Facebook 2018: Stop wasting your time on engagement. Focus on selling.

In January 2018, Facebook announced another change to your news feed: Posts from family & friends will have a higher priority while posts from pages (businesses, brands & personalities) will be demoted even more than they already are.

We will discuss what it means for your business and what marketing strategy you should consider for Facebook, in 2018.

First, a flash back on what Facebook used to be — so we’re on the same page…

I remember my first Facebook page for a small & medium-sized (SME) business I owned in Montreal, Canada. At that time, people who liked your page were labeled “fans”.

I would post on that page and most of our fans would see it. Imagine that! If they didn’t like what we posted, they could simply click to un-like the page. That was our motivation in producing good content — and people were in charge of deciding what they wanted to see.

Then came “the algorithm”. Big Brother Zuck is deciding what you want to see. And over the last few years, posts from pages have constantly been demoted.

Already, engagement on your Facebook page is hard to maintain — most people don’t see your posts unless you pay for boosting them. In mid-2017, Buzzsumo noted that Facebook engagements for brands and publishers was down 20% — despite the fact that brands and publishers were spending more on Facebook.

Of course, there may be many reasons for that. For instance, posts with videos or pictures tend to be more visible and therefore, get more reactions. If you are still sharing links with no pictures and no videos, your posts are likely less visible than they used to be.

There’s also more Facebook page posts on Facebook. Everybody is on Facebook. It’s a traffic jam!

Fine! So there are many reasons for your posts on your Facebook page to be less visible and generate less engagement. It remains that Facebook is deliberately penalizing your business Facebook page, on top of all the other reasons. And engagement goes down.

So… Why are we focusing on “engagement” on Facebook pages?

Social media engagement is mainly a measurement invented by the social media management industry.

The logic behind it goes as follow: You don’t want people to like your page and then forget about you. That part is fair. You want to keep them “engaged” with the content you publish on Facebook. That way, in theory, you will be on top of their mind when they are ready to buy something.

When your Facebook posts were highly visible, higher engagement by your current “fans” was helpful in recruiting more fans (presumably their friends and family members seeing them liking and commenting on your posts). It still is! Except, you’re almost invisible unless you pay Mark Zuckerberg for Facebook to show your posts to these people.

Should we continue producing engaging content for Facebook?

I think it’s time we stop focussing on producing content for Mark!

The current strategy of creating content that will be engaging on Facebook has reached the end of its useful life. Basically, all what we’re doing is helping Facebook and other platforms get interesting & valuable content — and then, they turn around, and force you to pay them for that content of yours to be visible. Come on… Really?

Think about it… I presume you have people on staff (or a social media marketing agency) producing “engaging content” for you (text, pictures and videos). Right? Well… What is that? It would compare to your business hiring a full time journalist to write news articles for CNN, send it to them and, then, pay them for the article to be visible on their website. Meanwhile, the only thing CNN would do is provide a platform. Ridiculous, right? Well… Think about it.

What are we suggesting for a new Facebook page strategy in 2018?

Let’s take a step back and look at it.

Of course, it would be cool for your business to be the talk of the town because you’ve produced the funniest video ever that went viral around the world. But… Really? Do you really think this will happen? And… Who cares?

Considering the fact that your posts, no matter how valuable they are to your target audience, are mostly invisible (and will be even more invisible in 2018), why are you continuing down this soul-crushing road?

We have something else to propose.

Let’s think about what you want. What is good for your business? It may be time to turn your current Facebook strategy upside down.

There are 2 tactics that are easily implementable on Facebook — and will most likely produce results for you.

1. Recruit new clients by using ads.

Based on what we wrote above, you may be wondering why we are suggesting you give more money to Facebook, right?

Well… We’re actually suggesting you focus more about what you need and less about what Mark needs.

Like it or not, Facebook reaches a lot of people. On top of that, it allows you to segment the people to whom you want to display your ad. Therefore, what we are saying is: Sit down with your sales & marketing manager, figure out the target market, define it on Facebook, setup ads that appeal to this target market, then track conversion. Fine tune and repeat.

That will create sales. For you.

Yes, Facebook will make money from your ads — but you will, too. Otherwise, you will simply continue to provide content to a platform that doesn’t even want to display your content!

2. Make your Facebook page new-prospect-ready.

When I shop around for a new supplier, I often go check their social media presence. If they haven’t posted anything on Facebook in 3 years and the copyright notice at the bottom of their website says “2014”… I usually move on.

What we are suggesting: The focus of your Facebook page should be on “reeling in” these new potential clients who are “checking you out”. These people may never like your page. They will not improve your engagement metrics. But they can become clients!

How can you get your Facebook page ready for new prospects?

It’s almost the opposite of what we do when we focus on posting engaging content. In fact, from now on, you should post less. You only need the following:

  1. Pin to the top of your page a post that will be valuable for potential new clients. You could include a coupon or a free eBook, to track traffic and generate leads.
  2. Post some regular content so that you look alive. But, please note: In this context, posting regular content is not as demanding as when you were focusing on constantly building up your engagement metrics. You simply need to add, every once in a while, a new post that is related to what your business does — once a week or once a month, depending on your industry. These posts will be there for these new clients coming to check you out — it’s not there to become viral!

By focusing on this type of content and ads, for new clients, you will save money too! You can cut a big chunk of what you are currently spending on trying to create engaging content every day, for… What? What are you doing this engaging content for, again?

Side notes about our strategy for Facebook pages in 2018

There are a few.

First… I’m not saying it’s the end of the social media marketer. You can still ask your favorite social media marketing consultant to help you implement what we recommend. Furthermore, whatever content you produce, even if more limited that it used to be, should still be fully in-tune with your brand and valuable for your audience.

Second… There are many different ways you could still work on engagement on Facebook if so you want.

For instance, you could add a group associated to your page. Groups fall right into this “interaction with friends and family” that Zuck wants. But be careful… This may work well in some industry and not so well in others. We’ll discuss this angle in a forthcoming post.

Otherwise, you could use “influencers” and “brand ambassadors”. The concept, here, is straight forward: Since Facebook gives priority to people interacting with people (mainly friends and family), you get people to plug your brand to their friends and family. Great idea! Except… It’s a whole new can of worms. So far, it’s been easy to get brand ambassadors to do whatever and anything — but rules are now popping up. For instance, an ambassador is supposed to reveal that they are getting paid to promote a brand. It sounds easy but it is not that easy.

In both cases, groups and influencers, your brand can benefit but… Your brand can also be seriously damaged if it’s not done right.

Third… There’s another role for that Facebook page of yours: customer service. No matter what you do with your content, you still need to continue monitoring your page to quickly answer clients (and potential clients) contacting you on social media.

Fourth… We are not disputing the benefits outlined by Facebook with these changes. They assert it will provide a better experience for its users. We’re also not disputing Mark Zuckerberg’s concern for people’s well-being. However, let’s look at it this way: By being more concerned by its users well-being, Facebook is killing 3 birds with one stone. It improves the user experience on Facebook, it displays itself as a socially responsible business, and… It forces us to spend more money on Facebook! It’s a win-win where Zuck wins 3 times!

Reference

This is the full news announcement by Facebook.

Have a good one!

It may be time to turn your Facebook page strategy upside down