Facebook launched as a social network for college students, but it was never a stranger to marketing. When Facebook Ads and Business Pages rolled out in 2007, they took marketing by storm, giving businesses of any size the ability to reach a massive number of prospects and audiences effectively and cheaply.
But following controversy after controversy in 2017 and the beginning of 2018, Facebook decided to make some drastic changes to its algorithm to keep users satisfied and secure.
Now, Facebook prioritizes what they dub “meaningful interactions” when gauging the visibility of specific content. They ensure users’ news feeds focus heavily on posts from family and friends. And, they redefined what they deem spam from businesses.
The changes threw a wrench in the strategies of online marketers, especially small businesses: Without the funds and time to revamp strategies, many were left struggling and frustrated.
But you can absolutely get your Facebook marketing game back on track.
The key? Don’t try to outsmart the algorithm. Successful marketers have always stressed the importance of having a solid brand voice and friendly relationship with customers on social media. And that’s exactly what Facebook is looking for with promoted content, ads and your updates.
So, give the social media giant what it wants: thoughtful, useful content that keeps users onsite and engaged.
6. Start conversations (without baiting)
In the past, marketers routinely asked for comments, tags, likes and shares when posting content on Facebook. But the 2018 algorithm change, with its push for meaningful interactions, now views these overt requests as bait, actively demoting them in news feeds.
Now, brands have to purposefully start conversations with customers to secure visibility. Starting polls, tacking on questions when sharing content and brand updates, and sharing viral content all get customers talking in the comments and sharing posts with friends and family.
This post from L.L. Bean hits all the marks with a question, an incentive and a shareable photo:
And remember: The more your brand interacts with customers on posts, the more you encourage others to jump into the conversation.
5. Be succinct with thoughts, updates and ads
Shorter content almost always wins when it comes to Facebook. While the algorithm doesn’t seem to incentivize brevity, users absolutely do. Engagement rates on shorter posts are drastically higher than more long-winded content.
Standard posts with around 40 characters receive 86% more engagement and those with less than 80 characters receive 66% more engagement than longer posts. That is, unless you’re asking a question to spark that conversation: These posts tend to perform best when they’re 100 to 119 characters in length.
Paid posts are a bit different. According to AdEspresso, Facebook ads should hit the following word counts for optimal engagement:
- Headline: 5 words
- Main text (above visual): 14 words
- Description (below headline): 18 words
This sponsored post is super short, yet effective:
With less words to work with, you’ll need to be extra strategic with your copy. Check out this Biz.me post on making every word count.
4. Focus on visual content—especially video
Visual content is constantly being pushed by marketers. And there’s a reason: People love images, infographics, gifs and videos. And because they love them, they tend to comment on them and share them more than other types of content. Which is the type of interaction Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes.
Overall, visual content receives 87% more engagement than a plain text post. Ideally, every post you make to Facebook should include at least an image. But to really stand out, mix in video as much as possible.
This Cincinnati-based martial arts studio uses a class to incorporate video content in their strategy:
Facebook also knows that videos, specifically live videos, lead to the most in-depth internet conversations. Which is why the new algorithm prioritizes showing live videos in news feeds—they get six times as many interactions as standard videos.
3. Engage your employees (or clients)
Your employees are an untapped well of potential. Getting them to share your content gets you in on their friends’ and families’ timelines—again, because Facebook is prioritizing content from real people over businesses. But that’s not the only benefit: People are 16 times more likely to read a post from a friend or family member than they are a business.
So how do you go about it? Actively encourage employees to start sharing company posts on their personal accounts by:
- Handing out monthly rewards for participating
- Run contests to create content to post
- Host an event that boosts employee morale
- Utilize advocacy tools, like Bambu, to make sharing easier
- Include employee stories in your content strategy
- Have employees host Facebook Live events
Of course, you have to have engaged employees for this method to work. Check out this exclusive Biz.me article on getting your team engaged.
This Georgia-based restaurant used a snapshot from their end-of-year staff party to plug their Instagram page and daily specials (and more employees shared the post than average):
No employees? No problem. Your client list is a great way to expand your reach while actively networking with your base. Tap clients to host Facebook Live events to discuss industry news, tag them in posts relevant to them and share their posts so they return the favor.
2. Put ad money behind your best content
One of the biggest mistakes novice social media marketers make is assuming that because they paid for an ad it will have a solid reach. But now, more than ever, Facebook is strongly pushing content that performs well organically. Ads with natural traction come with significantly lower costs-per-clicks than lackluster content.
So, rethink your method. Instead of only creating distinct ad campaigns, keep an eye out for strongly-performing content. If something ends up with more likes, shares and comments than normal, consider paying to promote it. You’ll likely end up with better reach and a higher return on investment.
Facebook Insights has everything you need to decide which posts to promote:
Really want to get the most out of your top performers? Read through Biz.me’s ultimate guide to promoting your best content.
1. Ask users to seek you out and opt-in
Asking for likes and shares directly is no longer a solid method to garner engagement, but asking people to follow you—and asking followers to make sure they’re seeing your posts—is A-Okay.
Continue asking customers to follow your Facebook page (and providing incentives for doing so). Then, ask followers to click on over to their news feeds’ preference tab and add your page to their “See First” list.
This way, your content will show up in their feeds right alongside Aunt Sally’s coconut crème cake recipe and their college roommate’s wedding photos.
Rest assured, Facebook will continue changing the game and updating its algorithm as users’ preferences and expectations shift. Keep yourself current, follow the latest trends and don’t sleep on Facebook tool and app rollouts (the platform tends to give pages that utilize its in-house products preference).
But, stay focused on your followers first and foremost. The meaningful interactions goal isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.