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Just when you think it's safe to get those posts for summertime rolling on Facebook, it happens: Facebook changes the algorithms and everything seems to plummet.
And every time Facebook changes something, that's when all the rumors start. The bad information, misinformation, gossip “Facebook is out to get us” type of information that makes the rounds faster than your favorite cat video.
Sometimes this bad information is easy to spot, but other times it comes from a source that seems valid – like when a person claims to be a digital marketing consultant or your upline who you'd think would only share reliable information. And that's when things can get a little dicey. Especially when there are other digital marketing consultants (or uplines) giving out contradictory information.
Who can you Trust to Give you the Right Information when Facebook Changes Things Around on you?
There are actually a lot of people who can trust to give you good information about the Facebook changes, not the least of whom is Facebook itself. Facebook is constantly changing their platform to remain true to their mission, and most of the time we don't even notice. But whenever they plan on releasing a major update, they always make an announcement about it on the Facebook Newsroom.
Why? Because they want you to continue using their platform! So they want to make sure you have all the information you need to be able to use their site effectively. They aren't going to secretly sneak something into the algorithm to make it harder for you to sell or do business there.
They're actually trying to make it easier for your customers to connect and engage with you, BUT they are making the consumer experience paramount to their changes.
In addition to Facebook, you can trust most any source whose entire brand and reputation is built upon making sure businesses succeed using Facebook:
Why them in particular? Because if they don't know how Facebook works, they go out of business. They have to know and understand the ins and outs of all of Facebook's policies and guidelines to make sure they give you the best possible service – after all, if your business goes under because you were following recommendations from them? They wouldn't be in business very long.
Their entire reputation, business, and bottomline depends on their intimate knowledge of how Facebook works and how to help you maximize your presence on Facebook.
Finally, trust anyone who links to the various studies and posts published by any of the aforementioned sources:
- BrendaSter #EmpowerSocial(yep, semi-shameless plug to let you know that we go out of our way to verify any information we write up with direct sources)
Why these secondary resources? Because even though we don't have a direct line to Facebook and we don't necessarily rely exclusively on Facebook, we still take the time to verify our information with them because we want our community to trust our recommendations. And, more importantly, we link to the source. By linking to the source, these sites give you access to the same information so you can read more about it within the original context.
Anyone can put together a list of bullet points and make it sound official, but if that list is missing links to direct sources, then it's just as likely to be some educated (or uneducated) guesses as it is to be accurate.
So the next time someone shares a post about all of Facebook's changes, remember the source.
It might be good information, but until you can confirm it with a believable, reputable source, take it with a grain of salt.
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Facebook Changes its Algorithms for One Purpose
If you remember nothing else from this article, remember this: Facebook changes its algorithms for one purpose: to ensure that the user — that is all of us — is happy, is making connections with things they care about, and is having a positive experience while on their platform so that they keep coming back.
- If people aren't happy on Facebook – they won't go back to it.
- If businesses aren't successful on Facebook – they won't go back to it.
- If people can't find their friends and family on Facebook – they won't go back to it (even if they themselves are happy).
- Since Facebook's entire business model is based on advertising revenue served to end users, if users aren't coming to the platform, Facebook fails.
With nearly any change that Facebook makes, you can see their mission oozing from it.
So, the next time someone shares a list of coming changes to Facebook, and you want to know whether or not it's true, compare it to this mission: will that make the end user happier during their time on Facebook? Will it allow the end user to engage more deeply with things they care about?
If the answer is anything other than a resoundingly forceful yes, then chances are that information is either false or misinterpreted.
Important Facebook Changes to Affect Direct Sales
Let's take a look at some of the biggest and most important changes to hit Facebook and what they'll mean to direct sellers. Most of this information is taken straight from Facebook's F8, which is a developer's conference Facebook holds every year. It's also the best place to hear from Mark Zuckerberg himself as well as other leaders from Facebook and the Facebook family about upcoming features, changes, and the mission driving those changes.
Facebook groups are not the future, they are the now.
Facebook is all about connection and community – and nothing creates community more than an exclusive group of like-minded individuals. Build a Facebook Group that caters to this idea of community-building.
Just about everything you post should create a meaningful interaction.
No more fake engagement, no more engagement bait. Don't tell the people in your community what to say. “Comment with YES if you want…” is not going to cut it anymore. It's not a genuine conversation and it's not going to lead to any kind of connection. Instead, invite them into a conversation.
“Tell me how this would change your life” invites a genuine reaction. And the more genuine your audience's reaction to your posts, the deeper that connection will be and the more likely your audience will be to engage with you.
And as we all know, engagement is king on Facebook.
So, the best way to succeed on Facebook (without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars) is to stop fighting the algorithm and start making it easier for people to form a connection with you.
As a group admin, you are responsible for what people post into your group.
Facebook is cracking down on people's ability to skirt around their policies and private groups are no exception.
As an admin of your private sales group, it's your responsibility to make sure the members of your group stay compliant with Facebook's Community Standards. Failure to do so could result in losing your group.
Facebook has a new feature to help monitor your groups' activities and overall quality.
If a member of your group submits a post that violates Facebook's Terms of Service and Community Standards, Facebook will either remove it or, if it's questionable, flag it for you to remove.
What happens if you don't handle your group or if Facebook is constantly having to flag and remove posts? Facebook may take further action against you, including lowering your group's ranking in the newsfeed, removing it from its discovery tools (the nifty little sidebar that will suggest groups for people to join) or, if it's really severe, shut down the group altogether.
As an admin, this gives you the perfect opportunity to go in and re-establish your group's identity and purpose. Help keep everyone inline with Facebook's rules and reaffirm your branding and personality to boot.
User Experience can Boost or Diminish your Organic Reach
It's like we always say – good or bad, your audience is going to tell you how they feel. And their reactions to your posts will help determine your overall reach.
Positive reactions that will boost your reach (provided they were not gained through engagement bait – which we will cover a bit further down):
- Button Reactions (Like, Love, Haha, Sad, and Angry)
Negative reactions that will diminish your reach (meaning, the community doesn't want to see it):
- Reporting as spam
- Hiding the post
- Hiding all posts
- Unliking the page
This is why it's so important to get to know your audience and what they want – if you continue to use the spray-and-pray method (spray your link out, pray someone clicks on it) of shoving your posts onto everyone's timelines, they will continue to hide your posts and mark you as spam. Your reach will drop, and you'll have only yourself to blame for lack of authentic content.
But if you're only showing your posts to the people you already know love and appreciate it because you know your people, you have a much higher chance of receiving some positive feedback. Your reach will be extended, and the likelihood of shares or other positive reactions will continue.
Will sad or angry reactions hurt your post?
As people, we tend to see things like sad faces and angry faces and immediately make a negative association with them. So it's only natural to question whether or not these reactions would also have a negative impact on your posts.
But the answer is no.
Sad and Angry reactions to a post is more of a sign of solidarity and connection than of not liking a post.
Take, for example, the last time one of your friends posted about being treated unfairly at their job, or the last time someone you love posted a rant about something you care about. You might use a sad or angry reaction to show that you understand, that you're also sad or angry. But in those cases, you're not telling Facebook that you don't want to see that person's content anymore.
An angry face is nothing more than a strong emotional reaction to content that you've connected with – which is exactly what Facebook wants. So don't be afraid to use it!
About that Engagement Bait we mentioned earlier…
Engagement bait is any post in which you tell the reader how to react to game the algorithm, usually in exchange for something else.
You've no doubt seen these posts all over Facebook. Maybe you've even gotten sucked into engaging with them, or maybe you've even posted them before without realizing they were bad. “Like and share if you agree….” or “like this post if you want to see what's up my sleeve…”
These posts create fake engagement with the sole purpose of tricking Facebook's algorithm. And Facebook has had it with these types of tricks. So no more “Facebook is trying to hide my posts! LIKE this post so I know you can see it!” Deal?
Will third-party scheduling tools hurt your post's reach?
This question gets asked at least eleventy billion times a day.
And not just by direct sellers wondering if their post didn't get reach because it was scheduled instead of live, but by marketers everywhere.
In fact, many social media giants, like Agorapulse, regularly test and check with Facebook for any changes that might affect scheduling tools. And what they've found, over and over and over again, is that no – using a third-party scheduling app is not going to hurt your post in the algorithms.
In fact, the opposite happens.
Using a scheduler, either from a third party or Facebook's own native scheduler, increases reach and overall engagement. More than likely these increases are due to the page finally posting with a strong content strategy and intention more consistently because they have to plan things out rather than posting whatever comes to mind in the moment.
If you have seen any type of engagement drop using a scheduler, evaluate what type of content you are scheduling. If it's only promotional content that already has a lower engagement ratio than personality or purposeful content, that is likely why. Again, the issue isn't the scheduler – it's the content strategy.
Here is a Brief Summary of Some of the other Facebook Changes that may Affect Direct Sellers.
- Negative reactions reflect poorly on your business pages. Negative reactions include hiding your post, hiding all your posts, unliking your page, or marking your post as spam. In any of these cases, the member is telling Facebook that they no longer want to see anymore content like that, therefore diminishing your organic reach. As I mentioned earlier, an angry face reaction is NOT considered negative, in this context. The user is still actively engaging with you, and that is positive according to Facebook.
- You should be approving posts into your group. You can help manage expectations, control the flow of the posts, and keep posts from getting buried by having your group set to post approvals. This will also give you a chance to catch and handle and problematic posts before they can cause issues (either with your group members or with Facebook). Post approvals help protect the integrity and mission of your group.
- Watch your giveaways. Too many people are breaking the rules when it comes to running contests and giveaways on Facebook, and it’s eventually going to catch up with them. Giveaways must be run from your page, group, or event and cannot be forced onto a personal timeline. That means no requiring people to share or tag each other for an entry into your giveaway.
- Certain giveaway language can get flagged as engagement bait. Speaking of giveaways, engagement bait still applies – you cannot tell people how to react to your post. So “like this post to enter” is perfectly legal in terms of the guidelines, but will get your post diminished reach because of engagement bait – so get creative with your language!
- Likes aren’t bad – they’re still better than nothing. There are too many people out there coming down on their community for clicking the thumbs up Like button instead of the other reaction options – stop it. All you’re going to do is get them to stop reacting to your posts at all, or worse, start hiding them entirely. A like is still engagement, and it is better than ignoring you.
- Stick to your 3Ps. People tend to tune out ads and promotional posts – so if all you ever post is about your products and sales, eventually even the most avid customers are going to tune you out. And once they stop reacting to your posts, you’ll sink in the Facebook algorithms and your reach will decrease.
- Establish rules for your group that align with your purpose. These rules will help set the tone for your group, and keep everyone on the same page. Use them, enforce them.
- Link your group to your page. This makes it easier for people to go between them, connect with you if they have questions, and engage with the page. Besides, with all these changes and the focus on groups, Facebook is going to be coming out with features that are specific to business pages that have groups.
- Understand Facebook Community Standards inside out. The more you understand its policies, the more likely you will be able to get a boost in the algorithms and help your ad approvals.
- The Facebook Newsfeed is shrinking. People are following more friends, family, and brands than ever before. Stories are merging with the newsfeed. Messenger is being favored. There is no longer going to be a “competition” to get your information shown to people – you either have to engage with them, or you’ll have to pay to be shown to them.
- Video is NOW and it will continue to be the future. Whether you choose to go LIVE on your page or choose to use edited videos, video continues to receive the most engagement and the highest reach than any other form of content on Facebook. But again, watch your language because videos that contain engagement bait will get dinged in the algorithms.
- Be careful of the links you share. Facebook is reviving an old tool, The Click Gap Signal, which is crawling the Internet to determine the quality of the sites you link to. If the site is determined to be Click Bait (determined by quality of the landing page as well as whether or not there is a disproportionate amount of traffic to that page coming from Facebook). Links to these pages will receive diminished rankings in the algorithms.
- Sharing is caring. People often wonder whether or not it’s okay to share a post from their business page over to their personal profile. The answer is yes you can. Facebook has no rule against sharing a post from one of its products over to another of its products (products meaning personal timeline, group, event, or pages). What is against Facebook’s Terms of Service is the use of your personal timeline primarily for business or commercial gains. The occasional post here and there is not going to hurt you – just don’t share everything.
- No running business from your personal profile. Seriously, this is just one of the biggest mistakes direct sellers make. Use your personal profile for personality and purposeful value. Socialize, create relationships and connections, and then occasionally invite those friends to your business channels. Keep your promotional sales posts ON your business channels.
- Don’t limit yourself to one platform. We say it all the time – divest your risk by being on more than one platform. Facebook is awesome to get started on, but as soon as you have established your presence, your content strategy, and your routine, you should venture out onto other networks. This will diminish your reliance on Facebook and minimize your risk should something happen on Facebook later in the future.
You may have already heard of some of these changes, such as the higher engagement on video and the restrictions placed on engagement bait posts. That's because some of these features and rules aren't actually new – they're just receiving new attention as new rumors come out.
How can you Traverse All These Facebook Changes?
To be honest, stop trying.
Facebook will continue to change and evolve as people use its platform. And trying to somehow trick the algorithm or game the system is exactly why Facebook spends so much time and effort making these changes.
In the words of Gary Vaynerchuk: Marketers ruin everything.
The people who succeed on Facebook are those who stop trying to beat the algorithm and instead work to connect with their audience. Work on establishing a stronger connection with your audience, create a killer content strategy based on what your community cares about, and you won't have to worry about any algorithms at all.