My tough love approach (heavy on the love) focuses on bringing order to chaos, and creating solid (and straightforward) strategic plans. I take surveys for fun, never met a process I didn’t like, and am a big believer in personal growth as a keystone to business growth.
In Part 1 of How to Make Sense of Changes on Social Media: A Roadmap, we explained the changes happening on Instagram and Facebook. In Part 2, we’ll explore what measures you can take to stay engaged and connected with your community.
Though Facebook is changing and it can feel annoying, we’d be mistaken not to evolve along with these changes, says Gould.
“Almost everyone is on Facebook (the most popular social media platform), so if someone looks for your business page and you either don’t have one or your content is out of date, it’s going to reflect poorly on your brand. If your content isn’t fresh, the perception will be that your business isn’t active and that you’re behind the times.”
And tying the content on your website to your social media strategy is a must. “Not only does Google love it when you add new quality content to your website (as it helps them connect more of your potential customers to your website), that valuable content is perfect to share on your Facebook page, too.”
Building relationships on social media is like marketing in person – you’ve got to commit to your customers and be in it for the long haul. No matter what changes on social from year to year or even week to week, as business owners we’ve got to keep our customers top of mind and overcome any overwhelm, annoyance, or cynicism about the state of social media to maintain empathy with them.
“It’s so important to remember WHY your potential customers are using social media. They don’t surf their news feeds to shop; they are there to connect with friends, check the latest news updates, and be entertained,” says Gould, adding anything that feels too “sales” can be a real turnoff.
“The more that you can connect with their motivations for using social media and provide them with value, the better your brand will be received by them.”
It’s no longer enough that our businesses provide a solution to problem. “How you choose to communicate with your audience is really important on social. I always like to say that the secret to growing your business is to make people care. When you find a way to make people care, they’ll start to feel a bond with your brand.”
Though it might seem like everything is changing, the pillars of good social media marketing still apply: be authentic, generous and curious. Here are some of Barker Social’s biggest do’s and don’ts for both Instagram and Facebook:
Instagram has better organic reach than Facebook, but it’s harder to stimulate quality conversation there. People like to use emojis and broken sentences (and there are a lot of “follow” bots that just post an emoji or a couple of generic words) so the conversations are more shallow. It’s really all about the immediate visual appeal, so make your graphics beautiful, enticing, or (within reason and depending on your brand) provocative.
1) Don’t act like a robot…
…and definitely don’t use bots! This is important on any social platform, but applies more to Instagram than Facebook. Don’t use services that automatically follow people, and don’t buy followers. (Yes, you can buy followers, but they’re fake and full of inappropriate content. Just don’t do it!) Why? Because today’s savvy social media users can smell robot-like behaviour from a mile away. It’s a huge turnoff, and the algorithms will catch you for this behaviour every time.
You should also avoid acting like a robot. That means no using the exact same hashtags on all your Instagram posts, as the network’s algorithms detect this and may start to limit your access. Posting your content from Instagram directly to Facebook? Adjust the text for optimal Facebook viewing – nix the “link in bio!” line and don’t use too many hashtags.
Takeaway: Don’t be in such a hurry! Consider how content is experienced by users on each individual social platform you’re using, and take time to tailor it accordingly.
2) Mix up your hashtags
Also consider cutting down on how many you’re using. You’re allowed to use up to 30 hashtags, but that doesn’t mean that you should use all 30. Change up your list regularly.
3) Don’t play games for attention
Don’t over-post, over-like other people’s posts, or over-follow (and over-unfollow) other accounts! Behave like a normal human and you should be okay.
4) Don’t include links in Instagram posts
Hyperlinks aren’t clickable on Instagram posts. Including links makes it look like you copy/pasted from elsewhere without thought, or that a bot did it for you. You get one link only – in your bio at the top of your profile – so you have to update that link and direct people there if you want to drive a specific call to action.
On Facebook, you can go deeper. Share posts that are more content-rich – links to blog posts for example – that offer extensive value to your followers. The more value you can offer on subjects that your target audience really cares about, the more rich the social dialogue can become. And if you have some really great content that people want to share with their own followers, that’s when your algorithms can really take off!
1) It’s not all about you
Share content that’s relevant and interesting to your target customers. Give shout outs and recognition to others, including customers and other leaders in your industry – share the love! When you tag other people in your posts, you can stimulate additional interest and comments. The more comments you get, the more your content will gain visibility through the algorithms.
2) Ask questions to stimulate conversation
Get people talking! You want to throw the ball back in other people’s courts. This means not only asking questions in your original post, but when people reply, ask them additional questions so the conversation doesn’t die. The more engagement you get, the more visibility you get, and that’s the best way to perpetuate ongoing responses that will boost you in the algorithms.
The answer to this will depend on your goals. You can use Facebook to:
– aggressively build your brand – which requires a Facebook boosting budget to go beyond its extremely limited organic reach, or
– maintain your brand for people who actively visit your page
If you choose an aggressive approach, posting daily and planning a budget to boost your posts and run cost-per-click ads to extend your brand’s visibility are worthwhile investments. Going with the second option? You’ll want to update your page at least once a week if you’re a contemporary business.
“I think the big challenge with Facebook is that 10 years ago, you could get all the organic reach in the world for free – and business owners still expect free exposure from the platform, even though it’s changed,” says Gould.
And the last decade has brought major changes, even if we haven’t been aware they’ve been happening; Gould explains this in her post How to Promote Your Local Business on Facebook:
“Facebook has to continually make updates to their platform to ensure that the user experience is positive and that all of those 2.07 billion monthly active users keep coming back. If Facebook got spammy, people would leave, and the platform would no longer be desirable for anyone. Think about it: If people’s personal newsfeed were filled with nothing but businesses, people would stop using it, and the entire value that we currently benefit from on Facebook would evaporate.” – Mandi Gould, social media marketer and ghost blogger, Barker Social
If you’ve only recently caught on to the changes, you may feel ripped off. Though Facebook is the best social platform for most business owners to dedicate their marketing budget to, it’s the least useful social platform for organic reach, says Gould.
“As a result, I really believe that almost every business should be on at least one – if not two – other platforms.”
Depending on your industry, these are the most likely combinations:
– LinkedIn (including your personal LinkedIn)
Consumer services and products
– And *maybe* Pinterest
“Facebook is still the best platform to put your money into (and this is somewhat synonymous with Instagram advertising since Instagram connects through your Facebook business manager for ads), but diversify your presence on these platforms to extend your organic reach. That’s the best recipe for social media success!”
The first month of 2018 has passed and already small business owners are adapting to changes on social media that have been a long time coming but are just attracting attention now. You can still thrive on social media if you use best practices, follow the rules and take the following steps:
– Invest in advertising
– Check your mindset
– Engage your audience and make people care about your business
– Mindfully choose social media platforms depending on your industry and goals, and diversify your presence to extend organic reach
There are sure to be more changes coming this year, and we can’t wait to keep you up to date!
In the meantime, tell us about your experiences – have you been hit by the shadowban? Do you plan on investing in an ad campaign to reach your audience? What questions do you still have?
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