Facebook’s Latest Update: Bad News for Page Owners (Again)?

It looks like Facebook is updating its algorithm again, and it could be that Facebook Pages will take another hit to organic reach. This time it will be posts by your friends that get prioritized on the News Feed, which is great news for users and possibly bad news for businesses. This is, by in large, old news; Facebook has been hammering down on calls to action and clickbait content since November 2014. If you and your social media strategies have not adapted by now, then you need to step up your game and catch up to the rest of the social world.

Facebook has said time and time again that the type of content prioritized on your Followers’ News Feeds is relevant to their interests. And what’s relevant to their News Feeds? The type of content their friends share. Let that be a lesson to you: the days of pure advertising and calls to action are at an end in the social media frontier. To make it in this landscape, you, as a business, need to start becoming more human, and that means developing a brand voice and personality, and more importantly it means trusting your social managers to do their jobs. Of course that also means finding a trustworthy social manager who knows how to navigate the potentially dicey social media environment.

So how do you go about finding your brand voice? It depends on your business, obviously, but the first thing you should do as CEO, owner, president, or higher up management is set some ground rules. Are you a fun-loving business that likes to get into ridiculous conversations with your customers and fan base? Are you educational? Professional? Sensational? Ask yourself: How would you, the owner, talk about your company to interested parties? Take note of your vocabulary, cadence, and emotions. This is how you want your business to look and sound on social media, and that’s exactly the type of message you should get across to your social manager. When you’re online, you’re not a salesperson; you are a human being who is proud of their business or product, and you want other people to see that. Passion is contagious. If you feel it, your audience will feel it, too. That makes all the difference in how people react to your content. Be more human today.

Say Goodbye to Promotional Posts!

It seems Facebook is cracking down on organic reach once again with its latest plan: reducing the number of promotional posts that appear in the news feeds of users, even if they Liked the Page from which these posts come. While it may seem like something I’d disagree with as a social media marketer, I’m going to have to side with Facebook this time around. But let’s get one thing straightened out: this does NOT have anything to do with Promoted Posts (which are paid for), but rather unpaid posts that Facebook as deemed “too promotional”. This is an example of what’s “too promotional”:

too promotional

According to the official Facebook newsfeed, the social network giant is targeting three types of posts:

1. Posts that only push people to buy something or install an app.
2. Posts that push people to enter a promotion, contest, or sweepstakes.
3. Posts that reuse content from ads.

At first glance this update might have marketers and social media experts quaking in their boots, but personally, I’m not worried at all. I’ve always been a proponent of quality content that is creative, unique, social, and in general, doesn’t look like it was generated by a computer and posted via an automated platform. This blog is called “Robots NOBOTS” after all! As social media marketers, we need to reach people from a social standpoint, which means we need to treat people like people, not potential wallets waiting to be emptied. Our social media accounts and Pages need to behave like human beings, not a hub for promotions, sales, and products. Treat your potential customers and fans well, and they will come flocking to your Page! Treat them exceptionally well, and they will come back with friends!

I won’t forget that Facebook killed organic reach for Pages, but this is an update I can get behind. It will reduce spam, and most importantly it will force the social media marketing industry to produce rich, engageable content. Coupled with Facebook’s promise to crack down on clickbait articles, we might actually start seeing some improvement in our News Feeds!

A Gentle Touch for Customer Feedback

Of course you want to know what you customers think of you! As a business, the number one priority is to give the customer what they want, and no one can give you that information except your customers. It’s not enough to simply study your audience’s behavior to decide your next marketing venture; sometimes the best way forward is to stick with the age-old method of asking directly. Just keep in mind that this invaluable data can only be collected with a gentle touch, so it’s important to ask and not demand. And that means letting the customer send their feedback without trying to nudge them toward the positive. It’s not as subtle as you think, and it comes across as extremely dishonest or even thuggish.

Ultimately any email you send to your customers regarding feedback comes down to this: you’re asking them to perform an action, and it’s important that they understand that it’s their choice. Once your initial transaction is completed, a customer owes nothing to the business with whom they dealt. While this next example from the New York Democratic Committee isn’t a business per se, the letter they sent recently urging members of the Democratic Party to vote was written in the worst possible way: “Who you vote for is your secret. But whether or not you vote is public record,” which was later followed by “We will be reviewing voting records . . . to determine whether you joined your neighbors who voted in 2014.” This is most definitely not the way to convince any form of action, especially an action that is completely voluntary. Even worse, the letter ends with this gem: “If you do not vote this year, we will be interested to hear why not.”

So what can businesses learn from this? First and foremost, your customers cannot be bullied into liking your company, and likewise they cannot be bullied into writing stellar reviews. If you want wonderful reviews, then you have to be a wonderful company that inspires its customers to speak up on your behalf. Tell them that their feedback and reviews will be greatly appreciated, but don’t attach a prize or incentive for them to do so. Any such action will come across as a bribe, which makes any positive review or comment they make look like a bribe…and you can be sure someone will mention your incentive in a public space. If customer reviews and comments cannot be trusted, then the company cannot be trusted. At this point you might be tempted to have comments regarding these incentives deleted, and that’s never where you want to end up.

A lesson to take home: Your actions and reputation as a company is at the mercy of your customers, especially in the online sphere. Do not attempt to manipulate your image by manipulating customer feedback. Honesty from them means honesty from you.