Facebook for Business – The Changes and What it All Means

Facebook-Logo-2013 As you may have already heard, read or figured out through your own Facebook use, Facebook for Business has changed dramatically since 2012 with more significant changes on the horizon.

What’s Been Going On?
Facebook introduced Timeline. Then they introduced Timeline on business pages. Next, they updated business page functionality and user interface to include new user features. Many of these changes were implemented in 2014.

Why is Facebook Business Page Reach Decreasing?
I like the way TechCrunch.com sums it up in this article explaining filtered feed and the new algorithm that uses a primary formula of Interest x Post x Creator x Type x Recency stating, “Facebook chose to filter its feed. It built a news feed-sorting algorithm, unofficially known as EdgeRank, that analyzes every signal possible to determine the relevance…Roughly 100,000 different indicators of importance are factored in.”

Translation: The algorithm decides how your Timeline feed is filtered and presented. Here’s the rub: Facebook users have become accustomed to thinking about Timeline feed as being organically chronological. In other words, if I select Facebook to show me the “Most Recent” news on my feed, I’m expecting everything to show up chronologically in the feed – including posts from friends and pages I Like or Follow.

How is this Impacting Business Pages?
According to a November 14 (2014) article published by Examiner.com, Facebook has refined this algorithm since 2012, “making additional changes and updates to their algorithm that will significantly cap and even remove unpaid posts by retailers that are of a promotional nature. Current posts by brands (are displayed) organically to (only) about 2-8 percent of the fan base.”

Translation: The new algorithm scheduled for update in January (2015) will narrow that reach even more. If you want to grow and engage your audience or generate interest and support for your product or service on Facebook, invest in an advertising campaign.

What’s Wrong with That?
Many businesses feel there’s a lot wrong with that. In the early days, Facebook was a level playing field for businesses of every size including small start-ups, non-profits and entrepreneurs. We quickly learned the rules of engagement and were excited about the opportunity to reach those people who were genuinely interested in our business, service or mission. As long as we were providing relevant, timely, engaging, authentic content to our audiences, responding quickly and professionally questions and concerns, and behaving ethically and transparently, the little guys could swim in the pool with the big fish – and, that was inspiring.

As Facebook for Business becomes a “pay-to-play” landscape, that changes.
As near as I can figure, what this also means is that every Friend, Page, Community, Game, Group, etc. is competing with each other for presence in the news feed. So, that guy, (we all know at least one) that narcissistic look-at-me-all-day-long guy is competing with everyone and everything else you’re connected to via your page including the business pages you like or follow. (#Bummer.)

Some businesses have become so disenchanted with the many recent changes they’ve closed their accounts entirely – even with substantial fan bases. Take EAT24’s Breakup Letter to Facebook for example. The company  left Facebook with about 70,000 followers by writing them a very long public letter complete with memes and lots of ways to stay in touch.

What Else is New?
Much of the research I found also noted that in the coming year (2015), Facebook will be “cracking down” on “click-gate” or “click-bait” messaging that request page fans to Like a page as part of a call to action. (If you choose to do this, it will need to be part of a paid advertising campaign, yo.)

Is There Any Good News?
If you’re ready to use your Facebook business page as a strategic communication channel, then, yes. Why?

  • Pages offer an online presence for people to discover and learn about your business.
  • They work across desktop, mobile and tablets without requiring any extra configuration.
  • They also offer tools to create videos, photos, video and events.
  • They can be used as an effective customer service and reputation management channel.
  • According to Facebook, most online advertising reaches only 38% of its intended audience. Facebook says its average is about 89%.
  • Facebook’s “Promote the Page” and “Boost the Post” options allow for audience targeting and insights along with detailed reports of campaign success, giving companies the chance to learn more about their audiences and adjust strategy and tactics accordingly.
  • Facebook’s advertising can serve as a great tool to build and engage target audiences and build your email database. (#Smart.)
  • LAST BUT NOT LEAST, today Facebook announced it will be adding page call-to-action buttons. The call-to-action button can link to any destination (on or off Facebook) that aligns with a business’s goals. Page admins can select from a group of call-to-action buttons — like Shop Now or Sign Up — to add to the top of their Page. The seven calls to action available are: Book Now, Contact Us, Use App, Play Game, Shop Now, Sign Up or Watch Video.

What Do We Do Now?
If you want people – the RIGHT people – to see your page posts (those that will be most likely to be receptive, responsive and engaged as a fan base) be ready to:

  • Invest in your business page regularly as part of your overall advertising and communication strategy. (Otherwise, only 2-8 percent of your fans are going to see it).
  • Create strategies to develop relevant content that is of interest to your page followers, and is also related to the communication, marketing and sales goals of the company.
  • Hire a professional or train someone to become one. Whether you hire someone in house or outsource this important function, you’ll need someone on your team who possesses the skill set, the intellect, the time and energy to remain informed, behave strategically, actively listen and regularly respond to this changing landscape while serving as a trusted voice for your company and your brand.
  • Use calls-to-action strategically and purposefully in an engaging way that supports your goals and objectives.

What Are Other Ways We Can We Set Our Business Pages Up For Success? 
I asked my colleague Chris Sledzik, MA, to weigh in. Here are his top tips:

  1. Start with your profile picture and cover photo. Make sure you have the right size and a visual representation, and that it depicts your company brand at a glance.
  2. Keep content mobile friendly. More than half of Facebook’s 1.25 billion users access the platform from mobile, and according to Facebook, 3 out of 4 Smartphones have Facebook.
  3. Use humor and interesting facts to engage your audience. Think strategically, but have fun.
  4. Align your company with current trends and use hashtags to do so. Look for third party opinions to support your message in positive way.
  5. Go beyond your own page . To attract more Facebook users to your business page, visit and interact with other like-minded interest pages (“I Like…” or “I Love…”) as well as influencer pages hosted by celebrities, bloggers and other businesses.

Think about it!

Copyright 2014 Tracy L. Teuscher, APR.  Teuscher is an Accredited communication professional and president of The Buzz Maker Public Relations


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