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6 ways to survive & thrive

with the 2018 Facebook algorithm updates

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Hi, there! We’re happy you’re here!

Settle in, grab a drink, & let’s talk about the 2018 Facebook algorithm updates, what it will mean for your brand, and how you can power through!

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You'll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see...should encourage meaningful interactions between people. - Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook

On January 11, 2018, Mark Zuckerberg released a statement announcing the shift in Facebook's algorithms, based on the feedback that "public content -- posts from businesses, brands and media -- is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other". The fallout from this announcement was swift. Brands, publishers, and agencies panicked as they realized fewer people would see their content, and company shares fell within days of the announcement.

It's easy to get caught up in the anxiety these types of sweeping announcements can bring, but panic isn't going to help us move forward. So, what's a housewares brand like you to do?

So happy you asked! Let's take a look at what these changes really mean, and how you can make the most of what's to come!

What's changing & why?

Facebook will be shifting what users see on their News Feeds, yet again. Posts from family and friends will be given top priority and content posted by businesses and the media will be less visible. This is being done in an effort to help users connect more and create more meaningful interactions.

That means the content you post from your Facebook page is less likely to be seen by your fans, unless you pay for it. How did we get here? Why did Facebook commit to this change?

  • To acknowledge complaints: As a society, we are constantly plugged in, leading many to feel overloaded, overwhelmed, and distracted. Facebook wants to create more meaningful connections, even if it means less time is spent on the channel.
  • To address privacy concerns: From election interference backlash to catfishing, the range of privacy concerns on social media is greater than ever. Facebook is aiming to provide a more personalized experience, focused on real engagement.
  • To get back to its roots: Facebook was created to help people stay connected and keep us close to the people (not brands, news outlets, and spammers) that we care about. Shifting the priority back to relationships, and not news and promotional updates is a shift back to how things were.

So what does this mean for brands like yours (and agencies like ours)? We're going to see a shift in how people use Facebook, what they expect from brands on the channel, and new (exciting) ways to make your pages more engaging, dynamic and valuable to both your audiences and your business.

1. Dig into your data

Because these updates are going to be rolling out over the next few months, it's going to be more important than ever for you to watch the data and see how things change. Not only will this give you a solid understanding for how your audiences are interacting with your content, you'll also be able to establish your new baseline.

Pages making posts that people generally don't react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution.

Now's the time to take a good, hard look at your current engagement levels. Are your current posts getting the comments, discussions and clicks that matter? If not, you have even more work to do.

There's a lot of data available to us, from Google Analytics to Facebook Insights, it can be hard to understand where to look, and which metrics actually matter...

When diving in, these are some of the most important metrics to review:

  • When is your audience online? Check both time of day and day of the week!
  • What types of posts are generating the most engagement? Look beyond content format (photo vs. link), and look at the topics, message points, length of posts, etc. to get a real understanding of the posts your audiences love.
  • What kinds of engagement and reactions are your posts getting? Not all engagement was created equal, a comment is more valuable than a like, and negative feedback (posts being hidden, or content that triggers a fan to unlike you) speaks volumes.
  • Who is sharing your content now? Is it mostly your consumer audiences? Your retailers? The media?
  • Check your post frequency. Test, test, test! Post too infrequently and you won't generate the traction you need. Post too much and you'll get ignored.
  • Which posts are driving traffic back to your website? You do have analytics in place, right?

2. Get personal, like, hyper-personal

Housewares consumers are using the internet to research, compare prices, and shop. We all know that. But what can we learn from the brick and mortar retail experience, that we can apply online? How can we mimic that warm, welcoming, personable experience on Facebook (and across your marketing channels, really)? There are a number of things to try.

  • Revisit (or start fresh) your buyer personas. Not sure what a persona is? They're semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers, and should be driving your marketing strategy. They include detailed information on customer demographics, lifestyles, buying patterns, and much more. Developing and sharing this insight with your team is key to creating hyper-personal experiences for your audience online.
  • Use the Preferred Audience setting for organic post targeting on Facebook. Craft your messages for specific audiences, and make sure you're delivering the right messaging to each audience. You could be sharing the same promotion, or blog link, but how you introduce it on Facebook can and should be targeted to your specific audience groups! You can also restrict your post audiences, which can be super helpful when you're talking about a specific retailer's promotion or launch available only to certain locations!
  • Look at your current remarketing strategies, how can you create a more personalized brand experience across channels?

3. Earn "See First" status

Facebook users have the functionality to mark specific people and brands as "see first" content, meaning that user will see the content from those accounts at the top of their News Feed, every time they log in. When your fans choose your Page's content to "see first", they'll see all of the content you publish for them, whether you're promoting it or not. This filter has been around since 2015, but is even more important to get your fans to use with these changes.

We've all seen the posts that say something like "Not seeing as much from us as you'd like? Select "See First" from the drop down menu to fix that!" As word gets out, there are going to be A LOT of these kinds of messages from brands, pages and publishers. So how can you earn that "see first" status, beyond just asking for it? Different things will work for different brands, but some ideas to consider:

  • Come up with a video series of content. The cliff hangers will keep fans coming back again and again to catch what's next.
  • Provide exclusive content. Whether it's launching your next product or giving behind-the-scenes looks into your design or production process, give your fans on Facebook a reason to want to consistently see your content.
  • Leverage more user-generated content. People want to know what other people are saying about your products and brand. Combine that with the chance for them to see their home decor or recipe submissions on your page, and you've got a mini-reality competition show in the making.

4. Moderate true discussions

Engaging posts, truly engaging Facebook posts that earn authentic interactions will continue to see organic visibility and will be highlighted on your fans' News Feeds. So, just ask people to like and share your content, right? WRONG. With these latest algorithm changes, gone are the days of brands asking their fans to like, share, or comment on their content. The crack down on these kinds of posts has been in the works for months, but with the renewed focus on quality engagement, these types of posts won't serve you well.

So what's a brand to do instead? What are some tried and true methods for sparking engagement?

That's a trick question, because there are none. Your audience is unique, and their expectations of your brand are unique. The way they want to interact with your Facebook presence is a puzzle you have to solve.

Not the answer you were looking for, right? The truth is, there's no band-aid solution for these updates, and there is no silver bullet for Facebook success, but there are a lot of things you can do to boost engagement in an authentic way that actually benefits your brand...

  • Use Facebook's Poll functionality to let fans make a choice, choose a side, pick a favorite, or take a vote!
  • Ask relevant questions, and engage with people when they respond.
  • Give your fans a reason to want your input, and position yourselves as a resource to them. Beyond your products, let them see why your brand is so valuable to them!
  • Give your fans some control. Have them help you caption a photo, name a product, or choose your team's lunch order for the day. Make it personal and help them get invested.
  • Get nostalgic. Post old photos of your products, throwback kitchen photos or home design trends, and let people share their memories! Post content that makes their lives easier. You know your new kitchen gadget is great, but what does it really do for your audience?
  • Provide value beyond product promotion to earn their attention and engagement. Teach people how to do something, inspire them to take action.
  • Use relevant trending hashtags and topics. Do your homework first, though. Make sure you're using the hashtag correctly, and that it's appropriate for your brand.

5. Look into other Facebook functionalities

You set up a Facebook Page for your brand, you're posting regularly, using photos, following all the best practices you can, but is that enough? Facebook keeps offering new, different, and "better" ways to communicate with your fans. Are you using the right ones?

  • Facebook Groups: There is a renewed emphasis on Facebook Groups with these algorithm changes, to the point that there will be a new News Feed just for Group activity. While you can't join an existing Group as your Page, you can set up a new Facebook Group and link it to your Page (here are step by step instructions). This will allow you to post to the Group as your brand. With categories like Home and Garden, Food, Parenting, Style, Animals and Pets, and more, now is a great time to create a Group relevant to your brand, where you can facilitate meaningful discussions based on your sweet spot in the industry.
  • Facebook Live: You've heard how important video is on Facebook, and that's not likely to change anytime soon. Facebook Live is making it easier than ever to share real-time, authentic moments with your audiences. Use Facebook Live to help your audiences get really good at using your products. Show them the tips, tricks, and hacks that make your products even more valuable! Make them feel like the product experts, and they'll be more likely to share their love of your brand with others. Empower your fans to be your brand's voice.
  • Facebook Stories: Think Snapchat on Facebook. The Stories feature is going to become more important for brands looking to set themselves apart. Focus on creating camera-based content that elicits an emotional connection to your brand to make the best use of this functionality!
  • Facebook Events: Do you have a promotion coming up? Launching a new product? Appearing at a tradeshow? Have an influencer or celebrity chef visiting your offices? Let the world know and get excited by creating and sharing an Event from your Page!

6. Spend more money

You knew this was coming, right? These new algorithm updates reportedly won't impact advertisers, so you can still pay to get your posts in front of your fans. More people will probably be doing this as organic visibility continues to drop, so how can you make the most of your social advertising budget?

  • Get a better understanding of who your fans are, so you can better segment your audiences and promote only the best and most relevant content to each of them.
  • Look seriously into an influencer marketing strategy. Influencers have already created authentic, engaged communities, use those networks to get your goods in front of the home and housewares consumers you want to reach.
  • Messenger ads are here, and you can use them to initiate conversations and re-engage with people in real time to meet your traffic, conversion, app install, reach and brand awareness objectives.
  • Diversify your social ads. Facebook isn't the only channel your audiences are on, and it shouldn't be the only channel you're advertising to them on.
  • Rethink your social strategy. Do your research, talk to professionals, and make sure your brand has the resources to create more meaningful content, then interact and engage with your audiences once you've posted.

Wrapping it up...

The digital landscape is a fast moving one, and it takes a lot of work to connect with consumers online. Whether you're with an established brand with plenty of shelf space and online awareness, or you're just starting out looking to generate some impactful traction online, Facebook can still be a useful channel for you. Don't let algorithm updates or policy changes scare you away from doing what's best for your brand!

This algorithm update is all about letting Facebook users interact with more meaningful content and encouraging users to actively connect with each other and the information they get online. Use this as an opportunity to revamp your social strategy as a whole, and reflect outwardly. Focus on your audiences, not your brand, so that you develop the content that your audiences connect with and want to engage with.

These changes to Facebook will shake things up, but brands who are committed to authentically engaging with their audiences and sharing valuable content will be able to push through and craft a Facebook strategy that will help them meet their business goals. 

- Justin Tadych, epower at home™