Eleanor Lester, a PR and marketing professional at Shrewd PR with over 20 years' experience in fashion and online retail, explains how Facebook and Instagram are upping their game - and what this can mean for you…
As you may or may not be aware, the Facebook and Instagram algorithms are constantly being updated. If you have a business page on either of these platforms you may have started to see a further reduction in the organic reach of your posts following the changes that were implemented at the end of 2019.
Although Facebook keeps the details of its algorithm very close to its chest, you are probably aware from looking at your personal Instagram and Facebook feeds that the posts that appear highest in your news feed are those that:
1) Have the most likes, interactions, shares and comments on them
2) Are the posts of the friends you have most regularly interacted with
Removal of the grey tick
Facebook announced at the end of October that they were removing the verified mark on business pages because the public didn't understand what it was for. They say that this won't adversely affect your business page, but you do need to make sure you check Facebook's guidelines for business pages.
Facebook is now prioritising content that has received a high number of interactions, so if your followers go mad for your post and use the heart, laughter, wow or angry face emoji, this will rank higher than a post that your follower simply likes. Comments and shares also help to get your post ranking highly in the news feed. If a follower comments on a post, then be sure to like it and – where appropriate – respond.
Facebook classifies negative interactions as the act of your follower hiding, muting or unfollowing your page. If your followers are regularly hiding your posts, this will adversely affect the reach of your posts. You can keep an eye on this using the insights tool on your Facebook page. You do need to be aware that whilst a negative comment left on your post won't hurt your reach, it could of course be bad for your PR. My advice in these situations is always to take a deep breath and respond in a considered and measured way, as this often enables you to defuse the situation.
You might wish to direct your followers to a great blog post you've just created or perhaps you've just stocked a new bridal range and want to share the collection with your fans. You need to be aware that Facebook will reduce the reach of posts that include an outbound link in them. If you think about it, they want to keep people within their platform for as long as they can, so it's not in their interest to promote content that takes people away from the platform.
Don't use third party apps such as Hootsuite or Buffly
Facebook has an inbuilt scheduling tool that is quick and easy to use. You can also use the Facebook pages manager app on your phone or mobile device to create your posts. If you haven't posted to Facebook from your laptop or PC for a while, it's worth logging in as there is additional functionality that has recently been introduced. You can, for example, use news feed targeting to select your audience and pages with 10,000 or more followers can also create posts for their top fans, something that isn't yet available through the mobile apps.
Removal of likes
Instagram has been experimenting with removing the like count on posts. You may have spotted in your feed that some of the posts don't have this showing, or you simply get a notification under the post of which friends have liked it. As a business page owner, you'll still be able to see the total number of likes a particular post has received. There is talk of trialling this on Facebook too.
Your focus needs to be on creating content that your followers like and engage with. One of the simplest ways of doing this is to use Facebook and Instagram Stories. If you haven't already, it's well worth experimenting with them. They are a great tool for keeping your followers up-to-date on what's going on and giving them little snippets of your behind-the-scenes activities. I have clients who regularly use them to launch new products, give their followers one off discounts and share hot news with them. The other great thing about using Stories is that your followers get a notification that you've posted something new every time they check their news feed, whether that's on Instagram or Facebook. Your profile picture will have a little red circle around it and, as the feeds that you follow appear at the top of your timeline, it's easy to keep track of the latest content.