Facebook recently revamped its News Feed algorithms to help further weed out “click-bait” from users’ pages. We are all familiar with the problem -- the headlines that exploit the so-called curiosity gap to intrigue and entice us to learn more, only for us to click through and discover vapid or trivial content with no real value.
Social media has given rise to a slew of sites catering to this type of content and strategy, chasing after virality and clicks over substance and value. Media publications have certainly struggled to walk the line, but for businesses, Facebook’s tweaking presents particularly unique challenges.
To be clear, sellers that rely heavily on Facebook and social platforms should welcome the changes that attempt to make our newsfeeds more relevant. Social sellers don’t want to compete with spam and viral click-bait -- you want to reach customers that are truly interested in your products and connect with meaningful communities. But now more than ever, you need to be keenly aware of Facebook’s algorithm changes, and best practices for reaching and engaging your customers.
Related: Facebook Clamps Down on 'Click Bait'
Here’s what the most recent changes mean for social sellers, and how you can continue to successfully cultivate customers through social media.
Understanding Facebook’s changes.
The biggest adjustment Facebook is making to what’s promoted in our News Feeds is now stronger consideration will be given to bounce rates. That means the number of clicks a headline or article gets will be less important than the actual engagement with the content. An article may have a high number of clicks, but if readers click through only to almost immediately return to Facebook, then chances are likely that piece of content is a prime example of click bait, and Facebook rightly doesn’t want to encourage those practices.
Likewise, clicks may be high, but if the post doesn’t have a lot of shares, likes or comments, then it probably wasn’t as interesting and valuable as the headline may lead readers to believe.
The other big update is that Facebook is now encouraging and favoring links that are displayed as a headline, description and cover photo, not links that are embedded as captions to photo posts. Social sellers should take particular note of this change, as you may have inadvertently been posting your links in formats that would now be flagged as spam.
To be sure that your posts are being seen and shared, you need to be clear about the links you are posting, copying and pasting the link directly into the text box instead of trying to pass off posts as a photo update.
These changes potentially impact social sellers in very positive ways, cutting down on the noise of users’ News Feeds and helping content and products find the right audiences that want and will share them. However, sellers need to take heed of the best practices for optimizing your posts to ensure they are actually being seen and shared.
Sellers need to think beyond just selling.
Sure, the whole point of social selling is to connect with and sell to customers that are most interested in buying. But that doesn’t mean that sellers should only think of Facebook as a sales channel.
Facebook is, after all, a social network, and as a seller, you are building a brand and community. Success in social selling depends just as much, if not more, on the “social” part of the equation.
You’re building a community on social networks, and that needs to be as much a part of your focus as the bottom line of sales. One-off sales are fine, but Facebook more than any other platform or channel offers you the chance to build real and substantial customer relationships and loyalty.
Part of that is your product and your reputation, and the content that you share with your customers and followers is key. You should consider your social channels as extensions of your brand, and think of how they provide value to your community. That means sharing high-value, relevant content in addition to just your own products and offers. This kind of community-oriented content marketing will go a long way to proving quality with Facebook as well as your customers.
Consider your social-selling portfolio.
Facebook remains the largest social network and likewise the social-selling channel with the greatest potential. But as with anything, putting all your eggs in one basket is probably a bad idea. Facebook alters its algorithms constantly, and while many of these changes greatly benefit high-quality sellers, relying too heavily on a single channel can be devastating if you find yourself somehow running afoul of updates and changes.
So while Facebook should be a considerable focus on your social-selling strategy, don’t forget other channels as well -- whether Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or other networks where your customers already are. Adopting a portfolio approach to social selling not only extends your reach, but also protects you should one of those social channels temporarily become less effective for you.
We can expect Facebook to continue to tweak its algorithms for relevancy and to cut down on the noise within users’ News Feeds, but other social channels are moving in this direction as well. Reporters are speculating on Twitter adopting Facebook-styled relevancy for users’ feeds, and Instagram has of course improved its discovery options to be much more personalized and relevant to users.
Social sellers need to be constantly aware of all these changes. After all, your business depends on it.