We recently learned that Facebook is making some BIG changes to their algorithm. Namely, if you maintain a page your posts may be harder to see. According to a statement posted by Facebook, "A lot of the content people see as too promotional is posts from Pages they like, rather than ads." So what qualifies as too promotional? Again, according to Facebook, there are three types of posts including:
- Those that push people to buy a brand, product, or app
- Those that push people to enter a contest or sweepstakes with no contextual basis
- Those that reuse the same content in the form of advertisements
There has been some chatter that what Facebook is not making clear is that posts that include links back to blogs might also fall under their new "advertisement" guidelines. What does all of this mean for bloggers who often rely on Facebook to promote campaigns and special events? Unless you pay to boost posts, there's a huge possibility they will never show up in Facebook's news feed--even for those who have opted to see your updates. For bloggers, that's a BIG deal. Most of us blog as a creative outlet. We're not cashing in on a Wordpress windfall. Boosting? That's a hit to an already empty wallet.
So what should bloggers do? The first step is to stop and breathe. There's no reason to freak out or to overreact. We've been here before--several times, actually. Facebook has changed their algorithm in ways that have already limited our organic reach and we've managed to survive. The second step is to NOT jump to the conclusion that creating a secret Facebook group is a way to bypass the news feed limitations. No one has time to join and actively participate in 3,286 secret groups. I can barely maintain two and have a difficult time participating in about ten others that I belong to. If you decide to go this route, have a plan in place. Who will you invite? What will you share? How will you manage your time to keep the group active and growing? Don't go into it blind and without a clear objective and goals.
You'll also want to start actively focusing on building your email subscriber list so that people interested in your content never miss a new post or update. Email marketing is one of the most successful forms of organic marketing for bloggers According to SalesForce, 70 percent of people say they always open emails from their favorite companies (and bloggers!). Make sure you offer a way for people to subscribe and consider sending out a periodic newsletter. Mad Mimi is a great service for bloggers.
A lot of bloggers overlook the fact that they can use their own blogs to run ads and promotions. If you have something that you'd like to actively promote, like a contest or new book, post an ad on your sidebar or install the Hello Bar (I have this active on the top of my blog and it's been amazing!). You can also easily add calls-to-action to the end of your posts.
As for social media, I plan on following the data. If you were lost somewhere and had dropped breadcrumbs to help you find your way back home, what would you do? You'd follow the breadcrumbs back home, of course. Consider data the online equivalent of breadcrumbs. If you've installed Google Analytics or use another data-tracking service, take a look to see which platforms are your biggest sources of referral traffic. For me, it's Pinterest and Google+--yet I've been largely neglecting these two services in favor of the Facebook frenzy. Not anymore. I am making a plan to greater utilize the services that have my back. I'll still post to Facebook, but I won't obsess over likes anymore. I need to reinvest that energy into what's already working.
While Facebook remains a valuable communication channel for bloggers, their latest announcement further supports the notion that we should not be solely relying on it for referrals, traffic, and new readers. Diversify, test some new methods, and ALWAYS follow the data.
What do you think about Facebook's changes? What steps are you taking to expand your readership and reach?