Facebook has changed again: Did you notice? Well, you may not have noticed the specific changes, but I’ll bet you’ve noticed the decrease in traffic from Facebook to your website.
In two years, traffic from social media feeds to websites has declined by 80%.
No, that’s not a typo, it really is 80%. Does this mean the end of Facebook and social media as we know it? Of course not. It simply means that anyone working in social media must work differently than we did a few years ago, and temper our expectations. The free ride is, in effect, over.
Why the shift?
One word: Algorithms
Algorithms are the bane of every digital marketer’s existence, but they are also what keeps social media from getting too spammy. They are what keep social media GOOD.
They are also the reason that hiring a freelancer to simply slap content onto your Facebook page isn’t going to work anymore.
Why do algorithms exist?
Remember the quiet days of social media? When Facebook had about 300 Million users and Twitter had about 100 Million? Houzz and Snapchat hadn’t even been invented yet. *sigh*
But social caught on and user numbers grew from a few hundred million to almost 2 billion people on Facebook alone. Social media became hard to use because there was so much content flying around, and users felt inundated. It was hard to see the good, interesting posts through all that spam.
Programmers had to come up with ways to custom filter information shown to people, so that we would not flee the network altogether.
The idea was to create a content filter so that the average user would only see info they are interested in – quality over quantity – and this would create a better user experience, ensuring that people continued to log into their Facebook every day. These filters are algorithms.
To be clear, from a user perspective, algorithms are great. They identify and show you content that interests you, and they limit crappy advertising and spammy posts.
How do algorithms work?
- Content is published
- It shows your post to a sample audience to test it
- If the sample group reacts right away, the algorithms decides it’s good content and shows it to more of your community
- The more people react, the more it’s shown around
How do we bust the algorithm so our content is viewed?
First, we must understand what types of content the algorithm favours
Facebook has been very transparent about how it favours longer video, especially Facebook Live. That means that if most of your posts are longer video – or better yet, Facebook Live posts – your content will be seen by more people.
On the other hand, Facebook made it clear in 2015 that asking for a like or a share was a definite NO. If the algorithm picks up on this kind of ask, your post will fall flat because Facebook won’t place it in anyone’s newsfeed.
Move your community away from Facebook
Look, I run a digital agency, I LOVE Facebook, but here’s the thing: Facebook should be the first step to building your community, not the whole kit & caboodle.
Let’s think about next steps: A smart objective would be to funnel your hard-won Facebook community onto your website and into, for example, an email list. This would allow better control over what content your community sees, and eventually your brand would be less dependent on the social media algorithms.
Continue to invest in SEO
Oh, the SEO guys are going to love me for this one, but it’s true!
SEO certainly has its challenges, and finding a solid, ethical SEO provider who understands strategy is a needle in a haystack (there are only two providers I trust in Ontario and I’ve worked with each for years), but as long as Google wants to keep its users, SEO will continue to be an effective tactic to driving traffic to your site. Just do it wisely.
Use Facebook ads
“But Kim, I thought Facebook was free?”
Yeah, back in 2009! The reality is that unless you have a big name, you must put money behind boosted posts, ads and community building on Facebook if your efforts are going to glean success.
Paid advertising on Facebook is essential. The good news is that, with a bit of strategy behind it, it’s also WAY more effective than traditional ads and you have the invaluable community building by-product of advertising on Facebook. That’s some powerful, long-term ROI that can be leveraged well into the future.
Get back to basics i.e. post what your community wants to see
This is such a simple thing in theory, but in practice, it takes careful research and consistent eagle eyes on the numbers. It also takes a modicum of common sense.
If you sell clothing and your Facebook posts about pants generate a few likes whereas posts about dresses generate lots of likes and shares, then obviously, you should focus your posts on dresses. The Facebook algorithm will see that your content is being liked and shared, and will make sure that even more people see it!
Look at your historic numbers and use them to inform the kind of content you should be posting. Combine those preferences with the type of content Facebook favours (a long video about dresses for the season, perhaps?) and your number will grow. You have effectively busted the algorithm.
For more information on how your brand can bust Facebook’s algorithm, drop us a line. We offer affordable consulting and training packages, and we can even manage your feed on your behalf. It all starts with a quick conversation…