Frustrated, sad, mad or feeling all three over Facebook's ever reducing delivery of traffic for your business?
Why is it that Facebook Business pages don't work anymore?
The simple answer is that content on Facebook is displayed based on an algorithm and this favours content from friends and family who are their primary user base – not content from businesses.
That’s because Facebook is a commercial organization with shareholders to pay and they make money from advertising. If you are a business, they want you to advertise.
However, it really isn’t as simple as this, because if you’re logical, you are likely asking why do I even bother with Facebook? There is still a role to play for your Facebook business page. You just need to be a little more clever and careful with what you do to make it all worthwhile in terms of building your business.
How Facebook works
First up, you need to have a basic understanding of how Facebook works. What content each person sees on Facebook is determined by an algorithm. It’s a mathematical formula that determines what people like based on what they interact with (how much they click, comment, share). Once it’s worked out what you like, that's the content it will show to people, always favouring the family and friends connection.
I tested this. I spent a week just looking at business content that I searched for – it was not served to me in my Facebook newsfeed. Then I looked to see if the algorithm changed what it served to me. The results were as expected, only content from friends and family with the following exceptions:
- Business content that was paid promotion
- Business content from a Facebook live session
- Business content posted in a Facebook Group I belong to
- Business content shared by a ‘friend’ to their personal page.
While a sample study of "one" is not something to trust, this exercise shows you exactly how the algorithm works and gives you hints at what you should be doing to get your content into the news feed and shown to more people.
Certainly, it confirms what all the industry experts on Facebook are saying. Organic space in the Facebook feed for business is now rare as hen’s teeth.
Challenge: Why don’t you review your own Facebook feed. Resist the urge to engage with friends and family for a few days and just notice how little business content is shown to you.
So let’s break down the fundamentals of what you need to be doing as a business to make Facebook an effective discovery and acquisition tool for your business.
Creating Good Content
You need to create and publish content consistently (as in everyday) that is unique and interesting to the people that you are trying to target.
Content is the starting point and the price to the sit at the table to start with.
If your content is not of interest to your target audience, nothing you do will make it be liked, commented and shared. This is key to getting your content into more people’s newsfeed.
As rare as it is for Facebook to put business content in your newsfeed – it will if people like/share/comment on it. They love content that people love. It’s as simple as that.
I’ve looked at a couple of people’s Facebook business pages recently, and the key problem I saw was:
- They were not creating anything unique
- They were sporadic in posting, maybe one or two posts for one week and then nothing for the next week.
That’s not the way that you play the Facebook algorithm game. Certainly, it’s not the way to get a following of people that want to hear from you on a regular basis so that you can start selling your products or services to them.
What is good content?
I want to articulate what is good content and what you need to do in order to really try and hit the nail on the head and make it content that people want to look at. These are the things what you need to think about:
Your content needs to be unique. Just don’t go and copy what someone else has done, have an original thought, make some new content and put it out there.
The content absolutely needs to be relevant to your target audience. For example, if you are a personal trainer, then work out what is special about the people that you work with and who you target as potential new clients. Are you targeting bodybuilders, are you targeting women who want to lose weight, are you targeting people who are just fitness fanatics and want to take it to the next level? You need to be really clear about the type of person you are targeting, and therefore what is content that they love to hear from you about? What will get their attention every single time?
I think about my personal trainer who publishes regularly, and he does it in a private group, so we can ask him all our embarrassing questions. But he publishes content like he has some direct view into my head. For example, he posted the other day about a crazy milk diet. Not that I was thinking about a crazy milk diet, but it was entertaining to know that there was a crazy milk diet. As part of this post, he was also telling me, ‘don’t do this’, and ‘think about your healthy diet this way’. He was reinforcing in an entertaining way, what I need to hear on a regular basis on what to eat and what not to eat.
My key point is that relevance and unique content go together, and it’s about really knowing what your shtick is. I say this quite often to my clients. What is it that you’re talking about to your clients, because that’s what they want to hear about from you.
Interesting and entertaining, or educational
The example I just gave you about my personal trainer is a great example of a hybrid of entertaining and educating at the same time. People love stuff that is entertaining, they share it all the time and anything that is interesting falls into that category as well.
The other category of information to think about is content that falls into the ‘I’ve got a cause’, ‘I believe in things’. There’s some really good research, that analyzes the emotions and reasons that people share content in social media. There is science behind why people share and talk about things and what they find engaging or not, this is what came from the study of a group of psychologists at UCLA:
- 49% of people in this survey said that they shared social media posts because it was valuable or entertaining content to other people. So they were trying to be helpful by entertaining someone or giving them some content that they thought they would find useful or helpful.
- 68% of people shared something because it defines who they are as a person. For example, you might feel strongly about animal protection and animal cruelty, so sharing and liking those posts is really defining who you are as a person and how you want other people to perceive you as a person. So think about that when you’re thinking about the types of content that people will want to share and engage with.
- 78% of people will share content in order to grow or nourish relationships. I think that a lot of people in business fit into this category. Yes, you might have some elements of entertainment, humour or educational or helpful content, but ultimately it’s about building relationships, which means finding a way of making these people want to talk to you and engage with you on a regular basis.
So think about the ways to reach out and touch people. When it comes to business and marketing on social media, what works best is when you’re interacting and engaging with other people and reaching out and having contact with them, because that’s what it is, it’s about being social. If you actually focus on that as part of your strategy in generating content, you will go a lot further than just having a one-way conversation, because it’s never really going to have the impact and effect that you want.
- 69% of people will share content based on self-fulfillment. They defined self-fulfillment as being able to feel more involved in the community. So kind of sharing content around the latest election for example, or something happening locally fits this category perfectly.
- 84% of people will share a post just to help to get the word out about something. That can be a cause, or equally, it can be a brand. If someone sees something that’s just cool, they will share.
What I’m really trying to say is that your content is king. You have to have stuff that people want to pay attention to in the first instance, because if you don’t, you’re not going anywhere. So really focus on your content, know your shtick, know what your people want to hear from you about, and then move on.
Getting Facebook’s attention
So now let’s get down to what you have to do to get Facebook to pay attention and share your content, and actually help people see your content in their newsfeeds. The following are the sweet spots as they stand today, the 21st of March 2017, because next month it could be completely different. Just know that these things are constantly evolving, so you do need to check in and be constantly reviewing. This is what is sweet at the moment:
Facebook groups get a lot more time and attention in people’s newsfeeds than not. If you can develop a group (and it doesn’t have to be thousands of people, just a hundred of the right people that have high engagement), it will work wonders for getting your content into their newsfeeds.
Facebook live sessions
Facebook is currently giving preference live video over everything else in the newsfeeds. They will put it at the top, they will let people know that you’re online, and they will continue to show it after the fact as well. So that’s another way to generate and make content that will get seen.
Sharing by friends and family to their personal accounts
I had alluded to this in terms of groups, but the more you can do to get people to engage with you; comment, share, like, etc., the more you can get that engagement level up and the more likely your content will be shown in other people’s newsfeeds.
If you can get reasonable engagement happening with a post, you should consider putting money behind it because then it would be good money spent, and it’s about increasing your reach and getting in front of new people that haven’t seen you before.
If you are boosting a post that has got really low engagement, you’re going to be paying more for it.
While Facebook live tops it all, any kind of video gets far more engagement than any other form of content. In that hierarchy of which content gets favored by the algorithm, any content that gets high engagement will top anything, then Facebook live, then videos, then images, then posts and links.
When it comes to using Facebook for your business, you need to work to the Facebook formula and discover the sweet spots and provide great content. If you can crack this formula Facebook is still a great channel to build your business.
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