Recently, I saw a post on Facebook from one of my favorite local businesses that really caught me by surprise.
The post was in response to recent news from Facebook that they will be limiting the reach of promotional posts starting in 2015.
This business owner had invested a ton of time and energy into building an audience on Facebook, and was disappointed to find that Facebook could be making it even more difficult to reach his fans.
After growing their fan base to nearly 6,000 fans, they’ve decided to call it quits.
This was disappointing news for a few reasons.
Selfishly, I’ve always enjoyed receiving updates from this local business. Their posts are fun, conversational, and do an excellent job at showing off their products without clogging my feed with too much promotional content.
Less selfishly, I was disappointed to hear that they were shutting down their page because it’s unlikely that the changes will impact their posts in the way that they are expecting.
As Facebook explains in its latest announcement, there are three types of posts that will be impacted by the change:
- Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
- Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes, without providing context
- Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads
If you’ve ever shared these types of posts on Facebook, you’ve probably seen that this type of content doesn’t work very well. And hopefully you’ve made tweaks to your posting strategy and learned what type of posts your fans would like to see instead.
If you’re already doing the right things and are committed to providing an experience that’s interesting and relevant to fans, it’s unlikely that these changes will have much of an impact — if any — on your Facebook Page.
As Facebook explains in its latest announcement:
“This change is about giving people the best Facebook experience possible and being responsive to what they have told us. While Pages that post a lot of the content we mention above will see a significant decrease in distribution, the majority of Pages will not be impacted by this change.”
So what does this all mean for you?
If your Facebook strategy is currently reliant on overly promotional posts, you can expect to see organic reach decline in the New Year.
But there are steps you can take to set yourself up for success and avoid getting tuned out in 2015.
Let’s start by looking at a few things you can try right away:
1. Move relationships beyond Facebook
Look for opportunities to move the connections you’ve made on Facebook to a place where you can build relationships with them on your own terms.
If you have an email list, you can encourage fans to opt-in to make sure they don’t miss any future updates. That way, when you do have something to promote, you’ll know that these customers will see your message because it’s being delivered to a place they go every day — the inbox.
2. Identify your top performing posts from 2014
Take a look at your top performing posts from 2014. You can use your Facebook Insights to see which posts received the best reach. You should also look to see which type of content is generating the highest response in the form of comments, likes, and shares.
- What are some of the unique characteristics of these posts?
- Is there a particular type of content that’s performing best (image, video, links, text)?
- What about the copy of the post? Is there anything unique about the topic or language you used?
Identify 3-5 of your top performing posts and use those posts as models for your content in 2015.
3. Experiment with timing and frequency
Once you’ve figured out which type of content is working best, you can think about timing.
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to when is the best time to post on Facebook? But there are steps you can take to figure out which time of the day your posts are more likely to be seen. You can test posting at different times to see which performs the best and also look at last year’s results to see how your posts performed at different times of the day.
You’ll also want to think about frequency. For some pages, posting 3-5 times per week will be all they need to keep their audience engaged. Others may need to post on a daily basis or multiple times a day to have their posts show up.
Use the next few weeks to test different times and frequencies as you head into 2015. You can use Facebook’s native post scheduler to schedule posts in advance.
4. Check for context
Facebook is still a great place to talk about your products, services, and all the other stuff you have going on, but you need to do it in a way that’s right for your audience. Simply posting an update saying “Check out our new items” with a link to your website won’t do your business any good.
Instead, look for opportunities to add context to your posts before sharing.
Are you letting customers know about a new line of products? Provide some information about why you decided to add this line of products — maybe it was something customers had been requesting.
Or, if you’re running a contest to engage fans, make sure fans know why they should enter and what they need to do to participate.
When you provide the context your audience needs, you’ll not only have more people acting on your posts, you’ll also have more opportunities to have your content seen.
There are also strategies you can consider that go beyond tweaking the content you share.
Consider taking these four steps in 2015:
5. Develop an advertising budget
If you’re going to use Facebook to promote your products or services, or to let people know about upcoming sales or events, you need to have an advertising budget for Facebook in 2015.
This doesn’t mean you’ll have to pay to have every post seen by your fans. But when you do have something big to promote or want to get more exposure for something you have going on — you can use Facebook’s advertising tools to reach a wider audience.
For a bakery, this could mean investing in paid ads as you head into a busier season like the holidays. Or, if you’re a service business, you might want to promote posts at a time where you know potential clients are more likely to need your help.
You can use Facebook Ads to target existing fans, or you can reach a whole new audience using Facebook’s targeting features.
6. Experiment with different networks
Over the last few years, there are a few social networks beyond Facebook that have grown in popularity for small businesses.
Instagram is a great example of this. On Instagram, you can create engaging content to showcase your products and engage your fans right from your mobile device. It’s easy to get started and you can share new content in a matter of minutes.
You can also consider using:
7. Keep your details up-to-date
Even if you decide to scale back your Facebook posting in 2015, don’t overlook the value of using Facebook to help new customers find your business.
Review your business information like hours and location, and make sure you’ve completely filled out your bio so that new customers can find the information they are looking for!
Bonus Tip: Encourage fans to set up notifications for your page
If you’re worried about fans missing your posts, you can encourage them to set up notifications for your Facebook Page.
After someone has liked your page, they can hover over the “Liked” button at the top of your page and choose to “Get Notifications.” Once the feature is turned on, they will be notified anytime you share an update from your Facebook Page.
You can encourage existing fans to turn on notifications to make sure they never miss an update, and can also use other channels, like email, to encourage loyal customers to do the same.
We want to hear your Facebook questions!
As we head into 2015, we’d love to hear what questions you have about Facebook and the changes that have taken place? Do you expect to do more with your Facebook marketing? Have you considered calling it quits? Did you face any Facebook challenges in 2014?
Post your questions in the comments below!