As a business coach, one of my jobs is to problem-solve and, of course, to help businesses get in more business through effective marketing, sales strategies and repeat business. So, it makes sense that when FB (Facebook) changes how they do things, I need to let small businesses know how to deal with this.
In brief, Facebook has changed its algorithm so that ‘brands’ as they affectionately call us in business, are seen less. They want the Facebook experience to be better (which ultimately is a good thing, if everyone left Facebook we’d have no-one to market to) and let’s face it – they are sick of us riding the free bandwagon. It’s time to pay – literally. Remember the good old days (I do) when I could post anything (from my dog Caesar looking handsome, to a business announcement) and I’d easily get 200-300 likes. Easy. Now, the same post is lucky to get a dozen likes/comments. This is because over a period of time the exposure my ‘friends’ receive was cut from 50% now down to a dismal 2.5%. Clients ask me “did you see … ?” and I’ve got to go hunting.
So here are my top 11 tips to deal effectively with the Facebook changes:
Stop being an ostrich!
By this, you can no longer ignore it or bury your head in the sand. It’s here, it’s done, learn what needs to be done to do it. To be honest, I for one wasn’t overly keen on FB Live (and keep in mind it’s been around awhile now) – but what did I do yesterday? Yep, started a test on FB Live. I’ll talk about FB Live more a little further down. If we are to move forward in business, we have to embrace change, go with the times and see the opportunities in the challenges.
Engagement is Key!
The big thing that Mark Zuckerberg wants is engagement. If your post engages people, great. Your post needs to generate comments, shares and messages. Get (and show) your personality. This is actually where small businesses can excel – we are real people (versus a Board) who own the business, have a personality and can show it. Branson does it well with Virgin. Getting ‘Likes’ or single word responses is not good enough. You need to be ‘chatting’ with each other (sort of like the old days, when we used to talk to people face to face, one-on-one in a room). If you want to help friends in business, respond to their posts with more than a Like or Yep, or Great, or Awesome. Engage and talk back and forth with that person. For this reason also, YOUR posts need to be engaging. Selling, pushing stuff in front of people and just being ‘in their faces’ isn’t enough. You have to engage and elicit responses, show you genuinely care and interact with your Friends. When your posts are engaging people and being shared – then you’ll get boosted. Your big question, before you post anything on FB is “Will my friends REALLY be interested to see this?” (or is it just for my benefit?).
Images are still great.
People still like images – although ensure that the image is attractive to your audience. I was at dinner the other night with some friends (all business ladies) and we were talking about ‘fear marketing’. You know – where we market based on pleasure or pain. When it comes to visual content I strongly recommend you never post negative, sad, depressing or ‘pain-filled’ images. For this reason also, if you are going to show before and after shots, show the before FIRST as that is what is seen more. Watch that your images are copyright free or get a string of photos done by a professional photographer – I know an awesome one if you need a connection.
Baiting will kill you!
We need to be engaging and elicit feedback and discussion, but ‘baiting’ will not be tolerated. Questions like “what is your star sign?” or “do you like puppies” is called ‘baiting’. You are asking questions purely to get a response rather than elicit a discussion. By all means, ask questions, but those which are relevant and will engage people. I suppose if I asked “What do you think of your local politician?” that would elicit a heap of responses – but that is not a relevant question to my business which is coaching. Once a week I ask a question of my connections, but always about business. Remember – you should be customising and tailoring the content you post to be relevant to your audience and to your business. Your content (no different from emails, or any other marketing) ‘must have’ material.
The Free Ride is at an End!
Yes, you are now going to have to pay for Advertising and Boosting. If you don’t know how then I suggest you learn. Either do a course or check out one of a million YouTube clips which show you how. We knew this was going to change; the ride was great, but it’s over. Two tips for advertising – firstly image is better than text. Secondly, with images, ensure you have less than 20% text. Yes, they have other criteria – for example, someone promoting a gym recently (with people in appropriate gym clothing in it) was rejected as ‘inappropriate’. If you’re a swimsuit company, you’ll have to get creative. Now, I do believe that the pricing will essentially rise, but be realistic; with so many people on Facebook, the coverage and pricing is still great. Stop comparing the pricing to ‘free’ and switch over to what you’d be paying elsewhere, say perhaps other forms of digital, print media etc. Unfortunately, we have a mindset of FB being free – so some people are balking at what are relatively small amounts. The trick is to advertise well.
Groups are the place to be.
FB has announced that they want people to talk to friends, family and groups. So clearly they like the group’s concept (for now) and so you need to be active in groups at least 20 minutes a day. I would not recommend you join a heap of groups and spend 30 seconds in each one – but rather be involved and engaged. Comment on things, offer advice or assistance. Facebook likes people giving and asking for recommendations. One of these groups Redlands Business Referrals I am an admin for – we encourage business referral giving within our local community – Redland City. If you live or work in Redland City – then please join us.
I should mention, with groups, check out their rules and follow them. Some admins get pretty ruthless if you don’t and you’ll find yourself ‘out of your ear’ without notice. They often have days for different activities (our advertising day is Friday, so if you blatantly promo yourself on any other day, your post will be deleted). Remember on groups to be engaged, contribute, respectful and positive.
Video & FB Live
We all knew that video was becoming exceedingly popular. There are businesses out there geared purely to help businesses get onto video. FB has always said it prefers and supports video, but recently there has been a huge turnaround. No longer does FB like pre-recorded video. Its direction is their Facebook LIVE function. If you haven’t got there yet (and 72% of people haven’t yet), then I strongly recommend you take the time and learn it. Live gets 6x more engagement than standard video … so an excellent opportunity.
The good news is that there is an option to learn and practice; you can select t post to “ONLY ME” which means no one sees your practices (aka train wrecks). With video (Live is no different) be conscious of lighting, noise and what’s around you. If it’s windy where you are, the noise is going to make it hard for you to be heard. The longer it goes can be beneficial as people can join you. If it’s a longer session and you have people joining you – remember to re-mention who you are and what it’s about … you are live – they may have missed the beginning. Two important things about Live – it’s ok not to be perfect but please try to not be boring. Find that positive energy to be enthusiastic, uplifted and positive. Don’t write (and read) a script, but have an idea of what you will talk about – so pre-plan your segment. Secondly, plan what you are covering – even pre-promote the event.
Quality versus Quantity
We are back to ‘more is less’. To me, that is sort of cool – a silver lining to all these changes. Rather than overwhelming your friends with heaps – make it less, but of better quality. The experts are saying that 3-4 FB posts per week are more than enough. Some great ideas are to share a story or show some wins for your customers. One car company regularly shows photos of its new car owners with their new pride and joy – congratulating them on the new acquirement. The wins don’t have to be just about you – it can be those around you. Feel free to share community posts also – especially local charities and events coming up which might interest your friends. Remember content should be:
- Informational / tactical / news
- Entertaining – give people a little fun and enjoyment in their day as well.
In regards to quality, the same can be said for your connections. Perhaps now is the time to review who you are connected to and do a bit of clean up. If you engage with 50 people and have 60 friends, then this is awesome; your ratio is top notch. However, if you engage with double this – 100 people – but have 10,000 connections, then the ratio is very sad. Those who you have no relationship with and are not engaging, are not likely to be motivated to share your content. It’s time to cut out the dead wood.
Certainly NEVER buy contacts, Likes or other forms of bolstering your numbers. When you buy, they are rarely engaged so it’s just going to do harm to your exposure.
For more business coaching tips email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read this related blog Finding Balance with Innovation in Communication.