Facebook Changed—Now What?

We all knew it would have to end someday. We just weren’t expecting it to look like the moral high ground when it did.

You may have heard that good ol’ Zuck(erberg) of Facebook is making some BIG changes to the way users and brands interact with the Facebook.

It’s quite the upheaval and feels like a cry for a return to the halcyon days when Facebook was the place where people went to talk about their lives, their dreams, their wishes….their lunch.

Regardless of how you feel about the “old days” (let’s all just let that sink in for a minute. We’re literally talking about a measly 14 years ago…), the change marks a significant shift in the way businesses and people view Facebook and the content and entertainment that it provides.

While this change will largely impact those online publishers that rely on sponsored, click-bait posts to drive traffic to crappy websites, that doesn’t mean that small and medium-sized businesses are going to be off the hook.

(To interject for a moment, it’s nice to feel validated sometimes.)

The bottom line with this, and the ultimate goal of Facebook (if you believe Zuckerberg) is to improve the overall experience that people have while using the titan of social media. He’s doing the hard thing and recognizing that his platform that can provide entertainment, value, heartbreaking stories and breaking news, can also produce really, really shitty user experiences. Mainly in the form of people’s news feeds being inundated with bullshit “What vegetable are you? Click here to find out!” quizzes, endless memes and other such nonsense. He does seem to have done some soul-searching and come to the conclusion that a happier, less-bombarded-with-bullshit user is going to lead to a better product.

In other words, he’s publicly calling for Quality vs Quantity. And that’s significant, even if it just a PR ploy.

Sounds great, right? Maybe. (Can we say filter bubbles, anyone?)

So, now what? (hint: the answer is not ‘throw your social media strategy out the window’)

After working in this industry for over 10 years, here’s the general guidelines that small business and brands should follow to avoid getting buried or ignored:

Our overarching thesis: Stop posting shitty content just to try to get “likes”. We don’t mean to sound harsh but if you actually have something to offer and you have an audience that likes you, keep doing that! It’s going to work. Every time.

“yeah yeah yeah, we get told to create good content all the time. What does that even mean??”

We made an infographic to explain it!

Yeah, we went there. Sorry.

So let’s talk “BOLD” to start. Bold content is defined, in our minds, as content that isn’t just what everyone else is doing. People are sick of the same old trope. That’s part of why technology changes so fast — new always seems better. So don’t be afraid to sit down and actually brainstorm weird ideas. Bonus points if you’re in a boring industry. They’re the ones who need it the most!

“AUTHENTIC” This one is a little bit of a no-brainer. If it doesn’t sound like your brand, come from your brand or represent your brand, don’t post it. We’re not saying you can’t have some fun but the content you post should reflect your thoughts, feelings, values, likes, dislikes, whatever it is. People are tired of being “sold to” and instead would like to get to know who they’re buying from. It’s called trust, people. And it matters.

“DIVERSE” If there’s one thing that we get really tired of explaining, it’s that your customers don’t all act, look and think just like you. In fact, it would be really bad for business if they did. So please, think outside of what and who you know and try to reach the diverse corners of your audience. You’d be surprised who you can convert from a reluctant or need-based consumer into a real advocate. Just by making the effort to speak their language, so to speak.

“ACTIONABLE” People like to do stuff. They like to click buttons and look at videos and buy things and share and all that fun stuff. They also love to give advice, learn things, try stuff…the list goes on. There’s a reason that Skittles had (and has…) that wacky tagline of “Taste The Rainbow” there’s not much more personal of a sensation than “taste”. So sit down and put some effort into thinking about what action do you want your customers to take? And please, try to make it better than just “Call Us” (not that that’s not effective — we’re looking at you, service industries) but there’s always something more to be achieved than the obvious.

“SIGNIFICANT” This one is hard because it can easily turn into trend-whoring if you don’t do it right. What we mean by significant is to share, write and offer content that is actually relevant to the lives of your clients. It’s something that seems, again, really damn obvious, but it’s not. Or we wouldn’t have jobs. Putting the time and effort into figuring out what really makes your client tick and what drives them to buy or read or consume whatever your product is is really, really hard work (luckily, you know a guy) but we promise it’s entirely possible. Put yourself in their shoes and then do the work to figure out what matters to them.

“SUSTAINING” Which brings us to our last point (for now). Sustaining. Say what? Well, here’s the thing: you might not be able to capture everything you want to say about something in just one post. Or one tweet (even if they have increased their character count). Which means that it’s probably a REALLY GOOD CANDIDATE for content. Why? Because it’s OK to get deep. It’s OK to get into the guts of something and follow it through to the end. In fact, we all want you to do that. We promise. It’s more valuable to us (and your web traffic and business) if you write or create something that I have to come back for to finish. We’re not suggesting you start a boring series but if it’s relevant to your audience and you know a lot about it, then go for it! The life cycle of a product? Good. All the ways you can use a certain tool (or your product) to fulfill roles and accomplish goals? Great! Something totally unrelated to what you actually sell but still relevant to your audience? (Even better!).

The bottom line is that this refocusing is the exact same type of change that Google implemented years ago to their rules about quality vs quantity. It turns out that anyone can “pay to play” and shove really awful content down our throats. And so they started penalizing people for it (anyone remember Penguin??). Facebook is trying to do the same thing. Who knows, they might just save humanity.

Now go make something badass. Until next time!