If you’re freaking out about the new “Facebook Zero” algorithm changes, you’re not alone. Last week, I noticed our Business Class Lounge community blowing up with questions about the changes Facebook is making.
Small business owners I know are talking about abandoning their Facebook pages, putting their energy into free Facebook groups, or having to budget more money for advertising to reach their audience — but this isn’t necessarily the case.
Facebook expert, Amanda Bond (she goes by Bond) is a paid traffic strategist at theadstrategist.com. She did a powerful Facebook live video the day the changes were announced, which you can watch here — but a word of warning: put your headphones on, because there will be cussing. You can also get Bond’s thoughts on these changes over on her blog.
The gist: We should not be worried about Facebook changes! It’s an opportunity to create more engagement and essentially hack the new algorithm changes. She’s not worried about it in her business. In the video, she lays out her tips for how to respond to the changes and her strategy for Q1 and the rest of the year.
Bond’s biggest tip is to just be human and create community — which means you should stop using automated and scheduled posts. There’s already evidence that Facebook doesn’t show posts from third-party schedulers to as many people as posts you compose and publish inside Facebook, and the new changes might mean even more penalties for “set it and forget it” type content.
“Being human” might look like doing more teaching and Q&A on your business page, using it more as a mini blogging platform when you have ideas you want to share, or just carving out time to go in and make posts and respond to comments daily.
Next, you want to analyze your content and how it resonates. Don’t assume that your current plan is working — find the evidence.
- Go to the backend and look at insights to see how posts are doing.
- Understand what performs well and what doesn’t.
- Post what works and stop posting what doesn’t work.
Take time to put out relevant content for your brand — not just the same boring quotes and memes everyone else is sharing. Do not be general, be specific! Focus on high value content that answers the questions your audience has — and that no one else is answering.
Facebook reach is not dead, but sub-par content is only going to make these algorithm changes worse. Do not leave up crappy content that is not resonating with people on your page — and especially don’t continue to repost content that underperforms (through an app like MeetEdgar).
Commit to doing the extra work to transform your content into content your audience is excited to engage with.
Use your page to create community
Bond doesn’t like the idea of turning inward to your Facebook groups as a way of getting around the algorithm. For one thing, it’s harder for people to share your content outside the group, and for another, you’re only reaching people who already know about you.
Instead, transfer the strategies you use inside your group to creating community on your page. You can maintain your authority while building community by teaching, asking questions, and engaging in a two-way dialogue on your page. That way, people can share your posts, advice, and responses to their friends and communities.
Try opening the floor for questions on a particular topic, posting a question of your own, or showing support when you have answers to questions. Let people know it’s OK — even encouraged! — to engage with you on your page.
Which brings us to…
Put engagement first — always!
The best way to overcome the negative impacts of the new Facebook algorithm is to combat it by proving to Facebook that your posts are valuable and important to your audience — and the only way to do that is to get as much engagement as possible.
Encourage your audience to like, share, and comment on your posts. While there’s some evidence that Facebook will penalize you if you say “click like” or similar in your post, you can encourage your engagement by asking questions, soliciting opinions, and creating content that people want to engage with.
When people engage with your content, their friends and networks will be shown the post, which expands your reach and influence. You will not be penalized because Facebook will see this as relevant content worth being shared, and will show it to more of your followers organically.
Remember, Facebook is a long-term strategy — you are trying to create a platform not just a business page to sell.
One great way to boost engagement is through what Bond calls Engagement Looping:
This is essentially a way to enhance the comments and likelihood that Facebook’s algorithm will flag your content as relevant to more people. Here’s how it works:
For each comment, start an open-ended conversation to create community. Participate in the conversation, but don’t just post one comment. Commit to making at least 3 responses for every 1 comment:
- An emoji reaction to someone’s comment
- Your comment under someone’s original comment
- Then leave an open ended question with the hopes that each person will comment and react in return
Now you’ve created 10x engagement with engagement looping and communicated to Facebook that your content is worth sharing (and having a far reach).
Use your advertising budget strategically
At the same time Facebook is decreasing our organic reach, many niches are seeing Facebook advertising costs go up. But following Bond’s advice about putting community and engagement first can also benefit your paid advertising strategies.
The most important thing you can remember is that you can retarget anyone who engages with content on your page with paid advertising. This sets the foundation for future advertising because it grows your warm custom audience. Focus on creating engagement around the following:
- Website pages with FB pixels
- Email list
- Page engagement
- Page video views
- Instagram engagement
- Instagram video views
When you then focus on showing your paid advertisements to these warm audiences, you have a better chance of converting them to an email lead, opt-in, or sale — and the conversions should cost less overall.
Don’t put all your eggs in Facebook’s basket
Finally, a word of advice from me: It’s not wise to put all your marketing eggs into Facebook’s basket. Facebook is a business in its own right, and it doesn’t owe you anything. As we’ve all seen, it can change the rules with less than a moment’s notice!
Instead, why not try broadening your reach this year to some other channels?
- Hosting a local Meetup is a fun and cost effective way to build an email list
- Focus on adding value and being consistent (NOT SELLING)
- People will join your group even if they don’t come to your events (and you will still have the ability to email them)
- Even if 10-15 people consistently come to your events, you could still have an email list of interested people in the hundreds.
- Quora is a great forum for showcasing your expertise
- Answer peoples questions and establish authority
- A great platform for creating your own live events, workshops, or networking opportunities
- Pinterest is still a good traffic driver for lots of kinds of businesses — especially if you have a very visual brand
- Publishing a book or ebook can be an incredible way to get your business and name in front of a new audience
- Depending on your business, putting your products on Amazon can be an excellent way to introduce yourself to new audiences.
- Bumble Biz
- Like Tinder for biz networking! Swipe to engage with new people in your area.
The only thing certain about social media marketing is that things will change — again! So if you want to stay on top of the changes now and in the future, I suggest following experts like Social Media Examiner and Mari Smith —to stay informed.