What you need to know about the upcoming crack-down on promotional Facebook posts
Just when we think we have a handle on Facebook’s latest changes, they decide to change things up again. In the typical fashion, it’s time for another switch: Come January, 2015, reaching people who have ‘liked’ your Facebook page will get even more difficult.
Before I explain the changes, let’s make sure you understand the FB lingo:
Engagement: In the Facebook world, ‘engagement’ refers to how people are interacting with the posts they see from you. ‘Liking’ your post, commenting on your post, sharing your post, or clicking on your link all qualify as ‘engaging’ with you.
Reach: When I refer to the ‘reach’ of your posts, I mean how many people actually see your post. Due to the way that Facebook determines what we see in our news feeds, not everyone who has ‘liked’ your page will see whatever you post.
Organic Posts: If you are just writing on your Facebook page and not paying to promote an ad, it is considered ‘organic.’
Facebook Ads: You can create an ad for Facebook that will increase your post’s visibility. When you use the Facebook Ads creation tool, you can include images, links, and a limited amount of text. You can even include tracking links to see how many people are going to your website. When you create an ad, you set a budget and Facebook stops promoting your ad when your budget has been exhausted. You are also able to set parameters for your audience based on quite a few criteria, so that you make sure you’re maximizing the success of your promoted post.
You may see Facebook ask you if you want to ‘boost’ or ‘promote’ a post you have already put on your Facebook page. Boosting a post is basically like creating an ad, without using the Ad creation tool.
So what’s changing?
Facebook is already pretty picky about how many of your organic posts will show up in the newsfeed for people who’ve liked your page. Typical reach is about 6%, but it can be much lower if no one is engaging with what you are posting.
Once January hits, you’ll have to pay even more attention.
Facebook surveyed their users and found that we are much more interested in ‘story’ type posts than promotional ones (go figure.) Because of this new insight, they will now be cracking down on organic posts that they consider ‘too promotional.’
In case you skimmed that last part, here is an important thing to remember: the new regulations only apply to organic posts. If you’re paying to promote your posts, they won’t be affected.
How do these changes affect you?
I’ve always told practices that the best way to use your Facebook is to connect with patients on a personal level. Fortunately, if you’re using Facebook the way you should be using Facebook, you’re not the type of small business owner that will be overly affected. Still, it’s important to know what is happening in Facebook land.
As you (hopefully) know, social media is a very valuable tool for engaging your patients. Since the majority of people connect with each other through sites like Facebook, finding and interacting with your patients on these sites is a smart idea. The more connected they are to you, the more likely they will be to stay active/current with their visits and the less likely they will be to switch to a new provider when the opportunity presents itself.
Plus, Facebook can be a great tool for marketing your practice.
If you don’t pay attention to the success of your Facebook posts, you are missing an enormous opportunity to maintain and grow an active, loyal patient base.
What you need to know about ‘promotional’ posts
So you need to crack down on how promotional your posts are. Here are the qualities that Facebook has deemed too salesy.
- A post that tries to convince people to buy a product. This includes services or programs that you offer, if you include text that insinuates something like ‘Click the link to buy now.’
- A post that tries to convince viewers to enter promotions with little context surrounding it. The rules surrounding this are still a bit hazy, so just make sure that—if you are encouraging people to enter some sort of contest—you add plenty of supporting text to the post promoting it.
- A post that uses the same text as one of your paid ads. Keep organic posts unique.
So what should you be posting?
- Use personal content that creates non-promotional engagement. Rather than getting people to request an appointment, get a conversation going.
Post personal stories. Did you try a new restaurant last week? Tell your viewers about it and ask for suggestions or feedback.
Use pictures. Whether it’s a cute shot of the front desk staff or just a comic you found amusing, pictures tend to draw a significant amount more engagement than text alone.
Ask questions. Acknowledge that, while you are the expert on their health, they may know a lot more about ____ than you do.
Example: We want to repaint the office, but… if we paint it ourselves it just may end up resembling the finger-painting easel in my five year old’s room. Have you used a professional painter lately that you would recommend?
- If you are trying to get people to come in and see you, make the content of the post more conversational.
Example: Flu season is hitting us hard this year. It’s important to our practice that you know what you can do to keep yourself and your family healthy this year. Our newsletters include tips for staying flu-free, so be sure to read them! If you haven’t scheduled your preventative care visit this fall, be sure to call our office or request an appointment from our Facebook page!
- Link them to your website, and THEN sell them.
Write blog posts. You’re already doing this…right? Creating valuable content on your practice website gives you a great opportunity to drive traffic. Plus, it makes your website appear more valuable to search engines (but that’s another post altogether.)
Send them to the page that allows them to sign up for your newsletter.
Post a Joke of the Week and link people to your website to see the punchline.
If you are already using these techniques, keep up the good work! You probably don’t need to stress out about the new rules, but—if you know someone with a small business—you might want to pass the news on to them, instead.
About the author:
Amy LaVange is a professional educator for healthcare providers. She specializes in helping practices reduce inefficiencies and lower costs, so providers and their staff can spend less time worrying about their bottom line and more time caring for their patients. She currently manages communications for Solutionreach, where she consults with their clients and creates educational content to help them establish patient-centered practices by utilizing tools and techniques that allow them to streamline their productivity and improve their patient experience.