Facebook on a phone

Facebook announced earlier this month that the company plans to change the way its algorithm picks items to display in a user’s news feed.

The social media giant put out an official statement, stating that over the next few months it will “be making updates to ranking so people have more opportunities to interact with the people they care about.”

In practice, the change means that Facebook users will see more of the content put out by their friends and family and less of the content from pages they’ve liked. In other words, it’s going to be harder for small business pages to get their content in front of users that it had been previously.

Here’s how Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg broke the news:

Why is Facebook making these changes?
For the last several years, Facebook has been resisting the label of being called a “media company.” More recently, there have been hearings in Washington D.C. where representatives from Facebook, Google and Twitter had to answer questions from Congress about how their platforms may have been used to influence the 2016 presidential election.

As Zuckerberg noted in his post, the amount of content has increased dramatically on Facebook and, as a result, it can be hard to sift through everything that’s coming through the newsfeed. Facebook’s research has apparently demonstrated that its users use social media to connect with people they care about, it’s good for their well-being.

“We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health,” Zuckerberg wrote.

On the other hand, passively reading an article or watching a video is not as good, the Facebook CEO stated.

Therefore, the company has decided that users will see less public content like posts from businesses, brands and media.

What can restaurants and other small businesses do?
The key is to create posts or articles that spark engagement. Meaning, the post or video should induce conversation, sharing and likes.

The official announcement from Facebook spelled out the changes and let businesses know how to keep their content from seeing too much of a decrease:

“The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it. Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect,” the company wrote.

Facebook did point out that live videos tend to do quite well in terms of engagement. In fact, a live video on average receives six times as many interactions as regular videos.

In addition, Facebook has noted that local businesses often succeed in connecting with their community by posting relevant updates and creating events.

But, the company warned against using “engagement bait,” or goading people into commenting and sharing.

“We will continue to demote these posts in the news feed,” the company wrote.

In addition to creating engaging content, there’s another little-known feature that can help users see more content from a certain page. Many people may not even realize it’s there but there is a setting under the ‘Following’ drop down on a Facebook Page that users can check to see content from a page in their newsfeed. Here’s a screenshot:

Facebook screenshot

Pointing out that the setting is there can help your small business stay in front of your best fans and customers. Try saying something like “Stay on top of all of our latest deals by making sure you can see our page content in your news feed.”

Has the marketing for your retail shop or restaurant been affected by the recent changes on Facebook? Reach out to us today for a demo to learn how a point-of-sale system can help boost marketing efforts for your business.

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