The new Facebook survival guide

Earlier this year, Facebook announced that it would be updating its newsfeed algorithm to give more weight to content from friends and family, leaving less room for public posts. As news of the impending Facebookocalypse washed over the marketing world, social media managers scrambled for higher ground on trendier social platforms.

But rather than a doomsday scenario for public pages, the announcement is the continuation of a years-long trend favoring human content in Facebook’s newsfeed. Facebook has implemented similar changes with each iteration of its algorithm over the last several years.

Public pages that didn’t update their strategy accordingly have seen a significant and steady drop in organic reach. Those that have embraced best practices, sharing content that adds value to the newsfeed, have seen better results. A.T. Still University, for example, launched a best practice campaign in early 2017, which led to more than 800 percent growth in organic reach by midyear.

So before you abandon the world’s largest social network, consider incorporating the following best practices into your organic Facebook strategy.

1. Find your voice.

Over the last several years, Facebook has been criticized for overwhelming users with clickbait, bots and ads. This latest move is an effort to get back to its roots as a social media platform. Facebook wants to bring people together — emphasis on people. To survive the Facebookocalypse, brands will need to embrace their humanity. Who would your brand be, if it was a person? Would it be snarky? Bubbly? Compassionate? Confident? Would it be a jock or a nerd? A hipster? A gamer? Find your brand’s voice, and use it consistently to engage with fans, just like you would interact with friends and family on your personal page.

For inspiration, check out some brands that are doing a great job of being human on social media: A.T. Still University, Merriam-Webster, MoonPie and the Bangor, Maine Police Department.

2. Nurture brand champions.

Engaging your brand’s inner circle is key to surviving the Facebookocalypse. Identify the people who are deeply invested in the success of your brand — your brand champions — and encourage them to channel this passion by engaging with your social media content.

To whom you reach out will vary depending on your industry and the size of your business. A large university’s network of brand champions might include students, faculty, staff and alumni. A mid-sized business might build a highly engaged group of employees and customers. An after-school program could engage a network of students, parents and program donors. An entrepreneur starting out on her own might reach out to family and friends for support with her social media endeavors.

Remember, your brand champions usually won’t be marketing experts. To inspire meaningful, sustainable engagement, help them understand the impact of their efforts. The conversation might go something like this:

“By liking one of our Facebook posts, you’re telling Facebook’s algorithm that our content is valuable. Because you’re interested in the content, Facebook decides that other people might like it, too. As our content gets more engagement, it becomes more valuable, and Facebook will show it to more people.”

Once you’ve convinced these devoted fans that what they’re doing is important, provide them with the tools and strategies they need to do it effectively.

Encourage brand champions to choose “See first,” so your content is the first thing they see in their newsfeeds:

Ask your most devoted followers to invite their friends to like the page:

Encourage meaningful engagement: leaving long comments, tagging friends and sharing posts:

3. Activate your influencers.

You don’t have to be a Kardashian to have a sphere of influence. Among your brand champions, you’ll likely find a few people with large personal or professional networks. When these “influencers” share your brand’s content, or when you share content about them, you’ll notice an uptick in reach and engagement. Feature these influencers on your page as often as possible, and make sure they know about it when you do. Reach out personally, and be direct:

“Thanks so much for participating in our social media campaign! I shared your photo and quote on our Facebook page. I encourage you to like and share the post. This will help us reach more people.”

Make sure to include a direct link to the post to make it as easy as possible for the influencer to access and share it. Most will be flattered that you are using your platform to put them in the spotlight and will happily engage with the post.

Relationships are the new reach.

Even with best practices, the new algorithm means most pages will see a decline in reach over the next few months. Rather than letting the numbers drive you crazy, focus on building meaningful relationships with a core group of highly engaged fans. Your brand is human now, so make some friends! When it comes to friendships, we all know that quality is more important than quantity, so take a break from Facebook analytics and spend time in the comments section of your posts. You might just stumble on something like this: