14 Jan 2015

How Facebook's New Algorithm Impacts Your Small Business

Facebook is constantly updating its algorithm for its news feed, and the latest change has businesses worried. Starting in January 2015, Facebook is going to penalize promotional posts from brand pages. Will this impact your small business page? Here's everything you need to know about the change and how it impacts your brand on Facebook.

You may have heard about Facebook's recent changes to its privacy settings and News Feed algorithm (likely through a friend's status message hilariously declaring their freedom from adhering to Facebook's Terms of Service, a well-known Facebook hoax), but what will these changes mean for brands in 2015? Here are some of the most recent changes to the Facebook algorithm, as well as tips for improving your brand's Facebook presence in the future.

Facebook's News Feed Algorithm Changes

While these changes were actually announced in November of 2014, they come into effect this month, and the scope of the changes to the average user's engagement was not known until recently. Essentially, Facebook is tired of seeing overly promotional posts cluttering up the News Feed and would rather monetize said posts as actual advertisements: “A lot of the content people see as too promotional is posts from Pages they like, rather than ads.”

According to Facebook, there are three types of overly promotional posts:

Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app

Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context

Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

To give a visual example of these posts, Facebook uses the following image to demonstrate what NOT to do:

Facebook promotional posts

Facebook promotional posts 2

In addition, individual users who are also managers or administrators of a brand page will see a decrease in reach of their social media posts to their personal network if Facebook detects the user is talking about their brand excessively. While this means that you will see fewer posts from friends promoting their own business, it also means that you could suffer from reduced reach if you do the same. The rationale for these changes is simple; essentially, Facebook wants its users to be engaged. There are a lot of brands using Facebook, which means a lot of competition – and a lot of clutter on the News Feed if every brand is self-promoting.

What does Facebook's Algorithmic Change mean for brands?

Fortunately, if your business was already in the habit of only posting relevant content for your fans, you will not see a huge impact from this algorithmic change. We have been aware that better content gains higher engagement for the last year, and so many brands have already made the shift away from promotional posts. However, if you or your brand pages are still in the habit of only talking about what your business has to offer, prepare for a drop in reach. Such posts are better suited for Facebook Ads, a platform that encourages that type of post.

Facebook brand pages are still an ongoing part of Facebook's overall ecosystem, but with a limit. Facebook admins write:

Pages still matter — a lot. They offer a free, easy-to-maintain online presence for people to discover and learn about a business. They work across desktop, mobile and tablets without requiring any extra configuration and contain complete information about a business. They also offer tools to create videos, photos and events that bring a business' story to life.

What many businesses may not realize is that Pages are an important destination for their current and potential customers. In October, for instance, nearly a billion people visited Facebook Pages. Of those visits, more than 750 million happened on mobile devices. Many businesses also use Pages as a customer service channel. Businesses should think about their Page as a cornerstone of their online identity, not simply as a publishing service. The businesses that are doing this well understand the discovery and communication that happens when people come to their Page.

However, these changes do not mean that you cannot ever promote your own product. You simply need to do so creatively. Take the following brands, for example. Both sell similar items, but go about promoting them in different ways:

blue apron facebook post

hello fresh facebook post

While both posts feature vivid images that will make your mouth water, Blue Apron has the right idea for text that will maximize reach. For a promotional post like Hello Fresh used, you may have to pay for an advertisement to reach a wider audience.

While organic reach is extremely low for brand pages, using Facebook as a part of your small business branding strategy is still important. Use the platform to grow a community by engaging your fans with posts that are relevant and interesting, and pay for advertising when you want to promote a specific product, service or event. This will allow you to grow naturally and improve your brand's image while gaining advocates.

At CyberMark, our goal is to help your small business grow. We know that small business owners are busy and cannot always manage internet marketing on their own. See how we can help your business with web design, social media management, PPC advertising, SEO and more.