Facebook might well be a field of dreams for small business advertisers, but the goalposts are changing with a revamping of the platform’s news feed set to prioritise posts from friends and family above business content.
The social media giant’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced the changes in a recent post, saying Facebook wants to get back to its core focus of connecting people together.
“As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media,” Zuckerberg wrote.
“And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard – it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”
Time to ask what your audience needs
The question on many small business owners’ minds now is how to create content that encourages these kind of meaningful interactions.
Digital communications expert Danielle Di-Masi says this begins with knowing your audience.
“Who are the people we’re engaging online and what do they need in their day? Do they need motivation, inspiration, a success stories or a comment saying it’s okay to make a mistake?,” Di-Masi suggests that businesses ask.
It may simply be a matter of applying what works offline into the online sphere.
“If you speak at an event, what works? Start making a list of what are the most salacious, engaging conversations you have with people in your community,” Di-Masi says.
However, she also cautions against jumping the gun on the changes.
“Until you have your strategy worked out, don’t do anything. If you’re just going to throw spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks, people might unfollow you,” she warns.
According to PR and social media expert Catriona Pollard, the changes to Facebook’s news feed are part of a wider trend sweeping the industry.
“Already Snapchat in the last couple of days changed their discovery page, making it a lot harder to find people. When changes like this happen people get frustrated, but these platforms are businesses,” she explains.
Despite the changes to the feed, she still rates Facebook as an all-powerful marketing tool for small business.
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“You can have really targeted ads and campaigns on Facebook and a small business owner can do that on their own without anyone helping them to figure it out,” she says.
“I know someone in rural Australia, for example, who popped up an ad that targeted a 100 kilometre radius around her property.”