“Facebook was built to bring people closer together and build relationships.” Who would have thought that this pleasant idea could make businesses question so much of what they thought they knew about social media?
Facebook wants people to connect more. The company, led by Mark Zuckerberg, is on a mission to increase authentic dialogue and engagement and has begun demoting posts from businesses accordingly. Users’ News Feed are prioritizing more posts from friends and family, and less from brands and pages.
One of our big focus areas for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent.We built…
As a result of this mission, businesses have experienced a marked decrease in their ability to organically reach people on Facebook in the past few years. In 2012, organic reach for the average Facebook page hovered around 16%. In 2014, that number had stooped to 6.5%. In 2016, one study found that organic reach could be as low as 2% for some Facebook pages as detailed here.
The bad news? It’s only going to continue dropping. The good news? There are ways to handle it.
The Facebook algorithm
Before diving into ways that your dealership can work with these changes and succeed on Facebook, it’s worthwhile to understand what we mean when we speak about the Facebook algorithm.
Facebook prioritizes posts based on thousands of data sets, with the ultimate goal of filling every person’s News Feed with the types of post they’re most interested in. The way that Facebook determines how interested a person is with a type of content is based on engagement. The more likes, shares, and comments that a post gets, the higher it is ranked. The algorithm picks up on the fact that people seem to be interested in a piece of content, and boosts it accordingly.
What it means for your dealership
It’s easy to read this and wonder– is there any point to continue posting on Facebook? Should we be spending all of our time on paid advertising that is “immune” to the cruel considerations of the algorithm? If I don’t have a huge budget for social media, is my dealership doomed? Although it might sound overwhelming now, there are ways to work with and overcome the changes to Facebook’s algorithm.
It is still important to continue maintaining an organic Facebook page, filled with posts for users to engage with, even if they will not naturally appear on News Feeds as prominently as they used to. Your page needs to look alive for the shoppers that do find you. It should be filled with a variety of content that engages customers at any and all stages of the funnel.
You might be thinking– didn’t we just say that these posts won’t even appear on News Feeds? Why spend so much time keeping a page up to date when most people won’t even see it?
That’s where planning comes in. By understanding the Facebook algorithm and the types of posts that will be featured, your digital marketing team can determine how much time it should spend on each of your posts, and what it can do to stay relevant. Find ways to automate your organic content as much as possible, so that you can spend more time creating paid and higher-quality posts that will be seen by more people.
How to beat the algorithm
What are these higher-quality posts? Keeping in mind what the Facebook algorithm is looking for, there are a few types of content that will continue to perform well:
Facebook Live videos
Facebook found that people spend 3X more time watching live broadcasts than a traditional video, after it has been broadcasted. Live videos are exciting and interesting, as people can see something unfolding in the moment. Knowing this, Facebook continues to feature them on News Feeds. There are lots of was that dealerships can use live videos:
- Give a virtual tour. Walk around your showroom, giving people an idea of what they can expect when they come in. Introduce your staff, shoppers, and happy customers. These types of videos will drive more traffic to both your site as well as store.
- Announce new releases. When your dealership gets a new vehicle, showcase its launch with an in-store celebration and Facebook Live broadcast. You can also announce exciting offers or groundbreaking store records to excite your viewers and draw them back to future videos.
- Go for a live test drive. Allow your shoppers to learn the ins and outs of your vehicles from the comfort of their own homes. Have your two funniest and most entertaining salespeople broadcast a test drive, showing off all of the features of the vehicle in real-time.
Tag other Pages and people
When you post something on your own Page, think about what other Pages or people you could tag in the post. Consider running a contest or hosting an event with another local business– when you post about it on Facebook and tag them, you will organically reach both your and their followers. You can also publish pictures and videos with local celebrities and even regular shoppers– be sure to tag them so that their friends and family see the post in their News Feeds. In this way, you can make your page’s posts about other people’s friends and family.
Facebook has made it pretty clear that posts that encourage discussion and conversation will be prioritized above others. That being the case, take the time to think about interesting and engaging topics. Ask a question about what people are looking for in their next vehicle, post a poll about your dealership, or spark a dialogue about an issue facing your local community. The more likes, shares, and comments your posts get, the more prominence your future posts will get. Make sure these posts aren’t simply “click-bait,” as Facebook has made it clear that it demotes these types of posts– think about what your audience really cares about, and post accordingly.
Since Facebook introduced its Marketplace, a dedicated platform for users to buy and sell goods, it noticed that it was being used heavily for car sales. A few months ago, the company announced that it would be introducing a dedicated area of its Marketplace for cars. Dealerships can easily upload their inventory to the website, through one of its inventory partners, to list all of their available vehicles (right now, only for used cars). These listings are not technically organic content, but there is also no cost involved. Your dealership can easily utilize Facebook to sell cars without setting aside any special part of your budget to do so.
Speaking of budgets, it’s hard to deny the power of Facebook ads. With highly-specific audience targeting, useful analytics, and several ad formats, advertising on Facebook allows you to reach the rights audience with the right content– and ads won’t be bumped off of News Feeds anytime soon. With all of those ads, more people are going to see your Page, making it even more important for you to keep it filled with organic content. A business that advertises heavily on Facebook but does not maintain an active and engaging presence is bound to lose some of its hard-earned customers.
Knowing that all of these changes are taking place, your dealership should spend time creating posts that will perform well, including the five types above, and find ways to automate or streamline the rest. Don’t spend too much time on content that is unlikely to perform, but do ensure that your page is active and unique for those shoppers who land on your social pages. Facebook provides helpful analytics for every page, so make sure you’re tracking your content and engagement. The algorithm doesn’t mean the end of your dealership’s social media presence– once you learn to work with it, your dealership will see better engagement, an efficiently-filled feed, and happy customers.