Facebook’s News Ban: Four questions for small businesses

30th March 2021

Facebook’s now famous (or perhaps infamous?) news ban in Australia took many people by surprise. However, those most surprised were likely the small businesses that were swept up in Facebook’s algorithmic categorisation of ‘news’ and saw their pages blocked.

For years small businesses have been told how important it is to use Facebook to reach customers, both existing and prospective. For years, small businesses have been paying to play on Facebook, investing their hard-earned marketing dollars into the platform. And for years, that was the norm and okay.

The news ban, albeit short lived, understandably unsettled many small business owners who are now left wondering what to do if something like this were to happen again. Not just to Facebook but to any other big tech platforms that provide important marketing channels.

No one knows for sure. We do, however, have some advice for those small businesses that were caught up in the crossfire or those worried about continuing to market through Facebook – and we think there’s good news.

Could less Facebook content competition be good for your engagement?

According to Chartbeat, a content intelligence platform for publishers, total traffic to 250 Australian news websites fell 13% on the day of the ban. Interestingly, Chartbeat also found that lost traffic didn’t turn up elsewhere on other platforms.

With less news circulating through Facebook, there could have been some potential uplift for your brand. Perhaps go back and analyse your reach numbers and engagement metrics for the period affected by the ban. You may notice some satisfying spikes. 

Is your email list bigger than your Facebook following?

Email is dead, right? No way. Not a chance. A great rule when it comes to your email list is to work hard at growing your numbers of subscribers making sure your customer database is bigger than your social following.

Content-heavy brands like Time Out and Urban List made a swift pivot to email newsletters when the Facebook ban effectively cut them off. It was a savvy move from a category of businesses with valuable lifestyle and cultural content to offer its audiences.

Get to the heart of what it is your customers want to hear from you and milk that email sign up on your website and social channels for all it’s worth. Don’t forget that balance is key with email marketing – the top three reasons people unsubscribe are too many emails; irrelevant content; and they don’t recognise the brand. 

Are you leaning into ‘consumers in control’?

Research late last year shows us that COVID-19 has made Australian consumers more mindful about the brands they buy from and how stories of localness are driving brand advocacy and ultimately repeat purchases.

Many consumers expressed shopping and brand discovery as something they could control during the pandemic and as a result chose to be more deliberate in their decision making.

If you’re a local business with a local story to tell, now could be a good time to start tapping into that and sharing it across social media. Talk about how your Facebook posts disappeared momentarily and the need for your followers to show their support across other channels. Use their emotional connection to your brand to emphasise the need for them to get behind you when the unexpected happens.

Is it time to double down on automation?

If Facebook is your only social media channel, it’s a good time to diversify where you’re sharing your content. It’s important to seek out your audience on other channels and create content that speaks to them there. And that all sounds good in theory, but when you have a small team or it’s just you wearing many operational hats, finding the time to go multi-channel can be overwhelming. This is where good technology comes in.

Find a social media tool that can help you streamline how you post to multiple channels and schedule your calendar. Here at Metigy, for example, our users can now post directly to Instagram, which is a new feature that’s been highly sought after because of the time it will save our users who want to post across channels.

Look for a social media tool you can try for free and make sure there are no lock-in contracts so you’re always in control.

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