Facebook 2018: The Best Business Tips You Need To Know
If you’ve got a Facebook business page, you’ve probably heard by now about Facebook’s January 2018 algorithm changes.
It’s all about “meaningful social interaction” and bringing Facebook newsfeeds back to their original focus - family and friends’ updates.
That’s nice for its 1.98 billion active monthly users. It’s not so great for small business pages.
Or is it?
Facebook wants businesses to fold into the community seamlessly by becoming part of the conversation.
Posts that get more engagement, shares and comments will continue to rank higher in the algorithm. Those that don’t will lose traction.
We’re aware of that already. We’ve all been trying to get that damn engagement going for ages, right?
It’s a bit like when you’re reading a travel mag and halfway through a article, you stop and think “Gosh, they’re really plugging this hotel. This doesn’t sound like responsible journalism.” And then you realise you’re actually reading an advertorial. An advertisement that’s written to sound like the magazine’s editorial content.
That’s what we all need to get better at. Fitting our business into the community content. Telling our story, being likeable, friendly, interesting, and relevant to the community.
(Oh and this is while managing our marketing/social media/strategy with a team of 1. And directing people to our websites and selling our services. Cause hey, we’re businesses, right? Not just flaffing around on social media for the fun of it.)
But it doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. Here’s how small business pages can build and drive “meaningful” engagement on Facebook in 2018.
1. Focus on content your audience cares about
If we’re trying to get our page followers engaged and inspired about our posts, we have to tap into what they care about, right?
Here’s where how well you know your audience really comes into play. Are your Facebook followers mostly friends and family, or people interested in your business?
You need to hone in on your audience and what they care about. If they care about thread counts for upholstering vintage armchairs, then that’s what the kind of subject base your posts need to consider.
Here’s an example of a page I manage in Laos, WIG Laos, a local not-for-profit. I post on almost a daily basis with lots of photos and occasional videos. Check out the analytics from the last 6 weeks…
Organic reach 50-120%, engagement average 15%.
These are awesome stats!
Every single post is getting great organic reach (even beyond our page followers). The engagement rate is well above the not-for-profit average of 4.6% too. (Facebook’s standard average is an alarming 0.7% so anything above 1% is a good engagement rate!).
One of the reasons the page is doing so well is that I know who our audience is. I know what they care about. So, I can focus all my posts on appealing to those interests and building a community around it.
And that’s what you want to do - build a community of like-minded people who are interested in your cause, whether it be fairtrade ice cream, freelance writing, or upholstering vintage furniture.
2. Be responsive to your followers
It sounds obvious, right? This new algorithm shows us that businesses have to work harder to reach and connect with their followers.
And people in turn want to connect with those they follow, to trust them and feel they’re approachable. One way to do that is through online messaging.
A predicted trend for 2018 is an increase in one-on-one interactions via message apps. Enter Facebook Messenger.
Add the blue call to action message box under your page banner and people can contact you directly. You have to respond to every single message. Even if it’s just a thumbs up at the end. Trust me, it can get busy but the Facebook gods love a responsive messenger.
Online messaging is especially good if you are doing an event or sale or other short term promotion. Add the message button and see how it works for a limited time. It’s a time investment but you’ll be showing people your efficiency, friendliness and trustworthiness.
3. Get on video
You’ve heard it time and time again. So, go on, give it a try. Video is the way forward.
Live video is even more popular. Enter Facebook Live (they’re lining up these apps, aren’t they?).
Facebook Live has been around for less than a year (launched April 2016) and already has some hugely impressive statistics. Like engagement rates of 10 times the average non-video post. That's some serious leverage.
Live video is, as the name suggests, live. No editing, no airbrushing, you pop on some lipstick and away you go.
Here's 3 great things about Facebook Live: Videos can be very short - 1-2 minutes only; you can have interact during the video with people via comments; and you can reuse the video afterwards, on Facebook or elsewhere.
I’d like to give a shoutout here to fellow freelance writer, Jodi Gibson, who has in the last year dipped her toes into the scarily extroverted world of Facebook Lives. Paving the way, Jodi!
4. Keep your posts casual
In other words, don’t try to force engagement.
The term is “engagement baiting” - posts that push people to respond a certain way, such as asking people to tag a friend or respond to a post with emoticons. This cranks up the engagement factor and has become a popular tactic.
But Facebook doesn’t like it because it’s spammy and doesn’t create real conversation. And presumably, readers don’t like it either for the same reasons.
Naturally, it would be awesome if people did respond to your posts with emoticons and tagged friends. But you don’t want to ask them to do it!
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5. Try out Facebook Ads
Yep, Facebook is at the end of the day a business and someone has to foot the bill. Small business pages are being squeezed at both ends!
If you’re balking at shelling out for advertising, don’t. You can start small. Even a few dollars can help your post reach hundreds of people, or more. I’ve had great results running Facebook ads for less than $5 a week.
One great thing about FB ads is that you can really target your audience, from geographical location down to age and interests. So, you’ll only have people who are interested in your service, product or cause, see your ad. Which means your value for money and potential return on investment (ROI) is pretty good.
RELATED POST: How To: Retarget Your Advertising On Social Media
6. Encourage people to follow your page
Continue to share your Facebook business page just as before. Add it to your email signature, your business card and drop it into emails.
With almost 2 billion people on Facebook, it’s still the biggest social media platform in the world, and many people use it to research people and businesses.
Invite your friends and family and ask them to invite their networks.
You can even ask people to pick the “see first” option when they follow your page. Then they’ll receive your posts in their newsfeed sooner.
7. Know you’re playing the long game
Remember that like any other platform Facebook is a marketing strategy.
Ideally you should have one marketing plan that focuses on your business objectives, rather than exhaust yourself managing multiple strategies. Then apply that strategy to all of your platforms.
Facebook isn’t an ecommerce platform. It can only advertise your services or products. Your followers then need to go to your website to actually purchase them. Or sign up to your newsletter, or subscribe to your podcast, or whatever. So, keep your endgame in mind - what do you ultimately want your followers to do?
And experiment with different types of posts to achieve that endgame. You’ll find your sweet spot but it might take some thinking outside the box.
Personally, I think the new algorithm signals a change for the better. Less contrived, staged posts and more sincerity and spontaneity. Surely that's a good thing?
About the author: Lilani Goonesena is an Australian freelance writer, SEO copywriter and Squarespace web designer based in Vientiane, Laos. She loves boosting freelancers and small businesses with web design, SEO content and digital marketing strategy. She writes an awesome weekly newsletter on digital marketing, social media, blogging, web design and "all that online stuff". Lilani also blogs at the delectable Eat Drink Laos, just for fun.