99% of the time the past year or so I’ve bit my tongue when I hear Facebook page owners and other Social Media Marketers/Mangers griping about Facebook changes.
Pre-2013 I would complain about everything and call everyone out when I thought they were being stupid.
But I found that no one likes “that guy” and I had become known by many as a griper and complainer — which was never my intention.
I simply thought I was being helpful, but discovered I was actually hurting myself in the long run.
But I have to speak up for a moment about something that is really bugging the crap out of me…
And it’s all of the Facebook page owners and Social Media “Experts” griping about changes to the Facebeook news feed algorithm for pages.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH PEOPLE!!!
Why Are Page Owners Griping?
The recent wave of complaints has come from Facebook’s most recent announcement that text only updates from business pages would no longer be as prominent as other types of posts (links, photos and videos).
Here is what Facebook said:
The goal of every update to News Feed is to show people the most interesting stories at the top of their feed and display them in the best way possible. We regularly run tests to work out how to make the experience better. Through testing, we have found that when people see more text status updates on Facebook they write more status updates themselves. In fact, in our initial test when we showed more status updates from friends it led to on average 9 million more status updates written each day. Because of this, we showed people more text status updates in their News Feed.
Over time, we noticed that this effect wasn’t true for text status updates from Pages. As a result, the latest update to News Feed ranking treats text status updates from Pages as a different category to text status updates from friends. We are learning that posts from Pages behave differently to posts from friends and we are working to improve our ranking algorithms so that we do a better job of differentiating between the two types. This will help us show people more content they want to see. Page admins can expect a decrease in the distribution of their text status updates, but they may see some increases in engagement and distribution for other story types.
That last sentence is what has ticked off a nation of Facebook Page Owners:
Page admins can expect a decrease in the distribution of their text status updates….
Immediately I began hearing the cries of many on how Facebook is now dead to them and it’s “Time to give Google+ some serious thought…. again!”
Come on people… Really?
Did you not pay attention to this entire announcement by Facebook?
This is good news for pages running their BUSINESS properly on Facebook IMHO!
The end of that last sentence is why:
… but they may see some increases in engagement and distribution for other story types.
Did you catch that??!
As a page owner you may see an increase in engagement on photo, video and (most importantly) link posts!
See the biggest thing Facebook is trying to combat is page owners trying to “game” the news feed by posting a text only update with the link all ugly in as just text, such as this example from Facebook:
The reason marketers were doing this as it was widely known throughout 2013 that text updates were getting the highest “Reach” — at least based on raw stats.
But the update is horribly ugly and in my opinion is not going to drive traffic to websites — which should be your #1 goal as a Facebook Page Owner.
Instead Facebook recommends pages to post links as link updates that now provide a full width image preview on the news feed:
Posting a link in this manner will drive a ton more traffic to your site than putting it in as simply text — or worse yet just posting a text update and adding the link in the comments.
** Side note — I’m kinda surprised to such a low amount Likes and comments on these posts by Forbes. With 875k Likes you’d think they would get more engagement. But that just goes to show you that you must have targeted fans and post things they want to engage in…
Our Focus on Facebook Pages Has Been Way Off
For far too long the focus by page owners and those training page owners has been on how to get more engagement — ie Likes, Comment and Shares.
Which is great and is a very vital part of running a successful Facebook BUSINESS Page — but it’s only a small portion of why you have a page.
I was thinking of a way to explain the problem and I think this quick image from the Facebook Answerman sums it up:
Don’t get me wrong I love to get people engaged on posts and love to see a high Like, Comment and Share count on my posts — but if we stop there we’re missing the point of having a page to begin with.
You’re running a business and businesses need to make money to survive…
The real focus of a Facebook BUSINESS Page should be to drive traffic to their own website — where you control everything — and drive sales. Period…
Sure some pages are community type pages that give out announcements and etc, I get that.
In fact locally in my home town I pay close attention to what our school district is posting, the local churches and etc. None of them are driving traffic to a website as none of them are “selling” anything on their site persay.
So this new update to the news feed algorithm for pages may hurt those types of pages. That’s why perhaps a group could be better in those instances or people need to be instructed to turn of notifications from those pages or put them all in a list so they can follow them easily.
But in reality this type of page makes up only a very small percentage of pages on Facebook — and an even smaller amount among those griping the loudest.
Stop Bitching About The Free Rent On Facebook!
This heading and title of the blog may sound harsh but it’s so imperative that people get this thought through their heads.
As businesses we have been running our businesses virtually rent free for years.
Facebook doesn’t charge us a fee to start a business page.
There is no fee to add apps to our pages, images, run contests or post updates.
Zuckerberg could have easily never allowed businesses to be on the platform in this manner if he so wanted — granted it might not have grown like it has but it would have been more social.
My opinion has always been that marketers ruin every social platform they come across.
We saw this with the downfall of MySpace and didn’t learn from it.
Now we’re seeing it with Pinterest, Vine, SnapChat, Google+, and even Instagram.
I wish marketers would just leave those sites alone!!!
As a user the experience is ruined once marketers flood the site with sneaky ways to gain attention.
Sometimes a site just needs to remain for people in my opinion…
But the good news for marketers is that Facebook doesn’t charge anything to set up your shop on Facebook. There is no monthly fee — ie RENT…
Can you do this in the “real” world? Heck no!
I dare anyone to try and set up a brick and mortar business inside an established, highly trafficked, shopping center and get free rent, utilities and advertising.
It’s not going to happen.
Scott Stratten from Un-Marketing sums up alot of what I’ve been saying in his keynote at New Media Expo recently:
I’ve watched this video 5-6 times today and it speaks volumes! People need to watch and hear this!
For some time now I’ve been saying that every, yes EVERY, post you make from your Facebook BUSINESS Page is an advertisement — and Facebook is letting you post that ad for free!
You may say that your post is simply to give information or share great content or a funny photo, but it’s advertising.
If you really think about it, any post you make from a business page is an ad — even if it’s posted for engagement & not sales.
As we all know, some of the best marketing doesn’t sell, but rather just promotes brand awareness or good will toward a brand.
Just look at this recent Christmas Surprise Santa stunt by WestJet that went viral:
Did WestJet technically try to sell anything in this video?
Nope. But you’ll remember their brand now because of the amazing stunt they pulled off.
It’s the same with your page posts. Maybe today you post a great photo of a cat that goes viral, and then tomorrow you post about a special.
The post about the cat gets 100 Likes & comments — but no sales.
And then the post about the special gets 15 Likes & no comments — but 2 people buy.
Both posts are “ads”, if we’re being honest.
They were posted to expose your business to more people & cause them to know, like & trust you.
Hopefully you’re catching my drift here.
Posts by business pages on Facebook are ALL ads.
So it was great when free ads were reportedly reaching 16% of our fans — even if people scoffed at it.
But we shouldn’t be surprised that exposure for the same free ads (posts) has declined.
The space is getting crowded & we thus have fewer opportunities to display free ads to our fans & other Facebook users.
And it thus makes sense that we now have to spend money to expose our advertising to more people.
I love what Jon Loomer said about setting up your shop on rented land:
There’s an old saying that I’m likely about to butcher: Don’t build your house on rented land.
For the slow folks, your house in this example is your business and rented land is Facebook. But it doesn’t need to be Facebook. It could be YouTube, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.
I’ve seen too many businesses attempt to run entirely within a single social network. No website. No email list. Or those two things are very low on the priority list.
This is dangerous. And people who run their businesses this way are those who are bound to be most upset about any changes Facebook — or any other rented land — makes.
What Should Page Owners Do In Light of Facebook Changes?
There are lots of things page owners can do in response to these changes — and future Facebook changes:
- Continue griping about the changes
- Delete the Facebook page and go elsewhere
- Do Nothing
- Post content that is both engaging and that results in web traffic and sales
- Set a realistic Facebook Ad budget and spend money to expose posts (ads) to more people
Many of you are stuck on #1 and will continue to wallow in your own self pity — I kinda feel sorry for you and I can’t help you if you choose that path.
Some of you may choose to delete your Facebook page and take your business elsewhere. But I dare you to find out what the Reach of a post is on Twitter or Google+… There is a reason they don’t report that number to you! As it would be even lower than what it is on Facebook.
There will be some that do nothing and keep posting as they were — and will get the same results.
The smart page owners and marketers will do #4 and #5 though.
I don’t recommend that every post be you selling something or trying to drive traffic to your site. Doing so will annoy people and they will ignore you over time. I’d mix it up and post things that engage people and mix in link posts between the light hearted content — we do this on the Post Planner page and it works great btw.
Here are some great resources on posting ideas:
- Get more Facebook Shares by using these words in posts
- Every Facebook page owner should master the 3 P’s of Posting
- 4 Facebook Posts Guaranteed to get more Likes and Comments
You’ll also need to set a realistic ad budget for your page — this is a business afterall that you are allowed to run RENT FREE!
Maybe you can only do $50-$100 per month in Facebook Ads — that’s fine.
Start somewhere and then be smart with how you spend those ad dollars. If that $50 monthly investment results in at least $51 in sales you’re ahead and shouldn’t be complaining at all!
Here are some handy resources on running Facebook Ads:
- Never get confused by Facebook Ads Terminology Again!
- 7 Simple ways your business can increase sales with Facebook
- 4 Kick Ass Tips for creating Facebook Ads that convert
Ok.. It’s your turn…
Do you think the changes to the algorithm are fair for pages? Should pages expect to have to pay to play?