How to Adapt to Facebook’s Ever-Changing Policies for Businesses
— May 2, 2018
If your business has been using Facebook for marketing for any length of time, you’re no stranger to the changes they implement, in the name of improving their service for users. Just like Google, they’ve got two sets of customers – the ones who are paying for advertising to reach their user base – and the users themselves, who aren’t paying a dime to use the platform.
The company announced in January, they’d be adjusting the Newsfeed algorithm so that users saw less content from businesses, and more content from their personal connections. With an average of 1,500 posts Facebook could show in any given user’s feed, it’s just not possible to show it all, so it makes sense to keep what users see as relevant to them as possible… and most people don’t want to be advertised to all the time. This move translates to higher ad rates (more money for Facebook), and less organic reach for you.
And this isn’t the first time Facebook has shaken things up for businesses. Over the years, we’ve seen a steady rise in the competition on Facebook, as more businesses come on board to reach fans, and we’ve watched a steady decline in organic Page reach. That’s why we’ve quickly seen Facebook emerging as more of a pay-to-play platform – and why many small businesses with limited budgets are finding themselves more frustrated with how to maximize their Facebook marketing efforts.
To make matters even more complex, Mark Zuckerberg is deep in senate hearings because of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, and consumers are losing trust, which means more changes have come about… and that’s even more for businesses to adapt to.
Let’s take a look at some ways your business can build a stronger, better, following, even in the wake of less organic reach, and a decline in consumer trust.
Turn to Content Discovery Apps
Many publishers like Little Things, were known for sharing social media friendly lifestyle content. But, because algorithm changes meant fewer eyeballs on their page and less money in their pocket, they had to shut down. This means people have had to change the way they find and consume content. In September 2017, nearly half of U.S. users were relying on their Facebook to give them their news – and because of algorithm changes, they will get less of it. As a result, we can expect (and use to our advantage) people turning to content aggregators such as Apple News, Flipboard, and Quartz, to fill in any gaps Facebook leaves wide open.
Start building and experimenting with a presence on Flipboard and similar platforms. Unlike Facebook that’s built on social graphs that focus on relationships, Flipboard is built on interest graphs, based on shared interests. You can share a mix of content that originates with you, as well as content curated from other sources, as long as all the content serves your audience. It’s free, and gives you another way to reach your customers.
Use Micro Influencers
Influencer marketing is far from a new trend. If you’re going to have to spend money to reach more people on Facebook anyway, it doesn’t mean you have to go straight to Facebook Ads to do it. The majority of customers don’t trust ads anyway, so that’s why businesses have turned to influencers, like celebrities, to share their message. But, the change in News feed algorithm is even limiting celebrity reach. That’s why you can benefit from reaching out to smaller micro influencers in your niche. They do, after all, already have an audience of people who trust them, and that’s the audience you want, too.
Because not all micro influencers will have the same value to your business, you’ll need help finding and vetting the ones you want to work with. Tools like Influence.co can help you find the best micro influencers in your niche to work with – and save you a lot of time and stress of trying to find them on your own. You can also leverage your own employees, who often want to build their own personal brands and have their own social followings who would be interested in seeing what you want to share.
Protect Yourself from Ad Fraud
Ad fraud is a problem for many publishers, especially when it comes to the pay-per-click model. Oftentimes, you could be paying for automated bot traffic that’s clicking your ads, instead of a real person. And because you know a bot isn’t ever going to join your mailing list, engage with you off your website, or make a purchase, each one of those fraudulent clicks is a waste of your money. With tools like ClickCease that use AI to detect bot traffic, you can make sure you’re only paying for the clicks that have the potential to translate to more money in your pocket.
Don’t Rely on Facebook Apps to Gather Data
If you’ve developed an app to use in conjunction with your Facebook Page for marketing purposes, you know Facebook has always audited the apps that work through its APIs. But, as a result of the Cambridge issue, they’re increasing the frequency, and changing the way the audits take place – to make sure your app isn’t asking for too much information, accessing too much information, or stealing/missing member data. If you rely on Facebook APIs to get statistics, analytics, leads, and market research, you may soon find you’re not able to access the same kind of data. You’ll need to find a new strategy, or else you’re risking bans or suspensions, which could adversely affect your Page and fan base.
If your website allows users to sign up and sign in with their Facebook login information, you’ll see a decrease in the amount of information you’re given. Soon, you’ll only be able to access their first and last name, and email address. Some login services gave businesses the ability to get that information, plus advanced information, like the entire profile (even if it was set to Friends Only), and friends of friends lists.
Your apps will only be able to collect the data they need to provide customer support or services. If you’ve got a tab on your Page that asks people to sign up for your newsletter, you won’t be able to ask for more than their first and last name and email address. More than that will be considered excessive – and the more free information that’s out there, the more people are likely to misuse it.
Re-Evaluate Your Messenger Bot
Right now, there’s a hopefully temporary ban on the creation of new Messenger bots. If you had planned to create one to help with customer service on your Page, you might not have the chance to do it now. And if you already have one, it’s time to pay close attention to the amount of information the bots gather from your customers, how the information is gathered, and what you do with it. Bots already on the platform are okay to stay, but they will be audited, too. If you’re not on the up and up, or found to be collecting an excessive amount of information, you may lose your bot in the future. If this happens, you’ll again, need another strategy.
Should You Panic?
Ultimately, the SEO and digital marketing industries will suffer, because the restrictions will make it more difficult to access analytics used to personalize campaigns and inform business decisions. But, this shouldn’t scare you.
You don’t own Facebook, and because of that, you cannot control anything the platform does. That’s why you should never build your business on rented land. And, ethically speaking, you should not only be transparent with your audience about the data you collect, how you collect it, and how you use it, but you shouldn’t collect or store any more data than you need to better personalize services and improve user experience.
Of course, maintaining an active Facebook presence for marketing purposes may mean spending more money on Ads, and being more careful strategy and how Facebook fits into your overall business plan, it doesn’t have to be the end of your Facebook days. It isn’t the first series of changes, and it won’t be the last.
By using content discovery apps to reach your target audience outside of Facebook, relying on the use of micro-influencers rather than Facebook Ads, taking steps to protect your ads from fraud, and changing the way you gather data so it’s not so Facebook-centric, you can keep your customers happy and business booming.