What Your Small Business Needs to Know About Facebook’s Latest Changes
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Facebook has seemingly gone out of its way lately to anger its users. With the privacy debacles, the “selected curation”, and the constant changes, it’s no wonder their stocks took a hit and individuals have left the platform.
However, even with recent, sizeable stock loses, Facebook is still a billion dollar company and more importantly, they want to stay a billion dollar company. The majority of their money comes from advertising on their platform. Their worth to advertisers are the individual accounts of people who would see that advertising. So their platform has morphed to tread a line between catering to the individuals by allowing them to see more things from their “friends”, but also ensuring that it’s predominantly the businesses paying money on advertising who are being seen by those individuals (not the businesses who don’t pay). So this means that even if an individual has “liked” a small business page, they may not see posts from that page unless those post have been “boosted” or the page has otherwise paid advertising dollars to be seen (or they actually go to the business page to view the posts).
The 3 Big Things Every Small Business Needs To Realize About Facebook
While many small business owners complain that Facebook is, “sticking it to them” by not showing everything they post to everyone who’s “liked” their page, in reality, it’s just Facebook trying to still make money. So love them or hate them, they’re a corporation that wants to make money as well as stay relevant … go figure. If you can’t handle this fact, don’t pay them, don’t bother to have a Facebook page at all, or learn how potential ways to make Facebook work for you in spite of their push for advertising (read on for that).
Facebook should not be the only business presence you have on the web and/or you should not rely on Facebook to get critical business information out to people. Repeat that 3x, out loud … because it really is that important. I continually see small business owners and non-profits use their Facebook page as if it was their company website or blog. They release important information (new products, services, fundraisers, donation requests, critical information like unexpected business clousures, etc.) on Facebook and then get all worked up when they find out people didn’t know about whatever it was they were posting (or didn’t see it in time to take an action). Anything you post to your business Page’s Timeline, post it with the knowledge that very few people may actually see it. If it’s super important info, make sure to use other ways to ensure the people you want to have it are more likely to see it.
There are certain ways to still utilize Facebook as a tool and some of these go hand-in-hand with some of the recent changes Facebook is making (as of August, 2018).
The coming Facebook changes and what to use to your advantage ..
After reviewing the upcoming changes to business pages, the emphasis seems to be on authenticity and transparency (ensuring the pages are legit, actual businesses, etc.) as well as presenting helpful information on a business.
Facebook will modify the mobile business page layout to put helpful/key information for users front and center. In addition, they’re also going to be putting Stories on Pages so that viewers can get to know the people behind the business (that authenticity thing).
Pro tips regarding these changes:
- Make sure you utilize the “call to action” feature.
- Consider using the Stories feature (unsure of what that is? Buffer has a good post on it…) if you know a lot of your audience uses Facebook’s mobile app. The key thing about Stories is this, “…Stories from Facebook Pages will appear for 24hrs and won’t be shared to the Pages’ timeline or the Facebook News Feed.” They allow you to share casual content that represents your brand or business directly from your mobile device. READ: It’s Instagram for Facebook. If your target audience isn’t likely to be using the Facebook app, this could be a waste of marketing time and effort for you.
Ratings/Reviews is becoming Recommendations.
No more star reviews. Instead, viewers will have a yes/no choice on whether they would recommend a business. They’ll also be walked through the process of leaving a recommendation which will include choosing tags, writing about your experience, and the option to choose a photo for the recommendation. These recommendations will not be confined strictly to your Facebook page but they can show up in other Facebook results. Facebook is taking the stance that these will be, “discoverable across Facebook when people are searching for, or talking about a business.”
Pro tips regarding this change:
- Reviews are still a key thing for online reputation as well as local search rankings. It never hurts to suggest your customers/clients leave you a recommendation on your Facebook page.
- There will also be a feature where people can report recommendations they feel are unfair or might be spam, so be on top of checking your recommendations frequently.
Other ways to use Facebook as complimentary marketing…
Here are other free ways to use Facebook. It bears repeating that you get what you pay for though. You should not rely on these tools as Facebook can change them again at will (and they frequently do). We strongly recommend using Facebook strictly as complementary and an additional marketing tool. A professionally done company website that you own should still be the main/centerpiece of your online marketing.
- Create a Facebook Group. Groups can be public, private, or even secret. I have seen a lot more interaction between a business and potential customers when they’re involved with a group. If you’re going to start a group, have a plan in mind for how people can benefit from being in the group (why they’d want to be in the group in the first place). Groups can foster community, as well as help customers, clients, patients, etc. interact directly with you and with other like individuals. They can be also be tools to distribute exclusive information (for example, a customer buys a product/service from you and you can invite them to your private Facebook group).
- Post an Event. You can utilize this feature if you have specific business events coming up. It’s free (unless you want to “promote” the event) and could be a way to get your event info in front a few more eyeballs. A good example of events I’ve seen posted to Facebook are from a local animal shelter who does adoption events. Events also go on Facebook Local (their stand alone app for local businesses and events).
- Facebook has a free Appointments feature. While we wouldn’t recommend relying on this as your sole appointment-setter for your business, it could be something useful if you know your audience is likely to check out your Facebook page. One tip would be to use it for non-business critical type appointments. For example, 15 minute free consultations and then set only certain times/days when you’ll do those.
- If you’re a non-profit, you can take advantage of their fundraising feature.
As it stands now, it is still free to set up a business page on Facebook. So while it’s moving away from being about “fans” and “likes” for businesses, it’s still worthwhile to have a presence there and you can still take advantage of some of the free tools for complementary marketing for your small business.
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