Updated January 2019
In 2018, Facebook dropped a bombshell for small businesses.
Facebook made changes to its algorithm and those changes mean that if businesses want their posts seen by their followers, they have pay for it.
For major brands, this is nothing new— but Facebook’s updates have decreased organic reach, or how many people a post will be seen by for free, to almost zero for companies big and small.
Whether your company already has a Facebook page or is considering creating one, here are your options for using Facebook for your business in 2019.
Ask followers to opt-in to seeing your posts
If you have a loyal and engaged audience, one option for getting around these new changes is to ask your followers to select the “See First” option on your page.
The bad news: If we’re being pragmatic, most users aren’t going to take the steps to turn this option on. There’s also no guarantee that Facebook won’t change feature this in the future.
Shift to producing (more) video content
The one format that Facebook continues to prioritize, even from companies, is video— particularly live-streamed video.
The nice thing about live-streaming video is that it can be highly effective even on a limited budget.
To give you an idea of the types of live video that work, here are a few approaches:
- Host a Q&A – Does your company receive interesting or entertaining questions? Do you have unique knowledge about your category? Invite your email list to join you for a Q&A using Facebook Live.
- Conduct an interview – Have a peer from another company stopping by your office? Prop up your smartphone and broadcast a discussion about interesting trends that you’re noticing.
- Unbox an interesting product – Say you make specialty bike parts and you get a new bike in that fits into a backpack. Record an unboxing of the product and then show how it works. It’s interesting for you, the bike manufacturer, and your audience.
- Live stream trade shows or events – See other cool products at a trade show that your customers would be interested in learning about? Show them with a live stream.
Focus on content that creates a conversation
Going forward, Facebook is heavily favoring content that receives comments and starts conversations.
Companies willing to focus on fostering dialog may be able to get around paying-to-play for just a little while longer.
An example might be something like, “We’re cataloging the absolute best mountain biking trails in North America. What’s your favorite and why? Drop us a line in the comments.”
Simple, right? Not quite. To make things even more complicated, the company is increasingly cracking down on what it calls, ‘engagement-bait’, or low-value posts designed to get likes, shares, and comments. (see below)
Image credit: Facebook
Bottom line: Creating posts specifically designed to drive engagement is worth exploring but could be severely complicated by Facebook’s broad engagement-bait criteria.
Allocate budget to Facebook as a paid media platform
Perhaps it’s time to face reality and realize that the free ride is over. Facebook is now a paid media channel, plain and simple.
It’s not the end of the world and Facebook still has many benefits— including its large audience, incredible targeting, and detailed measurement.
Facebook advertising is also quick and relatively easy to get up and running— particularly compared to direct mail, outdoor display, and television.
Don’t use Facebook as a marketing channel
There is a long list of companies that have shuttered their Facebook company pages, and maybe that’s the right move for your business as well.
Here are five questions you should ask yourself about using Facebook for your business:
- Does our market spend time on Facebook?
- Do we have the time and resources to use Facebook effectively?
- Are we prepared to allocate budget to running ads?
- Do we know how to measure the business impact of using Facebook?
- Are we prepared to handle complaints and negative comments?
If you can’t answer any of those questions effectively, it might be wise to forget about Facebook as a marketing channel altogether.
Summing up your options
To recap, in 2018 Facebook changed its algorithm to de-prioritize content from company pages.
This means that unless you pay, the content you post to your company Facebook page is unlikely to be seen by your followers.
In light of the change, here are five options for using Facebook for business:
- Ask your audience to opt-in to seeing your posts
- Create more video content (it has a higher chance of being seen)
- Focus on content that creates a conversation
- Start treating Facebook as a paid media channel
- Don’t use Facebook for your business
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