A lot of businesses will know where they were when they saw the Facebook news hit screens everywhere last Thursday – that’s how important Social Media has become to us. It’s crazy to think that a Facebook news feed algorithm update would make BBC News but that’s how much of a stir it has caused.
If you haven’t seen anything about it yet, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg has released that the changes they will be making to the new algorithm “will give priority to content from friends, family and groups”.
That’s right – you read that correctly – Facebook is going back to it’s roots. As a personal user to Facebook I can completely understand this change. I very rarely see anything from my friends or family now when I log into the platform and my feed is usually filled with activity from groups I am in or Ad’s. So I think the changes they are going to do will actually make the personal use of Facebook a much better place.
As Zuckerberg says:
“[We have] a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being…”
This is their justification for the change and like I said I welcome it in fact. However where does that now leave me as a business owner? What does this Facebook change mean for us?
Zuckerberg has admited that businesses are now going to have to work even harder than to gain attention from their customers or potential customers. The push for us to advertise and boost is going to be even stronger as we all see a descrease in organic reach on the platform. I’m a business and understand the need to make revenue – the whole reason why Facebook opened it’s platform to businesses in the first place with it’s Ad spots, but not all us businesses have massive budgets to get the reach we need and even when we dip our toes in, it’s never really clear whether we’ve reached the right people or not. So what can we do in the face of this uncertain 2018 as far as Facebook is concerned?
For this part I have teamed up with two ladies, both who are absolute powerhouses in the digital field and who I have a HUGE respect for, and we are all going to share our ideas and insights into what we can do to overcome this new algorithm change.
Pippa Akram – Social Pip
Right now consumers want to connect with businesses on a much more intimate level. They want to feel a part of, as well as see, the human side of a business and in a more meaningful way than ever before and this is where small business owners have a big advantage over their larger companions. Building an authentic, personal brand is so much easier to achieve when it is literally you or just a small team. Start by thinking about what you and your business would like to be known for and then live those real moments, connect over real issues, let your customers into aspects of your work and non-work life, share with them the ups and downs and build those relationships.
Get some support
If you haven’t thought about using brand ambassadors before, now might be the time. A brand ambassador could be a valued customer, a great client, a supplier you’re on good terms with. as well as trusted friends; basically anyone who will speak in a positive light about you and your business at the right time. You’ll need to devise some guidelines as there is an etiquette to promoting someone else’s brand and think about financial or non-financial rewards. If this sounds too daunting then you might want to consider reaching out to complementary businesses and work out a way to team up and support each other on Facebook. For instance an upholstery company might team up with a local fabric supplier and run a joint Facebook live video or competition or to simply offer those valuable tips we all crave.
Amy White – Social Butterflies
When social media networks like Facebook launched back in 2004 the emphasis was very much on the ‘social’ and it was a great way to keep in touch with friends. However the tide has really turned – our newsfeeds are increasingly cluttered with adverts and the Brexit/Trump era of fake news has made consumers very cynical (and rightly so). A lot of people have now turned to Instagram as a refreshing alternative to seek out interesting businesses and individuals to follow. As a small business owner Instagram provides a unique opportunity to reach existing and potential customers through its emphemeral Stories video feature. It has become a hugely popular way to communicate with customers in an informal way. The feature allows you to post pre-recorded (and live) video clips (they only last for 24hrs), add text, stickers, polls, sound, filters and generally play around with new features as it continually evolves. A recent addition has been the introduction of ‘highlights’, which allows you to save your best clips and post them on your account page – a great way to showcase what your business is up to.
These are a perfect way to showcase alternative content alongside your main curated feed. You can add personality, demonstrate your products or just chat to your customers. Think of this feature as a ‘behind the scenes’ look at your business – an opportunity to allow your authentic business voice a chance to stand out and be individual. If you have over 10k followers you will benefit from the ‘swipe-up’ feature, which allows you to add a clickable URL within your story. But do consider the way people enjoy viewing these stories – they like the spontaneous, funny, insightful and discursive types of content: don’t script it or be too serious in tone. This is a place to be relaxed and show some personality behind your brand without doing the hard sell. If you want to take your communications to the next level then I would highly recommend using Stories alongside posting photo/video content. As consumers become more fatigued with the commerciality of social networks Stories either on Instagram offer a great way to ask questions, showcase your knowledge and engage with your customers in a fun, friendly way.
Tips for getting started on Stories:
1) SHOWCASE: Product or service? It doesn’t matter. If you sell stuff then demonstrate it and talk about why you sell it, how you can use etc (give extra information but don’t hard sell). If you offer a service then offer your tips – give potential customers a taster of what you can offer.
2) BE CREATIVE: Play around with the features to make your videos stand-out. Don’t be afraid to use filters, intersperse video/photo content with text. Make it visually interesting and don’t be afraid to try different things.
3) ENGAGE: with your customers by asking questions – use the Poll feature to get feedback on products/services. Check your DMs – you’ll be amazed how simple topics can generate conversations.
4) AUTHENTICITY: If you’re talking to camera be natural – do not over rehearse. It’s supposed to be informal! Imagine you’re having a FaceTime video chat with your best friend. There’s nothing worse than watching someone who looks like they’re not enjoying the experience.
5) ENJOY: Have fun. If you’re not enjoying it then you’re not doing it right. Find what works for you and your business – don’t be afraid to get inspiration from people who do it well (nothing wrong with learning from others – but don’t plagiarise!).
Now over to me:
So Zuckerberg has already said that priority will be given to friends, family and groups. This is something to pay attention to because groups have already increased massively in the last year and if you’re a business owner you’re probably a member of a few groups either for business advice, parent support etc. So as a user you already know the power of them and how important they are in engagement.
But before we all jump and start a group think about whether this is the right move for your business. Does it work for what you’re about, what you want to achieve and who you want to reach? – Does having a group make sense for your business.
Starting a group is no different to starting on social media in the first place, you need to have a plan of what you want to do, because otherwise you will find that suddenly your workload has increased and it will become a burden and not an enjoyable task for your business. Anyone who does social media for their business will know how much time goes into planning and curating content for your channels, a group is ACTIVE…always and that’s the difference, you are encouraging people to engage and get involved much more proactively in a group than on a page and your group members will often lead discussions that you will need to keep an eye on and monitor group behaviour.
So while they are up and coming and a great way to drive that more personal engagement with your customers, don’t just jump into groups lightly, think about it.
Customers are communicating with us as business on a more personal level and through messaging more than email and phone calls (I hope actual talking doesn’t disappear entirely). I know myself when I haven’t been able to get an answer for something whether it’s a question or a complaint I have taken to social media to get an answer and it always works.
For small businesses customers like being able to talk to you and engage in a more personal way and this is a good thing. More often than not a person is buying into the business owner and what they stand for as well as the product they’re getting.
Facebook Messager can now be integrated as a chat on your website so you can talk to browsers in real time. As we know business profiles on Instagram have an easy to use message button so customers can DM you in one click and Whatsapp is developing a business app for users.
This is definitely an area to keep your eye on because as the increase in messaging app users increases it makes sense for us as businesses to get involved and communicate with our customers.
I hope you’ve found this blog useful. Lots of changes coming for 2018 – it’s going to be an interesting ride.