As always, Facebook and Instagram are changing the algorithm. But, this time, they're really making some big changes that I thought would be helpful for all of you.
Some of these changes are being implemented as I write this (November, 2019), but others will be coming out in the next few months as we begin 2020. So, as you begin planning your content marketing for the coming year, take these below changes into consideration.
Update from the future: If you need some help planning your 2022 content, I highly suggest checking out my blog post on The 2022 List of Pet Holidays & How to Strategically Use Them In Your Pet Business.
Okay, here are some changes coming your way (if they haven't already).
1. Instagram is removing likes and video views from our feeds.
Now, some of us love this and others are not happy, but this just further allows us to focus more on engagement. Are people interacting with us? Do they comment on your photos? Do they share it? Now, the experts are honestly expecting LESS interaction with posts, which means it's really time to kick the engagement into high gear.
2. Facebook is revamping the desktop and mobile newsfeed.
It's going to look a lot different. One of these changes: when you see Facebook posts on your mobile phone, you're only going to see the first three lines of posts (unless you click more). Keep that in mind as you produce your content.
3. Facebook is also focusing on engagement.
Just like Instagram, your likes aren't that big of a deal. They care about meaningful interactions, which go further than a simple like. Are they holding down their cursor and selecting one of the emotions instead (like love, surprise, sad, funny, or mad)? Are they commenting on your posts or sharing them? These will be WAY more important than likes and will result in how far up you show up and how many other people's feeds your post will show up in.
4. Facebook is flagging 'salesy' and promotional words.
Now, this may be a big one for some of you who promote your business on social media. Facebook will not be flaggings words such as 'Shop Now' or 'Call Today' or 'Promotion' or 'Giveaway.' They are seriously cracking down on any sort of verbiage that seems like you're just trying to push a sale on your followers. I'll share my thoughts on this below.
5. Facebook is flagging outbound links.
This is ALSO a big one for bloggers and businesses. Your posts that share blog posts or share links to your shop or article feature will be less likely to show up in other people's feeds. Why? Because Facebook wants to keep you on their platform. It makes sense I guess, but from a marketing perspective, our strategy was ALWAYS to get people OFF the platform. Guess we need to rethink this one, huh?
There are plenty of other small changes, like...Facebook Groups' reach is expected to decrease, you can soon offer targeting for your organic posts (i.e. if you have an offer in one neighborhood of your service area, but not the other, your post can target that specific area without using Facebook Ads), and so many others.
So, what do I think of these changes as a business owner, a pet industry expert, and a marketer?
Well, the most important thing? There's nothing we can do about it, except change our game. While it will be harder for us as business owners to get higher reach and get people off social media and on to our website, doesn't mean that these changes aren't good.
This also does not, in any way, mean that we should ignore or delete our social media pages. You still need Facebook and Instagram. A VERY high percentage of your potential customers will come to your social media pages first BEFORE purchasing or visiting your store.
I think the biggest takeaway from these changes is to realize the shift in marketing purposes. Social media is no longer a place for us to convert customers and get them to purchase. It's there to foster a community, to establish personality and trust, and to be a source of inspiration, education, and/or relationship-building. An article on Buffer even wrote an article titled, 'Why I Think Social Media Is For Branding and Engagement, Not Traffic or Revenue.' And you know what? I don't disagree with them...for 4 reasons.
Millennials are now the majority pet owner and they are looking for authenticity. We don't like being sold to. If you're kind, genuine, and all about inspiring your audience or building your community, that's what matters to us when we purchase.
There are millions of businesses on social media. It's over-saturated, so you saying 'buy from me' isn't enough anymore.
Research is showing time and time again that social media is being used for research, NOT for purchase decisions necessarily, so pushing sales and promotional material on potential customers is not the way to go 95% of the time.
Maybe this will help take the pressure off of us business owners. Who cares how many likes we got on this post? Why don't we focus on serving our audience as best we can? The more genuine and relaxed we are when we create content, the more likely our business will grow - because people can sense that.
So, I hope that you see these changes as positive. Regardless, though...it's happening!
For more blog posts on the topic of social media, head to the following posts: