Changes to Facebook News Feed

And tips on managing them

This January, Facebook announced that its news feed would emphasize content from friends, family and groups rather than brands and businesses—to “prioritize meaningful interactions between people,” according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Small businesses have been wondering how the change will impact their marketing efforts. As the new algorithm rolls out, social-media management company Hootsuite expects that businesses will see lower organic reach. But it has some advice, commenting on its blog: “While nobody knows exactly what the impact of the news feed changes will be, there are certainly ways for businesses to continue reaching their customers through ‘meaningful interactions.’” Here are some suggestions from Hootsuite.

Continue posting engaging, quality content that stimulates comments. Meaningful interaction means lots of back-and-forth conversations among your followers and with you. In other words, comments, comments, comments. Not all Facebook pages will be affected equally. “Pages whose posts prompt conversations among friends will see less of an effect,” according to Facebook’s announcement.

Hootsuite suggests including questions in your posts and writing about timely topics that people are sure to have an opinion on. Users will be more likely to see your post if their friends and family are engaging with it.

Don’t use “engagement bait,” like asking people to comment on a post. That’s spammy, says Hootsuite, and people don’t like it. Plus, Facebook won’t classify that as meaningful interaction and will demote that post.

You can still get your customers to help. Customers who like your page can still make sure they see your posts by choosing “See First” in their news feed preferences. So you can ask customers to follow your page (in an e-mail blast, in signs at the cash wrap or on your front door or window). And you can encourage loyal followers to check the “see first” preference.

Increase your ad budget. This isn’t the first algorithm change that has decreased organic reach, but knowing how to run an effective, targeted Facebook ad campaign is even more important now. Need help? Check out online tutorials, such as Hootsuite’s four-hour “advanced social advertising” course (hootsuite.com/education/advanced-social-advertising). It comes with a $250 certification, so including it in a staff member’s training plan could be offered as a perk, while also benefiting you. Hootsuite also has a step-by-step ad guide at blog.hootsuite.com/how-to-advertise-on-facebook.

Make more Facebook Live videos. Videos will still be favored in the new algorithm, but live videos even more. “Live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook—in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos,” Zuckerberg said.

Don’t forget groups for pages. They naturally build community, so will be favored in Facebook’s latest evolution. Creating groups around topics like pointe shoe problem-solving or cutting-edge fashion dance apparel has the potential to attract super-fans among your customers, who have intense interest in a particular topic. Facebook reports it has seen “thousands of interesting examples of super-fans who wanted to be a part of the day-to-day discussion inside the walls of an organization they care about, and more importantly to connect with everyone else who felt the same way.”

 

April Marketing Days

What’s your plan?

Don’t miss out on April’s national and hashtag days—both serious and silly. They have great marketing potential, and savvy retailers will grab the opportunity to build a promotion, window display, store event, workshop or charity drive around them.

April 1
Easter and April Fools’ Day

April 16
National Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day

April 19
National #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay

April 22
Earth Day

April 23
National Take a Chance Day

April 29
International Dance Day

How will you use these days to get customers’ attention and drive traffic into your store? Easter bunnies and egg baskets are an obvious draw in store windows. April Fools’ Day can be a chance to get some attention with goofy ideas for products (Duolingo, the language learning app, added a joke course on learning emoji-speak; to get the attention of Millennials, Auntie Anne’s pretzels switched out the halo in its logo for a Snapchat/Instagram-like sticker of a flower crown). On International Dance Day, all sorts of events take place around the world—from flash mobs to street dance festivals and dance galas for charity. Fundraising for a scholarship to a local dance studio could build excitement for the day—when you could announce the winner—and for your store. And you’ll be giving back to your local dance community. Or consider offering a free foot care workshop for local dancers or having a flash sale that day. Share your creative ideas (and photos!) with us at DRNeditor@dancemedia.com, and we’ll publish the best entries in the magazine.

 

Keeping track of tax deadlines

Here’s help.

April 17 is the tax deadline this year for individuals and for many businesses. But there are plenty more deadlines throughout the year. To help you stay on top of them, the IRS has published its 2018 tax calendar, with significant deadlines for employers and taxpayers. Get the chronological dates as a PDF (irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p509.pdf), or access the calendar online or subscribe to updates for your calendar program (for instance, Outlook)—and avoid any penalties for missing them. Go to irs.gov/TaxCalendar for details.

 

Thinkstock; courtesy of Facebook

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