Is this the end of Facebook for Small Businesses?

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No. It's not the end of Facebook for Small Business

Calm down. Step away from the hype. Block the "gurus" and spend a few minutes understanding the changes and what they mean for your business. This update isn't a bad thing. In fact, I think it will be very good for companies in the long-run.

Understanding the Facebook Algorithm Changes

We received word that the Facebook algorithm changed significantly recently and Facebook is putting a lot more emphasis on connections with people, not brands. Facebook Business Pages will likely see a decrease in reach because of this change. Within the industry, it’s been dubbed, “Facebook Apocalypse” or the end of Facebook. Honestly, I think that’s a bit overdramatic.

Yes, the Facebook algorithm is changing, but it’s also about time. The newsfeed has been overtaken by fake news, politics, click-bait titles, and more. People regularly complain about not seeing much from friends and family because there’s so much other stuff there. If Facebook’s users can’t find what they want on Facebook, they’ll go somewhere else, and that’s not what Facebook the business wants.

Let’s start at the beginning. Like Google, Facebook is a Business.

Facebook is a business. Yes, it’s a service many people use. It’s a website that lets you connect with friends, family, and companies you are interested in learning more about, but at its core, it’s a business. They sell ad space, and if people aren’t coming to the site as often or spending as much time on it, then it’s not as attractive an advertising option for companies. And if companies don’t want to buy ad space on Facebook, they’re not going to make money. So, Facebook has to do what any smart business does; they have to listen to their customers and make sure they’re offering products and services that are wanted.

The way the newsfeed got started turning people off Facebook and pushing them to other places. And that risked their business. So, they’ve made changes to address the issues. As a business, you may be upset about these changes because they probably impact your visibility, but as a business owner, you should understand why they’ve made the changes. Sure, it’s frustrating, but it’s relatable.

Algorithm Updates are Good in the Long Run

I’ve spent many years in SEO and in our industry, Google algorithm updates have changed digital marketing for the better. Like Facebook, Google is a company that offers a service to their customers and then sells contact with their customers to advertisers. Google has to protect the integrity of their search results to have people continue to use the search engine. Without customers who regularly engage with Google’s Search Engine, they don’t have an appeal to advertisers.

Google has had two major algorithm updates in the past 5-6 years. They’ve cleaned up the search results and in the end, led to a much better user experience. I see Facebook doing the same with this current update.

Google’s Algorithm Updates

Google Panda and Google Penguin were designed to clean up cheating practices. They made it harder for websites to rank well for terms by buying links and they made it so that websites and blogs need to create in-depth, helpful content for their users. As a search engine user, I appreciate this. I know when I search for something on Google, I’m going to get a result that’s relevant, from a reliable source, and hopefully, has the information that I need. As a marketer, these changes don’t scare me as long as my clients understand the importance of creating high-quality content that their audience wants/needs.

What Does Facebook’s Algorithm Update Mean for Small Businesses?

This update means you’re going to get less visibility from your business page if you are only posting updates on your blog or business and they’re not generating conversation or engagement.

The reality is, these type posts weren’t working before. So, you’re not out anything. If you were posting to your business page daily but getting ZERO engagement how was that helping your business? While people are freaking out about Facebook reach being over and this being the end of Facebook for business I think it’s entirely the opposite. This change is the beginning of a better Facebook experience for all users. Like the Google algorithm updates, this will force businesses to think about what they’re sharing and be more strategic. They’ll be required to think about their audience and provide helpful content, in formats that are interesting to their audience.

What Will Work for Small Businesses After This Facebook Algorithm Update?

Facebook has explicitly stated that engagement with friends and family is the key to this new algorithm. They’re trying to return to their roots, why the website was started in the first place. With this in mind, conversations on your business page will still be seen.

Ask questions in your updates, encourage engagement and most importantly, participate in the conversation. Something like 80% of the comments on Facebook business pages goes unanswered. If you want to make it through this algorithm update with visibility, you need to join in the conversation and be an active participant.

If you host local events and someone comments on the posting and tags a friend or relative in that comment, they’ll still see it. If more people comment on the post, it will likely be shared with even more people within their network because it’s a conversation. The fact it’s originating on a business page event shouldn’t matter according to the Facebook statement.

We also know that Live video streams are working well and are expected to continue to receive visibility from Facebook. If you haven’t included live video in your marketing plan yet, it’s time to do it. I know, it can be intimidating, but it’s working because people like connecting with the people behind the brand. They don’t do business with brands; they do business with people.

Is this a Pay for Play Move from Facebook?

Some have commented they feel the algorithm update is designed to wipe out organic reach and force brands and small business owners to spend money on Facebook Ads. I don’t think that’s the core reason for this update, but I do believe investing a little money in your marketing plan is a good thing.

Using ads to promote your content is a great way to spread your message further than you can with organic means alone. The great thing about Facebook Ads is you can invest very conservatively and still see results. Many small business owners begin campaigns with as little as $5.00 per day.

You don’t have to invest in Facebook Ads, but if you want to build an audience, launch a product, grow a business, it might be good to include in your strategy.

What Should I Do For My Small Business Today?

You’re probably reading all this and thinking, great, it’s not the end like others are saying but what exactly should I do for my business?

If you’re a small business owner, here are the top three things I think you should do to survive this Facebook algorithm update.

  1. Commit to Facebook Live video every week.
    1. Why? We know Facebook wants people to use their live video functionality. For my business page, I see 150-200% organic visibility for my live videos.
  2. Ask for engagement with your posts and live videos.
    1. Why? Facebook is looking for content that’s engaging to their audience; they want to share things friends and family have commented on or engaged with. By asking for engagement, you’re ensuring a two-way street between you and the audience and helping Facebook’s algorithm find great content to share.
  3. Invest a little in Facebook Ads for your best content.
    1. Why? Ad spends can help expand your audience and grow your business quickly. I’ve seen a 20% increase in page followers recently as a byproduct of using Facebook Ads to promote my content. When people see content from you, they get to know you, if they like you, they want more of it, so they like your page, and then, in time, they begin to trust you, and that’s where your business can grow.

If you’re looking for more information on how to market your small business and still generate some visibility on Facebook, join our group – Marketing on a Shoestring Budget and follow Etched Marketing on Facebook and join us for our FREE marketing training for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and startups each week.  Our training classes are via Facebook Live; anyone wonder why after reading this post? I didn’t think so. In marketing, we want to do what works. 


Register for our FREE Marketing Training Workshop program and join thousands of other small business owners who have learned how to create their marketing plan with our help! Click here to register today.