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How the changes to Facebook will affect us (and other small businesses) and how you can help.


If you're the kind of person that hangs out online a lot, it won't come as a surprise to learn that things are about to change, and in a big way. I'm talking of course, about Facebook.

A few weeks ago Mark Zuckerberg the CEO of Facebook announced that the platform will be concentrating on 'meaningful social interaction', and away from the news heavy, Gif ridden mess that it has become over the past few years. The focus is shifting to a personal connection rather than a content splurge. No longer will you see cats taking on lions followed by a guy pretending to be Batman to his kids followed by a Lord of The Rings meme about how 'one does not simply...eat one Pringle' or suchlike.


For me I tend to go on Facebook around 5 times a day, but sometimes it can be for an hour at a time, especially whilst sitting in front of the telly after a hard days work, or rather, a days work. We as a business use our social platforms in different way.

It's taken some time, a lot of trial and error, to understand the audience on each platform. I'm still learning too. I use Facebook mainly for

1. Creating events and sharing what we have coming up

2. Sharing similar, bookish related contect from other great pages

3. Inspiration/Funny quotes to get you through the day

4. Ask questions and share our news, from a business point-of-view.

So, it's about sharing. To inspire, to make you laugh, to think, to teach. It's not really a 'chat' heavy platform, it's more of a content drop, and replying to the comments. The new Facebook algarythm will change this.

A few stats.

I set the page up probably in August 2012. I say probably as I quit my previous job to start the shop then, and pretty much had the logo and name and started with that, although the twitter account was set up in March 2011, so maybe it was then. Anyway, it doesn't really matter. What matters is that over 6/7 years the page has steadily grown to just over 5k followers. Not bad for a small business with zero marketing budget. We managed to get there based on sharing the points above, and talking to people when they popped into the shop, or at craft fairs before we had a shop. In recent years the way Facebook works is, unless you paid for an advert, you're only likely to reach 6% of that audience. SIX PERCENT! As the social media world seemed to explode, more and more people joined, liking many pages along the way, so to have every single page pop up on your feed that you've previously liked could prove just too much. Maybe. I'm not a social media guru so I'm just spitballing here. Six percent of 5000 is 300. So out of 5000 people who wanted to opt into receiving news, only 300 of them received it. No doubt many have forgotten they went ahead and liked us (for whatever reason) and have hardly ever or even never appeared in the feed. The work put in to grow the Facebook page has seen the results drastically reduced.


Facebook Ads

Enter Facebook Ads. Before I learnt more, I always resented it. Why should I have to pay to feature on peoples feeds who wanted to see stuff anyway? But really, Facebook is in the market of sales, just as any other publication, and you don't see The Telegraph giving away free advertising do you? It's actually a really creative and dense tool to use. If you have the time (and if you're a small business owner, you should seriously look at Facebook Ads and make the time) you can pinpoint who exactly you're trying to focus on. Cards on the table here though, I've only used it about a dozen times in the past 5 years, and mostly for a general 'Like Us' kind of adverts. I have used it however to target specific people who liked a certain author, and were in the area and of a certain age and gender, and boom, more ticket sales. I'm getting off the point.

IT WILL ALL CHANGE.

To go back to my original point, the algarythm is changing. That 6% audience I have is going to shrink even more. If you own a business, or have a page on your band, your book, you run a fan-page or any page, your reach will shrink. Videos, especially live videos have been the biggest reach but even video will be scaled back. For us as a small business this is frustrating, but to quote Jenna Kutcher "You don't own your social media followers". Do you know who does? Mark Zuckerberg. Instead of burying my head in the sand and saying "Oh well, I'm sure I'll be fine" I've decided to step up and create more, inspire more and become LESS of a salesman (buy books!) to grow the business that I've worked hard on for the past 7 years of my life. Here's what I plan to do to continue to grow.

1. Create a Podcast to showcase the brilliant creative talent, authors, musicians, poets and more, and inspire you to go ahead and do what you want to do.

2. Blog more (Hey Look, I'm doing it now!).

The podcast idea I've had for a while, I just wasn't sure which direction to take it. I'm still not too sure so need to focus and know 100% before I plough ahead.

The blogging comes off the back of that. I want to tell you more about me and my story, about the peaks and troughs of how running an independent business really is.

So this blog kinda starts it all off. Facebook is a HUGE part of what I do, along with Twitter and to a lesser extent Instagram and no doubt if you own a business you'll have a page too that'll be affected.

Here are 5 ways in which YOU can help us continue to grow.

Email.

We have about 900 email subscribers and no algarythm can touch them. No one will suddenly say 'Nope, you can't send that, it has too many cats in'. If someone signs up to our email list we treasure it, as they've told us 'Yep, tell me more'. Join 900 others HERE.

Facebook

What? Didn't I just? Well yes, OK, we're obviously not discounting the biggest social platform on the net, we just need to inform you of a better way to see us, and your other favourite pages. Click on our page, then hover over Following and choose See First. This tells Facebook that actually, yeah, TBCB is proper good.

Interact

I've learnt that one of the major ways the NEW Facebook will see which pages are more conversational is the use of the 'Comment'. A like and a share is great and we love it, but the new algarythm puts heavy weight behind comments, and big comments too. So if you see something I post that you like, please comment on it, and maybe start a discussion about it. The longer the comment, the higher the reach. Apparently.

Twitter and Instagram

Facebook has always been there, but I use Twitter the most. It really helped me grow in the early days and I still use it daily. It's more converational and even though it's changed in recent months, it's still my go to Social site. I use it more to chat than to sell and share. Instagram is also a tool I use, and more so in the past few months. I'm experimenting with it, and using it as a 'story' vehicle. That's the beauty of owning your own business, you can shape it as you like and try things out.


Visit us!

Nothing beats a visit. In the flesh amongst the books, an evening of acoustic music, extending a life skill with painting and more. If you can get down to the shop, please do! I love to meet new people, especially those who have followed us on social media and right here on the blog.

I hope this has proven useful. Please share this with anyone who may own a small business to help them in their own battle.

Michael.

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