What does Zuckerberg’s announcement mean for your business? Listen now! Join Amber Ludeman of Matchstick Social and Rachel Brenke as they discuss the Facebook announcement and how you can adjust your business for success!
Featured Guest & Resource
Amber Ludeman is Partner and Co-Founder of Matchstick Social, a boutique social marketing firm headquartered in Charleston, SC. Amber graduated Wofford College with a bachelor’s in English degree and has been writing professionally ever since. When Facebook developed business pages, she put those skills to good use by developing content for brands. When she got the chance to start her own business, she leapt at the chance. Since opening its doors in August 2013, Matchstick has worked with global, regional and local clients alike. Partners Amber and Rachel strive to bring enterprise level creative, analysis and reporting to businesses of every size—from startups to multi-national retailers. Her motto for life and business is simple: “Be present, be consistent, be authentic.”
Rachel Brenke: Hey guys, welcome to today’s episode of the Business Bites Podcast. I am your host Rachel Brenke. And within the last few weeks, one of our dear friends, Mr. Mark Zuckerberg, has announced some changes that are becoming the Facebook platform. Not surprised, right?
But, it’s sending all of you guys into a big tizzy. Worried what you’re going to do with your businesses because, let’s be real. Facebook is like, the epitome of where the majority of our business and social media outreach is.
So today, I am thrilled to have Amber from Matchstick Social, who is going to be sharing with us some of what, Mr. Zuckerberg’s announcement, what the proposed change to the newsfeed means to us. What we can do to help counter it. And honestly guys, it’s probably just time for us to start pivoting. We cannot be too complacent.
So, let’s listen to what Amber has to say. Amber, thanks for being here.
Amber: Thank you so much for having me.
Rachel Brenke: Oh, I’m excited. Do you want to tell them a little bit about you and, where they can find you? And then, we’ll dig right in.
Amber: Absolutely. So, I am part owner and partner of Matchstick Social, which is headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina. And, we have satellite offices in Oklahoma City as well as, Seattle now. We’ve been in business for nearly five years and, we’ve had global, regional, local clients. And the foundation of our services is social media.
So, we have been … I’ve personally, been creating business pages since they were created by Facebook. And obviously, we’ve branched out and we have a ton of advertising services, content services, email marketing, and such like that.
And, you can find us at matchsticksocial.com.
Rachel Brenke: Sweet. I love it. And, I love your partner’s name because Rachel’s are awesome.
Rachel Brenke: So, let’s just jump into them so that they can have this quick education because, they are busy entrepreneurs. But can you explain the proposed change that Facebook news feed, that was announced? Maybe for those that don’t even know what I’m talking about?
Amber: Absolutely. So, last week Mark Zuckerberg, had a crisis of conscious and he came to us with an announcement that basically said. “We understand that Facebook has harmed some people’s lives. We understand that it’s having a negative impact on people in certain regards. We understand that it had a negative impact on the election. All of these things have come to the surface in the last year.”
So, his announcement basically said. “We want to make sure that people are able to connect with the people they like and love the most. And see what’s important to them. So, we’re going to reduce the amount of,’ What he calls. ‘Public content in the newsfeed. In favor of people having meaningful connections and interactions with people they know.”
Rachel Brenke: And the thing is, I don’t have an issue with that. In fact, I as a consumer, in my own personal feed. I totally get that desire for these more meaningful interactions. But, I am concerned in a business brand in media just like he identified in his statement. I am concerned as being one of those. That, that public content that I’m trying to put there, that I’m also paying ads for and funneling and lining their pockets. I’m going to be more restricted.
Now, I’m of the mindset and I kind of, said it at the introduction. That, I don’t freak out necessarily, over changes like this. I think having a conversation around it is really good. I’m one of those entrepreneurs that I think, pivoting requires us to grow and it separates us out. Like, when we moved to the whole idea that you had to pay to play through more advertising. Yeah, I probably grumbled a little bit, but I wasn’t that concerned about that from a business owner standpoint because, I knew I could adjust myself.
But, from a consumer standpoint, as just a personal individual using Facebook. I’m concerned when I have specifically chosen to hear from a business or brand, that now I’m not going to get to see that? And, it’s not that I wanted to chose that over like, my mom or dad’s social media post. But, I feel like they could strike a good between.
I mean, what does all of this mean to us as business owners and also, as consumers who want to see these pages?
Amber: Well, I have theory that it’s marrying a lot of what Google used to do or, still does. But, it used to make huge news with SEO experts. With the huge algorithm updates like Penguin and Panda that used to send everyone into a tizzy back then.
Essentially, what Google said in those announcements and what Facebook is mirroring is. Our user is our important. So, the user side of your argument that says. “Yeah, I do want to see more interactions with the people I care about. Unless, what I might like or “relevant content” from brands in my newsfeed.”
So, I think keeping the user at the center of what’s important to Facebook is going to be good for advertisers in the long run. And, I am of the sort of, unpopular theory that this is more of a warning shot than it is a complete rollout of-
Rachel Brenke: Oh, I agree.
Amber: -Making everyone buy into advertising and spend more money on advertising because, organic content is gone.
I think it’s more of, he had a gut check as did all of Facebook. And, he wants marketers to have a gut check.
Rachel Brenke: Yeah.
Amber: So, instead of, trying to create something that is going to get a lot of Likes and a lot of people tagging their friends because, it’s a silly name or it’s some humorous gift or whatever. He’s saying. “We need to get back to where we are providing a resource. We are providing interactions and meaningful connections. Because that’s what Facebook is about.”
And I think, if you keep your audience at the center of what you do instead of, trying to game the system and trying to figure out how you can get the most Likes, the most engagement, what have you. Then, I think you’re probably not going to be as affected.
And, if you are doing that. And, you’re trying to get that low hanging fruit, that easy engagement. I think, like you said, it’s important to just pivot. Let’s see how I can upgrade my content strategy.
Rachel Brenke: Right.
Amber: And, make sure that it’s really meaningful to those that I’m trying to reach.
Rachel Brenke: And that’s the thing is, I have no problem with the game being changed. I just don’t want it to be smoke and mirrors. Just tell me what I need to do. What are the rules that you want me to stay within and I’ll figure out my own strategy as a business owner and a brand on Facebook. And then, I’ll just kill it. I’ll figure it out within that.
But, it’s this very vague of … And his statement was really vague and I know that, like you said, I think it’s more of a warning shot then a final decree. Do you anticipate us seeing more guidelines coming out from Facebook or do you think they’re just going to change up the algorithm and then we’re left to figuring out ourselves?
Amber: They are going to go based on what Google does, which is what I assume they’re going to do because Google has had the exact same thing. They want user’s experience to be wonderful and relevant and extremely easy and effective.
They also makes billions on their advertising and ad work dollars. They have the exact same kind of push and pull. That’s why I’m assuming Facebook is going to go after that.
Google does keep it pretty tight lipped. They keep it pretty vague. Those algorithm changes, they’ll tell you what kinds of things that they’re attacking, what they’re trying to do away with. For example, with Facebook’s announcement in October and November about not being able to change your link descriptions and no longer being able to change the image in some of your post links. It’s because they are trying to combat false information.
They’ll tell you want it’s about but generally they’re not going to tell you how to do it. You’re going to have to figure that out on your own. It’s going to taka a little testing and tweaking. The reason I think that is because they know that if they give people guidelines a lot of people are just going to try and figure out how to game it.
Rachel Brenke: Right, right. No I think that’s still going to happen anyways. Obviously, I’m going to just put a shameless plug here for Amber, if you guys want to keep your pulse on this or you’re not really sure what direction Matchstick Social’s a really good resource for you guys to find a little bit more information as this comes out because all of these marketers are providing the strategy. There is going to be all this free content, maybe we’ll bring Amber back then later on to discuss and flush this out a little bit more.
Until we get more of that information, what can page owners do to potentially minimize this impact?
Amber: Absolutely, with all of our clients we’ve decided to basically do a little audit. We’ll spend about three to four days releasing certain kinds of content and then spend the next three to four days releasing another type of content, see how it does organically.
We also recommend a small advertising budget for all of our clients, so none of them are purely organic. We do have several pages that have incredibly active audiences and always get really great engagement on there, organic pages. They’re the ones that we’re relying on to show us what content is going to prosper in this new algorithm change.
I think the most important thing is to just look at your content. Open it up and say, “okay, I’ve got this going on. What is this bringing? How is this bringing value? Is it sending someone to a resourceful blog? Or is it telling someone a take away that they haven’t heard 100 times? Is it really providing value to our users?”
If the answer is yes, I do not think you’re going to see a huge problem here. If the answer is now, then how can you tweak it ever so slightly to make sure that you are providing that more value.
A perfect example is this, recently there have been a lot of and you guys know what I’m talking about, it’s just the endless march of memes on your Facebook newsfeed, right?
Rachel Brenke: I kinda like them though. I’m a meme gal.
Amber: Absolutely I love memes as well and I love gifs and all that, but if you follow enough pages
Rachel Brenke: Yeah. Yeah.
Amber: Or some of the bloggers, it’s just like you’re inundated. A lot of times it’s stolen content, they’re borrowing from one another or they’re flat out stealing.
Rachel Brenke: Singing my song girl. That’s one reason I don’t use them.
Amber: Absolutely. A lot of times, even screenshots of tweets that you’ve seen a bunch of times. It’s just becoming, we’re becoming inundated with this type of contact but if you were to look at that and say, “okay I’m providing value and I’m tying it back to my product and service in this way. I know that my people love, for example, they love counting down to the weekend or they love counting down to happy hour or they’re fun loving people who want to think about this.”
Then how can you add that extra layer of value. It might be ‘Five Things You Can Learn Before 5 O’clock Today’. It’s still kind of fun and it can focus on, oh you’re killing this last hour of work, but it’s just about value and bringing more interaction and thought to what you’re putting out there.
Rachel Brenke: You know that kind of actually makes me feel better because I’ve looked at all of these people using these memes and gifs, I’m like “oh man, I wish I could have that engagement.”
When I’m over here giving free information that could protect and save their business and it’s very limited. I get a little bitter and butt hurt about it.
Me, I’m a little selfishly glad that it’s going to be more of a meaningful content and less about just this superficial engagement.
Amber: It’s so funny that you said that because I was just on the phone with a friend of mine who works for a very, very large non-profit that does international social work. She has been saying for the last year, “We’ve watched our organic content just take a plunge because we don’t put up fun, feel good memes.” She’s like, “We post about the real stuff going on in the world. We need fundraising dollars and we need help and we need people to be aware of these things going on.” She’s like “The newsfeed hates us.”
I thought, that is the perfect example of what they should strive to change. We should still wanting content that’s … Obviously you don’t want something depressing in your newsfeed but you need to stay informed in something that’s actually going to stick with you as opposed to, my friend tagged me in this and you forget about it 20 seconds later.
Rachel Brenke: Right. That’s the thing. This whole goldfish mentality, you forget it in a couple seconds and you keep scrolling, which is so interesting. I’m finding also that many business owners, since this whole announcement … There was a little trickle of talk before it, but they’re talking about abandoning these business Facebook pages and starting personal Facebook profiles, but not for themselves in the name of their brand.
What do you think about this suggestion? I have my opinion but I’m going to let you lay it out first.
Amber: I’m going to be really blunt with this.
Rachel Brenke: Good, bring it.
Amber: Suggestion. First of all it will be reminiscent of the unprofessional nature in which … Before Facebook had business pages people were doing that, right? They were starting a personal profile on behalf of their brand and then they were having to convert to business profiles later.
Rachel Brenke: Yeah.
Amber: Not only do you have to wait for someone to add you as a friend, if somebody want’s to quote ‘follow your business’, and it’s a personal page, they have to add you as a friend.
There is also the limitation of 5,000 connections. It’s not like you can have 10,000 fans on a profile page anyway. Also, that’s not what it’s about. That to me is circumventing the whole point. The whole point is, no keep your business page, keep your advertising, keep your organic content, just make it more valuable.
You don’t need to find a way to get the word out to these people because ultimately if you aren’t seeing engagement at all, it’s because people aren’t engaging with your content. It’s not because Facebook is out to get you.
Rachel Brenke: Right, right. I’m glad you brought that up about the whole adding of a friend as opposed to just liking a page. This can kind of be a double edged sword in my mind. This is where i initially went when I heard these suggestions being whispered, was on the one hand you are like, okay it’s requiring a little bit more commitment from your follower. They have to add you as a friend versus just a superficial like.
In my minds it’s like, oh that’s good, that can qualify people, right? We’re all about qualifying our audience. We want only the people that are truly invested to follow.
Then on other side of this double edged sword, is this idea and maybe I feel this because I have that legal content that I know a lot of people don’t necessarily want it or they don’t know that they need it.
I would not be able, I truly believe that I would be doing a disservice to the people that I’m trying to reach by having such a high barrier of this add a friend versus this like as well.
Which would totally, smack in the face, of this whole meaningful engagement and my mission of trying to get this information out to people.
Amber: Right. Absolutely. We have to also remember that Zuckerberg didn’t say this was going to effect advertising at the moment so putting a few buck behind your post is still going to be really effective for generating some engagement. It just depends on the value of your content on how much you get for your money.
Rachel Brenke: What about the use of Facebook groups because I have my pages and I have my groups. In fact my groups and communities do really well. I’ve invested a lot of time in it but I don’t put all my eggs into that.
What is your thoughts on this?
Amber: I think groups are a great tool and great resource for small business owners especially. I think if you’re in a group that’s really, really active and has a lot of great conversation going on. I think yeah, jump right in there. Make more conversation happen there.
I wouldn’t rely on it to replace your business page at all.
Rachel Brenke: I agree.
Amber: In fact, I would focus more on generating [inaudible 00:15:54] as opposed to generating group thought. It’s definitely a great way to reach people and especially if it’s a really active conversation and it’s daily or weekly.
Rachel Brenke: That’s the thing and for me also, talking about this whole idea of having a Facebook profile account or these groups. Those don’t give you the adverting account so you’re going to have a page either way in order to advertise, right?
Rachel Brenke: Okay. I just want to make sure I’m clear. I’m not the Facebook expert here. I was like, oh this sounds like a really good idea. Then I’m like, oh wait I’m not really sure about that.
Amber: You have to have a business page to link to an advertising account. It’s really important if you’re not running advertising and you’re one of these people that’s a little bit worried about this organic content, if you see the decrease in your reach and in your video watch time and your referral traffic, you’re still able to go in to ads manager and create some ads behind this content and push it out to your current audience plus.
Whomever might be interested. This whole thing does not affect advertising as it stand right now.
Rachel Brenke: I’m glad you said that because also I feel like some entrepreneurs, especially that are trying to boot strap you’re business, y’all I’ve been there I get it, but throw in some money into this. It’s really important and it’s kind of this pay to play platform that we’re in now.
The one thing that I love about advertising is, because I’m putting money where my mouth is and my content is, I would say I’m guaranteed, but there is a much higher probability that my stuffs actually going to be seen.
It doesn’t negate the fact that I still need to come up with good content and be engaging and make it something new that someone hasn’t heard a million times on Facebook. When I’m paying someone to provide me an advertising service, I know that it’s going to be served to that target, that I am targeting for.
When I’m trying to do organic and just putting it on my page, gone are the days that it was just seen by everyone who liked it and then their friends that liked it. Right?
That is such a shot in the dark now. I guess for me, those that are listening that are hearing, oh advertise, advertise, advertise. Look at it from that standpoint is it’s almost a guarantee of being seen.
It’s a higher probability of success and for me I just feel like it separates you from other people as well. It shows you as more of an authority in credibility brand. I’m just a big proponent of the advertising because I can throw a couple hundred dollars and if I get one client out of that, I’ve already made my money back.
That’s kind of my perspective on the whole idea of advertising, so when you say it’s not being affected by this I feel.
Amber: I was going to say, [inaudible 00:18:44] just published an article on Monday or Tuesday talking about how marketers are already flubbing this change. One of his points was, maybe organic content is not for you because if you’re putting a ton of time and resource into this and creating this content and it’s not being seen at all, then that’s a waste.
You really need to take stock of what kinds of engagement you want to see. Make some goals, just some really short, attainable ones and say, “look this is the kind of engagement I’m used to.” Maybe you pull some historical data from six months to a year ago and say this is the kinda benchmark that I want to have for each post.
If you’re not seeing that, then ask yourself why. Make sure it’s valuable. If it is and you are being wrongfully affected this, then I would try throwing a few a dollars behind each post and seeing how it goes.
It’s not like Facebook, it’s got to be the most cost effective advertising medium on the planet. A few dollars can get a few hundred eyeballs. It just depends on what your goals are.
If you’re not seeing the engagement that you want to see I would recommend trying some advertising.
Rachel Brenke: Yeah, I’m with you and you know I read that article too so I’m going to link it in the show notes for them to be able to read it because … If you guys don’t follow John Lumer, he is a great resource as well for Facebook marketing and a lot more of the technical aspects of it because I am totally not technically adept at any technology.
I definitely work with him on that. You guys can find the show notes, it’ll be at rachelbrenke.com/epi44.
I guess Amber, leave us with one last tip. Maybe something that’s … You can go tough love, you can go encouraging to help people feel better or whatever you think but something that they can take away from this. I kind of already know my take away is going to be this whole asking myself, yes, no and following that path of whether or not I should even be writing that content.
What is one thing that you can leave with them so that they can weather this storm, weather this change?
Amber: I would say, just don’t get complacent in your strategy. Beyond this you should always be testing new things and even QA testing. Just try and figure out what my audience wants to see, how they want to see it, when they want to see it. Some of our Instagram audiences interact best when something is posted at 4 a.m. in the morning.
You wouldn’t think that, you think everyone is asleep but that’s the first thing they see when they scroll in the morning because we’re seriously addicted.
I would play around with the times and the types of content that you want to provide. Just make sure that it’s really valuable to your audience. If you’re having trouble coming up with more valuable content, you say “Okay if I’m taking an honest gut check look at this. I don’t think it’s providing value, I really don’t think it’s making meaningful interactions.”
Then call us or call Rachel or call someone who doesn’t really know a ton about your business. Sometimes a lot of our clients are too close to it and it’s hard for them to think about it from the outsider’s perspective.
Find somebody who doesn’t really know too much about your business yet and see how they can help shed some light on what you’re providing.
Rachel Brenke: I love that you said that because that was one of the things that I told myself for my own business this year. I’m too close to it and I know the foundation of what I’m trying to say. For me I’m not seeing any glaring issues and I committed to hiring also, someone who could come in and give me eyeballs and yesterday … So funny, not 24 hours before we recorded this, I basically have had some key components of my business put upside down because I couldn’t see because I’m too involved.
In fact, I have an episode on this though, it’s rachelbrenke.com/epi10. It’s labeled ‘You Can’t Read the Label’. It’s the idea that when you’re in a water bottle and you’re on the inside of it, you can’t read the label that everyone else is reading.
It’s really important to have somebody outside that water bottle reading it and seeing whether or not you’re doing it legit. I love that. You guys can find Amber at matchsticksocial.com. Also, on Instagram, especially if you’re awake at 4 a.m.
I was today. I wish I had known. I totally would have been on looking at yawls post. Amber thank you so much for all this great information. I hope it help them feel a lot better. I would love to have you come back later on and maybe some more tips so we can get to help them figure out these Facebook changes.
Thanks for coming.
Amber: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me.
Rachel Brenke: Awesome. Alright guys, you can find all the show notes for this episode at rachelbrenke.com/epi44 or also on Stitcher, Google Play, Apple Podcast and a couple other podcasting systems. If you don’t want to subscribe there just head over to rachelbrenke.com and you can listen to it right on the page.
See you guys soon.