handling of user data to the ways the platform influences behavior, Facebook has been the target of criticism from consumers and congress alike. Addressing these concerns last year, Mark Zuckerberg said of the updates:
…we’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.
We started making changes in this direction last year, but it will take months for this new focus to make its way through all our products. The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups.
As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media.
Taking these words at face value, the message is clear: Facebook is moving away from content distribution, and focusing more on interpersonal connections. It’s not hard to see how this would affect businesses, and many didn’t have to wait long to see how the updates would affect their businesses.
Unquestionably, some have been hit harder by this change than others—and they’re not happy. For them, the algorithm updates pose a threat to their income and outreach—and by extension, their livelihood. However, while growing your brand on Facebook’s social media platform has gotten harder, there are still ways your business can survive in the digital marketplace.
Here are our top strategies to work with our around the new Facebook algorithm change.
1. Double down on meaningful content.
In the past, many Facebook pages followed the “move fast and break things” approach of Facebook itself. The focus was on content for the sake of content. If they threw enough at the wall, surely something would stick, and over time, they would grow their base.
It’s clear this strategy won’t work anymore. Content will have to work harder for likes and shares, and that means you have to think about what you’re saying when you write a post or share a link. You have to give your audience a reason to engage with your content. If it’s nothing but fluff, it won’t gain the traction you need to get noticed.
2. Make a direct appeal to your consumer base.
As of yet, Facebook’s algorithms are most focused on content coming directly from brands. They’re not showing as many videos in your news feed simply because your old college classmate “liked” them, nor are they showing every single post from the pages you follow. But if you make a more intentional move—such as sharing the video to your own news feed—it will still show up.
The people most likely to see your content will be your most ardent consumers. These are the people who will be most willing to share your posts—especially if you ask them. That said, having a connection like that with your clients is highly valuable, and it’s not a relationship you want to take lightly. Push too hard on your base, and they may begin to feel as though you’re asking too much of them.
3. Invest in an advertising budget.
Facebook is a business, so of course they will still take your money. And in doing so, they are still committed to giving your ad a certain amount of exposure. It may be painful to have to put money behind content that used to gain views for free, but there you have it.
The good news is that running a Facebook ad allows you to be very precise in your targeting metrics. If you haven’t yet put your money beyond an ad campaign, you may be surprised by how far your dollar can take you.
4. Diversify your marketing strategy.
Facebook may dominate much of the social media market, but that doesn’t mean you are without options. From SnapChat to Twitter, there’s still plenty of room to grow a following. And by spreading yourself across several platforms, you gain a more stable footing should future algorithm updates damage your position.
Even better, encourage your fans to connect with you on a platform you control. I’m not suggesting you create your own social media platform (although you could still create a community on your website). Instead, grow an email marketing list, and keep in touch with your subscribers directly.
After all, these lists share many features in common with your social channels: they require subscribers, they can be shared, and they are just as likely to get buried in someone’s inbox as lost in their news feed—only they’re much easier to mark as important and search for later.
Facebook’s first responsibility is to users—not brands.
Perhaps it’s just my nature, but I try to avoid an overly cynical interpretation of the Facebook algorithm change. Like any good business, Facebook needs to listen to its customers or it will lose market share and eventually fade away. In this case, Facebook’s users have indicated that they’re in favor of the update, and hopefully most of us are experiencing the intended benefits in our personal lives.
But from a brand, this change is understandably frustrating. It seems to indicate that the hay day of easy ROI on social ad campaigns is past, and that most of us will have to work smarter to see the results we’re looking for. However, while it will be necessary to work more strategically, it does not mean Facebook marketing is useless.
As a business, your response to the Facebook algorithm change should be to rethink rather than abandon your social media strategy.