Facebook is the most popular social platform out there today, and many businesses, including small businesses, have enjoyed great success by create a Facebook business page to better engage with their audience. But with all the recent changes with Facebook, is it still a viable marketing tool for small businesses?  Let’s take a look at all the changes to answer the question, “Can small businesses still compete?”.

Changes to the Facebook News feed

The most recent change announce by Facebook is its change to their news feed. What exactly changed? In an effort to make the service better for people’s well-being, Facebook is changing its News Feed ranking algorithm to start showing users more posts from family, friends and groups they are part of, and less content from businesses, brands and media organizations. Many speculate that this will cause people to spend less time on the social platform that many relied upon for their daily news.  Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook stated in his blog post, ” by making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down. But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too.” The announcement is too new to see how it’ll really impact businesses, but one immediate takeaway is this:  if you’re using Facebook to talk about your business instead of engaging with your customers, you will definitely lose. This is about providing quality content, building a community, and engaging in an ongoing conversation. If you’re not doing that, and you’re using it to promote your business, it’s time to change your tactics, and fast.

Asking for likes will get you disliked by Facebook

Facebook likesAnother announcement that Facebook made in December 2017 was that Facebook will now penalize posts begging for likes, shares, and comments.  This is counterintuitive for many marketers who rely heavily on calls to action to get people to do something (“click here”, “please share our post” etc.). Facebook’s take on these kinds of posts are that they’re nothing more than “engagement bait” and don’t add value to readers. The warning came out last in 2017, but soon Facebook will clamp down on these types of post in an effort to reduce “fake news”. So how does asking for a like or share merit it to be considered fake news? Many such posts are nothing more than clickbait to get readers to their site, so implementing this is working towards the goal of greatly reducing such content.

How small businesses can take relevant on Facebook

The above are just two of many changes Facebook has made over the years, making it more difficult for businesses to do well on their platform, but only if they approach Facebook without a strategy. So how can Facebook still work for businesses?  First, provide useful, quality content. Reading the two changes above, there is a message that comes across loud and clear: Facebook wants quality content, not noise. If you haven’t yet created a social media strategy to ensure you’re working Facebook right, now is the time. Second, seriously consider Facebook advertising to complement your organic efforts. Facebook advertising can include boosting your content, or creating ads to target certain groups of people to sell a product, increase Facebook followers, or drive traffic to your website. Engage a small business marketing professional if you’re unsure how best to craft your Facebook ad strategy. Third, really consider your audience when you create content. Facebook is about building community and brand recognition, not pushing out corporate messaging to get people to buy, buy, buy. Take a moment to really listen to what Facebook says it’s trying to accomplish, which is to provide a better user experience. Then look at your business Facebook page. Are you being helpful, useful and relevant?  Are you putting out quality content?

Facebook is changing and will continue to do so. Can small businesses still compete? Yes they can, but they will need to look at their overall approach to the social media platform to stay relevant.

Patty Hughes
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