If you own a small business page on Facebook, you need to be aware of changes that Facebook is making to how your content is shared amongst your followers.
Beginning a couple of months ago, some companies' managed business pages began to see a noticeable fall-off in activity. Their posts were reaching a much smaller number of fans than usual. After several weeks of tracking this trend, several companies asked Facebook if this was something on their end or had Facebook changed its algorithm. Facebook did not answer clearly for quite some time.
The drop-off in organic reach per fan, the rate that content is seen by a follower as a natural part of their daily newsfeed, continued to drop for even more pages. Usually, around 16-20 percent was considered to be a large number. That meant that almost a fifth of all your followers saw the content you posted. This number has since dwindled down to 4-6 percent.
This phenomenon was met with outrage and frustration from everyone involved. Ever increasing calls for why this has been happening was finally met with a confirmation from Facebook that they had changed their algorithm and organic reach had dropped considerably for every page. Their suggested fix for this was to pay them to post ads more frequently. Understandably, this solution was not met with too much optimism.
The majority of small businesses and fan groups out there made accusations ranging from mild frustration to outrageous accusations of illegitimate business practices. The larger issue was that these groups have spent a lot of time accumulating the followers and likes that they have. Facebook made the guarantee that followers and likes would translate into long-term success on Facebook's business page options. These businesses and groups became frustrated when it was said that all this work they did was now secondary.
There is a legitimate method to this madness. The algorithm that Facebook uses to determine which posts make it to the newsfeed was changed to value greater quality posts. Things like interest in the quality of the post, who posted the content, how recently it was posted and other factors were the focus of this new algorithm.
VP Ads Product Marketing and Atlas at Facebook. (Photo: Facebook for Business)
Facebook's Defence: The Challenges of being the world's largest Social Media platform
Facebook admitted that organic reach rates had dropped, but it was not because they are being vindictive or seek greater profits. The head of Facebook's ad product marketing, Brian Boland, stepped forward to answer questions that Facebook had been receiving for some time.
This change was not a bid to increase profits. Boland assured business owners that Facebook has always had its customers and businesses at heart throughout the changes that they have made. The choice to decrease organic reach rates was motivated to allow more people to be exposed on the newsfeed rather than having it dominated by a handful of super-massive groups. The paid-ads option was also meant to appease groups that had the budget to increase this minimal ad space. The two messages seem contradictory, but at its core, Facebook was trying to give the little guy a chance at making it on a newsfeed.
Part of the decrease was natural, an argument that has sound roots. The number of likes made per day has grown by 50 percent in the past few years. This is an incredible amount of people and information being posted on boards. Decrease in organic reach to a given managed business page was the result of too much content on too small of a venue. There are only so many hours people spend on Facebook and the newsfeed is only large enough to hold so much. This was a crisis of supply and demand. To resolve it, Facebook decided to cut everyone's average reach in a bid to bring less popular pages to light.
When Boland spoke, he mentioned Google as a peer company that had a similar problem. Bigger companies with larger followings were posting low-quality blogs and content that were overshadowing the high-quality content that smaller businesses and bloggers were posting because they had so many more likes. Google then updated its algorithm to favour websites that posted good content more often, rather than spam websites. Facebook has merely tried to create a similar algorithm to better promote smaller businesses and fan pages.
Many of Boland's answers and messages point to one larger assumption businesses must be making towards Facebook: it is changing. Advertising on Facebook is now a far different experience than it was even a few years ago. Where once success was determined by likes and follows, it is now far more similar to advertising on Google.
If you want a successful business page on Facebook, you must have great content, the interest to draw Facebook's attention and the cash to supplement a reliable ad campaign.
Adapting your managed business page to the new Facebook
Now that you know what has occurred and what it means for you, how can you start adapting to the situation? Luckily, the grand majority of changes you have to make are relatively small. What they will require is more work on your part and dedication to the platform.
Post more often with fresh content. Now that the newsfeed's content is far more limited, you will need more content to increase your chances of being posted for your followers to see. This means posting more often at all times of the day. Posting once or twice a day will only work if those posts receive a massive amount of activity. If a healthy discussion keeps your post in the newsfeed for hours, great! However, this is likely not the case.
You will want three to four posts a day, at various times of day. How recent a post was made is a large factor for Facebook, so older posts have an increasingly low chance of being put up on the newsfeed. Having a quasi-fresh post at all times of the day will help.
(Photo: Facebook for Business)
Facebook's Insights Feature lets you know when to post. Posting all the time is best, but you also want to make sure that all of your work pays off. This means finding out when your demographic is the most active. Under 'posts,' Facebook has an option for your managed business page called "Insights." This option allows you to see the activity on your page, how large it was and when it occurred. Use this information to decide when to be active on your business page.
Link back to your regular business website and any other social media accounts you may have. This is great for Facebook's algorithm, but also for Google's algorithm. The more connected your pages are, the more likely it will be noticed by search algorithms in general. It also allows your Facebook followers to jump back and forth between their comfortable Facebook feed and your website.
How businesses interact with Facebook has irreparably changed. It is harder, as a small company, to break into fame through the Facebook newsfeed and the odds are stacked higher than ever against you. The best way to grow your managed business page is to use the new Facebook to your advantage and spread your message through every avenue possible.