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Facebook changes mean more original content, smaller reach

By By Liz Keener

Facebook business page users with a firm grasp on their insights have likely noticed a change over the past few months. Facebook has implemented another update, again filtering content that’s delivered to newsfeeds, leading many to see a decrease in their organic (non-paid) reach.

“They’ve changed their algorithm, which in layman’s terms mean they changed the workings of Facebook to determine what shows up in individuals’ newsfeeds,” explained Samantha Scott, owner of Pushing the Envelope, Inc., a Florida-based marketing communications firm.

Scott, a 2014 Marine Dealer Conference & Expo speaker, has read studies that say many businesses have seen their organic reach drop more than 40 percent, with some reporting decreases of more than 80 percent. However, she says, the new algorithm can be positive for dealers and consumers in that it’s asking companies to step up and offer higher quality content.

“This isn’t the end of Facebook for businesses. It’s just a change in the game, and from our perspective, it’s actually good. It’s going to make businesses perform better and provide more genuine content for their consumers and fans,” she said.

Genuine and original content is key to being seen on consumers’ newsfeeds now. Facebook is discouraging over sharing of others’ posts, while encouraging businesses to post more of their own photos, videos and links.

The “share” button is still available, and Scott recommends dealers use it with businesses that will reciprocate, but she says all posts can’t be shares, or fans will see fewer and fewer of them.

So what can a dealer post to still land in newsfeeds? Scott advises dealers to post information about local riding waterways; photos and introductions of staff; links back to website content, such as tips about each model sold; and similar information. The goal has to be to solve customers’ problem and give them value as frequently as possible.

“It can’t just be the message that that dealer or that business wants to communicate … it has to be what the consumer wants to know,” Scott said.

To discover what customers truly want, dealers should ask. Sites such as SurveyMonkey.com offer free surveys that are 10 questions or fewer, and those surveys can be sent out to social media audiences, e-newsletter subscribers and in-store customers.

“Ask your audience: What do what you want to hear, when do you want to hear it and on which channels?” Scott said.

One of her clients, for example, was sharing a lot of industry news and membership information on social media. However, after conducting a survey, they learned customers only wanted member benefit details, as they were receiving industry news elsewhere. Another was insistent on using Twitter until a survey discovered only 2 percent of that client’s customers were using that social network.

Another way to better focus Facebook efforts is to look into the insights the site offers to page administrators. From there, users can look at their frequency to determine if they’re posting too often (such as several times per day) or not often enough (such as once per week). Insight data also shows when fans are using social media, allowing each dealership to cater to their own customers. And, if customers are more active at night or some other time staff isn’t at the dealership, posts can be scheduled in advance to reach the desired audience.

The reason Facebook made the switch is because the company wants to make the site more user-friendly, Scott said, much like Google did with its Hummingbird update late last year.

“The bottom line really for businesses with this change is Facebook has gotten a lot cleaner and a lot simpler, and it’s really going back to how Facebook started, which is connecting people to people,” she added.

Facebook is also moving to a change the layout of business pages, returning to a more streamlined one-column look, similar to past iterations. All pages will be shifted to the new layout by June 13.

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