Facebook Updates: Two Big Themes

Facebook updates

Ah, Facebook. The good-old social media standby network…or is it?

If you’ve used the app at all this year you’ve likely noticed some changes taking place. It’s actually been a bit of a whirlwind trying to keep up with all of the news releases and articles about Facebook. To help condense the updates and determine what they all point to, let’s take a look at an overview of what we’ve seen in recent months.

Engagement Baiting Crackdown
Technically, Facebook started cracking down on engagement baiting at the end of 2017, but this seemed to be the kick-off to a laundry list of platform updates.

‘Fixing’ Facebook
In early January, Facebook released its plan to start fixing Facebook. Among other things, the news release from the social media company announced its intentions to de-prioritize newsfeed reach for business pages and instead increase the amount of posts users see from people and groups.

Prioritizing Local News
A little later, Facebook announced its intention to show users more content from local news sources to create trust and further its attempt to make the app ‘healthier’ for its users.

Organic Reach Stats 
Jon Loomer reported on some analytics changes that Facebook made which seemed to show a big (…ger?) drop in organic reach. Interestingly enough, the update was to the stats about reach instead of any algorithm changes that would affect a page’s newsfeed placement.

No More Explore Feed
Last fall, Facebook announced it was testing a separate feed for pages, much to the panic of many businesses. As of March 1, Facebook is discontinuing the Explore feed.

Believe it or not, this list is an incredibly condensed version of the myriad of updates Facebook has been rolling out. Next up will be the addition of some paid promotion options with groups, according to Mari Smith.

When we take a look at the overarching themes of these changes, a couple of things stand out. First, Facebook is placing emphasis on connecting with other users instead of businesses. Second, Facebook is emphasizing groups in a huge way. This is something that’s immediately obvious when you pull up your personal newsfeed, as the majority of content is now coming from groups instead of pages or individual users.

While Facebook is still going strong, I would encourage businesses and nonprofits to experiment with two things. First, consider creating a group and linking it to your organization’s page. We won’t know if this emphasis on groups is long-term or not until Facebook tells us, but if it’s relevant to your organization it’s a good idea to try it out now while you’ll still receive a lift in organic reach.

Secondly, be sure to experiment with other social media sites if you haven’t done so already. Even without these big changes it’s a good idea to diversify and keep a pulse on what your target market is doing. If you’re going after a younger demographic for instance, then Facebook is not going to be your best option anyway. Even if you’re targeting baby boomers, it’s good to know what other social media sites that demographic is using.

What other updates have you read about or observed within Facebook? Have they made you reconsider your use of the platform or are you still holding steady?

Facebook Algorithm: 3 Things You Need to Know

Here it is, only February, and Facebook has really changed things up in the new year. It can be really difficult to make sense of it all, and then you add misinformation and scare tactics on top of it and it gets really murky.

I came across an article from Buffer this morning that does a really thorough job explaining Facebook’s newest algorithm shift. In addition to the algorithm’s top ‘ranking’ factors, the article goes on to explain some insights into Facebook groups and other helpful information.

Going forward, it’s very important to understand what Facebook is looking for and what kinds of things are good and not-so-good for getting reach within the newsfeed. First and foremost, Facebook is all about engagement. Yes it was always ‘supposed to’ be about engagement, but now they are on a mission to restrict the reach of pages that don’t have much engagement.

Most notably, Facebook will be taking into account the comments on your posts. Also, the algorithm shift will be ‘looking’ at whether or not your page replies to user comments and if there are ‘conversations’ happening. Read: don’t just throw a post out there and forget to check in to respond to your followers’ comments.

Comments are not the only thing that Facebook is looking for. They are also going to give priority to page posts that other Facebook users share. Sharing can be done privately through Messenger or it can be shared to a user’s timeline.

Some people may see this and decide to create a sort of ‘support group’ for Facebook. No, I don’t mean the kind that sits together in a circle and listens to each others’ problems. Some page owners may try to skirt this portion of the algorithm shift by organizing a handful (or so) of friends who agree to share posts from each others’ business pages.

This is a good thought at first glance, but I suspect Facebook has already thought of it. Facebook is also going to look at how much engagement the shared posts are getting. If a user shares your page’s post to his or her timeline and no one engages with it, that’s bad news for your post and potential reach.

Let’s say for example that you publish a post on your Facebook page this afternoon and line up 10 of your friends to share it to their own personal timelines. While shares are great for the newest algorithm, remember that Facebook will also look at how each share of your original post is performing. So if those 10 friends share the post and it’s not relevant to them or their friends, chances are the shared posts won’t get any engagement. That ends up reflecting back on your page thanks to the algorithm.

The third biggest algorithm factor is whether or not Facebook users react to your posts. Some of us might enjoy a post but not enough to share it or even comment on it. That leaves reactions, which is something the algorithm will put into play for pages now.

This is a lot to take in, but the main thing is that page admins need to be thinking about how their posts will resonate with their audience. The more something provides value or sparks a feeling, the more likely a person is to share, comment or react to it. This is what social media is all about: creating conversations and, yes, being social. That being said, Facebook is definitely moving forward with ‘cracking down’ on pages that don’t engage with their followers.

What questions or concerns do you have about this algorithm update?

 

How to Share Multiple Photos on Instagram

Instagram glyph logo

Have you seen your friends posting multiple photos at one time on Instagram? If you’re not quite sure how they managed that, keep reading to find out. (Hint: it’s really easy!)

First, head to your Instagram profile. Tap the “+” as shown below:

 

Instagram

Instagram

Next, make sure that “Library” is selected so you can access the photos you’ve taken with your phone:

Instagram

Instagram

Now, find the icon with multiple squares. It may be hard to see but it’s there:

Instagram

Instagram

Select up to 10 photos to upload by tapping on the ones you want. The circles will turn blue once you’ve selected a photo:

Instagram

Instagram

You’ll be able to apply filters to each photo selected. Or, you can tap each photo to individually edit it. (Side note: yep, I have lots of cat photos on my phone!)

After you’ve uploaded the photos and edited them, add your caption and hashtags and post as normal.

It is pretty easy to post multiple photos at one time. The hardest part can be finding the correct button since they’re not labeled with text.

Try it out and let me know how it went! You can also follow me on Instagram for more behind-the-scenes and random cat photos (only half joking!). My username is @bvanderbillconsulting. I’d love to connect with you!

Tagging Photos on Instagram

Instagram glyph logo

I provided a mini-training session to a business last week and they had some great questions about social media. One question in particular centered on the idea of tagging someone in an Instagram post and how that post shows up within Instagram. I figured this might be valuable information to share with all of you, too.

My client’s question essentially boiled down to who sees a tagged post on Instagram. In this situation, the business posted a photo and tagged someone in it. The business wanted to know if the tagged person’s followers would see this post in their own feeds.

It would make sense if this was the case, since Instagram is owned by Facebook.

However, that’s not actually what happens. To answer this question, we first need to look at whether the business’ Instagram profile is public or private. In this case, it is a public profile so anyone can see their posts. If it was set to private, only the business’ followers would see posts.

When this business tags someone in a post, the person tagged should receive a notification. (I say should because sometimes ‘bugs’ and glitches happen as we all know!) The photo then shows up in a special section on that person’s profile.

On the screenshot below, the circled area is where ‘tagged photos’ will be on an Instagram profile:

 

Instagram Tagged Photos

Instagram Tagged Photos

If this business tagged me in a post, it would show up under this section on my profile. So my followers can see the post but they’ll need to navigate to my profile to do so. The tagged post won’t automatically find its way into my followers’ feeds like it would on Facebook.

What Instagram questions do you have?

Big Facebook Changes Coming (Maybe?)

Were you on social media at all yesterday afternoon or evening? If you were, then you might have heard something about a big shift on Facebook up ahead.

Recently, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, announced his plans to somehow ‘fix’ Facebook. This is an interesting form of New Year’s resolution if I’ve ever heard one, full of complications and dare I say it–oxymorons. You can read the article and form your own opinions on that though.

Today, I wanted to help get the word out to you about changes that will affect all of us. Notice I said ‘will’ and not ‘may’ there.

Back to the big shift I originally mentioned. Facebook has now announced its plan to ‘bring people closer together.’ Within this article, directly from the source itself, you’ll find lots of words. Are the meanings of those words clear? Not exactly.

Essentially, the upshot of this announcement is that brands are probably going to see a large(er) drop in reach because Facebook is really going to start prioritizing our newsfeeds for us to focus on interaction with people and not brands.

Maybe.

So many experienced people and businesses have already pushed out some helpful thoughts on this topic, from Social Media Today to Mari Smith to Jon Loomer and Tech Crunch, among numerous others. I find Jon Loomer’s article the most helpful as he breaks down the Facebook announcement snippet by snippet and tries to interpret it.

The article seems to indicate that if you have a business page on Facebook, get ready to be pushed to the bottom of the newsfeed. The curious thing about Facebook’s announcement though is the contradictions sprinkled throughout.

For instance, live video is mentioned more or less as a preferred tool that receives much more engagement. The entire announcement though is about ‘meaningful interactions’ between people and ‘making Facebook better’ so people spend less time on it. Here we have but one contradiction: if this change will make Facebook so amazing and better for us, why in the world would we spend less time on it?

I could go on about how weird and vague this most recent development is. However, that’s not helpful. Instead, what are some things you can do as a business owner or nonprofit running a Facebook page? While no one (outside of the Facebook executives, of course) has an answer for that just yet, here are some ideas for you:

  • Prioritize live videos. It may or may not help more people see your page, but it sounds like it Facebook is likely still favoring live videos at this point.
  • Create posts and content that starts discussions. This is kind of a core value of social media in a way. It’s more important than ever now with the crackdown on engagement baiting and this latest update. It seems that pages with lots of interaction (conversations) on Facebook will get preferential newsfeed treatment.
  • Ask your fans to prioritize your page. Get ahead of it now while you can. Ask your fans to tell Facebook that they’d like to see your page’s posts first in their newsfeeds. (Side note: if you want some screenshots and how-to help with how to do that, let me know in the comments.)
  • Pay to play. Yes, it’s a bit of a tired phrase but it’s becoming more and more relevant with Facebook. You need to be boosting posts and paying for ads in order to reach Facebook users. With these changes, it’s highly likely that ad costs will start to go up. So if you haven’t created ads before, do it now while costs are more normal so you can ‘practice’ with fewer dollars spent.

What else have you read about this? Leave any helpful insights you have here. I’d love to read them!

Facebook: Making Sure Your Prospects Find You (And Like What They See!)

It’s no secret that social media is a big part of our everyday lives. Facebook in particular seems to capture our attention like no other.

Making sure that your business or nonprofit has a presence on Facebook is important.  Equally important is that your organization’s Facebook presence is polished and offers your prospects the information they’re looking for.

According to research from Retail Dive, close to 67% of us research a business or product on the internet before purchasing. That number actually sounds a bit conservative to me, but even so this is a big number. The majority of people want to educate themselves on a product or service before they contact you or stop in to your business.

If a potential customer of yours is trying to find your business on Facebook and they can’t, it becomes more likely that he or she will move on to a competitor. If that same potential customer searches for a company like yours and finds you on Facebook, what will he or she see? Does your business have a polished, consistent presence with actively engaged followers? Or has Facebook become a backseat priority among the dozens of things your business needs to accomplish every day, creating a page that is unappealing thanks to zero engagement, outdated information and no recent posts?

I hope your Facebook page shines with consistent posting (something within the last week, ideally) and branded graphics with high quality photos and videos. If you find yourself reviewing your page (go ahead, I’ll wait…) and realizing that it could use some help, I’ve got you covered.

Whether you already have a page and just need some help ensuring you have the basics covered or if you’re in need of a brand new Facebook page, I’ve put together a list for you. This beginner’s checklist for Facebook offers some key points to help you create or update your page to make sure your potential customers find it and that they like what they find once they get there.

Remember that people do business with those that they know, like and trust. The more your page provides value to a potential customer, the more likely they are to keep engaging with your page. They’ll get to know and enjoy your brand through what you put on your Facebook page and eventually they may bring their business to you.

If you find that you’d like a little more help getting started with using Facebook or other social media sites, you might find a personalized training session helpful. Schedule your free consultation to find out more!

Engagement Baiting and Your Facebook Page

Facebook is officially going to start cracking down on pages that practice what’s known as “engagement baiting.”

If you’re not familiar with this term, it refers to posts that pages create that encourage people to like, comment, share or tag a friend for really no reason at all–other than to gain additional reach in the newsfeed. You’ve seen these several times, I’m sure, as they seem quite prevalent with some pages. Here are some generic examples:

“LIKE this post if you agree that pizza is the best food ever!! LOVE this post if you can’t live without pizza in your life!!”

“TAG a friend that you would share this ocean front bungalow with!”

“TAG a friend on this {really weird/disgusting/disturbing} video and don’t say anything!”

People find these somewhat amusing so they play along, apparently. Essentially pages using these types of posts are trying to ‘beat’ the Facebook algorithm by encouraging users to engage with the post. Interestingly enough, Facebook is rolling this change out over the course of a few weeks.

You may have been tempted to jump on this bandwagon and create posts like this, but consider this your PSA to avoid it! It’s hard enough to get any organic reach at all through Facebook these days and using engagement baiting tactics as part of your social media marketing strategy will make it worse. Facebook’s crackdown means that pages using this tactic will now be penalized with even further reduced reach for their page.

If you’re not in the practice of creating these types of posts, you really have nothing to worry about. In fact, it might just help clear up our personal newsfeeds, which is something I can appreciate! How about you?

Is Facebook Dead?

Facebook

The great thing about social media is the wide variety of opinions, speculations and predictions about anything and everything, including about social media itself. The not-so-great thing about social media? The wide variety of opinions, speculations and predictions about anything and everything, including about social media itself.

Okay, that was a weak attempt at humor. (To my credit though, I’m writing this on Monday morning. Before I’ve finished my coffee.)

In all seriousness though, people are able to shout their opinions across the vast world of social media, whether or not their opinions have any basis in reality. Take for instance the idea of Facebook and whether it’s dead, dying or just getting started. Enter this question into any search engine or social media site and you’re bound to find a wide variety of thoughts on this topic.

I came across this short blurb about Facebook from TNW this morning, which is what inspired this post. I have mixed feelings on this subject.

On one hand, Facebook has been around for more than a decade. Despite all of the drastic changes (introduction of timeline, newsfeed, ads, etc.) they have implemented over those years, more than 2 billion people are still using the platform.

On the other hand, businesses are using the platform in droves and there’s been chatter that Facebook is running out of ad space. We’re getting bombarded with ads through Facebook every day and some of those can be really creepy. (I’m looking at you, brand new pair of shoes I looked at but didn’t buy on Black Friday…)

In the interest of full disclosure, yes, I do run business pages and ads for myself and my clients. There is a way to do it without being obnoxious though and I typically don’t do those creepy retargeting ads. (Hey, if I hate them why should I subject others to them?)

Personally, I still use Facebook frequently to keep up with friends and family. Also, it’s kind of mindless entertainment. Professionally, I use Facebook pretty heavily to achieve my clients’ marketing goals and objectives.

While I don’t know that Facebook will last forever, I also don’t think everyone is going to quit using it tomorrow. What do you think? Is Facebook dead, dying, just getting started or somewhere in the middle?

5 Last-Minute Ideas for Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday

It’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. If you’re anything like me, you may be in the midst of wrapping up several client projects and just plain neglected to plan something big for Small Business Saturday. (Which, by the way, is this Saturday.)

Have no fear! I’ve compiled a short list of some last-minute ideas for you to implement by Saturday:

  1. Create a special offer on Facebook
    You know that “Offers” tab on your business Facebook page? (No? Click “Settings” on your page, then “Edit Page.” Click “Add a Tab” and choose “Offers.”) Now is a great time to put a special offer there to reward your loyal Facebook followers with a discount.
  2. Create a product photo collage
    Take four or five good quality photos of some popular products you have on hand. Create a collage or slideshow and post it on your social media sites.
  3. Gather your neighbors
    If you’re a retail store with other businesses nearby, be everyone’s hero and create some Facebook posts about the specials and discounts THEY have. Tag their business name on your page and you’ll likely reach a few new prospects while helping out fellow business owners.
  4. Check out the American Express website
    They have some templates and social media posts you can easily modify for Small Business Saturday.
  5. Pay for some Facebook reach
    Social media is a great way to reach potential customers. Why not set up a simple boosted post on Facebook? Take that product collage or slideshow you created and spend $10 or so targeting nearby shoppers to alert them to your awesome deals.

You’ve still got a few days until Small Business Saturday, so take some time now to decide which of these last-minute ideas you’ll try. They’ll even leave you plenty of time to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with loved ones tomorrow. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

Nonprofits Need Marketing, Too

You may have seen an article I shared recently from the New York Times on my Facebook page explaining that nonprofits need marketing just like any other business. It’s so true! As I thought about this article a bit more, a recent example came to mind that I thought I’d share with you.

As a marketer, I work with a wide variety of organizations. Many of them are for-profit businesses with the goal of increasing sales or brand recognition. I also have several nonprofit clients as well. I find it incredibly rewarding to be working with an organization whose mission I am fully supportive of and whose work betters our communities. It’s even more rewarding to give them huge wins on social media that don’t end up costing a fortune. (Actually, successful content marketing typically doesn’t have as large of a price tag as most of us might imagine!)

An example of a recent success for one of my nonprofits starts with the screen shot below:

Facebook Video Stats

These insights are from a 48 second video I created in less than 20 minutes using Lumen5. The video was very simple with images, background music and overlaid text that told the story of this particular nonprofit’s cause. I’m not going to discuss the actual nonprofit itself as that really isn’t relevant (and goes against my general rule of not discussing my clients with others). As you can see though from this screenshot, the stats were pretty impressive for a nonprofit in a community of less than 20,000 people.

I also didn’t put any promotional dollars behind this video. No boost, no ad, just a post on a business Facebook page. Clearly, this video really resonated with the local audience! This screenshot shows 265 shares but I recently checked and we’re well over 315 now–and counting.

I have to admit, my mind was blown by this as well. But when you really think about it, the video was clear, concise and extremely relevant to the nonprofit’s audience. It struck a chord, illustrated the importance of their cause and made people pay attention to a huge community issue.

This video is by far the most widely shared piece of content on that page to date, and it cost next to nothing to make. Lumen5 (at least for now) provides free images, music and video content along with a free platform you can use to create polished videos. Remember, the post also wasn’t boosted (though I later created a separate Facebook ad from it, not reflected in the stats above). So the only cost was my time spent creating the video–which was already included in the annual marketing package I set up for the organization.

If you take one thing away from this post, I hope it is that your nonprofit needs to be actively marketing itself. You as a director or manager can be in charge of this or you can place a trusted staff member in charge. And yes, you do have the option of outsourcing your marketing efforts to a trusted consultant.

Whichever route you choose, please make sure to invest some time and a bit of funding into marketing for your nonprofit. Your organization and your cause are worth it!

 

P.S. If you’d like to get started with marketing for your nonprofit, fill out the form below!