Angry Algorithms – Should Our Shops Unfriend Facebook?

Wishes of Cudworth Facebook

This article was originally going to be about websites NOT Facebook. I’m currently giving the Wishes website a fresh lick of virtual paint whilst developing a new Cudworth Village website. However Mark Zuckerberg, couldn’t help but stick his nose in and spoil my best laid plans (Damn you Zuckerberg, shakes an angry fist in the air). In light of announcements made in January 2018 I‘ve decided to look at what Facebook’s new algorithm* really means for our business pages…

Basically Facebook is changing how its news feed works, making posts from businesses and the media less prominent. This slightly worrying refresh of the News Feed algorithm will de-prioritize content shared by businesses in favor of that produced by friends and family. No doubt this is to defend against accusations that Facebook has a negative effect on society and could be bad for users’ mental health. Not that I’m staying that our small shops social media posts are damaging to the nation. However Facebook has faced increased criticism in recent years with many users saying the platform has put money from advertising above interactions between actual people There’s even calls for the government to regulate Facebook which is a Black Mirror episode waiting to happen.

So does that mean our shops should unfriend Facebook?

No. End of article… ok, too brief, let’s try again, here’s why we shouldn’t migrate to a different platform just yet. The fact is our shop’s pages will still hopefully appear in our follower’s feeds however we may see a reduction in the people we reach. We also need to charge the way we create content. To focus on building interactions and cut through the digitally apathy many feel. Having just reached 5,000 followers on the Wishes of Cudworth page, for us it’s remains a positive way to engage with our customers both old and new.

Julia Keeling 5000 Likes on Facebook

Engaging Content

Creating exciting and fun content that your follows/customers interact with is key.  No engagement will be viewed negatively by Facebook so your reach will drop and your posts seen less. The more likes, comments and shares a post receives the more it views it will get. Which is easier said than done. It’s about understanding your target audience, by taking notice of which of your posts is performing well. At the Wishes our videos, such as shop tours or new product highlight always get a great reaction from our followers.

So much so, we’ve decided to add videos to our website too in the form of Monthly product previews. Facebook likes Video especially those posted directly onto the platform. In many ways Facebook wants to keep its users in it’s own fenced off virtual playground.

Wishes of cudworth on Facebook

External Scheduling Tools

Buffer, Hootsuite, Sprout Social and SocialPilot are just a few examples of social media management platforms. Their aim to save you time by scheduling your social posts across a number of different accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc). There is often a cost involved but they are particular useful for businesses balancing a number of different media platforms. There is a suggestion that Facebook’s algorithm favors native posts over posts published through external publishers. That using an external scheduling tool can affect your reach. Personally, as a slight control freak I like to adjust each post for each platform, so use Facebook’s own internal scheduling tool and do one week’s worth of posts every weekend. Scheduling your posts within Facebook itself allow you to make the best use of your variable time without any penalties.

Posts with external links to our websites and blogs may also be affected with these changes with Facebook pushing Instant Articles as the way forward.

A Terrible Fate Awaits Clickbait

Let’s go to our friends at Merriam Webster Dictionary for a definition of clickbait: “Something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest”. We’re talking salacious photos, fake news and get rich quick schemes.

Facebook have declared Clickbait posts to be public enemy number one and are working to wipe out these digital parasites. Still not all Clickbait articles are smut and scams. And yes, no small shop owner is going to be posting fake news but things like competitions where a user has to visit an external website or even like/share a post will come under greater scrutiny from the Facebook police bots.

Put your hand in your pocket

Unfortunately a key component to reaching your target audience in the future will be paid adverts and boosting posts. For years we have been able to avoid spending and hope our followers see our posts organically. Whilst you’ll still reach a small percentage of your followers it may be time to look at boosting well performing posts to expand your audience. Using the targeted audience function you can at least control to some degree who see’s your posts ensuring it’s your actual local customers who see your latest update (If like Wishes you’re a bricks and mortar only shop).

So it’s not all bad news and for those who adapt there might even been less competition. As other businesses leave, those that remain may find Facebook is still friendly after all

*Facebook’s algorithm aims to select the most relevant stories to display. It filters thousands of stories to show the best possible content. Plus funny cat videos. These stories shown in order of importance, from big stuff like a family wedding to really big stuff like new greeting cards hitting the racks at Wishes.

The internet is a wonderful tool but can be scary if you don’t know how to make the best use of it. In this series of articles retailer Chris Fox, from Wishes Of Cudworth aim to pass on all the online tips he’s discovered so far to help independent retailers boost their bricks and mortar business in the digital age. This article was originally published in Greetings Today Magazine.

Chris Fox Wishes of Cudworth

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