Thursday afternoon, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a lengthy Status announcing what he called a "major change" coming to our News Feeds:
"The first changes you'll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups. As we roll this out, you'll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. "
Shortly after the post went live, the Internet (and Twitter) lit up with marketers, brands, news publishers, and more wondering what this latest algorithmic update would do to their reach, engagement and bottom line. In the panic, shares of Facebook dropped nearly 4%, costing Zuckerberg nearly $3 billion.
But the latest change may actually present an opportunity for some brands, says Amanda Bond, Owner of The Ad Strategist. Bond discussed the news in a Live video on her Facebook Page Friday morning, with thousands tuning in to find out how the "News Feed Apocolypse" is going to impact them.
I asked her what Facebook Page admins for small businesses, brands and publishers can do to create the best chance for success under the rule of the latest update to the algorithm.
Big Idea #1: Be Human
"Most marketers try to automate, simplify and scale," Bond says. "If you read between the lines of this update, Facebook is telling us to put engagement first and foremost. To win in that world, you need to create an active user experience for fans on your page."
Here are some of her suggestions for increasing the human-element of your page:
- Reduce automation: Remove your third-party automated scheduling tools in favor of using the in-platform scheduling capabilities for FB Business Pages. "Broadcasting slowly drains the lifeblood from any Page, making it feeling robotic and dry," Bond says.
- Listen to your audience (and the data): "Brands who take the time to see what works for their audience will start to see engagement patterns in their content," Bond says. Facebook has identified live video as a high-engagement content type, but your audience may favor memes, image posts or something else. Take the time to listen, analyze your performance data, and double down on the things that work best for you.
- Human replies only: As basic as this might sound, have a real live human respond to comments on your page. "When Page comments go unread and unanswered, Facebook's algorithm thinks that it's a one-way street," Bond says. When you reply to comments, it creates more engagement, which signals to the algorithm that this is a post generating conversation -- and thus -- a post worth showing to more people that may want to join in.
Big Idea #2: Create Connection & Community
"Connection and community is high priority for Facebook," Bond says, so ti's never been more important to create a feeling of togetherness on your page.
- Encourage responses: Create timely and relevant content that directly invites your audience to participate and chime in. Bond suggests asking your audience for their thoughts and opinions, requesting they share recommendations or experiences, and posting open-ended questions, all of which encourage people to contribute to the conversation.
- Don't drive people away: "Stop leading with posts that take visitors off of Facebook and onto your website or blog," Bond says. "Instead, keep the conversation on Facebook." (And don't worry about this hurting your re-targeting efforts, Bond says. Last year, Facebook announced an update that would allow advertisers to create Custom Engagement Audiences to serve up ads to people who have engaged with your content on Facebook, not just those who left the site and visited your website.)
- Focus on LIVE video: "It's no doubt that Facebook wants to push it's Facebook Live product for content creators," Bond says, "because it's doing a great job of keeping people on site." As a bonus, Facebook says its live video is up to 6x more engaging than regular video. (As above, when people view videos on your Business Page, they are also uploaded into a Custom Engagement Audience for ad targeting, too.)
- Have a paid strategy: The news feed IS changing. And although Bond believes that this is "the time for advertisers to double down on their Facebook Page efforts," she also suggest that brands have a serious paid traffic strategy for Facebook and Instagram. "The real winners will be the brands that are able to combine these organic engagement tips to stay relevant in the news feed and amplify their content with a three part traffic strategy," she says.