Facebook’s Next Big Change is Coming – Here’s How to Get Ready Before It’s Too Late

Facebook’s getting ready to lay the smackdown on some Pages this January – and you do NOT want to be one of them.

Earlier this month, the network announced some upcoming changes to the types of content it’s going to share from Pages. Long story short? Facebook users aren’t happy with the way the Pages they follow are doing things, and that means Facebook isn’t happy, either.

Hence the impending smackdown.

It all comes down to one controversial issue: promotions. Facebook polled its users and found that they think most Pages focus too heavily on promotions, so starting in January, Pages that are too promo-heavy are going to “see a significant decrease in distribution” for their updates.

Scary, right?

But what does that mean, exactly? Aren’t MOST of a Page’s Facebook posts promotional in one way or another? Well, yes and no – and knowing where to draw the line is about to become verrrrry important, so today, let’s take a quick look at what sort of posts they’re talking about.

3 signs of a problem post

When it comes to promoting on Facebook, it’s a matter of both WHAT you’re promoting and HOW you’re doing it.

See, when the network polled its users, it learned that the types of posts they HATE seeing in their feeds have a few things in common. Those three things?

  1. They exist only to get you to buy and/or install something
  2. They exist only to get you to enter a contest or a promotion without any context
  3. They use the same content that they use in their ads

Here’s an example they gave:

Example of a bad Facebook post

Source: http://newsroom.fb.com/news/2014/11/news-feed-fyi-reducing-overly-promotional-page-posts-in-news-feed/

What does that post want you to do? Easy – it wants you to watch that show, and to buy it from their store. And while you’ve gotta admit that the big ol’ stripy kitty is CUUUUTE, it doesn’t make up for the fact that this post exists only to advertise.

And that ain’t cool. Which begs the question…

When is an ad not an ad

Here’s where it gets REALLY interesting.

While Facebook users reported that some of the content in their feeds is too promotional, they specified that it was content being posted by the Pages they had liked – NOT ads.

Facebook users don’t mind when ads are promotional. They HATE IT when posts are.

So…wait, huh?

Here, I’ll explain.

Imagine you meet someone, and they seem really cool and interesting, at first. You give them your phone number, hoping that they’ll want to be friends.

The thing is, they stay in touch – they even call you every single day – but they never want to talk. They only want to sell you stuff. What had seemed like it could be a valuable, two-sided relationship is actually just somebody who wants to talk at you all the time and try to get your money.

That would get annoying pretty fast, right?

Because sometimes, we expect to be sold things. When you watch TV, you know that there are gonna be commercials. You read a magazine, you KNOW there are gonna be some of those ads that peel open and have the perfume sample. And even if you don’t always love it, it’s advertising, and that’s just life. The companies pushing their products paid someone for the privilege.

But when you like a company’s Page on Facebook, you aren’t just signing up to get stuff sold to you all the time! (I mean, unless you are. Maybe you really love being advertised to, I don’t know.) You liked that page because you thought it would bring value into your life in some way.

That’s why ads should behave like ads, and posts should behave like posts.

When a Page uses posts to share ad-like content, it’s basically like posting ads for free. You lose, Facebook loses, everybody but the Page hawkin’ their wares loses. And THAT is why Facebook is saying enough is enough. You wanna use your page to just advertise all the time? You’re gonna have to pay to do it, because if you expect Facebook to share all those advertisey promotions for free, you’ve got another thing comin’.

How to change your posting habits

As this social network is wont to do, Facebook was relatively tight-lipped at the time of this announcement as to HOW exactly they would determine whether a post was too advertisey or not (though based on past announcements, we can guess it’ll go a little something like this.)

So how do you avoid being on the receiving end of a social media smackdown?

Remember that your Page, though it ostensibly exists to promote your business, isn’t just a vehicle for pushing ads and promos.

Your page is a place for starting and maintaining conversations, for sharing news and advice, asking questions, receiving and responding to feedback, and generally building a community out of your fans and followers. If you’re using it primarily for pushing ads in the guise of posts, be warned – the free ride is ending in January.

What do you think of the upcoming change? Does it make sense, or is it too hard on Pages? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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About Laura Roeder

Laura Roeder is a social media marketing expert who gives businesses of all sizes the tools they need to make their mark on the web. She is the creator of the social media scheduling software Edgar, as well as social media marketing web courses like Creating Fame and Social Brilliant.

Comments

  1. Great post Laura! Very interesting. Thank you. Would you consider a post about a free offer like a a free webinar, where at the end of the webinar you will sell to the attendees too promotional?

    Also I agree that when I have posted an ad for something in my feed and also paid for it to be a sponsored ad, it does get many more likes and clicks then the free post of the same ad on my page timeline. Now I know why!

    • Tom | Team LKR says:

      Hey Lissa! I’m gonna jump in on this one, because it’s a really interesting question.

      Obviously, we can’t be 100% sure about how exactly Facebook plans to distinguish between pages/posts that are too promotional and those that aren’t, but based on some of their recent changes along with this announcement, I think a big part of it is going to be not just whether an individual post is too advertisey, but whether your posts in general are. Take our Facebook page, for example. We post links when we have sales or upcoming webinars and things that we want to promote, but we also post lots of things like links to articles on other sites we think people will find interesting, or questions for our fans, or quotes, and so on. It’s very likely that in the future, Facebook’s going to pay attention to the sense of balance in what you share, rather than just picking and choosing individual updates and passing judgment on them one by one.

      • Hi Tom, That makes so much sense. So just keep it balanced with lots of different content. I took Laura’s Social Brilliant Course which was extremely enlightening when it comes to planning social posts and keeping a variety of posts in my feed. I need to implement that Social Brilliant editorial calendar that Laura provided and it sounds like I will lessen the risk of being thought of as too promotional. Thanks so much for the informative reply.

      • Tom | Team LKR says:

        Happy to help! (And yes, using an editorial calendar will change your life!)

  2. Thank you Laura for the informative post! I’m a bit confused because I plan on promoting my ebook to increase my newsletter list – and I had thought of using paid ads to get recognition. Is this a big no-no?

    • Tom | Team LKR says:

      Paid ads are great! The thing Facebook doesn’t like so much is when you make a free post that looks and functions like an ad. Basically, if you’re using Facebook to advertise, they want you to pay for it!

  3. I have separate pages for my blog and my biz but this sounds like I’m going to have to merge them to make anything worthwhile.

    • Tom | Team LKR says:

      Even if the transition seems like a hassle, once it’s all said and done, your life will probably be a lot easier for it — and you could end up saving yourself lots of time, in the long run!

  4. Great post:) I haven’t had this challenge with the pages that I follow but can see how people could and I don’t want to be pitched “at” all the time either. Thanks for the sharing the information.

  5. I’m so impressed by how well you break things down, Laura. I love sharing your insights with my community!

  6. Great post and nicely explained in our lingua franca publica… and yes, I am all for putting more depth in our content so that is a very nice sell on Facebook’s count.

    Which all goes to show that they are practicing what they preach because: they want a way to turn your business’s FB page promotions into FB’s own paid advertising and ‘boosts’. :)

  7. Liz Smith says:

    Great post, I have to say with any page I have ever managed my approach was to always be interesting. I have gotten push from many businesses that they want to promote more, but my ultimate goal is to have content that will drive fans to those websites and unfortunately many businesses just don’t get it and don’t want to take the time to create that leading content that drives their fans there. They want a quick fix (which never works) and in the end if they can’t grasp the concept their page ultimately suffers due to their inability to change.

    Good reads like this are great to show businesses that we’re not crazy with our approach.

  8. Wonderful post. Thanks so much for the great incite. I will think about what I post a lot more thoroughly going forward. Thanks again!