By now you may have heard that Facebook changed the algorithm that determines which “stories” show up in the News Feed. Some users are seeing posts from brands drop by as much as 88%.
Facebook changes happen regularly (especially in the last few months) and I don’t know about you but I like to have a little more control over how my business speaks to its customers. Facebook changes always cause a stir but this latest algorithm change has pushed some people off the cliff.
Here’s a surprise: Facebook would like to make more money. To do that, they’re restricting the content your fans see in their Newsfeed. How do you get your fans to see more of your content? You pay Facebook for the privilege.
On a certain level, I see their point. Facebook began as a platform for people to connect easily and regularly with their friends and family. Soon they figured out that brands would like to connect with those people easily and regularly so Business Pages were born. Now that they’ve gone public, Facebook has a new beast to feed: shareholders. They’ve built quite an amazing platform with some really valuable information that every business can derive value from. If you’re Facebook, why not change things up and increase revenue every way you can?
What drew businesses to Facebook in the first place was the perception that it was free. The idea of reaching millions of fans at practically no cost was just too good to pass up. Since traditional media was faltering and brands were seeing less and less results from their advertising, the consensus was, “Why not jump in, it’s free.” That idea of “free media” was only a myth because it does take time, a budget and skill to succeed on Facebook.
With these latest Facebook changes, we’ve all been slapped back to reality and the stakes just got a whole lot higher. How can your business weather this latest storm and be prepared for the next changes to come down the pike?
Don’t focus on understanding the tools. Focus on understanding the people using the tools.
Olivier Blanchard, author of “Social Media ROI”, puts it this way: Social media marketers need to become less concerned about how to influence Facebook algorithms and more concerned about how to influence people, their client’s audience and target market. Companies forgot to look at how social channels could help them do all sorts of things that went beyond push marketing and messaging to their would-be customers.
You may remember a post I did a few months ago on how your marketing content needs to attract and engage at each customer’s purchase consideration stage. It’s the See – Think – Do Marketing Framework. When you adopt this framework as part of your strategy, you become focused on your customer not on the tools:
When you stop obsessing with the tools and focus your understanding and study on who you actually want to reach, any change that Facebook throws at you will become a non-starter. When you know your customer, no one and nothing can keep you from reaching them, where ever they happen to spend their time. Sure you might have to pay-to-play on Facebook but you’ll already know how to spend your budget.
There’s a second component to your success moving forward from these Facebook changes and it’s about you. For years now, I’ve been evangelizing that Facebook users like to stay on Facebook and your marketing should connect with them there. The best way to do that is to install Facebook landing pages to drive leads. This tactic still works but I no longer recommend it as the only solution.
Plant Seeds in Your Own Garden
Facebook pages come at a price. Yes, you have potential access to thousands of buyers and you can stay connected to current customers, but ultimately, Facebook controls how and even if you get access.
It’s smart to grow your flowers in your own garden. While you’re at the whims of Facebook when it comes to your content and engagement strategies, you have far more control over channels you own such as your website, blog or email list. Social Media channels can be used to syndicate that content and when changes come, you won’t be as affected.
For now, Facebook ads are still the best game in town. They do take skilled expertise but they are relatively cheap compared to Google ads. Staying with our See – Think – Do framework, marketers should use Facebook ads to:
- Drive “See” and “Think” Customers to your Blog. “See” customers are at the top of the sales funnel. They’re looking for and connecting with relevant content. “Think” customers are in the middle of the funnel and are looking for more focused, brand-related content that will help them “think” through their purchase decisions.
- Drive “Do” Customers (prospects) to your website landing pages. “Do” customers are ready to take action and need very specific information like pricing and terms. Your landing pages should bring them further down the funnel and generate the lead.
Ironically, Facebook’s latest changes to further restrict the content that fans see may ultimately drive users away from Facebook. We’ll have to see how that shakes out. The whole idea was to attract more people to Facebook but if users start migrating away then Facebook will have to alter their strategies.
Facebook is still the mac-daddy for dealerships and other local businesses and it’s not going away anytime soon. They have a lot of opportunity ahead and so do you. Focus on your customers needs and plant seeds in your own garden. You’ll never have to worry about Facebook’s changes again!