A Greek philosopher once said that the only thing constant is change — and while the statement may be thousands of years old, change is a dominant factor in an increasingly electronic world. Facebook is, once again, making changes to its news feed algorithms that determine what posts show up where. For Facebook users, the change means more posts from friends and fewer public posts — but how will fewer public posts impact small businesses, like photographers, realtors and other businesses?
The exact outcome of the changes is unclear as the adjustments begin a slow rollout — but taking information from Facebook themselves and advice from professional content marketers, photographers can anticipate the changes and create strategies to compensate for the loss in views. Here’s what photographers and other small business owners need to know about the changes.
So, What’s Changing Exactly?
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook will be prioritizing posts from friends rather than posts from businesses, news outlets and other public posts. As posts from friends show up higher in the news feeds, posts from businesses — like you — will fall lower into the feed, lowering the number of views.
Every public post won’t be dropped lower into the feed, however. The change is designed to “encourage meaningful interactions” so even when those interactions are with a business, if it’s meaningful, those posts will still see a significant amount of reach. “As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media,” Zuckerberg wrote. “And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”
Facebook isn’t dropping business posts entirely — they will just appear lower in the feed. The lower the posts appear in the feed; the less likely users are to see the post before logging off.
How Will Those Posts Affect Photographers and Small Businesses?
With fewer business posts in the news feed, of course, businesses will see less reach on their Facebook posts. So, is posting on Facebook a waste of time for photographers and small businesses now? Photographers should understand the change — but they shouldn’t panic. Facebook is always tweaking algorithms, and this isn’t the first time that a change has had Pages users worried about a declining reach due to changes by Facebook themselves.
Public posts will still get views, but they may get fewer views. Those fewer views could mean less engagement on posts — which means fewer photo views and fewer clicks to a website. In the announcement blog post, Facebook says that Pages may see a change in reach and referral traffic.
Every post isn’t going to see the same reduction in reach, however. The change intends to encourage interaction like comments and shares. Facebook’s algorithms will place business posts that it thinks will encourage these types of interactions higher than other posts from Pages. “Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution,” Facebook says. “Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.”
What Can Photographers Do to Prevent Losing Business with the Changes?
Photographers and small businesses shouldn’t give up and delete their Facebook Page — but they should adjust how they post. As the social media marketing experts at HubSpot point out, the change should encourage brands to work to develop more posts that encourage the type of interactions Facebook is boosting — and the this type of interaction is likely to create more value for brands anyways. Here are a few actionable steps photographers can take with their Facebook posts.
Stop Begging for Likes, Shares, and Comments
Social media experts used to recommend asking users to like or comment on a post — because readers often listened. Facebook is adjusting algorithms as well, however, so posts that use what’s called “engagement baiting” will see a smaller reach — and this change has already rolled out. Photographers should stop using phrases like “like if you agree” or “comment if you agree” immediately.
Ask Questions Instead
Facebook’s algorithms will look for those “like if” phases — but Pages owners can still encourage interactions in the way they write their posts. Asking a question won’t trigger those engagement baiting flags, but still encourages comments, which is the type of interaction Facebook is looking to promote. Other types of posts that encourage interactions are humorous, helpful or encouraging.
Make Posts About People
Facebook says they are bringing back more connections between friends — so make those Facebook posts about friends. Tagging the person in the photos makes the post not about your photography business, but about that person’s senior portraits or wedding. (If you don’t see the option to tag that person, make sure they’ve liked your Page by asking before or after the shoot). Photographers that don’t photograph people should still try to add a personal element — real estate photographers can ask readers if they see themselves living there or create groups of their favorite living rooms for inspiring readers on decor options, for example.
Facebook says Live videos tend to have around six times the engagement of regular videos — and the unrehearsed nature tends to lean more towards that personal interaction Facebook is looking to boost. Try sharing a behind the scenes look at your work, a tour of the studio or create a giveaway and announce the winners live.
If Facebook is prioritizing interaction, you should too. Before writing a post, determine how much value it will have for readers. Is it funny? Informative? Encouraging? Avoid direct marketing speak and share posts that are likely to resound with your audience. Putting more effort into writing these posts will take a bit more time than under the previous news feed — if you need to find more time, write fewer Facebook posts. A post that has a lot of interaction will have much more value than a post that only a handful of people see, so focus on quality rather than quantity.
When using tech-based marketing techniques, photographers need to keep an eye on the constantly changing tech environment, from Google’s changes to SEO for photography websites to Facebook’s news feed changes for social media marketing. Don’t fall into the panic that arises from every change but works to understand the change and tweak your social media marketing to adapt.