The past year, with social media making the news in the political realm, as well as fake new stories, social bullying, live criminal activity, and other viral negative posts, it was time to make a change in the social media world. Many social media users have complained about the over-commercialization and politicizing of their newsfeeds, so the platforms have responded with big changes in improving their ‘social experience’. How will these changes affect the way you promote your brand on Facebook and Instagram?
On January 11th, Mark Zuckerberg made an big announcement that they would be making some needed changes to the way they prioritize social content in our news feeds.
“As we roll this out,” Zuckerberg wrote, “You’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard—it should encourage meaningful interactions between people. With this update, we will also prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people.”
What does this mean for business owners? Unfortunately, less engagement, less views and less organic reach. So how can businesses combat these changes?
- Increase your monthly ad budgets. “Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution.” Thus to increase distribution, increase promoted posts and ads. I know you don’t want to hear it, but do you expect any advertising to be free? Not usually and although we’ve gotten spoiled over the early years of Facebook, we can no longer expect any social media to promote our branded posts for free.
- Post content that will increase engagement. “Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed.” Ask a question, share a story that you know your followers will have an opinion on. If you directly ask them to comment, or even bribe them, Facebook will now demote your posts. For example: “tag a friend below”, “leave a comment below”, or “tell us what you think”, to enter to win some prize or earn a coupon. Facebook feels this is ‘engagement-bait’, which they consider a black-hat strategy to increase engagement and you will be penalized.
- Encourage users to follow you and choose the “See First” in their news feed preferences. “People who want to see more posts from Pages they follow can choose See First in News Feed Preferences to make sure they always see posts from their favorite Pages.” That way they will always see your recent content in their newsfeed. By offering an incentive to do this, you will encourage the follow-through but also make users aware that this is an option for those who didn’t know about it.
- Use your Facebook profile as an extension of your brand. While your profile does not have all the features your brand pages has (scheduling posts, ads, insights, etc), your profile content now can potentially be promoted higher with this change. Be a ‘professional’ friend to clients, leads and colleagues, by regularly adding new contacts as a friend after meeting them online, or in person, or via mutual friends online. Be friendly, engaging, share great content but also spend time sharing your life as a business owner, the personal side of your brand and tag your page when mentioning your brand to increase engagement. Occasionally, from your profile page, you can link to your brand page to draw your new ‘friends’ to see, follow, like and comment on your page.
“The only thing that is constant is change.” Changes in social media, SEO, search engines algorithms and marketing strategies will continue to be expected in this changing world. With evolving technologies, millennials entering the marketplace and a constantly wavering economy, the way we market will continue to need adjustments. Don’t panic or get angry, don’t play the blame game. Social media platforms and search engines are businesses, so yes they do expect payment for their services especially if they’re promoting brands. As a business owner, would you expect any less? The changes they make are for a better user experience, not to confuse us, to make SEO more confusing, or primarily to make more money.
The best thing you can do in these changing times is (1) stay informed by reading blogs like this that is meant to break complex strategies into easy to understand wording that the typical business owner can understand and implement, (2) be open to change and willing to implement strategies that you may not initially feel comfortable with, and (3) work with social media and internet marketing experts to assist your marketing evolution.
With the above mentioned of Facebook changes, Instagram will see an increase of brand engagement and revenue. Is your brand on Instagram? If not, drop everything and get started today! You may have to work harder making a name for your brand, as you’re already behind many local brands making an impression. Not convinced Instagram is the place for you? Here are some recent statistics:
- Instagram has over 800 million monthly active users and Instagrammers regularly show their love for the platform with higher engagement rates than many other social media platforms. According to a 2016 Instagram announcement, users like 4.2 billion posts daily—and that was when their user base was “only” 500 million.
- Instagram users could expect to see an engagement rate of 3-5 percent in the past, that number has dropped to around 1-2 percent as of mid-2017.
- 59% of Instagram users are in the 18- to 29-year-old age range in the U.S., followed by the 30 to 49-year-olds accounting for 33%.
- Users under 25 years old spend more than 32 minutes a day on the platform, while those over 25 spend more than 24 minutes a day.
- Instagram’s latest internal figures show 25 million businesses have a business profile on the network, and over 200 million users visit at least one business profile every day.
Here are some changes that make the user experience even better:
- You can now follow hashtags. Hashtags are more popular on Instagram than any other social media platform because this is how your business and topic gets found. You can use up to 30 but don’t go over that number, if you do your Instagram post will not be visible to others. And make sure the hashtags you’re using are not banned, to avoid IG hiding your post altogether. Here’s a list of 2018 banned hashtags.
- Recommended posts. New IG algorithms will begin to show you content that your friends have liked or are similar to content you’ve already shown an interest in. If you follow a lot of restaurants, they’ll show you more food or eatery-related content. This is another incentive to increase engagement on your posts. More engagement means more of their friends will see your content.
- Stories Highlights Section. Instagram stories have great value but the downside is that they disappear within 24 hours. Now you can increase their longevity by adding them to your bio with the new stories highlights section. Now, in addition to being able to create permanent highlights, all of your stories will automatically be archived after the 24 hour period, but they will be private. You can access your past stories through your archives, and can use the content for public highlights if you want.
- Hootsuite will now schedule and publish to Instagram. I may be more stoked than most on this particular announcement, because as a social media manager, it makes my job a lot easier. But for business owners and staff, they can now manage the publishing of all their social media content on various platforms in a one-stop process. And it works! They’ve said this before, but I’ve tried it and this time it is working seamlessly! Here’s directions to set it up on your Hootsuite account.
… And two Bonus Google Updates
Last month, Google announced a new update called, “Speed Update”, which will rank your website’s load time a mobile search ranking factor. If it takes too much time to load (according to Google’s standards), it will not rank your site well on mobile searches. You can test it here. If your site is loading too slow, don’t panic, this change will not take effect until July 2018 so you have time to make needed changes.
Why has Google made this change, as well as the other 500-600 algorithm changes take place per year? Some SEO experts claim it’s to confuse business owners, make SEO complicated or promote spending on PPC ads. Wrong! It’s about improving the user experience, period. If the sites take too long to load, especially on mobile devices, people get annoyed and move on. If Google did not penalize websites that were unresponsive, using outdated elements or utilizing black hat strategies, there would be nothing to encourage business owners and website developers to keep in line with current protocols.
JUST ADDED: GOOGLE IMAGE SEARCH UPDATE
Google made an announcement yesterday regarding the way you will search, find and use images in the future.
“Today we’re launching some changes on Google Images to help connect users and useful websites. This will include removing the View Image button. The Visit button remains, so users can see images in the context of the webpages they’re on. The Search by Image button is also being removed. Reverse image search *still works* through the way most people use it, from the search bar of Google Images.” – Google @searchliason
This announcement was precipitated by a long-standing dispute between Google and Getty images. Why? Getty’s complaint against Google alleged revenue losses to its stock photo websites, because users could see (and potentially copy) images directly from the Google Image Search results. Many users do not understand the liability they incur when they do this, nor do they realize what they’re doing is illegal. Now the two companies have partnered and as a result, have made changes to future image searches.
- So by removing the “View Image” button, you now must visit the website where the image is found instead of opening up just the image in full resolution in a new browser window. This will not only increase page views, but once they visit the website, the user will see and hopefully understand the image source, it’s copyright status and be less inclined to ‘steal’ a photo.
- The Search by Image button has also been removed to prevent malicious copyright infringement. Although it’s not a feature I ever used, it could be misused by those whose intent on finding stock images without the watermark on user’s sites who have actually paid for them. However, you can still do a reverse image search from the search bar of Google Images, and by right-clicking an image and performing a Google search.
- Third, it has added a warning to all photos on the Google Images, “Images may be subject to copyright.” There are many, many users including business owners, web developers and even social media managers that legitimately do not realize they are doing anything wrong by pulling images off the internet. If you were previously uninformed, I sympathize with you, but Google has done an outstanding job of informing us on every single photo they display to protect users from the potential risk involved, as well as protecting the rights of the owners of the photos. And I believe this will also cut down on the lucrative profit many copyright trolls have extorted from accidental and unintentional usage of their photos.
If you need professional help in updating any of these changes or training for you or your staff, contact Startup Production!