If you’ve invested a lot into Facebook marketing, about November or December last year (2013), you might have noticed a big drop off in activity. It might have seemed like hardly anybody is seeing what you post. It’s not just your imagination, Facebook recently made some major changes to the algorithm that governs what shows up in everybody’s newsfeed. Ad Age recently got their hands on a sales presentation where Facebook makes a curious and telling statement: “We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.” Allow me to translate: the jig is up. Getting free business exposure on Facebook will start getting harder and harder. Increasingly from now on, you’ll have to pay to play. In many ways, this was totally predictable. Facebook is now a big public company that has to make a profit. But now what? Here’s what you need to do to survive and thrive in a post-free Facebook world.
- Don’t build your business on rented land. The reality is that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIN and every other social channel is rented land. Over night any one of these services can change their terms of service and demolish your mojo. Don’t be that guy! Use these channels for as long as they’re useful, but have your own real estate and home base on your own website or blog.
- Up your content game. Quality content that is interesting, timely and relevant to your target audience is still king. You can offset (for now) some of the Facebook exposure declines by getting more quality stuff out there.
- Add more Instagram to your life. Start or step up promoting your business or site on Instagram. Why? Two reasons: (1) Instagram is trending up, especially with younger demographics, and (2) Facebook owns Instagram, so Facebook likes Instagram.
- Produce short, awesome videos. You may have noticed on Facebook that videos now start auto-playing when you scroll past them. This is extremely eye-catching. A solid strategy is to post these video snippets on Instagram and share them on Facebook (and everywhere else).
- Pay for ads. It is inevitable that most things of value on social media will start costing money. At some point, you need to get in the game. If you’re big enough to have a “marketing budget”, start allocating funds for targeted Facebook ads. If you’re a small business with not much money, you should still consider a limited spend…you don’t have to drop a ton of money, but spending a little in a wise way will keep you in the game. Also, keep your eye on Instagram ads, which are coming soon. This interesting new channel may be worth testing out.
Resources: For a whole podcast on this subject, check out Social Media Examiner and a podcast called Facebook Marketing Declines: How Business Should React