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Ask an Expert: How Small Businesses Can Adapt to All These Facebook Changes

Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about Facebook and the way in which the social network lets (and sometimes doesn’t let) business owners connect with fans.

Starting with the switch to Timeline earlier in the year, Facebook has rolled out a number of updates that have effectively changed the way in which users engage with Pages and reshaped the way content is delivered to fans.

These changes have been severe and business owners are understandably discouraged and even overwhelmed.

And while some businesses may decide to stick to the old way of doing things, it’s the businesses that adapt to these changes and rethink the way they engage with fans that will continue to grow and see results from their Facebook marketing.

This week, I spoke with Danielle Cormier, Social Media Specialist at Constant Contact. Danielle has seen firsthand how recent changes have impacted the reach of brands on Facebook and had some great advice for how businesses can adapt to the new Facebook reality.

Find out what Danielle had to say when we sat down for this week’s Ask an Expert.

Here is the transcript if you would rather read…

What are some of the biggest changes you have seen on Facebook and how have they affected the way you engage with your fans?

In the last few months, since September, there have been some changes to the EdgeRank formula, which is the formula Facebook uses to determine what users see in their News Feed. The purpose of EdgeRank is to make sure users aren’t overwhelmed and are instead given a specific list of things that they think you’ll find the most interesting.

Since September, there has been a drop in reach across all types of content that gets posted on Facebook. Facebook is trying to limit what’s in the mobile News Feed, what’s in the regular News Feed, and controlling what people are seeing.

Recently, in the last few weeks, we’ve also noticed that text-only posts are getting the most reach, while in the past it would be images. Even though images are still the most engaging type of content, they’re not seeing the same reach they used to.

Part of the reason images aren’t getting the same reach may be because some people feel that images can be “spammy.” Maybe it’s because a business posts too many photos or maybe they’re off topic or not relevant to the brand, so they may be “unliking” that page or X-ing it out on the News Feed or hiding the post.

This is a type of “negative feedback” and recently Facebook released a statement saying that negative feedback is going to be a big factor for EdgeRank. A lot of people wouldn’t notice this impact on their own, but it’s an important part of marketing on Facebook.

You can look at your Facebook Insights to see who is giving your posts negative feedback. This is going to affect your reach and how many people are going to see your posts in their News Feed.

What advice do you have for businesses when it comes to adapting to all these Facebook changes?

Definitely watch your Insights.

It really shows you everything that’s happening in the News Feed: how many people are seeing your posts, how much engagement…  And you never know when Facebook is going to change something.

Even if you can only check it once or twice a month, do it! See what’s happening. Maybe posts with links are getting the most reach or maybe its text-only posts like we just recently noticed…

I would also recommend following big brands. Fortune 500 companies are great to follow because they’re usually on top of these trends and you can really see what they’re doing and get inspiration for what you should be posting from them.

And, you can even check out the Constant Contact Facebook Page.

Is there one piece of advice you can point to as the biggest thing businesses need to be aware of when engaging with fans on Facebook?

I would say: make sure you’re staying on topic when it comes to your Page and give your fans what they expect from you.

You can talk about current events or holidays or things like that, but relate it back to your business. Make sure you’re giving fans what they want to see so they’re not “unliking” or “unsubscribing” from you—that way you can get the most reach and the most engagement.

Make changes of your own!

Change isn’t always a bad thing.

In fact, changes can often make a world of difference when it comes to your own Facebook Page.

And while you can’t control how and when Facebook is going to change, you can control the type of content you share, the frequency at which you post it, and the overall strategy you take when it comes to engaging with fans on Facebook.

Want to learn more about how you can step up your own Facebook marketing? Register for our free live webinar: Supercharging Your Facebook Marketing.

Comments:

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  1. Ryan, this is my first time to your blog, so I don’t yet know your take on things. But I see your bio says you focus on Small Business issues, so I was disappointed you didn’t push Danielle to answer more directly to small business Facebook issues.

    Her approach centered on Big Business Social Media results and recommendations – which is odd because Constant Contact caters to small business. Her advice does not carry well to small business.

    She says: “I would also recommend following big brands…see what they’re doing and get inspiration for what you should be posting from them.”

    I tell my small business clients NOT to mimic the big brands. Big businesses cannot make a personal connection with their followers because those numbers reach into the 10s and 100 thousands, if not millions, so their posts have to be centered on commercial content as that is what that their fans expect. There is no personal interaction on the Fortune 500 pages except if there is a complaint posted.

    Small businesses need to maximize the luxury they have of being able to personally respond and cater to their smaller fan base. They can have conversations, share stories, elicit responses and have fun, too. Their fan base is much smaller, but organically grown though real connection. If you are a small business only looking at growing numbers, then you are wasting your fans time and they will begin to notice the disconnect and you will lose that valuable connection.

    Facebook is on a tightrope right now, and will lose its effectiveness quickly if they continue to lose sight of their original mission. One good thing about all of this disruption is that it is teaching small businesses not to put all their marketing eggs in just the Facebook basket!

    Thanks for the post.

    Reply
    • Ryan Pinkham •

      @bizcommunicator Thank you for reading and for sharing your feedback. I think we’re on the same page when it comes to how small businesses should approach Facebook marketing.

      I believe Danielle’s point in relationship to “following big brands” was really about seeing how they are adapting to Facebook’s changing landscape. As you know, business owners don’t have the time or resources to read every marketing blog or keep up with every shift in the EdgeRank algorithm or update to a Facebook feature. But I think by following bigger brands and keeping track of the “type” of content they are sharing (links, images, text-only, etc) then they can get a good idea of what type of posts are getting the most reach or engagement.

      But I think you’re right: businesses cannot and should not mimic big brands when developing content and definitely should not put all their marketing eggs in one basket.

      Reply
  2. Reblogged this on WHITFIELD CONSULTING and commented:
    I think people should be more careful how they advise in social media. Here is a post to which I responded and the author was spot on in his reply and I appreciate his taking the time to consider my response.
    I am reblogging this because there is a lot of confusion – and a lot of rumors – in regard to Facebook changes and these matters are addressed here. While we should never expect that Facebook do its fans’ bidding since it is a free tool. Frankly, they owe us nothing. HOwever, to ensure their success, it is amazing to me they are seemingly indifferent to the discontent that is being so publicly spread.

    If you are a small business or non-profit, don’t mimic big business strategy, but there are elements of their tactics you can learn from to be sure.

    Enjoy.

    Reply
  3. This has been a very enlightening post! I am a non-profit, one person company with VERY little financial backing (my own) that provides newsletters for the bereaved, emergency responders, and the public in general. They are exceptional publications with over 1,200 subscribers in a little over a year’s time.

    During the last 1.5 years, I have worked hard to develop my business place on Facebook and other social media platforms. Constant Contact has been a great help with the information you continually provide to educate me about the trends, the hype, and the best practices to make my business presence a success.

    With that said, I have seen a MAJOR decline of “LIKES” on my Facebook page and subscribers to my newsletters in the last several months. It is very disheartening. I have tried Social Campaigns and have spent what little funds I have for Facebook Ads. In the past, $20 of ad space on Facebook would have generated 10-12 or more new subscribers in a day or two. Now…. 1, maybe 2 in several days. I try to tweak the ad to entice more Likes and subscribers, but to no avail.

    I know that I am not the only person who feels this way. Many of us wear many hats in our business and have limited time to spend figuring out what to do on Facebook and how to change what we are doing to promote our cause.

    Thank you again for giving us what I call the nit and grit of the “problem”. My takeaway from this article is: 1) I am not alone in this frustration; 2) pay more attention to my Insights (I am NOT a statistical friendly person, but I will be now!); and 3) check out Fortune 500 company pages, including CC to see what is working for them.

    Keep up the great job!
    Peggy Sweeney
    Journeys Through Grief Newsletters
    http://bit.ly/JourneysonFB

    Reply
  4. After a quick look at my insights, I have discovered that a clients graphic focused posts (pictures of classic cars) inspire more “engaged users” and “talking about this”than my text ones do ( by a significant margin ).

    Perhaps they are pushing more text as a result of needing to control the outrageous bandwidth issues they are currently facing. In my observation, what has changed is page load time and people abandoning the site more.

    Reply
  5. hamed •

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    Please give me your price,

    Regards,
    Hamed

    Reply

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