I’m often amused by the anger and immediate outrage that occurs when Facebook makes any change to how their Business Pages work.
The first uproar was last December when Facebook changed the algorithm that gives us the content of our newsfeed. This tweak affected the frequency in which businesses content was being seen by their Facebook fans in their newsfeed. According to one study, posts by business pages were reaching 44% less people afterward they made the change. (Ouch!)
And recently Facebook announced that more changes are coming to business page layout design. The Cliff Note version is that posts will display in a single column layout (versus two columns), and they’re moving where the “apps” (aka Facebook tabs) are displayed.
If I was Mark Zuckerberg, I’d hire extra personal security because small business owners aren’t happy campers right now. Some are even downright angry and outraged over how the changes affect their social marketing strategy.
The weird thing is: I don’t get this outrage at all.
I see why Facebook wanted to reduce business’s messages, and I don’t think all of it was about Facebook wanting more profit. (Although that aspect probably didn’t hurt.)
Keep reading to learn how aggressive marketing and Grumpy Cat ruined it for businesses, and how taking a more Gandhi-like stance on social may help your business’s bottom line and your sanity.
THINK LIKE A CUSTOMER
One of my mantras is to:
When you’re a business owner, it’s easy to get wrapped up in your own business issues and financial goals. It’s easy to forget what it’s like to be a “Normal Joe” who gets up in the morning, goes to work for someone else, and at the end of the day, simply comes home.
Normal Joes don’t think of Facebook as a marketing tool. For them, it’s a tool to gossip, to easily connect with others, and to share their thoughts and experiences. It’s entertainment that also allows them to stay connected with others.
You’ve got to remember that the majority of folks using Facebook are Normal Joes, not business owners. They use and consume Facebook differently.
There was a time when Facebook only consisted of only Normal Joes, back before there was even a newsfeed.
I’m serious! “Back in the day” you had to click people’s individual pages one at a time to see what was new in their world. This was before Facebook was opened to the public.
I used (and loved) Facebook as a Normal Joe for many years before I started a business of my own. It was only then that I put on the not-so-rose-tinted “small business lenses” and realized Facebook had another purpose and culture: online business marketing.
What if learning to use social media is a bit like learning new languages in that the first “social” platform and perspective you learn is what you’re most comfortable in?
Then, because I joined Facebook as a Normal Joe (long before businesses were there), I’m most socially comfortable with Normal-Joe, or “Consumer” perspective Facebook.
For the people who joined Facebook to promote their services and products, they’re most socially fluent and comfortable in “Business” Facebook. For them, the platform was a godsend because they could stay in touch with lots of people quickly, and for free.
So it’s natural that these changes by Facebook feel threatening and personal to “Business” Facebook users. They use Facebook differently than a consumer does.
And that’s exactly why Facebook had to take action and make changes.
IT’S ALL GRUMPY CAT’S FAULT
Late last year I was worried about the future of Facebook.
Why? Because all I was seeing in my newsfeed was JUNK.
My newsfeed consisted of three things: 1.) e-cards and inspirational quotes, 2.) memes and photos of stupid things (sorry Grumpy Cat) and 3.) business ads and promotions.
Look, I love me some inspirational quotes and some Grumpy Cat…but in moderation. But too much of that, plus the business and media outlet propaganda was suffocating my feed. It choked out many updates from the real people I cared about.
Since I use Facebook first and foremost as a Normal Joe, this change disheartened me. Facebook was getting too noisy and had lost its charm. Sales pitches and memes popped up in my News Feed. All. The. Time.
Facebook had changed from being individual-centric to promotional-centric.
If Facebook hadn’t made the changes they did, I do believe over time regular people would’ve stopped using it as often. They’d seek out a more community-based and less noisy platform.
The ironic part is businesses love social media because their people are there. So they start sharing a ton – it’s easy and free, so why not?
Business topics and promotions at such a great frequency undermine why Normal Joes use social. It pushes them away. Normal Joes go to Facebook to get away from work and from advertisements. They want to connect with friends and be entertained.
(Which really means your brand’s social media strategy has to be “likeable friend” first and foremost – but I digress.)
So when Facebook made this change in December, I secretly cheered.
And I saw an immediate change in my newsfeed for the better.
Yes, my business page reach dropped. But as a new business, I’m still grateful for a way to promote my business that’s free. If my content is relevant, it gets passed on with one click! How cool is that? And if I need to, I can pay to advertise.
MISPLACED ANGER AND WHAT YOU SHOULD BE DOING
“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.” – Gandhi
If you’ve ever been in therapy, the first lesson that’s drilled into you is that you can’t control what anyone else does.
That is, you can’t control what someone says out loud, no matter how dumb or hurtful it is. You can’t control what someone does or doesn’t do. You have zero nilch NADA control over another person’s actions or lack thereof.
You learn you only have control over how *you* choose to RESPOND. It’s your choice to remain angry or sad for too long. Instead, you can choose to let things go.
This applies with your relationship with ‘The Facebook,’ too.
You can’t control what Zuckerberg and Co. decide to change from either a policy or algorithm standpoint.
It’s unlikely, but they could decide to terminate business pages tomorrow – unless you pay a hefty annual subscription fee. It’s their platform and their rules.
You have no control over their decisions.
And the sooner you recognize THAT, then the sooner you can update your communication and social media strategy to protect yourself – while still leveraging Facebook and other social media tools the best you can.
A GANDHI-ESQUE VIEW OF SOCIAL MARKETING
Channel Gandhi. (Yes, Gandhi.)
Use some of his strategic and peaceful viewpoints to help you communicate to your fans more effectively – regardless of how Facebook decides to treat businesses.
1. Nobody (not even Facebook) can hurt you without your permission. (Click to tweet)
Bottom-line: You need to host the majority of your content on your website, because that’s a resource that you have full control over.
Use Facebook to help spread the word about what you’re doing on your website. But your primary goal with social media should be to direct consumers back to your website. Facebook can amplify your message, but don’t depend on it as your only communication channel.
Another hint: Email marketing is another channel which you can control completely too. (Just don’t spam people, okay?)
2. Be the change you want to see in the social media world. (Click to tweet)
Apologies to Gandhi for modifying his very famous quote, but as a business it’s your duty to use social media responsibly.
Recognize that most people use social media to stay in touch with the world and their friends – not to be “sold” or “pitched” to on a regular basis. You want your brand to be seen as another “friend” — one that’s informative, engaging, relevant and likeable. Be a friend who only asks for favors (e.g. a sale) rarely. Give more than you ask for.
3. I do not want to foresee the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present. God has given me no control over the moment following. (Click to tweet)
So Facebook made more changes and you feel like all your hard work was wasted?
It’s true. These changes might mean that some of your previous work goes to “waste,” but if it served your business before the change in any form then it was time + energy well spent.
I try to see the positive side in these types of situations. These recent changes put businesses on a (more) level playing field for a short spell as we all scramble to figure out how to take advantage of them. Be creative and look for opportunities.
Perhaps these changes are opportunities in disguise that motivate you to IMPROVE your communication strategy and social media usage.
As business owners, we have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.
But remember you do have choices. Choose to focus more on communication channels that YOU fully control. Then leverage Facebook and other social channels to amplify that message.
Share with me and the other readers what your thoughts are in the comments below. Not sure what to say? Then share when + why you decided to join Facebook.
And remember, if all else fails…let’s all just blame Grumpy Cat.