Shifting the Vision for Facebook
Within the past few years, Facebook has been trending toward the idea of reformatting the way users see content within the platform. They began the push in 2015 with early updates and tweaks to the news feed visibility algorithm1. But now it’s official, and the executive team has bolstered its efforts to return to the original goal of the platform: connecting you to those you are close to and care for. And just as expected, reactions have been charged and outspoken, especially for those who now are involved in small business.
At the beginning of 2018, Mark Zuckerberg declared that Facebook is taking on the responsibility of cleaning up its massive network. It would begin to police malicious and hateful use of the network while providing a more intimate user experience within one’s social circle. The first part of this task arose from accusations that Facebook is used to abuse and spam, even to extreme degrees such as enabling ethnic cleansing in Myanmar and housing Russian propaganda campaigns2. As Facebook attempts to mitigate the damage done by such extreme allegations, they’ve bundled in a revamp of the way everyday users view content, starting with a major overhaul of post ranking. And provided you’re not an international agent with ties to the Kremlin, this is where you’ll start to see some important changes in your news feed.
Meaningful Content and Post Ranking
These new announcements follow a polarizing change that will ultimately favor “meaningful” content, which certainly means different things to different people, but is meant to champion posts from friends and family over those of small businesses or media sources. In addition, content that draws genuine engagement from “personal” friends of the poster will rank highly over those that typically get scrolled (or swiped) over. Liking, reacting to, or sharing a post means that source will be prioritized within your feed. Extended (or developed) comment conversations on posts show even higher interest in content. Little indicators like this feed information into Facebook’s visibility algorithm, which will constantly fine-tune what content you see and how often you see it.
Along with content from friends and family, Facebook also predicts there will be a boost in group or community content — which, as Facebook vice president Adam Mosseri predicts, is becoming “increasingly active and vibrant.”5 Facebook also says that there will be less video. Although video is becoming increasingly important to businesses and marketers, the organization claims that most of the interaction is passive and stimulates little conversation. And indeed, Facebook has said that there will be less direct content from professional pages. But this doesn’t mean the death of business pages; in fact, it could be quite the contrary. “Content that is shared and talked about between friends will grow,” Mosseri says.
All Right, So What’s the Game Plan?
Again, these changes provide an interesting opportunity for small businesses looking to reach an audience and build a community through Facebook. Although the ranking system itself is not something that the general public can change, the strategy with which users utilize Facebook, especially those who operate within small businesses, can certainly be adjusted. In fact, we think there are a few things that providers like you can do to increase the effectiveness of your presence on Facebook.
Start a Conversation
First, focus on engagement. The benefits of creating content that compels people to interact with your posts are rapidly increasing, and now more than ever, posts that yield passive consumption will gain very little traction within the feed of your followers. Curious as to how one might write content that encourages engagement? Try posing questions to users about their hearing loss experiences, and encourage them to share tips and tricks with others! Prompting a user to share a post is often overlooked; encouraging those who already like your page to share content with family and friends is a great way to help others find your educational, informative, or even event-related content.
There are other reasons people engage with your content as well, not just because you asked them to. Oftentimes people like to see compelling, moving, or thoughtful content — maybe something from a patient about their experience with new technology, or a picture of a younger patient having a positive experience with a hearing test.
In addition, people love information or photos from within the practice. Of course they do — they’re following your page, right? Even little things like work anniversaries, office birthdays, or new hires are all relevant posts that people enjoy. People like to see the faces of their providers, to stay updated, and to know that their favorite practice is involved and active.
See It to Believe It
This is a good segue into our next strategy for increasing the effectiveness of your Facebook business page — utilizing the power of visuals. Although it’s kind of a no-brainer that a post with good-looking photos or graphics is going to draw the eye of a user more so than a simple text post, we think the total benefit is often overlooked. When it comes down to it, it’s worth the time to find or build a graphic to accompany a post, even simple ones like holiday office closures, or maybe a renovation to the office. Increasing the visual appeal of posts makes it more likely that a post will be shared or commented upon and provides another factor for people to engage with or talk about.
The same philosophy applies to videos, too, potentially to an even higher degree. With the modern availability of smartphones and digital cameras, it’s not hard to shoot a great-looking video. And if your practice has the time and resources, doing so and sharing said video can drive some powerful responses. Not sure what the subject should be? How about an FAQ, “Tips and Tricks,” or an introduction to a new technology or service? Maybe even a smile and a wave from a new staff member! With this new algorithm update, a video that gets people talking will be rewarded with increased visibility. With the power and speed of today’s social networking system, a funny, compelling, or helpful video from your practice might be quickly shot between friends, family, or co-workers and can provide that much more brand awareness for your business.
For Your Eyes Only
The last strategy that has remained bulletproof throughout the plethora of changes to Facebook’s news feed has been advertising. Facebook has invested in and extensively developed its advertising platform, taking advantage of one of the most thorough consumer databases in the world on top of its 2 billion unique users. In his interview at the beginning of 2018, Mosseri quickly identified the advertising system as being completely separate from the organic post-ranking system this post began discussing; paid advertising within Facebook remains a surefire way to make sure your message is heard. If you’re working hard to create valuable content and follow all of these aforementioned tips, paying for ads or boosting posts will ensure that your practice is heard and visible to users. And indeed, these users will include those who already follow your practice, along with those who will soon.
Oftentimes a strategy separate from that of your organic posting can be utilized for advertising. Ads are much better suited for strong calls to action, practice highlights, and lead generation. They can prove a valuable tool for connecting to new markets, targeting those interested in hearing health and technology, and even booking appointments. The suite of objectives tied to ads is extensive: anything from garnering new page likes to spreading awareness or even creating online contests. When you consider these powerful tools with the incorporated sharing and linking abilities within the platform, you’ll find a truly powerful engine operating within a growing and receptive demographic.
Of course, the creation, execution, and maintenance of these ads are rather complex and time intensive. But if this is something your practice is interested in, Audigy has the resources to help. The market for ads within Facebook is only growing and, with these updates, will become more and more important to the well-being of your practice.