If you’ve got your finger anywhere even close to the pulse of marketing news you’ll know by now that Facebook’s newsfeed is changing – and the impact on businesses looks to be massive.
We’ll take a look at what’s happening – and how you can make the changes work for you.
As an online business, it’s easy to look at Facebook from just your own perspective – with users who are less aware of the powerful advertising functions really just making up numbers in your potential audience reach.
Of course, business pages such as Atlas Ceramics who use Facebook to promote the Atlas Ceramics range of grouts are the minority – and while it’s their money that keeps the Facebook juggernaut rolling, that money would dry up quickly if the quantity or quality of the audience dropped too low.
Hence, Zuckerberg and the other big brains behind the Facebook curtain have decided now is the time to refine what people see in their newsfeeds. It starts with a push toward much more personal content – with business content being given a dedicated feed – and any real hope of penetrating the personal newsfeed reserved for those who are spending significant money.
As with most marketing platforms, money still talks – but posts that rely on any organic reach are going to be reduced to an almost inaudible whisper, with small fractions of the their prior audience seeing them.
How can you make the most of the change?
First, it’s important that you understand that there’s a lot of panic in the marketing world – Facebook is massive, and has been absolutely instrumental in making some huge businesses fly.
As such, there’s going to be a lot of reactionary responses when the change hits. Keep you head and you’ll realise this is just a shift, similar to the changes in 2016 that saw the organic reach of business posts initially limited.
Who’s benefiting from the changes?
Look carefully at the changes and you’ll realise that Facebook is shifting toward more ‘person’ centred content – and there’s a significant group who make that their specialist area – Influencers.
Influencers speak directly to their audience – with a massive personal brand certainly, but no corporate brand dressing up their message. For now at least, Influencers look immune to the changes that have been levied on businesses – and they have seriously big audiences.
This is where Facebook starts to look a little like LinkedIn – though the professional-to-professional landscape looks more like a person-to-person dynamic on Facebook – and that’s a dynamic that’s begging to be levered for your maximum impact.
Connecting with influencers
So, how do you make the important connections that see your brand, product or service endorsed by an influencer?
There’s likely to be no getting around the fact it will cost you – though these transactions are likely to be direct with the influencer, rather than via any Facebook payment portal (for now).
You’re also going to have to connect – which is going to need a system and some decent relationship building skills.
Social media outreach
If you’re familiar with SEO you’re also going to be familiar with the concept of ‘outreach’ – connecting with authority websites to discuss them featuring your site, product or service in some way – usually linking back to your site – something that appeals to real traffic and Google’s algorithms equally.
This approach may now be more relevant to social media than ever before. ‘Guest posting’ on Instagram is fairly common place – when a highly followed account gives a ‘shout out’ to a product or person they feel (or are paid to feel) would appeal to their audience.
So how can you do the same?
Well, you first need to know which influencers appeal to the audience you had or would like to have – then study their personal brand. You’re not going to be taken seriously unless you align with their principles and image – they’d be throwing away huge numbers of followers if they’re seen to just become an advertising space for hire.
When you’ve got a hitlist of appropriate Influencers, you’re going to need to work on your relationship building skills to connect with them.
Be under no illusion here, we’re talking grade A connections, not firing off a few canned emails about how great your product is and hoping for a reply.
To begin with you’re going to need to become a familiar face on their newsfeed – perhaps also on their Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google+ too. Don’t over do it, but comment, share and question where it’s appropriate.
When the time’s right, connecting on a more personal level is a good plan – email or private messaging is likely to work – but understand your message will be landing in a crowded inbox – so not only is that relationship building necessary, but so is a concise, polite and professional message that shows some understanding of their brand and ethos.
When you’ve made a connection, you can talk about the Influencer sharing your content, reviewing your product, promoting your page – or whatever else you’re both open to.
Be prepared to be ignored
Outreach, whether it’s via email to websites or social media inboxes to Influencers, is not a place for those who don’t do well with rejection!
You’re likely to be ignored a lot, you’re also likely to get quite a lot of ‘no thank you’ replies – which is why you can’t approach Influencer marketing lightly. If you go at outreach without a plan and a process you’re going to get downhearted quickly.
So, the time has come to treat social media Influencer outreach marketing as another funnel – with an understanding of what needs to go into the top of the process to yield a reply or a make a connection emerge from the bottom. Got a CRM system or a decent spreadsheet that you use to track opportunities? When you’ve identified your Influencers, they now need a place in your ‘leads’ or ‘prospects’ area – with a process that’s got heavy relationship building elements you can work through with each one.
Being ignored doesn’t mean ‘no’ – and neither does ‘no’ for that matter – both mean you have to go away and consider the next avenue that takes you closer to a product and a way of communicating that resonates with your chosen Influencer’s principles.
The social media power dynamic has shifted – which means you have to move too.
Of course, it’s important to consider what will happen to influencers, a situation that only time will have answers for. For now though, marketing agility is the key – there’s no time to mourn the loss of your organic reach, because your competitors have already cleaned their wounds and are lining their plan of attack up for harnessing influencer reach…