Facebook algorithm changes and local businesses

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One week ago, on the 11th of January, Mark Zuckerberg announced a change that is guaranteed to shake up businesses and marketers alike. In fact, it’s probably one of the biggest changes for business that Facebook has rolled out yet. But what does this change involve? And what does it mean for local businesses? Well, here at Pumpkin Web Design, we are Preston’s leading web design and web marketing experts. As a result, we have produced this guide to Facebook algorithm changes and local businesses.

What will change?

Mark Zuckerberg has had a tough time of it over the past year and a half. Honestly, if he wasn’t so rich and successful, I might feel sorry for him. From being held responsible for the “fake news” epidemic, to the mental health issues that arise in the overuse of social media, Facebook has been under fire. So its no wonder that changes are being made. But what exactly will change?

In his speech, Zuckerberg referred to a change in the news feed algorithm which would prioritize content from friends and family, as well as Facebook groups and communities that you are part of. As a result, users will 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.”

Why make this algorithm change?

According to Zuckerberg, these changes are coming from a good place. Apparently, these algorithm changes will help with our well being, as we feel more positive when we interact with the photo of our aunts cat, as opposed to the latest article from a business or brand.

However, interestingly enough, we will still see plenty of sponsored posts. Posts that publishers have paid to display to a particular demographic. So, while organic content essentially disappears from our news feed, even from brands we like, surely we’ll see more paid for advertising, as more brands will be paying for views? This in turn, will probably increase the price of advertising on Facebook, with the increase in demand. Hmmm, sounds more like a good business plan than a mental health policy. But maybe I’m just being cynical?

What can most businesses expect?

Over the next few months, as the changes roll out, it is highly likely that businesses will see a significant decrease in the organic views and reach. In fact, in some countries where similar changes were trialed, popular businesses lost around half of their organic viewers!

 

So how can small businesses stay competitive on Facebook?

As with most changes, it’s likely that the small businesses will be hit the hardest. Especially as there simply isn’t the money to throw into the black hole of Facebook advertising. So what can you do to stay on top and still appeal to customers? Well, here are our top tips.

1. Post quality and engaging content that promotes conversations

It would seem that Zuckerberg’s idea of “interaction” comes in the form of comments, not likes or shares. It’s a shame then that the addition of the reaction buttons have made it easy for people to express an opinion without having to comment at all. Especially as the action of reacting with these buttons doesn’t class as interaction. As a result, you need to work even harder to engage that passive Facebook audience. Quality and thoughtful content that can spark debate, discussion or conversation is the only way to go, as pages that are encouraging conversation will be the least effected by the change. So why not try:

  • asking questions
  • writing about current events that are relevant to your business and sparking discussion
  • writing about your local area and connecting with your user-base.

2. NEVER fall into the “engagement-bait” trap

“Check out our top 6 tips. We know you all do number 3”.

“Like and share for your chance to win”

These are classic engagement-bait tips from websites that are still in use today. However, liking and sharing will not be classed as meaningful interaction, so it might be more tempting to write something like:

“COMMENT with your favourite dog” etc.

Don’t fall into this trap. We know it’s tempting but Facebook will automatically demote your post in the New Feed. And you might even get banned for a week or so!

Encourage your existing customer base to select the “See First” option

Most customers don’t even know this option exists. But basically people that already follow your page can make sure they still see your posts by clicking on the “See First” option under their News Feed preferences. This is something Humans of New York has already shown its fan-base. And its something that you can easily do today.

In summary

Facebook is changing its algorithm so that brands and businesses will have to work harder to maintain their organic reach. This means encouraging current followers to select the “See First” options, and to continue to produce engaging, top quality content.

For professional web marketing support, and to keep your social media on top, why not get in touch with Pumpkin Web Design today?

Pumpkin Web Design Ltd is a small and highly results driven digital agency working for like minded clients in Preston, Manchester, Chorley, Southport, Blackburn, Burnley, Morecambe, Wigan and the UK. Our services include web design, SEO, content marketing, video production, brand design and much more.