Last month, Facebook made changes to its Edgerank algorithm that has caused many brand pages to see an incredible decrease in the organic reach of their posts.
In an effort to improve the user experience, Facebook is demoting photo memes in favor of more “high quality content” in the News Feed. In other words, this means less Grumpy Cat memes and Someecards and more news articles about current events.
Although that’s not altogether a bad idea, it is causing a well-known news sites to get even more exposure and company brand pages to get buried.
For instance, Ingite Social Media analyzed nearly 700 posts from 21 brand pages and found the organic reach and organic reach percentage dropped an average of 44 percent in the first week of December.
Although this isn’t a huge study, it has been widely reported that brands across the board are seeing drops in Facebook reach.
As a result, there has been a lot of hand wringing about these changes – especially from digital marketers and brand page owners.
How to Handle Facebook’s News Feed Changes
But what does this mean for you and your brand? Should you give up on Facebook or change your approach this year?
Here are some things to consider before you make any sweeping changes to your Facebook brand page:
1. Look at what’s working for you.
Before you decide to drastically alter your Facebook efforts (or even abandon it altogether), look at the analytics for your Facebook page.
Have you seen a drop in reach? What posts are working better than others? Does Facebook still drive the traffic, leads and sales you’re looking for?
You might find that your page hasn’t been affected much by the algorithm change or that Facebook is still performing better for you than other social media channels.
In fact, some people are finding that their organic reach has actually improved since Facebook’s News Feed change. (See the comments in the Ignite Social Media study.)
Don’t take these studies and changes at face value. Look at your own efforts to determine what’s working, what’s not and make changes from there.
2. Focus on the content on your own property.
Remember, that Facebook owns your brand page. Not you. And, as a result, you have to learn to play by their rules if you want to use their platform.
That’s why it’s important to build a platform that you own and control. That means, you must have a company website. And, if you want to invest in content marketing, you should also own your blog (i.e. yourcompany.com/blog vs. yourcompany.wordpress.com).
Although Facebook can be a great way to engage with your customers and fans, it is not a replacement for your company website.
There’s no greater time to start building your platform and developing your own content than now.
3. Consider allocating an advertising budget to Facebook.
For the past year or two, we’ve seen Facebook squeezing the news feed to force brands to “pay to play.” Facebook is a business and they want to you to pay to get in front of the billions of people that access their site. And, I don’t blame them.
But, that means you’re going to have a tougher time getting in front of your audience on Facebook. For some companies, it’s worth it to pay for advertising – either through promoted posts, sponsored stories, or traditional sidebar ads.
If you’ve not yet tried Facebook advertising, this might be a good time to test it to see if it can help boost your reach.
4. Move your audience to other channels.
If Facebook isn’t working for you, it might make sense build your audience through other channels.
Talk to your customers and discover which social media platforms they use. You might find that more of them hang out on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google Plus.
This would also be a good time to learn more about your audience and discover what they want to hear from you. Send a survey to your email list to get their feedback. And, if you don’t have an email list, this would be a good time to start building one.
As Mack Collier smartly pointed out, it’s more important to understand why and how your audience uses social media than how to game the new algorithm. Uncovering how to provide useful, meaningful content for your audience will transcend the technology changes that social platforms throw your way.
5. Be nimble and keep testing.
The one thing that’s constant with Facebook is that they will continue to change the game. That’s why you shouldn’t get too comfortable with your efforts.
Stay on top of what Facebook (or any social media platform) is doing and keep testing different types of content to determine what resonates most with your audience.
For instance, I’ve found that my Facebook reach has increased on my brand page for posts without links or photos. So, I might try posting longer form status updates or blog excerpts there to see how that works for my audience.
6. Focus on the right metrics.
Facebook reach is important. After all, if people aren’t seeing posts from your brand page, it’s going to do you little good.
However, be sure to keep your eye on the ball and focus on the metrics that are most meaningful for your brand. Depending on your goals and strategy, you might be focused on driving traffic to your website, engaging with your customers or generating leads.
Even if your reach might be down, the numbers that really matter to you might be unaffected. Remember to not get too caught up in the shiny numbers that everyone is talking about and focus on the people and metrics that matter to your business.
It’s Your Turn
I’m sure this will all change again soon, but this is what I’m thinking about and what I’m advising my clients. I’d love to get your perspective and hear your thoughts about the changes.
What are you seeing with your Facebook brand page? Have you seen a change in your reach? How are you responding to these changes?