Since 2019 has kicked off in earnest, anyone that follows tech news will have seen Facebook popping up in their newsfeed very regularly. It's been a busy month for the company, with them making a number of announcements about changes and new products coming throughout 2019. Below are a few of those announcements that caught our attention - and may be useful to know as a small business owner doing any sort of social media campaign or Facebook marketing.
Whatsapp, Instagram & Facebook Messenger to work together
A few clickbait style headings earlier this week announced that Facebook was "merging" Whatsapp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger. While there is some truth to that statement, the changes aren't quite as comprehensive as a full merger. In a nutshell, the plan is to make the underlying structure of the messenging parts of those apps work together. So for example if you have Facebook Messenger and your friend has Whatsapp, you'd still be able to message them directly. More importantly, that messaging is all going to have end-to-end encryption (starting with Facebook Messenger). So you can rest a bit easier knowing your messaging is safe from prying eyes.
Whether this is a sign of a bigger merger to come in the future will be interesting to see, but given Instagram's popularity, it seems unlikely that the platforms will be merged into some form of 'super' Facebook app.
Pages & Groups may be closed before they full violate policy
With all the recent 'fake news' and click baiting that has been coming through the Facebook platform, they've decided to tighten up their protocols by adding a 'Page Quality' tab. This tab will basically tell you as a page owner if your content is being removed or demoted because it is false, partially false, or has a false headline. The idea behind it is to eliminate more misleading content from the platform. In addition to this, the site is going to start banning Pages which are being used to share content that has originally been pulled from the site. For example, if you have two pages and one page is banned or has a post removed, this new policy means you really shouldn't then go and share that same content on the other page. They are calling these 'proactive removals'.
"Scam" button may be on the way
After seeing a few celebrities faces being used by scam posts on Facebook, the company has responded by announcing they will be aiming to launch a scam reporting button to posts - initially in the UK. Again, this whole roll-out of announcements certainly seems to be targeted at improving the trustworthiness of posts on the site.
Run your petitions through Facebook
In an attempt to be seen as more of a platform for social good, Facebook has announced a new feature called "Community Actions". If you have a cause for good, you'll be able to create that cause in Community Actions, tag relevant authorities & government bodies, and the public will be able to one click "Support" that cause, as well as run discussions etc within it. Like alot of things these days, the company will be testing the service in the USA and we'll be curious to see how well they are able to moderate the Community Actions that are posted. Will this just become another feature used negatively by the internet?
SUMMARY: How does this all affect your business?
Like most changes in the online space these days, the changes that Facebook are looking to bring quality to their product. Trustworthiness and reliability are the main focus, so if you continue to create genuine, original and truthful content, then you won't need to worry too much about the changes impacting your page.
Last week Mark Zuckerberg made a huge announcement, one that is likely to have very big ramifications for any business that uses Facebook as a way to reach more customers. It was such a big announcement that Facebook’s stock took a big dive as investors tried to get their heads around what it meant for the social media behemoth. The plan is simple - make our social media feeds more about our friends and family.
The driving force behind the change is Facebook’s desire to bring back more meaningful social interactions to the platform. Over the past couple of years (and particularly through the American election), Zuckerberg has faced increasing complaints that Facebook was causing more social harm than it did good. Besides social media addiction, the platform’s algorithm was mainly serving us up content that confirmed our previously held viewpoints. That wasn’t what Facebook was created to do, and with this latest announcement, they are trying to make our newsfeed far more positive and personal to our actual daily lives.
But what does it mean to businesses? Well, that’s the bad news. Because the newsfeed will be shifting from a focus on ‘topics’ and ‘relevant content’ to ‘meaningful social interactions’, it’s highly likely that a business page’s organic reach will decrease. We believe the emphasis will become less about topics and engagement on page posts, and more about how those posts are shared amongst your friend group. So where currently, if someone who likes cars likes a post, the post might get shown to someone else random who likes cars, in the future, it’ll be more about those posts being shared amongst friend groups. The organic Facebook game definitely just got harder for businesses.
The bigger unknown will be how this newsfeed change affects sponsored content/advertising on the platform. Given Facebook will want to stay profitable, it seems likely that where companies could get great organic reach previously, now they may need to focus their efforts into paid advertising and sponsored posts. The hardest thing to pinpoint right now is how those sponsored posts will be displayed. Will they stick to the ‘relevant content’ policy, or will there also be an element of the new ‘social engagement’ approach applied to the advertising as well?
As the change rolls out we’ll be keeping a close eye on it, but it’s fair to say that this is a major shift in the online advertising world. By making this change now Facebook hopes to become more relevant and important to it’s users – which may mean that it becomes a more powerful tool for advertisers…or it could mean a huge hit for business engagement. At the end of the day it’s businesses that pay the salaries at Facebook, so our view is that businesses natural reach will drop, but their advertising reach will stay steady…but let's just watch this space.
A few days ago Facebook quietly made an announcement that should have pretty big ramifications for both personal and business users of the platform. The social behemoth has set their eyes on 'engagement bait' - those spammy posts that blatantly beg for you to like, comment or share in an attempt to increase engagement and organically get the post seen by more and more people. Primarily, Facebook have heard their users complaints about the increasing amount of 'spammy' posts filling their newsfeed and are going to do something about it - using machine learning to identify these types of posts, stop them from being shown as much and eventually punish those pages that 'systematically' use this tactic.
Facebook started 'demoting' these types of posts earlier this week, but are rolling out the page-level demotion over several weeks to give those of us with Pages the chance to change our behaviour and not be caught out by the new model. What this means practically is that if you do own a Facebook page, you should definitely refrain from any type of 'baiting' type posts:
Recently there has been a real trend for the above type of baiting to be used by businesses for things like competitions and giveaways. These types of posts have always been a little bit borderline, so it probably shouldn't come as a surprise that they'll now likely be punished by the almighty Facebook algorithm!
Our advice - just cut the baiting out of your newsfeed completely. Create content that people are going to want to engage with, click and comment on without the baiting, and you'll not only do better by the algorithm, but you'll also actually be providing your followers with things they WANT to see - which at the end of the day is what social media is all about.
Below are some graphics from Facebook just setting out the various examples of baiting that will be clamped down and you can find Facebook's 'Fighting Engagement Bait' announcement here.
Tagging Products on Facebook
There has been a lot of chatter recently about the rise and rise of platforms like SnapChat with the younger generation, and that perhaps Facebook might be on the way out. This has obviously led to a lot of companies questioning whether they should be putting focus and effort into running campaigns on the likes of Facebook – perhaps thinking they should be jumping to the cooler, newer platforms.
While it’s a valid thought process, and something to look into, some recent statistics should give small businesses in particular real comfort that Facebook should still be one of their first port of calls for social media posting and advertising. More importantly – it’s actually grown by more the last year than any year since 2012 (17%). Add in that your Facebook adverts can also run on Instagram and it remains the easiest and most effective social media platform for a small business to advertise on.
Why the continued growth? In our view it’s down to Facebook being the best channel for a range of different media types – video, pictures, text and web links. In that regard it also makes it really powerful as a search engine optimisation tool for your website. By cleverly sharing website links and blog posts, you can help with that search juice.
At the end of the day it all comes down to what platform suits your company. Instagram might be spot on if you’re in food or fashion, or SnapChat could have serious appeal if you are running events. All in all though, Facebook remains a strong starting point for small business, and if you haven’t utilised it for your business yet – you might want to think about it.
Graphs and images from Tech Crunch. To read their more in depth look at the stats - click on this link.
Advertising in the modern day
I recently read a fantastic article in the NZ Herald espousing the view that Sky TV is dying and it needs to change it's business model to stay relevant. That's a viewpoint I think alot of New Zealander's believe is true - high prices with limited options isn't a model that works in the current consumer marketplace...it's why Uber stuck it to taxi's and it's why companies like Sky are facing serious challenges from Netflix and the like. It's the new normal and established companies are having to re-invent both their business model and the way they sell themselves. If they are smart they push ahead of the pack - but if they don't embrace change, they can really suffer. The question is...if Sky TV is flailing and struggling - what 'older' companies are making the most of this new media world? We are sure there are plenty out there, but the big winner we have seen of late is Vodafone.
Vodafone is a bit of a monolith in the telecommunications space. They were one of the first companies to enter the mobile world in NZ, but with disrupters like 2Degrees coming along, they now sit in that 'established' business zone which can see a company become stale quickly. Over the last few years they've spent a fair amount of marketing budget aiming to be 'cool' - having cars drift around a course to show how good their 3G coverage is for example - but that's not the marketing that's caught my eye. It's the way they have leveraged off their sponsorship of both the All Blacks and Emirates Team New Zealand that has really shown the value of their digital media teams.
Let's get this straight - leveraging off sponsorship isn't necessarily the easiest sell. How much value is your logo on a boat or on a rugby jersey really going to generate by itself? Sure, you'll get a few more eyeballs on the brand, and that might increase sales, but the real skill of a marketing team will be turning that sponsorship into something engaging and relevant without completely breaking the bank...and I think Vodafone has hit the nail on the head. As a sponsor of Emirates Team New Zealand, the Vodafone team was immediately faced with a tough prospect. Sky TV (that quickly fading giant I mentioned earlier) has the rights to the America's Cup. Their penny pinching business model has meant a limited number of kiwis have access to watch the racing, and those that do, have to listen to the American commentary. Enter ETNZ, Vodafone and the other sponsors of the team who have forked out for Peter Lester and Martin Tasker (qualified sailing commentators) to be embedded with the team during their time in Bermuda. Every day pre and post race the reporters go live on Facebook for 20 minutes chatting to team members and giving some real insight into an event that definitely needs an explanation to most of the public. Of course, Martin wears the obligatory Vodafone hat, and just like that the company has incredible, unique and immediate content engaging kiwis and sports fans. Thousands watch those videos every day and they really have tapped into the power of the Facebook live video function. Unsurprisingly, Vodafone has also done similar with the Lions Tour - creating the "Rugby Roadie" which follows a Lions supporter through the entire tour. In fact if you go have a look at Vodafone's page right now it's video after video relating to ETNZ and the All Blacks (with a tiny sprinkling of product pushing). The New Zealand feel good factor couldn't be higher - and most importantly it's fresh, original and exclusive content. In some ways this telecommunications company is beating Sky TV in terms of media coverage of these two huge events - without having to purchase any screening rights...or even any conventional media advertising space.
The big question is how can smaller businesses learn from these campaigns by Vodafone and implement some of the ideas in their own marketing. Obviously Vodafone has stacks of cash to throw around, and we can't all hire a sailing commentator and sponsor the National rugby team! But removing those high dollar signs, there are a few things all businesses can learn in this new media world:
These are pretty simple lessons that most people reading this will already be implementing, but it's always good for a reminder. Credit where credit is due, and I'm personally really thankful for some of the coverage Vodafone is giving these events - hopefully we can all take a page out of their books to push our businesses forward.
Facebook Mobile Studio
The surge to mobile continued this week as Facebook took a big step towards making it's mobile advertising platform a real competitor. In a nutshell, the company has refined it's Ad Manager app and is also set to launch 'Mobile Studio' - which will help advertisers, particularly small business owners, easily edit content on their phone.
This is big news for small business owners as the ability to look professional online is increasingly becoming the realm of everyone, not just the elite few large companies with big marketing budgets. Creating quality content that looks like it's come straight from an agency is something that alot of small businesses can now do. With a little bit of tech know-how, and an eye for what looks classy, editing software like Canva, and now Facebook's Mobile Studio, should let anyone turn their creative thoughts into an advertising reality.
Stand by for the following tweaks to the Facebook mobile advertising suite - and look forward to alot of improved content on your social feed from both your own business, and others that embrace these new changes:
All in all this should just stand as a firm reminder that it is very easy, and very cost effective, to advertise across digital platforms. Getting your business in front of thousands of eyeballs on search engines and social media should be seen as a no-brainer, particularly when your budget only needs to be hundreds of dollars a month, not thousands. As always, we'll keep encouraging you to help your business in house, but if you want to hand over the reigns, we're always happy to help.
Fake Facebook Likes
Unfortunately, this is a post we are writing having suffered from the scourge of 'fake likes' on our own Facebook Page. Taking it back to basics, a 'fake' like on your Facebook Page or your Facebook Post is one that has come from somewhere that is not a legitimate person, or is a person that is being paid to like pages and posts. For the most part, these fake likes come from click farms, which are predominantly based in Africa & Asia, and have been setup for dodgy companies to try to trick the system. You've likely heard of these type of companies, pages and people who try to boost their standing on Facebook by paying a third party to like their page hundreds or thousands of times. What you might not realise, is that even if you are running your page by the book, your company may be affected by fake page likes. Here's how:
But a like is good right? Wrong! A legitimate like is great, a fake like is terrible. Think of each like as a 'referral'. When someone likes your page or post, is can then be referred onto their friends and similar profiles. If you recieved a fake like, the referral will more than likely be to another fake profile, and so on, meaning your message and sales point never gets to legitimate customers. Even worse, if you then pay to boost your posts on Facebook, they'll fly out to this audience of fake likes, meaning you've effectively paid for a campaign that will never result in sales. Fail.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO
Hopefully this is helpful to some of you out there who are scratching their heads at the high number of likes but low number of sales on your Facebook Page. Stay alert and keep your organic followers happy and Facebook can be a great tool...and let's hope Facebook themselves start to crack down harder on these click farms!
Facebook now has the ability to post a single photo, a multiple image album, or create a slideshow of pictures that turn into a video. The question is, which should you use?
A single picture can be incredibly effective for conveying a message. If you just have one punchy comment to get across, format your picture into a square shape for social media and definitely use just the individual picture option. Never feel like you have to add more just for the sake of adding more.
For multiple pictures, we stumbled across our answer to this one. We accidentally posted first as a slideshow video, then as an album. The amount of interaction on the slideshow, with the exact same pictures, was phenomenally higher. The slideshow makes you focus on only your best 7 pictures as well, which can only be a good thing.
We aren't saying there is no spot for albums - if you have a collection of more than 7 photos, or want to showcase a whole lot of images...then the album is a great feature. That said, if you want impact, views and engagement - think about using the slideshow, we definitely recommend it. Figuring out how to best implement your social media content creation takes plenty of thought.