The (Facebook) Party is over! - Surrey Digital SEO | Social Media | Competitor Research | SEO Training
The (Facebook) Party is over! - Surrey Digital SEO | Social Media | Competitor Research | SEO Training
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The (Facebook) Party is over!

The (Facebook) Party is over!

The (Facebook) Party is over!

 

If you’re reading this you probably own a small business.

And I’ll wager that you’ve probably spent a disproportionate amount of time promoting your business on Facebook.

Posting about your business on your own business Facebook page.

Sharing posts from your business Facebook page in multiple Facebook groups.

And probably achieving huge ROI.

Getting your business in front of literally thousands and thousand of potential local customers.

How is this possible! Free access to the Facebook Community!

Not any more.

The party is over.

Zuck has vowed to ‘Fix Facebook’.

The new algorithm dramatically reduces organic reach, you’re not allowed to run ‘comment and share’ posts (so called engagement bait) and Facebook Jail will stop you posting about your business in Facebook groups.

Is this new? Or news?

12 months ago in our post “Perfect Your Own SEO” we wrote:

An additional consideration is diversity. 

You must, must, MUST have a diverse online profile!

“BUT”

I hear you collectively cry,

“Facebook is so EASY!

EVERYONE is on it!

It makes complete sense to spend the majority of my time promoting my business there!

ROI is SKY HIGH!”

Please pay heed to this warning, if you don’t own the platform you use to promote your business you are extremely exposed and vulnerable to that platform changing the rules.

And there’s nothing you can do about it.

I should have bought a lottery ticket that day.

Zuck has changed the rules.

And there’s nothing you can do about it.

In this post we will be covering what’s changing, what this actually means for a business using Facebook and what you should do next to try and minimise the impact of this seismic shift in Facebook philosophy.

And if you’re on Facebook why not swing by our awesome Facebook group and say Hi…

www.facebook.com/groups/SEOandSocialMediaUK/

‘Fixing’ Facebook

Lets start with Mark Zuckerberg’s New Year announcement that he is going to ‘Fix Facebook’.

This seems a little more ambitious than one of his previous New Year resolutions that he is going to read 25 books in a year.

By any benchmark, 2017 wasn’t a vintage year for the Facebook PR machine.

  • Foreign meddling in the US election. (You know what, I’m just going to say it, Russian. Russian meddling in the US election….that felt good!).
  • Terrorist groups taking advantage of online platforms to recruit new terrorists as raised by the G7 late last year.
  • A former Facebook Vice President accusing Facebook of ‘destroying the fabric of society‘.

2017 was the year we learned that Facebook’s influence could be used for destructive ends.

This was the main takeaway from ‘The Zuck’s’ post:

…Facebook has a lot of work to do — whether it’s protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent…

The post has so far received more then 20,000 comments with people urging Mark to take action against hacking, cyberbullying and social media scams to help make it a safer space for users.

You can read the whole post here: https://www.facebook.com/zuck/posts/10104380170714571

So it is thus – Mark has built the foundations for a morality campaign to improve what you see on Facebook.

Absolutely nothing to do with forcing businesses to increase the Ad spend with Facebook in order to reach the same number of Facebook users….

No, no, no, wash your mouth out with soap and go stand in the corner if that’s what you’re thinking.

So what’s likely to change?

________________________________________



________________________________________

Facebook – A New Algorithm

Perhaps it would be more accurate to say “Facebook – an update to the existing algorithm” – but that’s just not as snappy (and doesn’t sound quite so ‘Star Wars-y’!)

Facebook is ALWAYS tweaking it’s newsfeed algorithm to ensure it’s users are served the most engaging and relevant content at all times.

But why does Facebook need an algorithm?

If you are friends with someone, have liked or followed a page then you have clearly indicated that you want to see Facebook content from that source in your newsfeed?

The problem is that there is now so much content being published on Facebook that it is physically impossible to serve everything that you are eligible to see on your newsfeed.

It’s estimated that each user is eligible to be shown up to 1500 different pieces of content daily, but only see roughly 300 – it is this newsfeed algorithm which measures over a thousand different factors to ensure each user gets a relevant experience.

The other day Mark Zuckerberg made another post – the contents of which should send a clear message that Facebook for Businesses is becoming pretty much Pay to Play:

“…But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other…”

“…I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions…”

“…The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups…”

They go on to say that reach won’t disappear completely and people can still use the “See First” feature for Pages that are important to them.

To use this feature, you go to the Page, click Following and then select See First.

You can let your following know about this and you may get some people who use this feature but more than likely the majority of your Fans won’t.

A study by Forbes suggested that organic reach for Facebook pages has been dipping as low as 2% (!) could this really, finally be the end of organic reach?

Thrown into the mix is the ‘Explore Feed‘…

The what??

Yep, Facebook have been sort of secretly testing a new (second class) feed for all page posts.

In Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Bolivia, Guatemala and Cambodia all posts by pages are moved from the Newsfeed to the Explore Feed.

In the Newsfeed you only see friend and sponsored posts (‘sponsored posts’ – are you seeing a pattern…).

Yes, you log into Facebook and you can see only posts from your Friends and Ads. You have to click on the Explore Feed to see posts from pages you follow – can you imagine many Facebook users doing this?

If you want your Facebook page posts to be seen in the Newsfeed, yep, you got it, you have to pay.

However, Facebook, in their post ‘Clarifying recent tests‘ have gone on record saying:

“We currently have no plans to roll this test out further.”

We should take this at face value BUT what it does demonstrate is an appetite to remove business page posts from the organic newsfeed.

Engagement Bait

Don’t panic. It’s nothing to do with diamonds.

It’s OK, you can still buy diamonds.

As part of its algorithm update Facebook has decided that it doesn’t like so called ‘Engagement Bait’ – You’ve all seen these type of posts:

Tag a mate who…’

Comment and Share to enter…’

And so on…

This is what they published in their ‘Newsroom Post on Engagement Bait‘:

People have told us that they dislike spammy posts on Facebook that goad them into interacting with likes, shares, comments, and other actions. For example, “LIKE this if you’re an Aries!” This tactic, known as “engagement bait,” seeks to take advantage of our News Feed algorithm by boosting engagement in order to get greater reach. So, starting this week, we will begin demoting individual posts from people and Pages that use engagement bait.

In fact, there are 5 specific types of ‘Engagement Bait’ being targeted by Facebook:

  • Vote baiting – Vote baiting is soliciting votes by encouraging engagement signals such as reactions, comments, or sharing to represent the votes. This is essentially tricking users to engage with a post or page as a way to express a vote.
  • React baiting – Similar to vote baiting, using Reactions to signify specific responses to a post
  • Share baiting – Share baiting is a post that solicits friend sharing. Facebook uses an example of a post encouraging users to share with ten friends for a chance to win a new car.

  • Tag baiting – Tag baiting is actively soliciting Facebook users to tag their friends in relation to a post.
  • Comment baiting – Comment baiting is requesting users to respond with a specific phrase, word, numbers or emoji. Facebook uses the example of a post asking users to comment “Yes” if they enjoy rock music.

Interestingly, Facebook have also said that they will penalise pages that share engagement bait too!

Publishers and other businesses that use engagement bait tactics in their posts should expect their reach on these posts to decrease.

Meanwhile, Pages that repeatedly share engagement bait posts will see more significant drops in reach

The different types of Engagement Bait each encourage a different type of engagement, but they all ask you to use one of Facebook’s features in a way that doesn’t align with that feature’s purpose.

BTW – Facebook also defined what they DON’T see as engagement bait:

Posts that ask people for help, advice, or recommendations, such as circulating a missing child report, raising money for a cause, or asking for travel tips, will not be adversely impacted by this update.

In conclusion – Facebook know people are gaming the system, and they’re not going to take it anymore.

So, Mark’s fixing Facebook, there will be no more of those annoying ‘engagement bait’ posts taking up valuable newsfeed real estate and my Facebook page reach just fell off a cliff.

Ahhh, but you make great use of Facebook Groups.

And Mr Z clearly said:

“…The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups…”

See, Groups, Groups will save the day!

You’re wrong. Go directly to Facebook Jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect £200.

Facebook Jail

Facebook Jail? What are you talking about!

Facebook are now dishing out temporary bans preventing users from posting in ANY Facebook group.

It might just be enthusiasm or being rushed or persistent, but if you post identical content to several groups at the same time, you may be branded a spammer and banged up in Facebook chokey.

I’ve been seeing this more and more frequently over the past month or so.

It starts with a 24 hour ban, but if you re-offend it jumps to 48 hours, 3 days, 7 days and even up to 30 days.

My advice:

  • Leave time between each post (at least 15 minutes)
  • Change the body of text on each post
  • Make it social – don’t just post the link to your Facebook page!

So What Now?

Make more use of Facebook Live

It gets great engagement and is social!

Facebook Live video can feel a little scary at first.  But the more you do it, the better you get. And it’s an easy way to create quick content for your Page that gets better reach and engagement.

A quick tip is to just record yourself on a daily basis, not for publication, get comfortable with being in front of the camera and it will become second nature.

Click here for some incredible Facebook Live Statistics.

Facebook Ads

Sorry, you may not want to hear this, but this is now the most cost effective way to reach your audience on Facebook.

Its much easier than it used to be and there are some really good free tutorials from Facebook Blueprint.

It doesn’t have to cost the earth to run a Facebook Ad but you really, really need to know what you are doing to maximise your ROI otherwise it’s money down the drain.

Break out of the Facebook Rut

Yes using Facebook is easy.

Yes your friends are all here.

Yes, you can do it in on autopilot whilst feeding the kids and the dog, putting the washing on and calling your Mum.

But Facebook is no longer an effective platform for free advertising.

And this will only get throttled more and more.

(You may also spend lots of time on Instagram, well guess what, Zuck owns IG too so he isn’t going to let you play with his other toy for free is he?)

Its time to:

If you don’t want the overhead of a full website look at convenient alternatives, local community interest websites**

The Hersham Hub,

What’s In Walton

and What’s In Esher 

They will design and host a dedicated web page for local businesses.

They also have their own FB groups which means you will avoid Facebook Jail by letting them post on your behalf and have their own huge social media following.

Finally, please take one thing away from this and refer to my comment right at the beginning of this post and from a year ago and beyond:

You must, must, MUST have a diverse online profile!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and have found some useful bits of information on how to survive what some are calling ‘Facebook Zero’ (for zero organic reach) and others calling ‘Facebook Armageddon!’

Please do share this post among your friends, peers and colleagues – it really does help a lot.

 

Hi, I’m Nigel, Head of SEO at Surrey Digital a Surrey based digital media agency.

With over 20 years consultancy experience working with blue chip companies I’m a natural problem solver – a perfect character trait for the ever changing landscape of SEO.

Feel free to ask me anything, always happy to help out  nigelm@surrey.digital

And if you’re on Facebook why not swing by our group and say Hi…

www.facebook.com/groups/SEOandSocialMediaUK/

  • SEO SERVICES

    Websites which climb to the top of the search engine rankings and drive masses of traffic to their site never just ‘happen’ - they have to be positioned there.

  • COMPETITOR RESEARCH

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  • CONTENT MARKETING

    Having quality content is an essential part of an effective SEO strategy for your website, and helps you surge up the ranks in search engines.

  • SOCIAL MEDIA OPTIMISATION

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** Full Disclosure: I own all 3 of these websites so know exactly how effective this strategy is.

Nigel McHugh
Nigel McHugh
info@surrey.digital

I'm Nigel, Head of SEO at Surrey Digital, a Surrey based digital media agency. With over 20 years consultancy experience working with blue chip companies I'm a natural problem solver - a perfect character trait for the ever changing landscape of SEO. Feel free to ask me anything, always happy to help out, if you're on Facebook why not swing by my group and say Hi... www.facebook.com/groups/SEOandSocialMediaUK/

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