Facebook updated their news feed algorithm at the beginning of December, with the stated goal of pushing higher quality news stories into people’s feeds:
“We’ve noticed that people enjoy seeing articles on Facebook, and so we’re now paying closer attention to what makes for high quality content, and how often articles are clicked on from News Feed on mobile. What this means is that you may start to notice links to articles a little more often (particularly on mobile).”
Ok, so we should be seeing more content from high-end news sources and less Buzzfeed memes, right?
Wrong. The most significant thing that has happened is not related to what Facebook described. Instead, we’re seeing much, much fewer Facebook Page updates in our feeds.
How much less? Well, at one point Facebook claimed that about 16% of a Facebook Page’s fans see their updates; according to a study conducted by Ignite Social Media, now that number is barely scraping 3%.
Let’s put that into hard, cold numbers: if your page has 2000 fans, your posts were reaching about 320 of them at any given time. Not great, but not terrible. Now, your Facebook posts are maybe reaching 60 of them. Oy.
But I need people to see my stuff!
Like all the social networks and big internet properties, Facebook is in it to make money. Until now, Facebook Pages have more or less been a way for brands to advertise for free, and now Facebook expects to get paid: if you want people to see your content, you can sponsor your posts and Facebook will push them to more people.
It sucks for brands, and it sucks for marketers. But as always in the world of the interwebz, there are ways, my friends. Here are some ideas you can use to overcome the new Facebook decrees:
Use your personal profile for business
Yes, we don’t like to mix business and personal; yes, it can get messy and complicated. But if you segment your “friends” with Facebook lists, you can make sure that only your family sees the pictures of your kids at the beach, while the video of your latest lecture on semantic data is displayed to your professional connections and not to Grandpa.
For businesses that aren’t Coca Cola or Nike, there’s an advantage to posting as a person rather than as a corporate entity. Many CEOs and managers are the faces of their company, and people would like to hear from them (think Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO. Zappos is huge, but it wasn’t always.). By posting as yourself, you can also increase engagement overall since people react more positively to people.
You can encourage your website visitors to join your Facebook network by adding a Follow button to the site, rather than the standard Like box or button. The Follow button behaves a lot like the Like button, as it allows people to follow you with one click, and shows the faces of the user’s other friends who have Followed this person too:
Other advantages of using your Facebook profile for business:
- You can sponsor your own personal posts now, so if you post something particularly juicy and want to make sure it reaches farther, you can still pay Facebook for that.
- The 5000 friend limit is irrelevant now, since you can have an unlimited number of Followers on your Facebook profile. And Followers have a lot in common technically with Fans.
The disadvantage of using your personal Facebook profile for business is that you can’t add other managers with various permission levels to your account; and you don’t have access to Facebook Insights analytics (though if no one is engaging with your content anymore, there’s not much to see there). It’s certainly overall an unconventional way to go, but it’s an option nonetheless.
Build up your email list, now
People’s inboxes are more crowded then ever, and your emails will have to compete for attention among hundreds of other emails, but your message still has a higher rate of being noticed when it arrives in the inbox of an opted-in subscriber than if it floats off into the other dimension where Facebook Page updates go to be un-read.
So start building up your email list now: add an opt-in box to your site, add an opt-in tab to your Facebook page (though no one will see it), encourage your twitter followers to sign up. Offer something free and juicy as an incentive to get people to subscribe. But start today, because every day that goes by is an opportunity to get another person into your email communication.
So you see? All is not lost. Just remember: you can’t ever depend 100% on Facebook, so keep your online activity diversified. And always make sure you have a good website – it’s the only online property you can really own.