Starting January 1st, 2015 , Facebook’s algorithm – which determines what posts get shown to users – will be rewarding less promotional, more valuable content posts. Guess what, so are the actual humans participating on social media! Including you.

By now, many businesses have heard the news: your promoted sale posts on Facebook are about to drop precipitiously off an effectiveness cliff. This should not be a surprise to anyone. Facebook is a social media network where the primary driver for use is people sharing with other people. Marketing on Facebook has always been an intrusion.  It’s the cocktail party equivalent of having a nice conversation, hearing what your friends are up to, and having the salesman pop right in between the two of you with “Save 10% now!” You’d be annoyed, too.

We often forget the person (or persona) in our marketing. There’s a human on the other side of that post and that human needs something – from Facebook, they are looking for social connection with other friends. Advertising is an unwelcome intruder. So how do you craft good content that your audience actually wants to see and in turn continue to use Facebook as a valuable marketing tool?

Content drives engagement. When a prospect likes your page, it’s because they’ve self-selected to stay in touch with you. When you give them informative content, it’s like having a really great conversation that sparks an idea or action. Oh, that’s a brilliant way to decorate for the holidays that is eco chic and clever, not, oh look, 10% off LED garland that self-sticks to your mantle. And no, that’s not a real product. But it’s a cool idea, no?

Put Facebook in context. No one is searching Facebook for your product or service. That’s what search engines are for (you are welcome, Google.)  But they are interested in great ideas and they do want to know what you know before they are a customer and they do want to keep in touch with you after they are one. If you want to be found for something, write about that something on your web site and blog and share it on Facebook! Write a lot about it, be informative and helpful in your writing. You’ll capture those that are searching Google for your product or service and you’ll help prospects and existing customers learn more on your Facebook page.

Businesses are seeing continued engagement on Facebook for clients who have eschewed promoting a sale and instead are promoting ideas and creativity. Posts are garnering likes and shares. And growth continues on ‘like’ or friend acquisition.

Look to the group. Facebook groups offer businesses a chance to get together with customers in a private and ‘groupy’ way. This group could be a tip sharing group, a how-to group that helps them experience more with your product. Selling skis? A facebook group for local or regional skiers, staffed by your best people who offer tips, videos and the occasional product demo will garner more devotees than posts offering 10% off (especially after Facebook demotes these into oblivion.) Selling yarn? How about a virtual knitalong, or a Tuesday evening Post-and-help group online. It’s all about crafting an experience, an extension of your brand. A facebook group is separate from a brand page, it can be made public or private, or even secret (ooh! A secret group!)

Truth is, you don’t like to be interrupted with a sales pitch either. So stop doing it to your customers! Treat them like good friends or maybe even a bit like your mom treats you, by showering them with creative ideas, advice and helpful space to experience your product or service and that’s the way they’ll view your business. Invite them to collaborate with each other around your product, share photos and chime in with feedback on new product development.

And here’s the official word from Zuck & Co

Want to know more about crafting a really effective social media strategy? Start here: