Learn how this major update affects social media marketing
Jonathan Hill, BS
Just as CAD/CAM revolutionized the landscape of dentistry, the proliferation of social media has changed the shape of communication and marketing. The social media landscape is constantly evolving, and the Facebook algorithm itself changes daily, most of the time in ways that are invisible to the outside observer. Recently, Facebook announced some drastic changes to the news feed known as "Facebook Zero," and it will affect all of those who use the platform to connect with potential and current clients.
In the past, Facebook business pages were the best way to promote many products and services via social media. Then, as Facebook grew, they made businesses "pay to play," such as by boosting posts or developing paid Facebook ads. For example, a post might be made on a business page that has well over 1,000 followers, and yet the statistics show only 24 people reached. With that many followers, why are only 24 people seeing the post? Essentially, Facebook makes businesses spend money in order for all of their followers to see what they're posting, regardless of how many followers actually view it.
Facebook Zero is changing some of that. There are over two billion users on Facebook. It is getting so big that the social media giant needs a way to better prioritize or even reduce the sheer volume of the content being posted. There is no way for all of the content being put out daily to reach every member. Now Facebook's approach is to be very selective based on engagement. If what your business posts is not getting engagement such as comments and shares, it will be penalized; the more it happens, the less opportunity your business will have for your content to reach your followers. This will affect even paid Facebook ads and boosted posts.
The goal of Facebook's changes to the news feed algorithm is to prioritize "meaningful" interactions among friends and family over content that is being posted from Facebook business pages. What this means for businesses is that fewer public posts and videos will show up in followers' news feeds, and the organic reach of Facebook pages will likely drop.
Another effect of this update targets promotional posts. Have you ever seen a post with a promotion such as, "comment/like/share for your chance to win a free [XYZ]?" While that strategy worked in the past, Facebook has caught on to that and is calling it "engagement bait." Facebook says, "This is not a meaningful interaction, and we will continue to demote these posts in news feeds." Posters can actually be penalized for this behavior.
What are businesses marketing on Facebook to do? If your laboratory has a business page that's garnered a great following where people comment and share what you post regularly, keep at it. For many of us, our pages are largely comprised of our Facebook "friends" who simply liked our laboratory's page because we invited them. Do you think all of your social media friends are interested in what you're selling? If that were true, they'd all be clients already.
One approach to consider is starting a "Facebook Group" in addition to a business page and making it private-anyone can join, but they have to send a request, and you have to approve them. (While it's possible that groups may also be affected in the future, it's not confirmed yet.) This accomplishes several things, but most importantly only people who are truly interested in what your laboratory is offering will join (so they're potentially warm/hot leads), and when you post inside that group, every member of that group will see what you post if they check their news feed at that time, regardless of these new algorithms. This group could include both your current clients and any prospects.
Next, make sure the content you post will be valuable to those prospects and clients. Rather than participate in blatant self-promotion, instead leverage your knowledge to inform and help them. It must be about them and must provide a solution to their problem or alleviate their pain point. As long as the content you post inside that group is valuable to the group members, the members will pay attention and start engaging with you. Consider their perspective. What are some things your dentist clients could learn from you, as the skilled craftsperson that you are? Teach them stain and glaze techniques, for example. Make sure you provide value, and don't just post for the sake of posting. We all want to feel like we can relate to each other, and cultivating those relationships within a group is an excellent starting point.
Lastly, video is the most engaging piece of content currently being consumed online. It follows that video is your best source to get engagement, and Facebook Live is even better, as the most people interact/engage with live videos. Live videos, on average, get six times as much interaction as recorded videos. Most people prefer Facebook Live because it's not scripted. Viewers want to see that presenters are real people. Showing your dentist clients and prospects your laboratory, your employees, how you adjust your restorations, how you stain and glaze, and how you layer your crowns through video is a great way to communicate with them and build that "like factor."
Be strategic about the content you post for your laboratory. Content that promotes meaningful connections and interactions among interested users is prioritized in your followers' news feeds. Learn what these updates and changes are and how you can leverage them to the benefit of your business.
About the Author
Jonathan Hill, BS, is the owner of EXCELerate Marketing, LLC, in Charlotte, NC.