Facebook has been evolving and if you ask the average small business owner, not all Facebook change is good change. When a platform's technology is beyond your control, how do you adapt your business strategy to keep up?
I asked eight startup founders from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) how they have improved Facebook engagement, even in spite of recent algorithm changes that had some business owners running to other platforms. Here's what they had to say:
1. Integrated approach
A few years ago we relied heavily on fan page interactions. Now with the changes made we have seen dramatic drops in engagement through Facebook for our brand. To counter this we have taken a more integrated approach with all our social networks and started to use pins and tweets in A/B tests to gauge fan interactions. If something catches the attention of viewers, then we also share it on Facebook.
— Jerry Piscitelli, Portopong LLC
2. Great content
No matter what the algorithm is, great content will always rise to the top. We think about great content as information that our fans can use. An algorithm change impacts all businesses, not just ours. Focus on creating content that your fans love and will want to share — the best content will always rise to the top.
— Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches
3. Don't game
Our focus on any social network has always been about real engagement instead of vanity metrics. As every social network shifts to embrace quality over quantity, Facebook will only increasingly reward excellent content.
— Derek Flanzraich, Greatist
4. Staff engagement
We are definitely getting less natural engagement, but we've done a few things to offset it. Firstly, we're beefing up staff engagement and sharing of our posts. Facebook won't hide personal updates. Secondly, we're working more with Facebook ads; they've been hit and miss so far. Finally, we're putting money and effort elsewhere. Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, partnerships and on-the-ground marketing all drive people to our site, so that we're not reliant on Facebook.
— Carlo Cisco, SELECT
5. Email marketing
Social media is fickle yet necessary, but diversification is even more so. As a small business with Facebook as our number one source of referral traffic, the change hit us hard. But a few things are helping us keep ahead of the curve and outside the box. We don't post just to post; however, we have found that posting 4-6 times a day increases engagement without paying. Our numbers are heavy on Facebook and lower on Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and Pinterest. We cross-promote with exclusive content, contests, flash sales and discounts to help spread the fan love. To this day, email marketing still trumps all social in regards to conversions. We incentivize email signups.
— Alexander Mendeluk, SpiritHoods
SEE ALSO: 10 Hot Social Networks to Watch
Autonomic (intelligent automation) tools are just now hitting the market but are already allowing us to maintain our edge and maintain strong, non-paid marketing efforts on the Facebook platform. Autonomic tools use big data and best practices to ensure your marketing sees the right people at the right time, with the right message. With continued changes to the Facebook algorithm, these tools will soon be the only way to use Facebook and avoid pay-to-play.
— Brennan White, Watchtower
7. Timing and content
Facebook is changing the way we consume media. You used to be able to post a picture and have it go viral. Now Facebook is favoring content. If your business isn't posting amazing articles that people will like, your EdgeRank will go down and your business page will fade into the dark. By posting at times when people read and click on articles, our business page has stayed ahead of the curve and we consistently see improvements in our Facebook interactions.
— John Rampton, Adogy
No sweat. We're beefing up in other areas of social media. We've really been flexing our muscle with Google+ and LinkedIn. With the time we that aren't investing in Facebook for our social clients, we're putting towards getting more dynamic and playful with Pinterest and Twitter. You know what they say about when one social medium closes....
— Maren Hogan, Red Branch Media
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About the Author
Scott Gerber is a serial entrepreneur, author (Never Get a 'Real' Job), TV commentator and founder of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.