Welcome to May, everyone! Usually we have a topic for every month, but this time we are going to discuss different ways we use marketing in its various forms. The hottest topic in the past few weeks has been the changes on Facebook and Instagram. It only makes sense we start with it, especially because a lot of accounts are still experiencing glitches and that's quite confusing for most business owners. Luckily, I'm here to explain exactly what's going on and how to work with these changes.
What's Changing on Facebook
Facebook has gone through a tough year, having to answer to Congress about the huge Cambridge Analytica scandal and a lot of other private info leaks and breaches. These are the main reasons why Mark Zuckerberg and co have decided to turn their back to permanent content in favour of temporary posts, i.e. Stories. In a few weeks from now we expect the whole timeline, as we know it, to disappear. We will see 4 sections - Stories, Videos, Groups and yet to be confirmed... If you ask me, this isn't great for business. But now it is a matter of utilising all of your resources into the creation of visual content - attractive and entertaining images, short punchy messages that can go on your stories and of course, videos! Your best strategy for higher engagement would be to produce educational (how to) videos, behind the scenes and interviews. Whenever you create content for Facebook, think about how it serves your audience. Does it bring any sort of value to them? If it doesn't, then you can't expect high engagement rates or reach, for that matter.
Pages and Groups Reach
Speaking of reach...once again, the algorithm update is slashing the organic reach of both pages and groups. The maximum organic reach for groups is expected to be 6.5%, and for pages only 2-3%. Clearly, this is terrible for getting your message across. So, is Facebook still the place to be doing business? Yes! But you need a new strategy. If before we were constantly telling clients to post on their business pages as frequently as possible (meaning daily), now we are advising to get the activity down to 3-4 times a week, but make sure they increase the use of Stories. Users can now share a Story on their timeline, which indeed, helps reach. Also, whether we like it or not, we are forced to use more paid ads on Facebook. Note I said ads, not boosting posts. There is a clear difference between the two of them, but I will explain further a little later in this article.
Changes in Messenger
Whatsapp has been testing a payment system in India, which has worked just fine so far, so this feature is rolling out to more countries around the world. This can be both great and not so great for your business, but we will know more about it once we see it in action in the UK.
Changes in Pages and Content Quality
Have you noticed that Facebook is a lot more picky these days about the things they allow you to post? That's because they've decided to tighten up the quality control on all content across the platform. Pages are expected to add a verification tick, in order to be considered genuine by Facebook. The process isn't too difficult, but you may experience a problem if your registered company name is different from your trading name, like in our case. The verification tag can be added through the page general settings. You will need to provide company registration documents or utility bills. For admins, Facebook may require identity verification, which means they have to provide a scanned copy of their passport or ID document.
Facebook has decided that transparency is now their priority, so users will be able to see a lot more information about your pages, which was previously not so easily accessible or invisible:
creation date and any changes of the page name
the ads that are currently running on the page
the admin team and page's main location/s, based on the primary location of the admins. So for example, if your page has two admins - one lives in the UK and the other one in Spain, the page will display two locations - UK and Spain.
Female nudity is strictly forbidden, as well as anything that can suggest a naked nipple, except in the context of breastfeeding or cultural publications about indigenous people.
Tobacco products and those associated with them are not allowed in both organic and paid promotion.
Essential oils take the hit in some publications, written in languages different from English, because they are somehow linked to cannabis oil and opiums.
Any sort of violent and explicitly sexual content is taken down from timelines and groups! Admins of groups will be notified by Facebook when a member of the group regularly breaks the rules and posts content that breaches the community standards of the platform.
All this tight control on content is good in a way - ensuring high quality content being shared on Facebook, however it may also be a threat to the level of information we receive and our freedom of speech. And it's great that Facebook is trying to tackle issues with violence and improper content for children, but when are they going to introduce proper regulations and monitoring for racists, homophobic and other discriminatory content that is overflowing non-English speaking groups and user accounts? We wait and see.
Changes in Facebook Ads
As I just mentioned, the control on the quality of content is applied not only to organic posts, but also to paid advertisement. Facebook content moderators are looking for well created and meaningful ads. Here are a few tips to create a good copy for your ad:
address the pain points of your audience
offer something of value to them
build a personal connection/relationship
Be less tempted to boost posts on your page. Instead, create the so-called dark posts. These are ads that you create in your Ads Manager (part of Business Manager). They only show in your targeted audience timeline, but are not published on your page. Most times boosted posts (the ones published on the page) have low conversion value, they target anyone who is online at that point and the majority of these people are not purchasing users.
On 30th April, Facebook also updated a lot of metrics for ads creation and analysis. Here's a list of all ad metrics that have changed. More updates are coming later this year, so certainly, stay tuned.
What's Changing on Instagram
For starters, Instagram is also slashing the organic reach to ONLY 2%. IG prioritises content that they find worthy. And how do they decide which content is worthy and which is not? By engagement rate and speed of interaction. As soon as someone comments on your posts, you must like and reply. This increases your comments count and interaction level. Instagram decides that you are building a personal relationship with your audience and shows them more of your content.
Likes count is going away. I don't know if that's good or bad. To me it means that comments will now take priority over likes and everyone will be fighting for more comments, which is harder to get than a like, if we have to be honest.
Users will be able to post text-only content on Instagram. In my opinion, this is just destroying the values and purpose of the platform. With Facebook moving towards temporary content and video and Instagram allowing text-only posts, what would be the difference between the two platforms? Instagram has always been a strictly visual social media and this has worked in its favour since day one. What's going to happen with the new changes? We are about to see.
IGTV will be more relevant than ever before. Once again, put some effort into creating more valuable video content for your business! It will help you in the long run with all the rollercoaster changes happening on social media.
Here's a recap of this huge article:
Decreased organic reach - Facebook groups up to 6.5%, Facebook Pages up to 3%, Instagram up to 2%.
Less permanent content, more temporary content
Timeline as we know it is about to disappear. We will have Stories, Videos, Groups and one more section
Messenger and Whatsapp are merging
Messenger will have end-to-end encryption and allow communication between users to be temporary
Payments will be available through Whatsapp
Tougher content quality checks and regulations on both organic and paid content
Pages will need to be verified, admins may be required to verify their identity too
Building relationships in ALL content is prioritised against call to action and sales
Ads metrics for creation and analysis have changed and more changes are coming soon
Instagram shuts down organic reach almost completely, prioritises worthy contnet
No more likes count on Instagram, but this would enhance the importance of comments
Text-only posts to be allowed on Instagram
IGTV reaches new level of importance for entrepreneurs and small businesses
Are you feeling overwhelmed? I don't blame you. I wasn't thrilled myself when I first heard what awaits us. The truth is, a lot of professional marketeers are concerned and we feel the new changes on Facebook and Instagram are either going to make them even more influential and important for business or totally bury these platforms. To make sure your business doesn't suffer in the second scenario, start building your email list right now. Next week we will talk about the balance between community/relationship and email marketing. Subscribe below so you don't miss it!