Regular changes to Facebook algorithms are starting to hamper engagement for small businesses, meaning effective Facebook advertising is now essential. In another recent shake-up, insights for business pages are starting to show a decline in organic reach. But don’t let the changes put you off using Facebook to market your business, as it is still one of the most accessible and cost-effective ways to advertise to your target audience.
Too many businesses mistake post boosting as adverts. Boosting and ads are two very different methods and need to be utilised in different ways.
So why does Facebook keep changing the way users see content?
Contrary to popular belief, Facebook as an organisation is actually trying to make the experience of using the platform more enjoyable. Up until the last couple of years, small businesses have made the most of free marketing through having a Facebook page – and rightly so. But the free-for-all is becoming a tougher prospect as algorithm changes make it harder for businesses to effectively market themselves for free. So your timeline will see less from the pages you follow, and more from your friends and family.
There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, we have to remember that Facebook is a business itself. It is not the enemy, as you may believe. It makes income from advertising, leaving the network free for the public to use. If there were sign-up fees or subscription packages, would it have the 2-billion global users it has today?
Secondly, Facebook wants the public to enjoy staying connected with friends and family, without the constant nagging from businesses trying to sell their latest products. Users can follow the businesses or brands they like and trust, but they don’t have to see the constant updates and sales-led posts that some business pages churn out without a second thought.
This is where Facebook is getting really clever. It understands businesses need a following and it knows users want to follow their favourite brands. But what Facebook recognises is that many businesses are not all that savvy when it comes to marketing themselves effectively on social media. In some cases, people are switching off from brands they like by unfollowing the ones they find annoying. Unfortunately, it is all too easy for a business to become it’s own worst enemy when it comes to social media.
So by changing algorithms regularly, Facebook is making sure users are getting their favourite content from friends, relatives and people or brands they wish to connect with. It does, however, play in to their hands as it means the only way around this is to spend money on Facebook advertising.
It’s time to start reallocating budget to Facebook advertising.
I know, it sounds like we are all just bowing down to the Facebook empire. Yes, effectively the small independent businesses of the UK are over a barrel and left to pay to a global company which has, in the past, been under fire for suspiciously low corporation tax bills. But really, if the small indies want to thrive they need to rely on different ways of marketing and advertising in this digital age.
Effective Facebook advertising campaigns can, and do, work brilliantly. There is a theory that the more you put in to something, the more you get out of it. This is a given for the world of Digital advertising, but not necessarily meaning the more budget you throw in to ads, the more potential you have. There is a fine balance of planning, strategising, designing and implementing that needs to happen to make it work for your business – and there is no one size fits all approach.
Sporadically boosting posts does not work.
I see far too many ‘sponsored posts’ on my Facebook timeline which appear with little or no engagement. Yet these posts keep appearing and sit there unloved for days on end, to the point where I actually feel sorry for the unused budget limit sat there with nothing to do. No one needs to re-read your waffling post about a new range of floral tea-cups twelve times. Too many businesses mistake post boosts as adverts.
Remember these golden rules before you boost:
- If you want a quick flurry of engagement on a single post (Such as a good news story or a competition) then by all means, boost that post for no longer than a couple of days. You can boost more than one post at a time, but make sure the content is varied and interesting. Your posts are guaranteed to reach more timelines, but remember your followers will get bored if they keep seeing the same post.
- If you want to build brand awareness, generate leads, increase traffic and ultimately gain return on investment, then you must set up a full ad campaign.
Whatever your campaign aim, make sure you take time to test the parameters and find what works for your business and your audience. Don’t forget, your landing page also needs to work for you. This is where digital advertising is in a completely different league to print and broadcast – it is completely trackable from start to finish.
If your campaign is not working – there is no loss of budget. Simply stop the campaign, refine and start again.
We are working with many small businesses across Yorkshire to increase sales through social media advertising. Talk to us today if you want to discuss a full ad campaign strategy for 2018 and let us do the work for you. Whatever your marketing aims, make sure you allocate budget to Facebook.