Facebook's new Newsfeed algorithm is freaking out businesses everywhere. The new feed prioritizes posts from friends and family, pushing the Page posts of restaurants, shops, and other small businesses further down than ever.
For the many small businesses that rely on Facebook, this might feel like a death knell. But if you get smart about the kind of content you post on Facebook, this new algorithm can actually be great for you.
Private Facebook users now control what rises to the top. All the businesses posting low-effort promotional junk are off the Newsfeed. But if you can post something your customers think is worth sharing, then you have a massive opportunity on your hands.
Here are five ways to connect with your customers and become one with the Facebook change.
Find Out Exactly What Your Customers Want
Shares are the main currency of social media. Not only does your post then earn access to all of that sharer's friends, but it's a stamp of approval from the person who shared it. That's word-of-mouth marketing.
To find shareable content, tap into your customer base and see what they're talking about.
You may find out, after looking up the Facebook accounts for some of your repeat customers, that they've been writing a lot about Melania Trump's possibly plagiarized speech from the Republican National Convention. Your copy-editing software company could use this opportunity to post something like, "Hey Melania! Let us know if there's anything we could do to help!" Get in on the joke and offer your services.
Your post poking fun at a popular topic that has its own trending hashtags may find itself shared thousands of times on Facebook. And with each share, your company's Page will get clicks.
Grab Clicks Through Rewards
Once you know who your customers are, you can speak to them directly in a language everyone understands: free stuff.
It seems counter-intuitive--why would you give away a product you're selling? Because free stuff and rewards make them more likely to use it AND more likely to tell all their friends about it.
If you post a promotion like, "Tag 3 of your friends and be entered for a chance to win our x product," you're not just going to get shares--you're going to get qualified leads. These people want free stuff, sure, but they're also interested in your product.
For customers you already have, incentivize them to keep using your product through rewards. Extole allows you to manage everything from coupons and loyalty points and referral programs all from one place.
If you can build habits of reward and referral with your customers, they're going to stick with you, new algorithm or not.
Keep Up With The Times And Start Making Videos
Everyone on Facebook has videos now. In May of this year, 17 million videos were uploaded directly to Facebook and were viewed 215 billion times. A single good video can rack up hundred of thousands of views, and viral videos can get millions.
The reach of Facebook video is also growing all the time--this year they included 360 degree video capacity and Facebook Live. Smart outlets are experimenting with both of these capabilities every day, trying to figure out new ways to grab audiences. You can do it too.
If you don't know where to start, Wistia, a video hosting service, has a blog, knowledge base, and Slack community chock full of learnings no matter how far along (or not) your knowledge of video production may be.
Boost Your Posts
If your Facebook reach is limited because your company is regional or your company is still young, now is a good time to try boosting.
"Boosting" one of your Facebook Page posts shows it to a wider audience and helps you see what will do well organically later on. Experimenting with your content like this isn't expensive--about $5 a day will suffice to get you some data to work with.
Your reach will immediately increase and you'll be able to see, at least temporarily, whether your idea for a post has traction. You may even expand your reach permanently.
Through a combination of unique sharable content and one boost, a small Mexican restaurant and grocery store was able to reach an audience way outside their neighborhood. All they have to do was create a short run marketing strategy around Pokmon Go to grab the attention of social media audiences.
Tools like AdEspresso will actually analyze all the numbers for your boosted posts, looking at what posts get you clicks and which clicks return sales. It's not just about dropping change and hoping for clicks, you can strategize every element of your Facebook boosted posts including who exactly they're being shown to.
Customize The Customer Relationship To Win
If Facebook's algorithm change is still worrying you, consider this a lesson: social media is unpredictable, but real connections with your customers aren't.
Stop sharecropping and start reconnecting with your customers through email. It's an oldie but a solid gold goodie.
Through emails you can target and re-target specific groups of people. Rather than just throwing your post out there to be buried under the new algorithm, hone in on the different groups within your customer base.
Customer.io lets you create segmented emails that give your customers a customized experience. You can surpass the algorithm change-up if you are able to reach your customers directly. Segmented emails also let you retarget customers you already have. You know what they say, it's easier to sell to an old customer than a new one.
If you want to stay on your customer's Facebook Newsfeeds, and in their hearts, you have to reach out to them. Target and re-target them through data-driven posts and emails. And reward them. They'll come running back every time.