How the New Facebook Updates Affect Small Businesses

They did it again. Arg, Facebook! 

Three algorithm updates in one month. You may already be seeing a dip in how many people are seeing your posts. That's because business pages are the direct target of one of the updates, and depending on the kind of content a business shares, pages could be affected by the other two updates as well. 

So ... how exactly does this all affect YOUR business?

Let's dive in ...

Update one: Deprioritizing brand posts

Right as the year kicked off, Facebook announced that users would start seeing more from their family and friends in their feed, and less from media and businesses. So Happy New Year business peeps! 

Facebook's reason for this update is that they want to improve the user experience, showing more of the content users want to see ... like babies and, apparently, people proudly showing off heinous injuries (or is that just my feed?), and less of what they don't want ... like business and media posts (won't lie, that hurts a little).

I know ... all that time spent last year trying to get that ol' reach up, and now ... back to the drawing board. No worries, there are ways to offset the hit. 

Here's what you can do ...

According to a statement by Facebook about the updates ... “Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed.”

This means business pages still have a chance. Creating authentic, engaging content that gets people talking in the comments section is as important as ever. 

Remember, keep it non-salesy, relevant and interesting to your audience. 

Ask relevant questions, for feedback, or for fans to share their opinions or stories. Or just create great posts you know will get YOUR audience excited. Look for what got them really talking in the past, and create similar content.

Here's what you don't want to do

While it might take a little practice figuring out the right kind of content to post to get conversations going in 2018, there are a few things you might be tempted to do, but definitely shouldn't.

Engagement Bait

Facebook looks for what it calls "engagement bait" and limits the reach of any posts that use it, possibly even demoting the pages of frequent offenders.

What's this now? you say ... 

Don't sweat it. It's easy-peasy, just avoid these things: 

  • Share bait: Don't encourage users to share a post in exchange for something ... like a freebie. You can encourage them to share the post with anyone that might find value in the topic though. 
  • Vote bait: Reactions (the heart, smiley face, surprisey face, etc) are great signals of engagement to the algorithm. To prevent abuse, Facebook flags posts that ask users to vote for something using a reaction that does not match the actual intent of the reaction. For example, no requests to "choose angry face if you like the cute kitten or surprise face if you like the adorable puppy" just to wrack up reactions. 
  • Tag bait: Tagging is also a good sign of engagement levels. But Facebook wants you to keep it clean. Don't ask people to tag their friends in an image that isn’t of them as a way to share the image and get more tags.
  • React bait: Just like vote baiting, FB doesn't want you to encourage people to use reactions in a way that's inconsistent with their intention. So, don't ask people to "Like this if you're an Aries to find your true love!"
  • Comment bait: You're probably getting the hang of this by now ... but, don't encourage people to leave comments that aren't insightful, unique or valuable. For example, no posts that say "comment 'yeppers!' if you like breathing." That sort of nonsense.

Update Two: Reputable News Sources

You got it ... fake news and that whole rigmarole. FB is going to start asking users to pick which news outlets they find trustworthy. This one doesn't impact businesses quite as much, so I won't go into it too far, but it should be an incentive to be mindful of the sources of the articles you share. 

Update Two: Local News Sources

The last update is intended to prioritize news stories that are local to each user, and therefore hopefully more relevant. It's a little early to tell on this one, but it shouldn't hurt any business posts. Potentially it could give your blog articles a bit of a leg up if your target marketing is local and your articles are written for a local audience.

So, it's not all bad friends. Now ... let's see what Google has in store for your SEO in Q1 of 2018.