OK so for AGES rumours have been flying around that very soon the only way we will get our business posts seen in the Facebook newsfeed will be to pay for ads. So is it true?
Well, sort of.
Very simply put, Facebook has so much content, paid and organic, that it’s impossible to show every user every post that’s targeted at them. And although Facebook has shareholders and advertisers to keep happy, they also have to keep their USERS happy, otherwise they will stop using Facebook.
This article by Facebook expert Mari Smith explains LOADS about what’s going on and what we can do about it.
I’ve pulled out some of the key things I think will help you. Firstly this video from Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s Head of News Feed where he explains how the newsfeed works. I found it really interesting. Here is the link to his article.
Secondly, here are Mari’s top 10 tips on what businesses can do to keep getting seen. Not unsurprisingly, it’s all about VIDEO. We’ve known for ages that videos, especially FB live videos take top priority in our newsfeed – this is just the start! Mari’s version has a lot more technical detail that might feel a little overwhelming so I’ll leave you to read the tips in full on Mari’s blog here but here is my ‘translated for small business owners with big ambitions’ summary.
Over the next few weeks I’ll take each of these tips and give you LOADS of ideas on what you could do, and how you can use them in your business, so make sure my emails aren’t going into your spam folder!
1. Focus On Video
Video already takes priority in Facebook’s newsfeed. It’s only going to get bigger. Facebook is putting even more things into place to make it a viable alternative to your TV, after all I tend to get my news via Facebook these day, THEN see it on TV later. How about you? If you’re not already doing videos then you need to start embracing the idea. They don’t have to have you talking to the camera, there are loads of alternative ways to create fantastic videos. Don’t worry, there will be a way that works for you.
2. Do More LIVE Videos
OK so the novelty of Facebook live videos has worn off a bit. To start with we watched all of them. Then we realised that some aren’t as good as others. Now we’re being more selective and picky about which we watch and there are certain things that DEFINITELY make your live videos MUCH more likely to be watched. I’ll share those with you in next week’s newsletter. Even though the novelty has worn off, Facebook Live videos are still top of the newsfeed priority list so it’s definitely worth doing them (but the RIGHT way).
“We’ve seen that people comment more than 10 times more on Facebook Live videos than on regular videos. ~Facebook”
3. Do more short, punchy videos
According to Mari, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook chief operating officer recommends creating ‘snackable’ video content. That is, between 6-15 seconds. This is the ideal length to be used as ad breaks. Now, I’m sure Sheryl was referring to the big brands when she mentioned this but how can we, as small businesses with big ambitions use it in our marketing? Well, 6-15 seconds is not a lot of time – what could you do as a teaser? What could you demonstrate in 6-15 seconds? What could you share that your fans would love? I’ll give you some ideas in one of my newsletters very soon.
4. Create longer videos too
OK so the short videos I just mentioned are what you’ll already be seeing while you watch longer videos – the longer video stops while a short video ad plays. Yes, I find it intensely annoying too.
But Facebook still needs longer videos in which to insert the ad breaks. Also, your fans won’t just want short videos, if you have something awesome to share with them. So, how long is longer? Well, according to Mari anywhere from 90 seconds to 30+ minutes for your regular Facebook videos. And, for your Live video broadcasts, a minimum of five minutes and up to four hours. And for Instagram, 60 seconds. Phew!
5. Add captions to your videos
According to Mari’s research 85 percent of videos are watched with sound off. It’s not surprising when you think how often you’re somewhere that makes listening tricky. Also, sometimes you just want to watch the story and read what’s being said – it’s definitely how I prefer to watch videos. Adding captions is easy and lots of the work is done for you. I’ll show you how to do this in one of my newsletters very soon!
6. Create highly shareable videos
According to Mari ‘Share is the ‘holy grail’ on your Facebook business content. It’s free viral marketing, when you can get it. According to Facebook, “Recommendations from friends are powerful: in fact, 48% of video watch time on Facebook comes from shares. ~Facebook” So, how can you create videos that are sharable? Well there are lots of ways and obviously I’ll be sharing a load with you very soon in one of my newsletters but to get you started, think about sharing stories about your business. Think about sharing those time lapse videos of work in progress. Think about sharing videos of magical things in your business – I sat yesterday and watched a wax melt melting. I watched it 3 times. It was mesmerising. More ideas coming soon!
7. Create square videos
According to Mari’s research “square videos perform better on Facebook, resulting in 28% more views, more likes, and shares, while leading to a 67% greater view-completion rate.” Wow! That matters when you’re trying to make an impression and build relationships. Also, you get more space in the newsfeed with a square video as opposed to a landscape one, which is a good thing.
Adobe Spark is great for creating square videos and it’s free! I’ll share some more apps and software very soon. Remember if you make your videos 60 seconds or under, you can use them on Instagram too.
8. Monetise your own videos
According to Mari, there are three primary ways to monetise:
- Your own offer. This is probably the most relevant to us as small business owners. It’s where you put a link to your offer in the video, or the post, or both.
- Sponsors. Worth a look but probably not your best option.
- Ad breaks. You need at least 2,000 followers and your live broadcast needs to have more than 300 people watching at the same time. Then, you’d qualify for ad breaks after you’ve been live for at least 4 minutes. You can take additional ad breaks every 5 minutes after your first break. But they are really annoying for your viewers. Just saying…
9. Stay away from the Boost button
According to Mari Smith, “most savvy marketers on Facebook have long known that the Boost button is a ‘lightweight’ ad interface. The Facebook ad algorithms know that you are a somewhat novice advertiser if all you do is boost your posts…” It’s time to get familiar with the Facebook Ads Manager and start looking at proper targeting and custom audiences. Luckily, I can help you with this – there will be a newsletter about it very soon!
10. Be a more sophisticated advertiser
According to Mari, if you “Use Ads Manager + install the Facebook Pixel + Standard Event tracking + use Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences + do retargeting + choose Traffic, Conversions, Products or Leads for your ad objective. This combo shows the Facebook ad algorithms that you are a much more sophisticated advertiser, compared to a business that only hits the Boost button.”
OK if that sounded like a very scary foreign language to you, I’m not surprised! What Mari is saying is that if you start to use the Facebook Ad Manager tools properly, your ads will perform better and you MIGHT get better organic reach too. Hmm. I don’t doubt it’s true but it feels like hard going! Try the first few options first, I reckon!
So, in my next few newsletters and blogs I’ll be taking Mari’s excellent advice and translating it into ideas you can use in your business. Don’t worry, you’ll be using Facebook like a pro very soon.
I’d love to know what you think of this. Does it make you excited? Worried? Scared? Are you already using videos on Facebook? How are they working for you? Tell me! 🙂
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Claire Mitchell is a best-selling author of the Awesome Marketing Planner and founder of The Girls Mean Business, a mum and business owner. She has been featured in Marie-Claire, The Guardian, Closer Magazine, Essentials, The Huffington Post and on the BBC.