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Warning: Ignoring Facebook's News Feed Algorithm Change May Kill Your Brand
Have your Facebook fan page organic search results tanked? If so, are you one of many business owners caught off guard by Facebook's new algorithm change?
What did Facebook change?
In News Feed, posts that Facebook views as "overly promotional" now have limited visibility in the feed.
Some examples of the targeted posts are those urging readers to buy products or services or posts for contests and sweepstakes without "real context."
(Unfortunately, Facebook failed to specify what comprises "real context", which makes it hard for companies and brands to comply.)
Why did they make this change?
According to Facebook, reducing spam and removing overly promotional content in order to enhance the users' experience prompted the change. There are those, like Cotton Delo, with a different take on the change.
Could increasing Facebook ad revenues by forcing those with Fan Pages to buy advertising be the real motive for these 2015 Facebook changes?
"Facebook is being more blunt about the fact that marketers are going to have to pay for reach"1 writes Delo in an article for AdAge. Regardless of why the algorithm was changed, if you want your target market to see your posts about special discounts and promotions, anticipate buying a Facebook Ad in 2015.
How does this change affect social media marketing strategies?
I hope you had a diversified marketing strategy that incorporated multiple social media sources already in place. If so, determine how much traffic and conversions your Facebook Fan Page generates. Based on this date, does it make good business sense to pay for Facebook ads as part of your marketing campaign?
What Can You Do?
While you might not want to drop Facebook from your social media marketing strategy—with 1,310,000,000 users as of 7/1/2014, it's the Internet's largest social media website—it makes sense to diversify.
Do these three things immediately to recover or avoid a loss of traffic and sales from this algorithm amendment.
#1. Alter Your Marketing Strategy
Shift your fans from your fan page to an email list, which gives you control over who sees your marketing pieces, how often they see them, and what content you can include in them.
AWeber and MailChimp are examples of affordable email-marketing tools. AWeber offers a $1 trial, and then you pay $19 per month. MailChimp has a forever-free option as well as monthly and pay as you go subscriptions.
You can use different social media networks, and we'll talk more about that shortly.
#2. Become a Relationship Expert
Develop relationships: No matter what type of algorithm change is affecting your business, you avoid penalties and traffic dips is by being in relationship with your audience. Write compelling content, written in a conversational manner that provides value to your reader by:
- Solving their problems
- Answering their questions
- Teaching them how to do things
This type of content writing builds relationships; relationships lead to profits. Satisfied readers share your content or refer you to others, which builds your customer base and increases your website traffic. These methods appeal to Google and hopefully, to Facebook as well.
Questions to Ask Before Starting a Social Media Campaign
#3. Look for New Social Media Aenues
There are many Facebook alternatives, and some could offer the same or a better return on investment (ROI):
- Twitter: Twitter is a microblogging site where users share real-time tweets—140 characters at a time—with their followers. With 645,750,000 active users, it is one of the top 10 most-visited Internet sites according to Statistics Brain.
- Instagram: Instagram, which became a part of Facebook in 2012, is a photo-sharing site with 560,000,000 active users. It's an excellent marketing tool for reaching visually oriented consumers as you can share photos and videos of your products and services.
- Pinterest: Pinterest is a "pin it on the corkboard" model. They have 70,000,000 million active users with the majority being female, making it a good marketing vehicle for that demographic. It could also drive referral traffic to your site.
- LinkedIn: If your niche is business oriented, and your target market is 35-year olds (and older), make LinkedIn your go-to social media network. Use it for lead generation, networking, and brand or website promotion.
- Google+: Google+ is Google's social networking offering and boasts 400,000,000 active users. Two benefits of using it as part of your social media marketing campaign include boosting your local search results and faster indexing of posts.
This is not an all-inclusive list of alternative social networking options, but it points you in the right direction. Whether you decide to leave the majority of your social networking efforts with Facebook or spread them around a little more, it's good to know what your choices are.
Social Media: Which Network Rocks?
Which social media network gives you the best results?
Can We Trust Facebook?
Facebook claims they made the change because "People told us they wanted to see more stories from friends and Pages they care about, and less promotional content."2
For me, it's hard to believe that statement as it comes from a company called out for deliberately manipulating user content in an undisclosed social engineering experiment.
(To be fair, their terms of service allow them to conduct this type of research, so the caveat is to know what's in a company's terms of service before you agree to them.)
Their post goes on to say the changes were based on the results of a customer survey but offer no proof the survey was statistically valid. For instance:
- What was the size of the sampling group?
- What was the margin of error?
- How did they gather their information this time?
I'd like to see the questions they used to gather their information. Were they unbiased or slanted to get the responses Facebook wanted?
In my opinion, it's harder to trust Facebook since the revelation of their secret experimentation. I would like to see the statistical data for the survey behind the algorithm change.
I have no problem with them charging for advertising; we live in a free market society, and they have the same right to charge for their services as I do. Just tell me what you are doing—i.e. charging for advertising if I use your service to promote my business—and let me decide if I want to buy that service from you or from someone else.
Why do you think Facebook made this algorithm change to News Feed? Was it a smart business move on their part?
1 - Delo, Cotton, "Facebook Admits Organic Reach is Falling Short, Urges Marketers to Buy Ads," AdAge, 12/05/2013, accessed 01/10/2014, http://adage.com/article/digital/facebook-admits-organic-reach-brand-posts-dipping/245530/
2 - Undisclosed author, "An Update to News Feed: What It Means to Business," Facebook for Business, accessed 01/10/2015, https://www.facebook.com/business/news/update-to-facebook-news-feed
- IQS Research, "What Makes a Statistically Valid Sample?" accessed 01/10/2015, http://iqsresearch.com/what-makes-a-statistically-valid-sample/
- Riley, Charles, "Internet Outrage by Facebook's 'Creepy' Mood Experiment," CNN, 06/30/2014, accessed 01.10.2015Moneyhttp://money.cnn.com/2014/06/30/technology/facebook-mood-experiment/index.html
- Gilbert, Jason,"Facebook Alternatives: 10 New Social Networks to Join if Facebook's Too Corporate for You," The Huffington Post, 05/17/12, accessed 01/10/2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/16/facebook-alternatives_n_1522647.html
- Statistics Brain, Twitter Statistics, accessed 01/10/2014,
- Ibid, Facebook Statistics, http://www.statisticbrain.com/facebook-statistics/
- AllTwitter, "Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Linked In Social Media Stats 2014," accessed 01/10/2014, http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/social-media-stats-2014_b54243
© 2015 Donna Cosmato