Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced a significant change affecting Facebook’s News Feed in 2018. If you missed it, feel free to read his announcement here.

Basically, Facebook users have been seeing too many posts from Facebook Pages in their News Feed, making it hard for them to see posts from their friends and family.

“We’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other”, says Zuckerberg.

To be honest, we’re not that surprised by this announcement. This is a direction that Facebook has been moving towards for quite some time now. In February of 2017, Zuckerberg published a lengthy manifesto that made Facebook’s number one priority indisputably clear: give people the power to build a community.

Later that year, Facebook officially changed its mission statement from “make the world more open and connected” to “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”

Translation: Facebook is NOT a platform for broadcasting content to your audience. It’s for having meaningful conversations and building community.

How will Facebook’s News Feed change affect your business?

“The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups”, Zuckerberg explains. “As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

Although this news may be surprising to some people, in reality, organic reach from Facebook Pages has been steadily declining for years. Some sources estimate the current organic reach for Facebook Pages to be as low as 2% (Hubspot).

To put this in perspective, if you publish a post on a Facebook Page that has 100,000 fans, only 2,000 of those fans are likely to see it.

There are two main reasons for this:

  1. As Zuckerberg explained, Facebook users generally don’t log in to Facebook to see content from businesses, brands, and media. They want to see posts from their friends and family.
  2. Facebook’s main source of revenue comes from advertisers. If you’re a business with a Facebook Page, and you want more Facebook users to see your content, you have to pay for that privilege.

As Facebook Advertising Strategist Amanda Bond explained in a recent article for Entrepreneur:

“With a reduction in organic reach for content that originates from brands, small businesses and news publishers, it will become even harder to share important information without venturing into paying for Facebook ads.”

On a positive note, the upcoming changes Facebook’s News Feed will create plenty of new opportunities for businesses that embrace the changes and adapt accordingly.

Facebook’s News Feed Change & How It Affects Your Business in 2018 Click To Tweet

Here are 6 tips to help you adapt to this change and continue to build a thriving business in 2018:

1. Build your audience on multiple platforms

If any single platform/channel is responsible for the majority of the traffic to your website, your business is vulnerable.

A lot of entrepreneurs learned this lesson the hard way when Google made a significant change to their SERP (search engine results page) algorithm several years ago. Practically overnight, thousands of businesses that were relying on Google’s organic search results as their primary source of website traffic lost their rankings in search results. Without an alternative source of website traffic, many of these entrepreneurs went out of business.

What’s the big lesson here?

Never build your only lemonade stand in someone else’s front yard.

If you’re building your audience online, make sure you that you’re diversifying that audience across multiple platforms. Our audience on social media, for example, is spread across multiple platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. If any of these platforms decided to restrict our reach (or shut down entirely), it wouldn’t be detrimental to us because we’re not relying on any single one of them to reach our audience.

2. Encourage engagement on your posts

Facebook favors posts that are getting lots of engagement (likes, shares, reactions, comments). So if you encourage your audience to engage with your post, Facebook will show that post to more people.

Here are a few ways to boost engagement on Facebook:

  • Use Facebook Live

People love to watch videos. By 2019, it is estimated that 80% of all internet traffic will be video content. Facebook Live is great for engagement because they allow your audience to watch you on video and to interact with you in real time. If you want to learn more about live streaming, our friends at Live Streaming Pros have lots of great tips and resources.

  • Ask questions to spark discussion

Ask an open ended questions in your posts, and ask your audience to respond to your question in the comment section. This will help shift your posts from a one-way broadcast to a 2-way discussion between you and your audience.

  • Respond to comments quickly

When someone leaves a comment on your post, respond to that comment as quickly as possible. Even better, start a discussion by responding to their comment with a question.

  • Hire a community manager

Depending on the size of your audience and the amount of engagement you get on Facebook, you may want to hire a community manager to respond to questions, participate in discussions, and moderate comments when necessary.

  • Direct people to your Facebook posts from other platforms

Leverage your presence on other social media platforms and marketing channels (including email) to direct your audience to your Facebook posts.

Marketing expert Scott Oldford, for example, regularly publishes insightful, long-form content on his Facebook Page, which he then drives traffic to using email marketing. In fact, shortly after Zuckerberg’s announcement, Scott published a post from his Facebook Page to share his response to the announcement. He then sent an email to his list of subscribers, which included a link to his Facebook post:

Scott Oldford Facebook Announcement Response

Does this approach work? You bet it does. Check out the engagement Scott received on his post. 200+ reactions, 30+ shares and 20+ comments within a few days:

Scott Oldford Facebook Post Engagement

“Those businesses who have strong tribes and have developed a real community are going to shine, those who don’t have this are going to need to catch-up quickly.”

– Scott Oldford, scottoldford.com 

3. Use Facebook ads (properly!)

Although Facebook is one of the most effective and lucrative advertising platforms for businesses, it’s important to remember that it is first and foremost a social media platform. Facebook users don’t use Facebook to look at ads and shop for products. They use it to socialize with others.

In his book GIVE: The Ultimate Guide to Using Facebook Advertising to Generate More Leads, More Clients, and Massive ROI, Facebook advertising expert Nicholas Kusmich shared the following insights on how to advertise on Facebook the right way:

“Most people do not log in to Facebook with the primary intention of making a purchase. This differentiates the platform significantly from overly commercial sites such as Amazon and eBay. You cannot expect your prospects to be sitting at their laptop, or browsing on their smartphone, with credit card in hand.

This is why you must give people something they are interested in before you even contemplate asking them to make a purchasing decision. What appears to be the most direct line to a purchase is, in fact, a direct line to losing the attention and interest of the people you want to reach. When you approach Facebook with the intent to get something, rather than to give your audience something they value, you will lose.”

Boost your posts that are already getting good engagement

If you’re posting content on your Facebook Page often, wait at least 24-48 hours to see which of your posts get good engagement. Use Facebook’s boost post option to help a post that is already getting engagement get even more engagement.

If you boost a post that no one is engaging with, you will be penalized with high ad costs. Boosted posts and ads that add value to your target audience and get engagement will outperform ads that don’t. Going straight for the sale on Facebook rarely works. Instead, direct your audience to free content, downloadable resources, webinars, etc. Get them off of Facebook and on to a platform that you control (like your website or email list) before you try to sell to them.

Facebook’s News Feed Change & How It Affects Your Business in 2018 Click To Tweet

4. Create a Facebook Group for your audience

Instead of trying to get more fans for your Facebook Page, create a private Facebook Group for your audience and/or customers and start directing people to your group instead. Groups are much better environments than pages for engaging with others and building community anyway.

Our Facebook Group has over 10,000 members (compared to our Facebook Page which has over 15,000 fans), and yet the engagement in our group is WAY higher than the engagement on our page. This just reinforces the value of building a community for your audience/customers on Facebook, versus using Facebook to simply broadcast content to your audience.

Related: How to Use Facebook Groups to Build a Thriving Community

“Owning a private Facebook group that has quickly grown into an amazing community is a great way to spotlight your business, it’s a safe place to get to know people, to interact on your terms, and to collaborate with other business owners. It has changed the game for my business as many of my clients have found me through my private Facebook group.”

– Stephanie Nickolich, styleyoursuccess.com 

5. Build an asset that you can control

Regardless of how much of a presence you establish for your business on social media, it’s important to remember that you do not own or control these platforms. Consequently, changes that are beyond your control (like the one that just happened!) can affect your ability to reach your audience using these platforms.

As you build your audience on social media, make sure you are simultaneously building an asset that you can control: your database. Whether by collecting email addresses, phone numbers, or even physical mailing addresses, always be building a database of prospects and customers that you can contact directly.

Related: How to Build Your Email List (Complete Guide)

“Facebook has been becoming a pay-to-play model for a while now and we’ve all seen our Page Reach declining. We need to remember that advertising (on any platform) isn’t free. You need to have your own assets – specifically your own website and email list. Tools like Facebook Messenger Bots are great as an add-on to your own assets, but they shouldn’t replace them.”

– Kim Garnett, brainygirlvirtualassistant.com 

6. Focus on customer success

Lastly, never lose sight of what should be your most important priority: helping your customers succeed.

Successful customers are happy customers, and happy customers tell other people about your business. They become your biggest advocates. Word-of-mouth marketing is alive and strong, especially on social media.

Instead of asking: how can you reach more people using Facebook? Ask: what can you do to make your existing customers more successful? How can you make sure they’re getting the result you promised them when they purchased your product or service? How can you make them feel support and a part of a community of like-minded people that share the same interests and want the same results?

If your answers to these questions include engaging with your customers on Facebook, then by all means, create a strategy to reach and engage with your customers on Facebook. But don’t invest your time and energy building a presence on a platform just because others are doing it. Clarify the most important priorities for your business, and then work backward from there to identify which platforms and strategies will help you accomplish those priorities.

Related: The Top Customer Success Strategies Used by Successful Companies

All Major Changes Create New Opportunities

This isn’t the first time that Facebook (or any other platform that people use and rely on) has made a significant change, and it won’t be the last. As the Greek Philosopher Heraclitus famously said: “The only thing that is constant is change.”

Instead of resisting this new change, we recommend embracing it and adapting accordingly. Use Facebook to build a community around your business.

Spend time engaging with your audience and customers. Answer their questions. Learn about their pains and frustrations. Focus on building real relationships with your audience. In the long-run, this will allow you to better serve your audience, and turn your customers into raving fans for your business.

Facebook’s News Feed Change & How It Affects Your Business in 2018 Click To Tweet

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