Do you use Facebook and LinkedIn to market your business? If so, pay attention. Massive changes are taking place on both platforms that will impact your marketing efforts. I can’t emphasize this enough: These social media changes represent some pretty big shifts. Throw your existing strategies out the window because we have officially entered a new order.
Reach on Facebook has dropped considerably over the years, starting back in 2012. Yesterday, Facebook announced that reach would drop again for business pages. Adam Mosseri stated the following in a Facebook News article:
Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg echoed those comments in a post last night that:
As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.
So What Works on Facebook Now?
The next logical question to ask is are there any types of posts by businesses that will perform better in the feed. Mosseri answered that question this way:
Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos.
Is Video Still the Answer?
That answer has lead to some conversation and debate amongst social media marketers. In 2017, Facebook let it be known that Live video, followed by pre-recorded video posted natively, was the best type of content to post because it would receive the highest reach.
The above statement is causing some confusion because video is stated as a post type. But if you read the wording, Mosseri does not say that posts with video will show higher. He says, “Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed.” He uses video as an example of one content form that seems to generate conversation.
So if you are using video on Facebook, you need to make sure it generates engagement if you want it to be seen.
Facebook’s Bottom Line
Creators of engaging content will do well in the “New Facebook Order.” Creativity and interesting topics is what will help business page posts generate conversation and reach potential customers. That’s what will work, whether the post is text, a photo or a video.
This new shift is one of the biggest social media changes we’ve seen in years. Unfortunately, it will favor businesses with large marketing budgets. After all, they have the resources to generate content that will get engagement. Small- and medium-sized businesses typically don’t have that type of budget.
For all intents and purposes, Facebook is morphing into a marketing platform where only large businesses will have success.
The social media changes a are not restricted to just Facebook. LinkedIn made adjustments to how it allowed updates into its Home page feed last year. The implications are just now being felt.
In March 2017, co-authors Rushi Bhatt and Bari Saltman wrote a blog article for LinkedIn entitled Strategies for Keeping the LinkedIn Feed Relevant. In it, they describe how millions of updates get shared daily which clog up a user’s feed.
“Keeping the LinkedIn feed relevant by identifying unprofessional and spammy content,” explain the authors, “is critical to maintaining the quality our members’ content consumption experiences.”
While this blog post was not a direct announcement of changes, it was an indication that LinkedIn was doing things differently. “We would like to eliminate as much low-quality content from the site as possible.”
In the past, LinkedIn presented updates in the feed from your connections by the order in which they were created. In theory, you could see the posts of your connections and they could see yours.
The new change involves a grading system for updates. At the time of creation, LinkedIn applies a “Spam,” “low-quality,” or “clear” grade to each update. Those deemed spam are removed from the feed right away. Low-quality content is being offered to a small portion of your connections to see if it generates any engagement. If it doesn’t within the first four hours, then it is removed, as well.
So the real question is this: How is low-quality defined? LinkedIn doesn’t tell us this exactly, but we can determine that it is connected to engagement.
When a post is created and graded, LinkedIn is using an algorithm to predict how that update will perform. If it matches LinkedIn’s prediction, it will be removed. If it generates discussion, it will continue to be shown in the feed.
What Does It Mean?
The bottom line is this: If you have posts that get little or no engagement you might want to stop your marketing on LinkedIn right now. The new changes don’t just impact a single post but will end up removing all of your future updates from the feed! This is serious stuff! Nothing you post will ever appear there again.
For more information on how this change is shaking out on LinkedIn, read this blog post from LinkedIn expert Crystal Thies.
Invest in SEO
Instead of trying to make Facebook and LinkedIn work, small businesses should switch their emphasis to their own websites. Create new content on a regular basis and engage in search engine optimization strategies that will get the website found in search. It was the soundest way of being found online before the rise of social media and still continues to be today.
While both Facebook and LinkedIn are making these changes to better serve their users, they will ultimately hurt the business users that were invited onto the platform. Further, since both of these social media changes require creating interesting content that encourages engagement and discussion, they will eventually hurt small-to medium-size businesses. They just don’t’ have the budget to do it on a regular basis.
At one time, social media was viewed as an equalizer. They were platforms that allowed small businesses and start-ups to compete evenly with big brands. Now, we’re watching that notion shrivel up before our eyes.
Bob Turner is a Digital Marketing Consultant in Cincinnati, Ohio