This post was originally published on June 21, 2016, and was updated on May 1, 2018, to reflect the announced changes to Facebook’s algorithm.
Facebook has been declared dead about as many times as SEO. But just like Grey’s Anatomy, it just keeps chugging along.
Yes, it has gotten markedly harder to get organic visibility…and it looks like it’s going to get even worse as Facebook looks to once again tighten the algorithm. And privacy concerns could even impact ads. But despite all this, Facebook remains one of the strongest social media platforms for business. With Facebook Live videos, Groups, ads, and more, there are plenty of opportunities for brands to engage with their audience on Facebook.
Bottom line: There are 1.4 billion daily active users on Facebook. That’s too big to simply ignore. But you have to do Facebook marketing right. Here are a few basic Facebook do’s and don’ts:
- Make sure your audience is on Facebook. Sure, there are 1.4 billion daily active users, but if that doesn’t include a significant part of your audience, time spent there will be wasted. You can find out if your audience is there by using a tracking pixel on your website that matches website visitors to their Facebook accounts or by uploading your email lists.
- Compel engagement…especially comments. Facebook is looking for “meaningful social interactions” to determine who gets coveted space on users’ news feeds. Mark Zuckerberg said they are looking at conversations as a sign of real engagement, while reactions and shares are seen as less valuable, passive engagement. Use questions, fill-in-the-blanks, etc., to elicit thoughtful responses from your followers.
- Be fun. Use meme’s, gifs, fun pictures of your team, etc. People are on generally on Facebook to be entertained and share content they relate with, so remember that when you create content for Facebook. All About Flip Flops is a good example. An ecommerce business selling flip-flops and related products, they know how to capitalize on being a fun brand. They often have memes and quotes on Facebook about the beach that their target audience relates to. You can see here that these types of posts garner them a number of reactions and shares, as well as comments.
- Advertise. The continual updates to Facebook’s algorithm are increasingly making the platform pay-to-play. Even as privacy issues threaten to limit some advertising capabilities, it’s currently still one of the most affordable and sophisticated online advertising platforms. Facebook ads are a great way to get additional exposure, especially with their advanced targeting options.
- Leverage Groups. Zuckerberg specifically mentioned that users would see more from friends, families, and GROUPS. Therefore, Groups remain a great way to get in front of your audience. Join some that are relevant to your industry, actively participate in the conversations, and consider starting your own Group.
- Use video, especially Facebook Live. Again, Zuck specifically called out Live video as the type of content that garners the engagement that will earn news feed exposure. If you’ve shied away from it, now’s the time to get on board.
- Panic! Every time Facebook talks about changing its algorithm or limiting business reach, it understandably raises concern among marketers. But you’ve been through this before, and not just on Facebook. As Stone Temple Consulting’s Mark Traphagen pointed out in a Marketing Land article, what Facebook and other social networks are doing is very similar to Google’s evolution over the years. Its constant algorithm changes have made ranking harder and forced marketers to focus on the quality and user experience of their websites. You need to do the same with your Facebook content to survive the Facebook news feed shake up.
- Expect sales directly from Facebook. One thing that is sure to kill value and user experience is being overly self-promotional and constantly trying to drive the sale. You should look at Facebook as a way to build relationships and to build brand awareness. It’s generally not useful for generating direct, immediate sales.
- Post “clickbait.” Forget the fact that social networks are actively trying to get rid of clickbait. Think about what it does to your brand’s reputation. People don’t like to be deceived, and that’s what you’re doing when your title makes a promise your content doesn’t deliver on. Headlines and posts should be compelling, but they must not be misleading or exaggerated.
- Blatantly ask for engagement. “Engagement bait” is also in Facebook’s sights. According to an announcement late in 2017, pages that specifically ask for likes, shares, or comments will be demoted. If you create content that makes your audience want to engage, you shouldn’t have to ask them to.
- Buy followers or get them by other artificial means. It’s not about the number of followers you have but the quality and the amount of engagement you get from them. Would you rather have a million followers but minimal comments, likes, shares, etc., or 100 followers who are actively interacting with your page and your brand?
- Overlook Facebook just because you are B2B. True, Facebook is generally most successful for the B2C crowd, but it all comes back to your audience and your approach. Is your audience there? Can you find a unique way to engage them on Facebook? If so, give it a shot!
Facebook is a great tool for marketers, but like everything else, it has to be approached with a deliberate focus and strategy. If you can find the right way to engage with your audience, you may find it’s one of the best tools in your marketing arsenal.