Changes to Facebook News Feed – what does it mean for healthcare practices ?

What the Changes to Facebook News Feed mean for healthcare practices - Jill Woods Healthcare Marketing Blog

The changes to Facebook News Feed announced a few weeks ago are by far the biggest changes in how Facebook, and specifically the News Feed element work, that we have ever seen. So be very clear this is a significant shift for Facebook. So much so the changes have been dubbed the Facebook Apocalypse !
This blog is going to take you through the Facebook News Feed changes and give you my 17 tips to help you get your Facebook marketing back on track.

So What are the Facebook News Feed Changes ?

Great question, and importantly how are they going to affect you & your practice marketing?

First of all we need to understand why the changes have been made. Facebook users have told Facebook that they feel that public content i.e. content from businesses and the media are getting in the way of their personal experience.

So Facebook are listening to their users and shifting their focus from facilitating finding relevant content, to creating more meaningful social interactions (this is HUGE!).

Facebook has also said that they want to “make sure the news people see, while less overall, is high quality”. In other words they are totally shifting the playing field.

Facebook have also said the changes, in part, are to ensure a positivity for users, an uplifting and positive experience. We have already seen the use of negative words in Facebook adverts causing problems!
Interestingly they have also identified that passively consuming articles or videos that don’t spark engagement or interaction is bad for a person’s mood, which is what is driving a big part of the changes.

 

So from a business perspective this is huge, the days of seeing Facebook as a distribution channel for our everyday content is coming to an end.
Up until now we have relied on the platform regularly sharing lots of our business content to individual users, based on their preferences and platform habits. Which generated a lot of website traffic for the practices using the platform well. This is no longer going to be the case. Which is why in recent weeks and going forward, the organic reach of post on your Business Page, will drastically fall.

 

How will the Facebook News Feed Changes Impact Your Practice Marketing ?

Changes to Facebook News Feed Coffee table chatLet’s be clear, what they are NOT saying is that they are stopping sharing all Business Page content. What they are saying though is that only quality content, that sparks conversations, will be shared widely.

I saw a quote on one blog post that sums this up really well. It described the change as :

 

“Facebook is no longer a stage to broadcast from, but a coffee table to have a conversation around.”
Wired Magazine

 

Facebook has pointed out three ways this is going to impact us as local business users

 

  1. The News Feed of individuals only has a limited capacity and so less of that will now be given over to public (business & media) content
  2. That reduction in public content will include video – this is big shift for small business users who up until now have had great success with video
  3. Business Pages reach, video watch time and referral traffic will fall – yes they actually said it that clearly!!

 

These new ways of operating are being rolled out across all Facebook products so this will affect groups & events at some time in the future, but as yet how they will be affected is unclear.

Video

With these Facebook News Feed changes they are looking to encourage and facilitate human interaction. Their data has shown them that watching videos is a passive activity that detracts from interaction with people. So it is very likely that the short snappy videos that have been very popular will see a drop in attention as will the short loop videos like Boomerang.
Facebook News Feed changes - use Facebook Live

See Point 6 of the 17 point video to find out how Facebook Live videos could be your best bet.

 

Graphics

It’s also likely that things like quote graphics will see a decline in exposure too. Whilst they are very popular and get a lot of likes and some shares, they actually generate little in the way of conversation which is what Facebook is now looking for.

Group Content

Up until now group content has also been shown through individual News Feeds, and so is likely going to be subject to the same new ways of working. There is also the chance that group notifications could be switched off too as it could be felt that thy get in the way of personal interaction. Watch this space.

 

BUT it isn’t all Doom and Gloom

Panic not, these Facebook News Feed changes are not the end of the world. Facebook have said they are prioritising posts that spark conversation and meaningful interaction among people. Meaning if you can create content that starts conversations there is the chance that they will be seen more widely than posts that don’t. BUT the thing to realise here is, they are talking about interactions between your followers NOT interactions between you, as your business, and followers.

Some marketers are already experimenting with posting on their Page as themselves and not their business, to increase interaction that way, but it’s unclear if this might be a loophole Facebook shut down if everyone starts doing it. We’ll see.

 

With regards to comments, they are looking for long comments over short comments or gifs. So posts with more long comments will get preference over ones with just short comments.

Comments will continue to be more valuable than just likes and shares although it’s thought that a share with a comment will be classed as a comment.

Facebook News Feed Changes – 17 Tips for Healthcare Professionals?

TRANSCRIPT FROM THE VIDEO

  1. Reduce your frequency of posts. Save your energy – it’s going to be very much now about quality not quantity. One quality post a day is likely to be more than enough.
  2. Get very strategic about the content you do create. It needs to be crafted around starting conversations between people. You have to get your followers interacting with each other. Join the conversations they are already having in their head.
  3. Live video – Facebook has stated that live video gets 6 times more interaction than regular video so that will still get you some good traction. Think carefully & experiment with timing – when do you go live? When will get you most interaction?
    Make the videos meaningful, that means 20 mins min in length (your max is 4 hours!). Once posted dig into the comments afterwards & encourage more follow up dialogue.
  4. Create a live “show” same time same place every week. Facebook sat they are going to reward episodic content, and are going to be looking for repeat viewership. These can be live or scheduled videos, and there is a rumour that they may be favouring content made using the Facebook Creator App.
  5. Encourage your followers to use the See First function. This is a way your followers can choose to see your content first. You can only have about 25 see first options on each personal profile, so get in early with helping your followers to set this up.
  6. Get contentious – having an opinion and talking about contentious issues will engage an audience and potentially create more debate among followers. You just have to decide if this is congruent with your brand or not
  7. Avoid engagement bait at all cost – Facebook are looking for profiles that actively ask their users to have a conversation or ask for comments. That will get your content real negative marks
  8. Create iconic content. If you can create a piece of content that becomes highly thought of in your local area or area of healthcare, so much so that people are searching online for it, Facebook will give you huge credit for that and share that post more widely.
  9. Use Events – this platform inside Facebook gives you the opportunity to interact with people interested in the thing you are doing in a similar way to groups. So if you are giving presentations locally or having an open house or new practice opening be sure to set those kind of events up inside Facebook.
  10. Start networking inside your Pages comments area. Being active inside comments yourself will encourage others to respond & interact. Tagging people could also encourage more interaction
  11. Add your Facebook Business Page as your place of work in your personal profile, so people can start moving from your personal profile to discovering your Business Page really easily.
  12. Master Facebook ads – they are going to get more expensive now, so you need to be getting strategic about how you use them. Video ads are also going to be making it into the News Feed so this is worth considering. Also if your videos ads are 6 to 15 seconds long they could also be shown as add breaks in other peoples videos. Make sure your videos are in a mobile format as 85% of users are accessing Facebook on mobile devices. If you are just Boosting posts Facebook recognises you as an unsophisticated advertiser & won’t show your post as widely. The recommended ratio is 10% Boosts to 90% adverts.
  13. Start learning about chat bots. Chat bots enable you to take conversations off Facebook and into the Chat space. This then becomes like your own e-mail service provider, you can communicate directly with people. Chat Fuel & ManyChat are two examples of Chatbot tools.
  14. Keep an eye on Facebook Watch – it’s going to be a space where longer form videos are going to get exposure – it’s coming. Watch Parties is a part of that, where groups of people can all watch a video together and interact, so this has the potential for generating large volumes of engagement on your videos.
  15. Share local news. Facebook have announced that they will be giving more weight to local news stories inside peoples News Feed, so sharing good quality local news stories could get you appearing in the News Feed of local people.
  16. Create a Facebook Cover video to create more initial engagement when people land on your Page.
  17. Make sure you are showing up on the new Facebook Local App. In Nov last year Facebook relaunched their Events app as Facebook Local. A platform similar to Google maps or Yell where you can find events & now businesses near to you. This one is going to start gaining traction so get in there & make sure you are showing up!

I just want to stress that none of this is a precise science. Facebook has somewhere in the region of 100,000 different ranking factors so nothing is certain. However from following the leaders in the Industry & seeing what they are doing as a result of the News Feed changes this is a pretty good summary of the current thinking.

A Word of Warning

Facebook News Feed changes - a word of warningIf you’re thinking – OK I’ll just switch all of my activity to my personal profile, beware, Facebook has specifically stated that personal profiles are going to be subject to some changes too!

The analysis of posts is going to be done at the post level not just within Pages or groups. So every post is going to be analysed in the same way to dictate what prominence it is given.

So switching to a personal profile is not going to help you & also within a personal profile you do not have access to Facebook ads or the Insights that helps you decide what works & what doesn’t.

Also getting your team and patients to share content on their profiles is unlikely to help you now either.

Facebook know that people are going to try & game the system and will be on the lookout for businesses & profiles trying to do that and they will pretty quickly clamp down on that so be warned. Facebook is still a valuable platform, don’t do something that could get you excluded.

“They Just Want More of Our Money”

Since the changes were announced I’ve heard a lot of healthcare professionals sniping about how Facebook are only making these changes “to get more of our money”.

 

If that’s you, there are four things I’d just like to point out here:

  1. Facebook are making these changes in response to the feedback from their core users – individuals, just like you.
  2. For a very long time Facebook has provided a very affective and free to use marketing machine for small businesses, which most of the people complaining have happily used
  3. Facebook is a business not a charity
  4. It’s their platform, they can do what the heck they want with it !

My Hope for the Changes to the Facebook News Feed

Firstly I hope that these changes act as a shot across the bows of every practice whose only online presence is their Facebook Page. None of us own our Facebook Page or Groups & Facebook can absolutely change the rules at any time. So if your practice only has a Facebook Page or heavily relies on Facebook for your online marketing, I suggest you use this as a sign to start putting time and money into developing a website that you own & control as well as beefing up your Google My Business Page.

 

Secondly I hope practices quickly pick themselves up, dust themselves down and start up skilling and get comfortable using the new look Facebook platform so they can still reach out, connect with & help as many existing and new patients as possible.

 

Many thanks for taking the time to stop by my health practice marketing blog today. Please share your thoughts & feelings in the box at the end of this page. I’d love to hear from you.

Oh and please use the social share buttons if you think other people you know might benefit from seeing this.

Until next time

Thank you

Jill signature with kiss

 

 

 

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