If your business has been using Facebook for marketing for any length of time, you’re no stranger to the changes they implement in the name of improving their service for users. Like Google, they’ve got two sets of customers – the ones paying for advertising to reach their user base – and the users themselves, who aren’t paying a dime to use the platform.
The company announced in January they’d be adjusting the Newsfeed algorithm so that users saw less content from businesses and more from their connections. With an average of 1,500 posts Facebook could show in any given user’s feed, it’s just not possible to show it all, so it makes sense to keep what users see as relevant to them as possible… and most people don’t want to be advertised to all the time. This move translates to higher ad rates (more money for Facebook) and less organic reach for you.
And this isn’t the first time Facebook has shaken things up for businesses. Over the years, we’ve seen a steady rise in the competition on Facebook as more companies come on board to reach fans, and we’ve watched a steady decline in organic Page reach. That’s why we’ve quickly seen Facebook emerging as more of a pay-to-play platform – and why many small businesses with limited budgets are more frustrated with how to maximize their Facebook marketing efforts.
To make matters even more complicated, Mark Zuckerberg is deep in Senate hearings because of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, and consumers are losing trust, which means more changes have come about… and that’s even more for businesses to adapt to.
Let’s look at ways your business can build a more vital, better following, even after less organic reach and a decline in consumer trust.
Turn to Content Discovery Apps
Many publishers, like Little Things, were known for sharing social media-friendly lifestyle content. But, because algorithm changes meant fewer eyeballs on their Page and less money in their pocket, they had to shut down. This means people have had to change how they find and consume content. In September 2017, nearly half of U.S. users were relying on their Facebook to give them their news – and because of algorithm changes, they will get less of it. As a result, we can expect (and use to our advantage) people to turn to content aggregators such as Apple News, Flipboard, and Quartz to fill in any gaps Facebook leaves open.
Start building and experimenting with a presence on Flipboard and similar platforms. Unlike Facebook, which is made on social graphs focusing on relationships, Flipboard is built on interest graphs based on shared interests. You can share a mix of content that originates with you and content curated from other sources as long as all the content serves your audience. It’s free and gives you another way to reach your customers.
Influencer marketing is far from a new trend. If you have to spend money to reach more people on Facebook anyway, it doesn’t mean you have to go straight to Facebook Ads. Most customers don’t trust ads regardless, so businesses have turned to influencers, like celebrities, to share their messages. But, the change in the Newsfeed algorithm is even limiting celebrity reach. That’s why you can benefit from reaching out to smaller micro-influencers in your niche. After all, they already have an audience of people who trust them, and that’s the audience you want, too.
Because not all micro-influencers will have the same value to your business, you’ll need help finding and vetting the ones you want to work with. Tools like Influence. co can help you find the best micro-influencers in your niche to work with – and save you a lot of time and stress of trying to find them on your own. You can also leverage your employees, who often want to build their brands and have their social followings, who would be interested in seeing what you want to share.
Protect Yourself from Ad Fraud
Ad fraud is a problem for many publishers, especially regarding the pay-per-click model. You could frequently pay for automated bot traffic clicking your ads instead of a natural person. And because you know a bot will never join your mailing list, engage with you off your website, or make a purchase, each one of those fraudulent clicks is a waste of your money. With tools like ClickCease that use AI to detect bot traffic, you can make sure you’re only paying for the clicks that have the potential to translate to more money in your pocket.
Don’t Rely on Facebook Apps to Gather Data
If you’ve developed an app to use in conjunction with your Facebook Page for marketing purposes, you know Facebook has constantly audited the apps that work through its APIs. But, due to the Cambridge issue, they’re increasing the frequency and changing the way the audits take place – to ensure your app isn’t asking for too much information, accessing too much information, or stealing/missing member data. If you rely on Facebook APIs to get statistics, analytics, leads, and market research, you may soon find you cannot access the same data. You’ll need to find a new strategy, or else you’re risking bans or suspensions, which could adversely affect your Page and fan base.
If your website allows users to sign up and sign in with their Facebook login information, you’ll see a decrease in the amount of information you’re given. Soon, you’ll only be able to access their first and last name and email address. Some login services gave businesses the ability to get that information, advanced knowledge, like the entire profile (even if it was set to Friends Only), and friends of friends lists.
Your apps will only be able to collect the data they need to provide customer support or services. If you’ve got a tab on your Page that asks people to sign up for your newsletter, you won’t be able to ask for more than their first and last names and email addresses. More than that will be considered excessive – and the more free information out there, the more people are likely to misuse it.
Re-Evaluate Your Messenger Bot
There’s a hopefully temporary ban on creating new Messenger bots right now. If you had planned to create one to help with customer service on your Page, you might not have the chance to do it now. And if you already have one, it’s time to pay close attention to the amount of information the bots gather from your customers, how the data is collected, and what you do with it. Bots already on the platform are okay to stay, but they will be audited, too. If you’re not on the up and up or found to be collecting excessive information, you may lose your bot. If this happens, you’ll, again, need another strategy.
Should You Panic?
Ultimately, the SEO and digital marketing industries will suffer because the restrictions will make accessing analytics to personalize campaigns and inform business decisions more challenging. But this shouldn’t scare you.
You don’t own Facebook, and because of that, you cannot control anything the platform does. That’s why you should never build your business on rented land. And, ethically speaking, you should not only be transparent with your audience about the data you collect, how you collect it, and how you use it, but you shouldn’t collect or store any more data than you need to personalize services better and improve user experience.
Of course, maintaining an active Facebook presence for marketing may mean spending more money on Ads and being more careful about strategy and how Facebook fits into your overall business plan. However, it doesn’t have to be the end of your Facebook days. It isn’t the first series of changes, and it won’t be the last.
Using content discovery apps to reach your target audience outside of Facebook, relying on micro-influencers rather than Facebook Ads, take steps to protect your ads from fraud, and change how you gather data. Hence, it’s not Facebook-centric; you can keep your customers happy, and business is booming.
SEO Inc. can help you maximize your Facebook presence by managing your social media marketing channels and ad campaigns. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you avoid the headache of tracking all these changes.