The calls we’ve been getting this week from clients center around “what happened with Facebook? It used to be so great for us, particularly our active private groups?” Facebook Zero – or the algorithm change in 2018 – is responsible for those red numbers in your Insights panel.

Adjusting to the new Facebook Algorithm: a guide for small business

The above capture is after two weeks of all red numbers. See how much this client’s engagement is up? It just takes some work. 

Facebook Zero is what marketers are calling the Facebook algorithm realignment that occurred early in 2018. The algorithm – which is still changing – aims to boost usage of the social network by prioritizing friends and real (not shared) content among users. People began fleeing FB after bots and false content shared across the network turned off users and pit friends against friends in an ideological battle of wills.

Facebook is returning significantly less traffic than it used to your web site pages. Yet, these social referrals (about 18% now) are considerably higher from Facebook than any other platform. You can’t ignore Facebook, but you can work with it.

Key takeaway:  Facebook will reward meaningful interactions.

What can you do?

Go live. Live video on Facebook still garners more attention than static images, and links. Going live in Facebook means that Facebook assembles you an audience of your followers. Even with this, the number of live viewers since Facebook Zero has dropped for all of our customers who were using live video. In going live, most people talk with the host, but you want to get them talking with each other, if possible. Ask questions during your live video, acknowledge your live viewers but also speak to those that will be watching later on. Comment on all posts later, even if you already answered questions in the video.

Pay to play:

Advertise and boost posts. Make sure the Facebook Pixel is loaded onto your site (it’s a bit techy – if you need help, contact our team) so you can track your ads. When you have a well-performing post, boost it. Make sure your ads land people on a place where they can take the action you wish them to take – a landing page, or a page with a clear call to action, such as “sign up to learn more” or “register.”

Get your prospects to sign up for e-mail

Every action should be to get prospects to sign up on your house list. From there, you can nurture them with e-mail. Social will support this effort, but the goal is to get them to take action that lets you nurture and communicate directly with them outside of channels you can’t control

The kind of content you produce and share matters

Educational, ask-questions-and-engage type of content is far more likely to be shown versus sales content. You can’t build a business selling products and expect customers to engage – they have too many choices. They’ll be brand loyal to the ones that most satisfy their requirements and give them the most value for their time spent on social.

Encourage meaningful interaction

Be as authentic and human on your social channels, e-mail and content (blogs) as you can. Developing relationships with your customers is not new –back when advertising was done on the shop window or in a newspaper, most shopkeepers developed deep personal relationships with their customers. Think of our digital marketing exactly the same way. Your goal is to develop a personal relationship with your customers. We’ve come full circle, back to personalized marketing. But you should also encourage your customers to engage with each other! Engagement with each other happens when they get to know one another online; nurture conversations and tag members to connect them.

Use Groups:

If your product or service would benefit from a customer group, set one up. While groups will still be subject to algorithm changes (all Facebook platforms and products, including Instagram, are affected), group posts still garner more attention in the feed. And you can tell customers to turn on “all notifications” in their groups Notifications tab so they see all the posts. Groups are the best place to encourage member-to-member sharing. They’re also where customer evangelism takes place.

Do not bait customers on Facebook to get engagement. This will actually hurt! Things like “comment to win” , or “share this post to win” and other bait-y tactics will actually hurt more than help. That’s not to say you cannot run an occasional contest, but posts designed to bait you into commenting are just that.

Adjust your expectations:

At a seminar by the noted Facebook expert Mari Smith, she pointed out that this is their platform – and if they have to adjust it to keep people there, it benefits us. We will all have to adjust our tactics accordingly when they change the game. It’s been a great and largely free ride for a long time for marketers.

Should you be worried? No! The clients we work with all have net positive success even after algorithm change by slightly switching tactics a bit – looking at where referral traffic is really coming from and focusing time and energy on that channel. Look at your own web stats and figure out where your traffic is coming from. Water that patch of flowers and watch your business bloom!