In case you missed it, Facebook recently announced another round of changes to the algorithm that determines what we see in our News Feeds. This time the change, which will be implemented in January, affects the kinds of content fans and followers will see from the brands they follow.
What’s behind the change? In their November 14, 2014 statement, Facebook said they surveyed hundreds of thousands (!) of people to find out what they want to see in their News Feeds. Facebook learned that people want to see more stories from friends and pages they care about, and less promotional content.
So what qualifies as a post that is “too promotional” in Facebook’s view?
According to Facebook, it’s one of the following three things:
- Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
- Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
- Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads
The change means at least two things for brands that market on Facebook.
First, you will have limited ability to promote your campaigns — contests, giveaways, etc. — on Facebook. Second, since Facebook has also banned like-gating and made enough algorithm changes that Facebook can no longer be relied on to drive traffic to campaigns, it’s time to come up with new tactics.
Here are five ways you can use other tools to stay engaged with the Facebook audience you’ve cultivated.
#1. Use email marketing to promote your latest products, promotions and milestones.
Email marketing remains the most successful form of organic marketing for businesses. According to SalesForce, 70 percent of people say they always open emails from their favorite companies. Ideally you’ve been action-gating to collect email addresses from people who have entered your contests and downloaded coupons or resources such as ebooks and PDFs. If you haven’t tried action-gating to build an email list, time’s a wastin’!
#2. Host promotions, sweepstakes and other campaigns on your website.
Your website is the one thing that no one can take away from you. It’s hosted by you, updated by you and its content is all determined by you. You can’t say that about any social network. The good news is that you can pretty easily host the kinds of campaigns that you’ve been hosting on Facebook on your website or blog by using software that lets you embed the campaigns. I recently saw a great example of an embedded campaign from ZipCar UK, a car- sharing service. My team was curious about how moving to embedding affected the number of entries to their campaign and we found out that Zipcar UK saw a 717 percent increase in entries into their web-based competition and a 204 percent increase in page visits to their promotion (compared to similar campaigns they had run on Facebook). Those are extraordinary numbers! And there was an unintended benefit, too: Zipcar UK’s overall website visits went up as well.
#3. Place ads on your website and blog — for free!
First of all, let me state that I am a big fan of Facebook ads. They work really well for ShortStack, However, there are lots of free ways to promote your brand online, too. Options include “hello bars,” display ads and pop-up notifications. You can also install calls-to-action in the footers of blog posts and make similar graphic announcements on your website. These are all free. You just need a designer to make some ads that you can upload to your website. If you don’t have a designer, there are plenty of tools you can use to create your own graphics; Canva is one of our favorite tools but there are many other options.
#4. Explore other social networks.
If you’ve been reliant on Facebook and have been dragging your feet about establishing a presence elsewhere, 2015 is the year to expand your horizons. You don’t need to be on every network, but perhaps it’s time to spend a little more time on Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter — or wherever your customers are. Make sure you have a strategy for each network and aren’t just spreading the same message around. Your audience will be more likely to follow you in different places, which means you have a better chance of catching their attention, if you provide value everywhere.
#5. When it’s time to make announcements, use traditional media sources in addition to Facebook.
Each time we have a new feature or resource to release we let our Facebook fans know about it, but we also put out a press release and personally reach out to bloggers and media contacts we’ve built relationships with. We build custom landing pages, write blog posts, put announcements on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. A few years ago we could rely on Facebook to reach enough people to bring ample attention to these sort of announcements, but that’s not the case anymore. Plus, with the latest algorithm changes I would assume that an organic post that says “Try our latest feature!” isn’t going to be liked by Facebook.
While Facebook remains a valuable communication channel for businesses, this latest announcement further supports the idea that it will no longer work as a sales platform.
How do you feel about these latest algorithm changes? Do you think Facebook has made the right choice?