Posted on April 25, 2014 by Webfor “Should I give up Facebook?” If you’re a business that has enjoyed years of free marketing on Facebook, recent updates to the News Feed probably provided an unwelcome wake up call. Businesses relying solely on the reach of their posts to attract new clients and raise search engine ranking will now need to apply more strategy and financial investment to build their audiences. This free-and-easy ride for small businesses was bound to come to an end, but that doesn’t make these changes any less painful. Major updates to Facebook’s news feed have substantially reduced the reach of posts, sometimes by as much as 88%. However, understanding the reasoning behind the changes (there are GOOD reasons, trust me) and what strategies work now can help you stay the course and increase your ROI, regardless of the current climate. The New Facebook News Feed Facebook has adjusted its’ News Feed to present only the most relevant, quality posts to users and reduce the reach of free ads and “fluffy” content in favor of more substantial, industry-specific fare. High-quality is in, cheap-and-trending is out (sorry, Buzzfeed). Two key tactics reflect Facebook’s fresh strategy: Story Bumping: This activity involves moving up stories in your feed that you may not have seen below the fold so you see them the next time you sign on. Stories from businesses that have great engagement rates and/or are most relevant to specific users are more likely to show up. Last Actor: Facebook now takes into account your user’s last 50 engagements and gives the most weight to people and pages that this user recently interacted with. Engagement feeds engagement, so once a user comments on your post, he or she is more likely to see your stories in future. In both cases, if it ain’t high-quality and relevant, your users probably won’t get a second – or even first – chance at viewing your story, so choose wisely. Facebook’s Motives Wondering what The Zuck has in mind? The intention behind these changes is to provide Facebook’s 1 billion users with only the most relevant posts in their news feed, making every experience on the site a targeted one. For those that don’t want to spend time worrying about whether or not a post will be seen, there are always paid ads. Paid business advertising is nothing new. However, for businesses that have come to rely on free and lucrative social media networking, a return to paid ads can feel abrupt and unfair. Rather than focusing on the stress inherent in change, consider the many options you have to improve the way you promote your business on this important social media platform. How You Can Float the Changes As a business, you may have relied on lighter content to appeal to your fan base and attract new Likes and engagement. Grieve those good times and leave them in the past. The new Facebook operates on a user-customized approach, gleaning approximately 300 of a possible 1500 viewable stories per day that best match user preferences. So how can you give your posts a better chance of becoming one of these highly-favored 300? Get your timing right There’s a time for everything, especially Facebook posts. Your ideal customer is not necessarily surfing his or her news feed every second of every day, so your goal should be to post at times identified as most relevant. In order to decide the best times to post your high-quality content: Imagine your ideal user: If you run your own business, you likely have an ideal customer in mind when you create signage or run ads. Imagine that user scrolling through his Facebook feed. What would he most like to read about? Consider your user’s age, gender, interests, and location. Your Facebook demographics, found in Insights under the “Likes” tab, can provide you with an age range and gender break down of your customer base. Be sure to review the location of various audiences in order to cater to different time zones. Then consider what type of day your average user might have: If he or she works a 9 to 5 job, he or she will likely be most active on Facebook in the early morning, lunch time, and toward the end of the day. Don’t waste your time posting at less-than-optimal times. Share high-quality, hyper-relevant posts: Again, know thy user. Consider your “ideal client” and what his or her needs and interests might be. Let’s say you’re a home remodeler. A 50-something homeowner living in Portland, Oregon, may want to know how they can prevent basement floods due to roof runoff, so an article about maintaining gutters during the rainy season could be an excellent option. Remember the three R’s: Relevant, Re-shareable, and Reputable. If a post is targeted, consumable, and from a trustworthy source, your fans will respond positively, and so will Facebook. “Like” Your Status Frequently “Like” your best status updates. Sound egotistical? Try survivalist. By Liking your own content, you tip Facebook off to the post value and increase the likelihood that the post will show up in the News Feed Sidebars of your fans. This is particularly important with the new algorithm changes, as posts that don’t show up in fans’ main feeds now get a chance of showing up in this smaller column. Use Your Personal Profile to Draw Attention to Your Business Your personal profile is an excellent vehicle for business promotion because it gives you access to a network of friends that you can personally contact about your company. Be sure to: Include your business name in your “Works At” field under About, so people can see your company directly under your name. “Like” your business page and invite your friends to do so as well. You can also act as manager of your business page and invite friends and email contacts by clicking on the Build Audience tab. Share posts from your business page that you think your friends would appreciate. Targeted sharing garners the best engagement, so consider sharing a post you think your friend would love directly to his or her page. You can also mention him in a comment so he knows to come on over and Like, comment, and re-share your post. Remember, the more engagement is associated with your business, the more valuable and trustworthy Facebook will consider each post. The Incredible Reach of Paid Ads Facebook’s algorithm change wasn’t only about obtaining higher quality content in the News Feed. It was also about encouraging businesses to purchase more ads. Now, if a brand wants exposure on Facebook, it’s going to have to buy it from Facebook. Running an ad campaign or promoting a post can have excellent results well beyond the life of the campaign. How? As we have seen, engagement and Likes create a snowball effect, causing Facebook to assign more value and relevance to your future posts. By running an ad, you expose your business to a wide variety of users, all of whom now have the opportunity to engage with your business and content. And the more they engage, the more people you stand to reach in future as these users see your posts regularly, comment and share them. Facebook’s recent updates have made many small businesses and their marketing teams uncomfortable. However, as with any Facebook or Google Algorithm change, your best option is to shake off your frustration, learn something new, and move forward. What has your experience with the new Facebook been like? Leave a comment below!