As a small business owner, your Facebook marketing strategy should be nimble. It should also be managed in a hands-on, personal manner. As we show in this article, a personal touch is the most sure-fire way to gain traction on Facebook these days. But even more importantly: the rapid changes in Facebook’s algorithm means rapid changes in how much visibility you get. Navigating marketing and advertising on Facebook is therefore about more than keeping up with your customers, it is also about keeping up with Facebook.
The newest set of changes to Facebook’s algorithm and promotional policies can be summarized in one sentence: building trust. Facebook says it is focussed on eliminating “bad businesses”, “deception and fraud”, and “directly promotional material” from news feeds. What all of this boils down to is an effort to get consumers to be able to trust their newsfeed, and the advertisements they encounter there. But what does this mean for you, the small business owner?
Implications for General Marketing and Advertising
Facebook’s new emphasis on gaining back the trust of consumers place an additional burden on advertisers. Consumers will be asked for feedback based on their experience after they clicked on any ads on Facebook. Consumers will also be able to report their experience via the ads activity page.
If an advertiser consistently gets poor feedback, Facebook will warn the advertiser, and later proceed to limit (and eventually ban) that advertiser’s ads on Facebook. In particular, Facebook is prioritizing consumer feedback related to:
On the whole, this should be a positive development for small business owners. It eliminates fraudulent advertisers and, in that sense, competition for your ads. That is as long as your consumers report favorably on your product, customer service, and shipping times, of course.
Overly Promotional Content: Still a No-Go
Although this is not new, Facebook’s distaste for overly promotional content becomes more pronounced as the algorithm develops. The reasoning behind disfavoring and penalizing overly promotional posts is, again, trust. Consumers do not go to Facebook to feel “sold to”, even if that is what happens from the perspective of your marketing technique. In particular, when posting content to Facebook, you should always avoid:
Posts that only have the stated purpose of pressing consumers to buy a product or install an app
Posts that sell promotions and sweepstakes without context
Posts that reuse ad content (or, for that matter, any content – be original)
All three of these guidelines serve the same principle, one very clearly ascribed to by Facebook: engagement rather than calls to action. This seems like a great guiding principle for all marketing techniques, regardless of platforms. Engage with consumers before selling to them.
There are a few easy ways to do this with your Facebook marketing strategy:
Don’t attempt to sell directly in posts. Redirect users to your website or to other content
Provide context, and provide more than a product: have a brand and a presence
Post non-promotional content, such as blog posts, regularly
Some Ads are Completely Banned
In an effort to increase Facebook’s trustworthiness, some forms of marketing and advertising have been banned completely. The most striking example that made headlines recently is the ban of crypto-related advertisements. There are other examples as well: Facebook has recently banned the advertising of gun holsters, too.
Understandably, small business owners in these industries feel that they have been dealt a massive blow. There are already many posts online about how to circumvent this ban, but we’d recommend against it: “cheating” the system with cleverly constructed content will only work until that loophole is also closed. More importantly, Facebook’s move is squarely focussed on consumer protection. Given the sophistication of modern consumers, and their focus on brand integrity, it should be great publicity for any brand to be behind the move.
The ban on advertising does not constitute a ban on your social media presence, or your ability to share content and influence. Use this to redirect potential buyers away from Facebook – where you can promote and advertise at your leisure.
Our Conclusion: Happy Consumers Make Happy Businesses
We think Facebook’s move to gain consumers’ trust is a great thing for small business owners. Even if that means short term penalization of ads and content that is not optimized for Facebook’s new approach.
Ultimately, Facebook is offering you as a small business owner an invaluable resource: consumer trust. You can utilize it strategically in your Facebook marketing strategy by aligning your philosophy with theirs: engagement first.
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