THIS year has seen a lot of changes to Facebook, including algorithms that appear to heavily constrict the content from our own friends and family, so is it any wonder that the business side of Facebook has also been affected? To the point some digital marketing experts are turning their back on Facebook for Business. I think that's a mistake...
First let's look at why some of these measures have been put in place. At the beginning of the year Facebook came under fire for the unscrupulous data mining that Cambridge Analytica achieved through a 'fun' app, see my earlier article Facebook did not sell your Data. With fake news and terrorist activities also rife on the platform (and all social platforms), Facebook took steps and is continuing to do so, to clean up the social site. However, these steps have also had a knock-on effect with the business pages. You will no doubt, have seen the heavily marketing campaign Facebook is undergoing to restore faith in the platform and reassure users that they intend to crack down on Click bait and fake news - they also mention spam.
So does Facebook view business pages as spam? I doubt it. Well not most of them. If you have a Facebook Business Page and provide a service, then you may well have received a message announcing your page will soon be showing in a new format. Facebook state this format will give page visitors easier access to the information about your page they are most looking for - if Facebook viewed the business pages as spam they are unlikely to spend time and effort in revamping them. Of course, another reason I doubt Facebook take the view that business pages are spam is purely commercial - Facebook Ads are still very lucrative. Let's face it, this platform must be commercially viable - it just seems the balance needs to be redressed. I do hope these new versions of business pages marks the start of Facebook once again valuing their business communities.
Without doubt, Facebook should be in your digital marketing mix. If nothing else, you have the organic SEO benefit of sharing regular content with links back to your website. Without exception, each of my clients' Google Analytics show that the various forms (m, l, lm and desktop) of Facebook are still the top referring social site and, in some cases, the referring site that sends the most amount traffic - that's for consumer-focused businesses as well as service-led B2B clients. But other than generating traffic to your site and enhancing your organic rankings there are other ways to ensure your business message is noticed.
Consider sharing your business page posts back to your own profile, not at the same time but a day or two later. For those that may feel uncomfortable doing this, fine, I completely understand - it's your personal profile, where you talk to your friends and family, but you do have confidence in your brand/product/service right? Because if you don't, why should anyone else?
Secondly for local groups, look at the various groups that are relevant. Do any of those members match your target markets, if yes, share your content (only after checking the rules of the group) and if no, create one, become the expert in your field and create your own Facebook group. You can base it on your geographical spread, your industry, a specific product or service etc.
Groups still give notifications to members of new posts and tend to have a lot more engagement than pages, however, you can only post as a person not a business page (see above point on having belief in your brand), you should link back either to your business page or your website depending on the content (avoid putting unnecessary clicks in peoples way).
Despite the challenges 2018 has thrown at it Facebook is still a valuable business tool and for the most part, free - why wouldn't you want to utilise it?