This column is authored by freelance writer, Alec Sears
Facebook continues to reign king of social media. The company recently announced a staggering 1.28 billion daily active users and nearly 2 billion monthly active users in its first quarter of 2017.
The Facebook algorithm determines what each one of those 2 billion monthly users sees in their News Feeds when they log in. If you want your audience to see your content, you’ll need to understand Facebook’s algorithm and adapt your social strategy accordingly. The tricky part? The algorithm is updated often.
Adapting your social strategy with the ever-changing algorithm will greatly benefit your small business by ensuring you stay visible to your followers and are producing content they’re interested in. Here are three of the top ways to make the Facebook algorithm work for you.
1. Boost Your Digital Curb Appeal
Your small business may or may not have a physical curb, but it should definitely have a digital place to call home—your website.
In today’s digital world, an effective website can make or break a company. Everything your business does online links back to your website, so your homepage should be informative, beautiful, clean, and engaging. A well-organized and user-friendly website will encourage people to not only visit but also stay awhile.
This isn’t just an issue of personal aesthetics, either—Facebook has recently announced that it will downplay links back to low-quality websites in an effort to curb issues with fake news.
Ensure your website is engaging and appealing, both to your users and to the algorithm, with these easy tips.
Revamp Your Website
Before you set up a Facebook page for your business, give your company website some attention. Your business’s website is linked to your Facebook page, so make sure to establish a credible and informative website for your followers to visit.
Simple ways to improve your website include the following:
- Opt for icons instead of words, especially for social media buttons.
- Incorporate white space to give your website a clean feel.
- Use concise sentences and short paragraphs to make your website user friendly and easy to read.
- Change fonts to adjust the overall design and feel of your website.
- Proofread everything—spelling and grammar mistakes could make you look less credible to your audience.
- Keep the most important content first to entice your audience to continue reading.
Remove Ads from Your Website
Remove spammy ads from your website so your content won’t get buried in the digital abyss. People find ads annoying, and a lot of pesky pop-ups can pull your audience away from the important stuff—your business.
And remember: the Facebook algorithm buries links to low-quality sites containing useless content or shocking and malicious ads.
Engage Your Followers
If you own a local doughnut shop, blog about seasonal flavors you’re offering.
If you run a mom-and-pop diner, post photos of the menu options and keep your customers updated on special holiday hours.
If you run your own freelance interior design company, use your blog to share behind-the-scenes photos and tips about the design process.
Whatever you do, make a genuine effort to engage with your followers through these tactics:
- Reply to comments on your blog and social media.
- Answer any questions or concerns quickly.
- Like and repost content your followers share.
2. Master Reach and Watch Your Business Grow
The Facebook algorithm prioritizes posts from users’ family members and friends. Many businesses worry their reach will decrease as their target audience sees pictures of Aunt Susan’s adorable golden retriever puppy first.
There are two different strategies you can apply to keep your content visible.
Focus Your Strategy on Social Ads
To improve your visibility on Facebook, you can emphasize paid ads. This does require a chunk of your advertising budget, but fortunately, Facebook ads are relatively affordable and can be specifically targeted to your audience using their location, relationship status, interests, age and pages they already like.
Use a sales funnel approach for creating your ads in three stages—awareness, consideration, and conversion. Here are a few ways to get started:
- Write a useful blog post and advertise it to your ideal customers to increase brand awareness.
- Retarget those who clicked on the first ad with another ad that establishes your business as the expert.
- Advertise a third time to those who clicked on the previous ads by including an ad with a sales pitch.
Save Money by Tweaking Your Organic Reach
Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool, so use Facebook’s prioritization of family and friends to your advantage. Create useful content that people will want to share. If Aunt Susan shares your bakery’s tutorial on how to frost the perfect cupcake, your brand lands in someone else’s News Feed. Posting shareable content can save you advertising dollars.
Share content your followers want to see by using Facebook Analytics, a tool to help you see how your business profile or page is doing. This tool will show you what kinds of posts are most popular on your page. If you have a business page with over 30 followers, you can also access free on-page Insights.
With analytics, you can dive deeper into these metrics:
- Demographics of your audience
- Types of posts your audience is interested in
- Times your audience is on Facebook and engaging with your business
- Likes and reactions to different types of posts
- Number of unique viewers who saw your content
3. Prioritize Video
A third of all online activity is spent consuming video. Engaging your audience through videos can impact your visibility on Facebook because 92% of mobile video consumers share the videos they watch. When consumers share your videos on Facebook, your business continues to grow its organic reach.
The Facebook algorithm now prioritizes video in the News Feed and analyzes the “percent completion” for the videos users watch. If a user watches most of a video, Facebook will then boost similar videos in that user’s News Feed. This is good news if your small garden center business creates helpful videos with tips to keep succulents alive.
Not sure how to optimize your video strategy? Try starting with these three tactics.
Upload Directly to Facebook
When you upload your business’s video directly to Facebook, it’s called “native video.” Recent studies show that native videos have a 1055% higher share rate than YouTube videos uploaded to Facebook.
Capture Your Followers in the First Four Seconds
The high share rate is partly due to the autoplay feature native videos have. This feature allows the video to begin playing as the user scrolls through their News Feed. Use this autoplay to your advantage by capturing your audience within the first four seconds of your video.
Do your research on your audience. How old are they? Are they male or female? What problems do they need solved? Keep them in mind as you’re planning your video, particularly the attention-grabbing first four seconds.
Spend plenty of thought on planning out your video’s first shot. Test different ideas, angles, and settings to determine which is most captivating.
Keep Your Videos Short
One study shows that videos around 21 seconds or less performed the best using Facebook’s percentage completion.
Facebook counts a video as “completed” if a user watches at least 95% of said video. When videos score higher on completion percentage, those videos—and similar ones—are more likely to be seen in News Feeds.
Facebook is constantly improving its algorithm, just like you’re constantly improving your small business. Stay up to date by checking Facebook Business News often, watch your page’s analytics closely, and use the tips above to build an algorithm-approved Facebook strategy.
How does your small business use Facebook? Feel free to share in the comments!