In case you aren’t already aware, Facebook owns Instagram (IG). This means that when new features or major changes are announced, there is a possibility that they will be rolled out to both of these social platforms simultaneously.
In early 2020 Facebook announced major changes to their platform, forcing users to adapt their posting behaviours if they want to maximise their organic exposure. New algorithms are kicking in which will see many users suffer from a further reduction in organic visibility of their posts by their followers. In this article I cover what these major changes to Facebook and Instagram are, how they apply to the platforms, what this could mean for you and your business and how you can optimise your social strategy to enhance your visibility on these platforms.
For businesses that rely on these sites for networking, relationship nurturing and lead generation, this article is a must read, and adapting your approach should be implemented as soon as possible. First of all it is interesting to explore the adoption rates of these tools.
Facebook and Instagram adoption trends
Facebook and Instagram will continue to be a major part of any marketing strategy for small businesses. There are currently 2.27 billion users across the sites and, of these, 75% log in daily. With such high adoption rates, the opportunity for businesses to create awareness within these environments is huge. However, the length of time users spend on these platforms is reducing and organic posts (i.e. non paid-for content) for the average account will now only reach 1.6-2% of their audience.This means that even with a dedicated follower base it is becoming harder to be visible on these platforms without paying for advertising space. There is hope however, and if you follow the tips in this article you can adapt to the major changes to Facebook and Instagram in 2020 and increase your organic visibility.
Facebook & Instagram changes April 2020 – key highlights
Major changes to Facebook and Instagram were announced for the first quarter of 2020. These include updated algorithms which dictate what information and posts you see, alongside an overhaul of the newsfeed which you may be starting to see in your own newsfeed now.
The reason Facebook and Instagram constantly evolve their platforms is because they want to increase the time that users spend on their site, thereby increasing their revenue potential. Hence, if the average user is spending less time on Facebook or Instagram, then it stands to reason that changes need to be made. Ultimately Facebook and IG are looking to improve the user experience to increase retention, making them more “sticky”.
With this latest update, the most important changes you need to be aware of and act upon are:
- LinkedIn and IG are giving greater exposure to posts that get the best engagement (and have a high quality score), meaning that anything you post should be highly relevant to your audience.
- The removal of likes from your Instagram posts aims to promote followers to focus on your pictures and content. This is currently in testing so we don’t yet know whether this feature will be here to stay.
- Your Facebook feed will display smaller images with only 3 lines of text so you will need to work harder with the text on display to engage your audience quickly.
- A decrease in organic (free) posts in your newsfeeds in favour of paid-for advertising means that this could be the time to start thinking about advertising if you are a business that uses these platforms to spread your message.
- More airtime for groups in newsfeeds means that your strategy should adopt group involvement.
The decline of organic reach
When it comes to posting content organically I mentioned that only 1.6-2% of your audience now see your organic posts on Facebook. This statistics has decreased from 5.4% in 2015 and is a result of Facebook limiting the amount of posts that you see on your newsfeed. A big focus for the changes is to encourage people to stay longer on Facebook and Instagram rather than be encouraged away to other sites. Updated algorithms are coming in to play in order to show users more relevant content based around their habits, likes and engagement on the sites. Of the 1500 odd posts that could appear every day in a user’s feed there is only space for 300 which begs the question ‘how do they decide which ones reach you?’
It’s all about quality score. Facebook only shows what it feels is the most relevant content to you. If you therefore understand how it ranks posts, it means you can start to post in a way that Facebook will favour, and you’ll get more exposure. Bingo!
So here’s how it works. Facebook shows your content to a segment of your followers. The more engagement that post gets, the more exposure it gives it, feeding it into other user’s newsfeeds. If it doesn’t get much engagement then it won’t expose it any further. You should start to see how critical it therefore is to make those initial impressions count.
How to improve your organic reach
Zuckerberg has stated “Pages creating posts that people generally don’t interact or comment on will see the biggest decrease in Reach.”
So now’s the time to get serious with your engagement. Facebook will rank posts based on:
- How long a page has been active on Facebook
- The percentage of followers engaging with your posts and page in general
- Your consistency of posts
- How actively a page engages with followers
8 practical tips to start using today
In order to improve your organic reach in light of the changes to Facebook and Instagram, you should follow these 8 tips:
- Encourage engagement – avoid click baiting. Instead create inspiring, though provoking, individual posts and create content that people will want to share.
- Focus on quality – use different forms of media including photos, videos and text, but without linking to sites outside of the platform itself. If you do want to link to something, these are best placed in the comments sections rather than the post itself because Facebook and Instagram do not want users to be led away from the platform. For videos, those that are original & unique, longer than 3 minutes, which engage users for over 1 minute offer the best results.
- Post consistently at the best times of day for your audience. For B2B it’s 9am and 2pm on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. For B2C it’s 12 noon on a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. It could be time for you to create that content calendar that you’ve been meaning to do and ensure you stick to it………
- Make sure that your followers see your posts. Encourage them so click “see first” on your page so that they are always kept informed of your updates and this will give you greater engagement.
- Ask trusted followers to help drive your engagement. If your friends, family and colleagues share your content, comment on your posts and tag your business this will all help your quality score and improve your reach.
- Respond quickly to all social interactions. Facebook likes Business Pages to respond to Messenger messages within 24 hours. As a general rule of thumb it is considered good practice to reply to all comments within 24 hours even if this is just with an emoji.
- Start using low-cost ads. Ads can help to boost your Organic reach – increasing the clicks on your page, increasing your likes and followers. Facebook is also limiting ads for larger businesses which gives small businesses better visibility for a lower price point. This all helps give users the content they want rather than being price driven towards the big players.
- Embrace groups and post more of your content to them. Facebook has hinted that users will get more airtime from Groups in their newsfeed. The design refresh is devoting more real estate to Groups and the algorithm will prioritise information from Groups, meaning this is one tactic not to miss.
Avoid these mistakes in 2020
Similarly there are a few things to steer clear of which could damage your quality score and have a detrimental effect on your reach.
- Post that focus too heavily on selling. This will only alienate your audience, reducing your engagement.
- Posts that promote giveaways, competitions or promotions.
- Putting links in the body of your Facebook posts. Because Facebook wants users to stay on their platform, it won’t give kudos to posts that lead you off to other sites. If you do want to link to external sites then add the link to the first comment, informing people where they can find more details. This approach keeps everyone happy.
- Boosting posts. This tends to deliver very low conversion value and doesn’t target the people most likely to buy from you. Instead it will just target users that are online at that point in time.
The reality of organic posting in today’s environment
Organic engagement is becoming tougher to produce sustainable visibility and results in today’s environments. Facebook is driving improvements in user experience in order to increase satisfaction and retention time on their platform.
However, smart businesses will adapt and using the 8 tips in this article you can stay ahead of the competition to ensure that your posts gain greater exposure.
All businesses should have Facebook and Instagram business pages for credibility.
- 60% of consumers will visit your facebook page before visiting your website or a retail store.
- 80% of consumers are more likely to buy if they see a credible, authentic Facebook page associated with your business.
- 62% of consumers say Facebook is THE MOST important and useful social media channel to research small businesses.
How to drive revenue through social media
In order to hardness the power of these social media sites for sales you should look at creating a social strategy which builds a funnel to drive users to your website from your social media channels BEFORE they get distracted.
Make sure that you know your target audience and focus on those with the means and motivation to purchase, but also those that will engage, promote and support your business with strong engagement to increase your exposure.
Your funnel should create awareness, interest, desire and finally a purchase. If your content makes it easy for users to follow these steps then you’ll start to see success as your users slide into the funnel and progress along it with ease. Translating this into easy-to-follow steps you should:
- Identify & find your prospects
- Grab their attention
- Build a relationship
- Follow up
- Close the sale
You can use a number of tools for points 2,3 & 4 including ‘how to’ videos, cheat sheets (great for service-based businesses), giveaways, discounts etc.
Once you have grabbed the attention of your target audience it’s important that you don’t let them forget you. A useful tip is to capture their information so that you can create drip campaigns for ongoing relationship building. Use forms to capture name and email addresses when they download resources from your site. You will need to make sure that the content is worthy of asking for their details e.g. a template, guide or knowledge that isn’t generally available in the public domain. Also don’t ask for too much information otherwise this will put them off.
An important statistic to remember is that 85% of in-store and 95% of online shoppers don’t purchase on a first visit. Therefore follow-up is really important. Once you’ve got your first engagement it’s not enough to sit back and consider it job done.
You may consider using email marketing as one of your follow up tools. With systems like mailchimp you can automate a drip-feed campaign which fills your sales funnel for you. But that’s another topic…….if you’re using LinkedIn then you may want to explore automating the sales funnel process which I talk about at the link below.
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