In just a few short years, Facebook has gone from every small business owner’s magical best friend to the bully pushing you against the locker for your lunch money, almost as quickly as Lindsay Lohan’s transition in Mean Girls.
But that doesn’t stop us from using the largest social media platform on the planet, because despite the slowly dying organic reach, it is still one of the best places to share your posts and get your brand in front of an audience.
However, even that may be about to change.
A few weeks ago, Facebook began officially rolling out an alternative News Feed called the “Explore Feed”. The roll out started roughly around April of this year, and now most accounts have access to the Rocket icon symbolizing the Explore feed. So what does this mean for you and your business, and what good and bad can come out of this? Here’s everything you need to know.
Why a New Feed?
The point of the new Explore Feed is, according to Facebook, to help users find more content that is relevant to them. Right now, your feed is limited to posts from your friends and posts from the pages you like (and of course, the ads).
The problem with this is that the only way users are exposed to new pages is if a friend shares a post or if a page buys an ad; there is no truly organic way for the user to discover more content without knowing the names of certain pages.
It should be noted that this isn’t the first time Facebook has tried to unclog the News Feed. Back in 2016, they tested a “Topic Feeds” feature, which would group posts into tabs that would have to be clicked on. The News Feed tab for posts from your friends, and then separate tabs for posts from pages, with categories like Sports, TV & Movies, and Funny. This testing lasted only a few months until Facebook scrapped the feature; apparently, with the intention to try again.
Should You Be Worried?
Ideally, the answer is no. Facebook’s Explore Feed would be completely positive for pages looking to find more users who would like their content. Facebook would let the kind of people who would generally like your content have a place to finally find you, thus improving your organic reach. In the ideal situation, this could only boost your overall page performance and reach.
But there are some who are skeptical about the way Facebook intends to move forward. With Facebook’s recent history of cutting back organic reach and driving pages to buy ads to reach the audience who have already Liked their page, it’s not hard to see why many are doubting Facebook’s intentions.
You may have heard a few frightening reports last week from users who had claimed that all posts from pages had been taken off their News Feed and placed onto their Explore Feed. This left only posts from friends as well as paid advertisements on the News Feed, with none of the content from pages that were actually liked.
Facebook was quick to clarify that this was merely a test for certain countries; specifically, Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala, and Cambodia. According to Facebook,
“The goal of this test is to understand if people prefer to have separate places for personal and public content. We will hear what people say about the experience to understand if it’s an idea worth pursuing any further. There is no current plan to roll this out beyond these test countries or to charge pages on Facebook to pay for all their distribution in News Feed or Explore. Unfortunately, some have mistakenly made that interpretation—but that was not our intention.”
Why exactly Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala, and Cambodia were chosen as test areas if there was no intention to roll this out on a global-scale was left unexplained. So what does this mean?
In the best-case scenario, your content will continue to be shown to your audience on the News Feed as well as to new potential Likers of your page through the Explore Feed, with no added charges. But in the worst-case scenario, you may end up having zero unpaid exposure on the News Feed, while calling the Explore Feed your new home, alongside every other page in your industry.
And it’s always best to prepare for the worst. After all, how do you think small businesses in the six countries listed above are doing in terms of Facebook reach?
Preparing For The Worst: Three Ways To Keep Engagement Up
We’ve been telling you this for years. Facebook may be your largest hub on social media, but that doesn’t mean it should be your only one. Never keep all your eggs in one basket—not having a presence on other platforms is simply irresponsible, and should be fixed right away.
With Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and even Snapchat and others, there are a dozen other places where you could be continuing to build your brand’s presence.
Aside from social media, it’s time to think about building your own platform (if you haven’t already). While social media can be great in reaching out to new people and helping them engage with your brand, a strong website and newsletter can truly lock in their interest. What’s more, you will never have to worry about a change in algorithms killing your reach.
2) Be Consistent and Specific
Before the Explore Feed apocalypse hits us (if ever), it’s important to stay consistent with your posts. Post once or twice a day, at the same time every day; this will give you a much higher chance in getting your post seen on your audience’s feeds.
It’s always important to keep your posts short and concise. One study found that Facebook posts with 80-characters had 66% more engagement over others, while 40-character posts generated 86% more engagement. With short, specific, and consistent posts, you are bound to get your content in front of your audience.
3) Boost Content That Truly Represents Your Page
If it comes to it, you may have to pay for your posts every now and then to keep engagement alive. When it comes time to do this, remember—don’t waste your money boosting an image or video that is too specialized or high production that it ends up failing to reach potential new fans.
While you may like the content, it’s important to remember that the goal of boosted content is to hook new fans who have never seen or heard of your page. This means boosting content that is simple yet provocative, capturing the essence of your Page in a quick message.
Final Thoughts on the Explore Feed: Doom and Gloom or Not?
It can be difficult to tell what Facebook’s ultimate intentions are, especially when it comes to matters concerning its News Feed and paid posts. While, like any business, Facebook’s goal is to increase profits, Facebook is also self-aware enough to know that it risks alienating its users if it goes too far in a certain direction.
It is perhaps unlikely that the News Feed will be wiped clean of unpaid posts; the backlash would be too severe, and as Facebook found in its recent test, even rumors are quick to spread amongst the media and users.
However, there may come a time where your engagement is split between the News Feed and the Explore Feed, but this may not be as detrimental to your engagement as it currently seems. Facebook seems to be actively trying to find a way to teach users to use more than one feed. If that time ever comes, a balance between the News Feed and the Explore Feed might end up being better for most Pages involved. But until then—keep yourself prepared for the worst.
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