Jodi’s Journal: The Facebook challenge – from my business to yours

Feb. 4, 2018

I have a little victory to share with you, mostly because you’re the reason I achieved it.

January drew the strongest audience yet for SiouxFalls.Business.

I didn’t see it coming. This is not the time of year when I expect lots of new developments to share.

The most exciting part is that no one big news story drove us to record readership numbers. This, of course, takes nothing away from our friends at Flyboy Donuts, whose announcement of a new east-side location was our most widely read piece of the month — and understandably so!

Essentially, we achieved our top month yet thanks to steady, ongoing, organic audience growth. I can’t thank you enough for continuing to read and share our work.

And then, in a twist that reflects how we in business can never take our success for granted, a new variable appeared.

There is a good chance that you are reading this piece on Facebook. That’s how at least half our readership typically finds us. And reaching people through Facebook is a constantly evolving challenge.

Here’s how simplistic I must be. I figure that if you “like” or “follow” a page, you should get to see all of the content from that page in your newsfeed.

It doesn’t work like that. Not even close.

Instead, Facebook uses a mysterious and always changing algorithm to determine what you see in your feed and how high up you see it. It always has prioritized content produced or shared by your friends. But over time, it has shrunk the reach of posts by businesses and publishers.

My theory as to why? By allowing us to reach fewer people organically, we are more compelled to have to pay to reach them. And every time reach is reduced, it’s basically equivalent to raising advertising costs.

I actually can accept this for a business. We work with many clients using Facebook, and I liken it to paying to advertise on any other platform that reaches an audience. I’m still after as much organic, free reach as I can get for clients by producing quality content, and I still think people who like or follow your page should see your content, but increasingly I’m resigned to the fact that we have to budget for distribution.

Being a publisher is different. We like to think we add value to Facebook’s product. And, at least in the case of reputable local and national media, I believe we do. But increasingly, our content is treated more like that of a business.

You might have seen news out recently that Facebook made another change to its algorithm, this one further de-emphasizing items from publishers. Subsequently, it came out late this week with another change that seems to potentially exempt, or maybe even favor, local media. We’ll see how it all shakes out.

In the meantime, though, you as a consumer or businessperson and me as a business owner can take some control over how we use Facebook and other tools to distribute our message.

First, you do have control over your Facebook feed, if you choose to use it. Go to “settings,” tap “news feed preferences,” click “prioritize who to see first,” and make your selections.

The change also prompted me to start a Facebook group, which I’d contemplated anyway and which hopefully will be a fun addition for our readers. You can join the group by looking up Sioux Falls Business Insiders. My hope is to make this a different experience for our readers, offering breaking news, interactive time with us, special giveaways and events.

Finally, this latest generation of Facebook changes reminded me of the importance of diversification, as we all are mindful of in business. While I know our market loves Facebook — three in four people in our region use it regularly, according to new research from Click Rain — we need to be growing our audience through multiple channels.

If you’ve not signed up for our free e-newsletter, In the Know, please consider it. You can sign up at www.siouxfalls.business. And of course, there’s always the website itself! Bookmark it, make a shortcut on your phone, and please check it often. We update it at least six times daily Monday through Friday. And given all the news we’ve been chasing down lately, it likely will be more than that.

There’s really no roadmap to success in the ever-changing social media landscape, but I continue to believe quality work that others want to share wins the day more often than not. Thanks again for helping us grow!

Jodi’s Journal: The Facebook challenge – from my business to yours

When your business relies on Facebook, prepare to practice hitting a moving target.

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