Episode 142

Feb 16, 2018

Facebook is constantly evolving and the newest updates may change your marketing techniques. Michael walks us through the madness.

Listen to "E142: How to Respond to the Facebook Newsfeed Changes" on Spreaker.
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Facebook is constantly evolving and the newest updates may change your marketing techniques. Michael walks us through the madness.

This episode is sponsored by:


Sponsor message This episode is sponsored by ABMP, Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. Supporting the largest community in massage and bodywork, ABMP goes above and beyond great liability insurance to make it easier for you to succeed at what you love. ABMP membership combines the insurance you need, the free CE you want, and the advocacy and personalized customer service you deserve. Join the ABMP family and learn why more massage therapists and bodyworkers choose ABMP membership than any other association. Expect more at abmp.com.

Allissa Haines Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we discuss the business side of massage therapy. I am Allissa Haines.

Michael Reynolds I’m Michael Reynolds.

AH And we are coming to you happy and chipper and — pretending to be happy and chipper at least. And, Michael —

MR [laughs]

AH I don’t know.

MR Pretending — despite all the being buried in snow and sleet and rain that we’re experiencing…

AH We’re super grumpy about the winters happening in New England —

MR A little bit. A little bit.

AH — and the Midwest. Michael, how are you today? What’d you have for lunch?

MR I’m doing great. I had my standard grocery-store sushi; so all is right with the universe.

AH Nice. I’m home on a snow day, which it’s my work-from-home day anyway; so thank —

MR Nice.

AH — goodness I am not losing money on this snow day —

MR Thank goodness.

AH — because I lost so much money last week because so many of my clients have cancelled because of the flu. When I saw a storm was a-coming, I was a little nervous, but it has not impacted my workday. I’m sad for all the people whose workday has been impacted by this. But not mine; so I’m home. And I made bread, and I had tater tots with fresh parmesan cheese sprinkled on them for breakfast… [laughs]

MR Wow. Wow.

AH I know. And I’ve been waiting for my bread to finish, which it’s cooling now, and I’m going to have peanut butter and fluff on fresh bread for lunch.

MR When you snow-day, you snow-day hard.

AH Well, it’s also partly that I’m out of food. I had —

MR So you’re using whatever’s laying around?

AH — I’m using whatever’s laying around, because I was too tired to go to the grocery store last night; so I have tater tots; I have garbanzo beans; I just made bread; I have peanut butter and fluff. So that’s pretty much how it’s going to go. I had eggs, but I left them at Dr. Boyfriend’s house this weekend. I did my grocery shopping and then did a whole day of cooking and meal prep at his house and then forgot my — the rest of my dozen eggs. Oh, and I have a hard-boiled egg in the fridge. But I’ve eaten through my Sunday meal-prep already, and I am just scrabbling today. [laughs] Anyhow, that’s a conversation that went too far.

MR We probably lost about three listeners already. [laughs]

AH You know what? It’s cool, man. We’re keeping it real over here at The Blueprint. Michael, tell us about today’s topic.

MR So, we’re going to nerd-out a little bit today. We’re going to talk about the upcoming, impending changes in the Facebook news feed. Specifically — this is just interesting in general, but it’s also related to how it affects your massage practice if you are using Facebook for communication and marketing in your massage practice, which many of our listeners are. So we’re going to talk a little bit about what’s going on, and then after halftime, we’ll talk about, maybe, what you and I think about reacting to it and what we might change or not change or how to deal with the changes in our massage businesses. Sound fair?

AH Yes. I was muting myself, because I was coughing because it’s winter in New England. [laughs]

MR [laughs] Well, you mute yourself and cough away.

AH It sounds super fair. Bring it on.

MR All right. So Facebook. As you are probably aware, Facebook is the largest social network on the planet; it is huge; it is used by just about everybody you probably know except for your grumpy relative that never gets online. Besides that person, everyone you know is probably on Facebook. We use Facebook for a lot of stuff. Most of us log in to talk to people, to look at articles, to argue about politics, to watch cat videos, all sorts of things, some useful, some not. We also use it sometimes to market our businesses. So if your massage practice is using Facebook or other social media for marketing, you know how valuable that can be and how useful it can be to structure a strategy around using Facebook. We’ve talked about this in the past in terms of how to use your business page on Facebook and some of the challenges with things like the organic reach and how it’s gotten more and more difficult to reach people through your page, because the business pages are being suppressed more on Facebook, and you can’t reach as many people, etc., because they want you to pay. This is not really news; it’s been happening for a while.

Recently, Facebook has made a statement, which has rocked the planet of digital marketing, so to speak, and the statement is basically summarized as we are going to change how the news feed operates to better serve Facebook users and this involves seeing less and less brand content. So when you hear the word “brand content” or “brands” on Facebook, that just means businesses. They like to say brands as the term for that, but, really, it means business Facebook pages. So if your massage practice has a Facebook business page, and you’re using that through your business, then that is your so-called brand page. So the reason this is happening is because — you can probably kind of empathize with this already. You’ve probably had times when you log into Facebook and you scroll through the news feed, and you spend 10 or 15 minutes just wasting your time in the news feed, and you feel crappy because you saw a bunch of yucky stuff — people arguing, political crap, stuff that just makes you feel like the world is burning down — and then you leave Facebook feeling worse. The thing is, you’ve noticed that happening, and that is not your imagination. Facebook actually has data proving that it’s happening. [laughs] They have a lot of data, and they have massive systems that analyze people’s behaviors and how people actually interact with Facebook and how they use Facebook. They have determined that Facebook has gotten less and less — I guess — it’s doing a worse and worse job of making people feel good. People are actually coming away from the Facebook experience feeling bad because of the way things have been structured up to now and the way things have gone on Facebook from a content perspective.

If you recall the example, you scroll down your news feed, you might see some stuff you like. You might also see some stuff from companies that are sponsoring posts or companies that maybe you follow their page and they’re just posting crap that’s not interesting, and they’re really doing a terrible job of marketing interspersed with arguments and things. Facebook has realized that in order for their platform to be successful and, therefore, for their stockholders and their shareholders to get return on their investment, they have to make sure the user experience stays positive. And so they are changing the news feed to favor person-to-person communication more heavily over brand and business content, because they want people to get back to the basics of what Facebook was designed to be, which is a true social network — a network where people are actually talking to each other — and it actually provides value. What that means is — I mean, honestly, a lot of people — if you kind of — you may not be as nerdy as I am where you follow all the digital marketing trends and read all the pundits and everything, but if you do follow all that stuff, there are a lot of, quote, “sky is falling” articles out there saying things like if businesses haven’t already moved all their Facebook strategy to paid content, they may have to soon. The end is near to brand-sponsored content or whatever. Businesses are really kind of scared because they are seeing more and more that it’s getting more expensive to use Facebook for business, because you’re going to have to, likely, start to pay more and more, and it’s going to get harder and harder to reach into the news feed to reach individual people as a business.

That’s kind of what is happening. Depending on how you look at it, it could be a good thing, a bad thing, a neutral thing, and all of the above kind of thing. But, in general, the concept that Facebook is shooting for here is to make Facebook a better experience so when you do log in — you might log in less often, but when you do log in and look through the news feed, you have a more tailored, more positive experience that makes you feel better about the platform, because it’s more filled with actual people than business stuff. Is there anything that I’ve left out or, maybe, didn’t really make sense, Allissa, before we get to halftime, in terms of the explanation?

AH No, that sounds pretty clear.

MR Okay. Cool. So let’s pause there, then. Let’s do a quick halftime shout-out, and then we’ll talk about what to do about it.

AH And our halftime sponsor today is Artichoke.

MR I love Artichoke.

AH Yay, Artichoke.

Sponsor message The simplest way to manage your business of one or your team of up to 10 people. Whether you’re looking for online scheduling, your website or one-touch payment processing, customizable appointment reminders and gift cards, or awesome client notes, it is all happening within Artichoke. It’s a refreshing departure from running your business with a bunch of apps that are cobbled together or even an upgrade on the good old pen and paper. It’s really easy to get started. They are all about simplicity. They are all about walking you through the setup process and making it super easy for clients to book appointments. And Massage Business Blueprint listeners can try free for 30 days and save 20% off the published rate for the first year, and you can do that by going to massagebusinessblueprint.com/artichoke.

AH And yeah, that’s that. Michael.

MR Yeah. I just kind of want to shout — while you were sharing the halftime spot, I was logging into our stats here, and we’ve got more and more of our listeners signing up for Artichoke all the time; so it’s really getting good traction. We love those guys and they keep making the software better and better.

AH They really do. They’re all about improvement. They’re really all about simplicity, and I like that about them.

MR Right on. Cool. All right. What to do or how to react or respond to these Facebook news feed changes.

AH So what I say — I’m just going to jump in and then you can — [clears throat] as I clear my throat, and you can tell the people how I’m wrong or overzealous.

MR [laughs]

AH I think everybody needs to calm-the-heck-down. If this is super startling and terrifying to you, the reality is that you’ve probably been too dependent on Facebook. Perhaps that has come at the cost of neglecting building a real foundation of your business, which is to say networking, a solid website, a good email and/or texting system, and maybe you need to get on that. If there’s any one marketing technique that disappears and causes your whole business to crumble, then your business really isn’t strong to start with. So let this be a gentle reality-nudge, and cause you to build up the other facets and the other foundations of a really solid business. I’d save this point until last, but I’m going to flip my ideas around now — relationships and networking will last much longer than any particular marketing tool. Effective print advertising did not last forever. It lasted a long time, but we don’t do much print advertising; we don’t do a lot of radio advertising. Social media advertising won’t last forever either. The next thing is around the corner. And even for people who Facebook was really effective, they may have found that it hasn’t been in the last year or so anyhow and moved on to Instagram or Snapchat or just decided to lean back into the basis of the foundation they built, which, for me, is email. It’s one tool among a whole bunch of options of other constantly changing tools. It’s a really good illustration of how we get distracted by shiny things, but Facebook isn’t a strategy. Facebook is simply a tool. If you do want to stick around on Facebook, and you do want to make some effort as you, maybe, shore up the other bits of foundation — which is networking, website, good email or texting — in your business, stick around on Facebook a little and be a little more sm- — be a little more smarter about what you do on the Facebook [laughs] —

MR Be mo’ smarta [phonetic].

AH Be mo’ smarta [phonetic]. Focus your ads, maybe not necessarily on your ZIP Code, maybe focus them on the email list that you already have, of clients and potential clients, and focus your ads that way. You can do that. You can get more active in local resource groups to really meet people where they’re at so that when someone in your town posts that they’re looking for a massage therapist, you can jump in. Or when someone’s looking for referrals for a PT practice, you can jump in and say I refer all my clients here. Let me know if you have any questions. I can tell you about some of the different PT practices and soft-tissue specialists around here. Being more active in those local resource groups is a really great way just to get your name out there so that when massage does come up, you’re the first name in everyone’s heads, and you can, hopefully, reap referrals from that. Keep in mind that tools are always going to change, but the principles of marketing are always the same. And this is the thing that Michael has said to me from the moment I met him: it’s all about relationships. You can have relationships with people in a hundred different ways. If email crashes tomorrow and there’s no more email, ideally, you will have collected people’s mailing addresses so you can send them an actual, physical birthday card or actual, physical reminders. And as — conversely, as postal mail has died, email has become a tool. The next thing is right around the corner, but a strong foundation is going to let you be agile and explore and roll with those changes. And, again, a strong foundation being networking in your community, a website, and email, and/or texting. I’m done.

MR And I also think Facebook’s misunderstood and has been for a long time and even more so now. I hear — a lot of times speakers or prominent marketing people say things like You can build a business and use Facebook and Instagram and all these channels to reach people, and they just kind of throw those terms out there and throw that phrase out there and, over time, a lot of people have heard that over and over and believe that they’re doing something wrong when they aren’t getting magical traction on Facebook. When they’re posting [indiscernible] on their page and wondering why their business is not growing; and they wonder if they’re doing something wrong. And it’s really misunderstood, because it’s really actually hard to do. I mean, even when Facebook was letting people see your business page content more often, it was still very hard to do, and it’s even harder now.

I think we have to, first, let go of this idea that there’s something wrong with us if we’re not magically getting a bunch of leads and clients on Facebook like we think our competitors are. They’re not. It’s very difficult. Let go of that. And, at the same time, as far as what to — you said the very first about networking, I think, is right on and it ties right into what’s happening here, because I’m seeing that a lot of traction has been happening through some things I’m doing if I use Facebook as a person. And, again, that’s not going back to the old days when people would misunderstand profiles and make them businesses; that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about extending your networking onto Facebook. In the real world you’re going to, ideally, be a good networker, which means you’re not going to be smarmy or sleazy or pushy or salesy. You’re going to be a person, you’re going to make referrals, you’re going to share information, you’re going to be thoughtful and human in your interactions, and sometimes you’ll mention business. Sometimes you will mention what you do or how you help people, and you might ask for a little help here and there. When you do that as a person on Facebook — not through your page, but as a person — and especially if you segment your friend list to segment the right message to the right people, you can really get some good traction and play into the favorable weight Facebook is giving the personal news feed anyway. So I would roll that into your strategy as well. For example, in your friend lists, make a whole segment of friend lists of just your clients and then just your referral partners and just somebody else or whatever, and, that way, when you’re sharing things like upcoming events or asking questions or doing something business related, you can segment it to the right people, and you’ve got a better chance of those people seeing it and you’re not worried about messing up your news feed full of stuff that some people don’t care about. That’s kind of a separate little tactic you might look at to respond to this.

On the other side of that, I mean, honestly, it’s kind of plain and simple. You’re probably going to have to spend more money on Facebook if you truly want to reach people with a marketing message. And that’s okay. That’s just how things work. I mean, the demand for Facebook space is going up. That’s why the Super Bowl commercials cost a million dollars. You’ve got a gazillion people watching and, therefore, the price is very, very, high. With Facebook, they’re going to put a premium on attention more and more, which means that you’re probably going to have to spend a little more. So you may have to be more discerning about how you run ads. Maybe get really, really good at targeting those ads even better; so you’re spending less money to reach the right people. Maybe budget a little more to try advertising or to expand your advertising, if you can afford to, and you really are truly getting good return on that investment. If there’s any time to stop being afraid of spending money on Facebook advertising, I mean, now is kind of the time. This is kind of what you have to do.

Now, there are exceptions. There are plenty of business pages I’ve seen that they’re very active; they have a great following; they don’t really have to do a whole lot to get attention, especially in niches. Actually, our own page, Allissa, Massage Business Blueprint — our page is a good example. We are very, very focused on a niche, which is massage therapists. And we post what I think is very useful, interesting content, and we don’t really have to do a whole lot more, and we’ve got thousands of likes and people see our stuff on a pretty regular basis and we’ve got that niche. If you’re focused on a niche as a massage therapist, that can be a good route to overcoming and kind of succeeding despite these algorithmic changes from Facebook. I would look at that as well: look at how you can niche, look at how you can segment, and also look at how optimized and how efficient you’re being at targeting your Facebook advertising too.

AH You just nerded out, man.

MR I did. I dropped buzz words all over the place: optimize, algorithmic… I’m realizing I’m just out of control.

AH Wow. You just became a Dilbert cartoon of yourself.

MR [laughs] That curved tie and the glasses.

AH And this is why we like you, Michael.

MR Yeah, yeah. I agree with you, though. The sky is not falling. I agree with you completely when you say that if you’re relying on Facebook or you think you should rely on Facebook, you’ve got to have diversity. I am a big fan of diversity when it comes to marketing, when it comes to financial investments. Most things in life, in general, diversity can really help avoid risk and really help you have more stability in your business. [indiscernible] marketing.

AH And with that, I think we’ve said all we can say about this before —

MR I have nerded out. I am done.

AH — people fall asleep. I like it.

MR Take it away.

AH Thank you all for working through this Facebook algorithm stuff with us. I hope that it helps you. If you have any questions you would like us to answer, you can email them to us at podcast@massagebusinessblueprint.com. That goes to both me and Michael; so if you have questions, send them along. If you are listening on a platform like iTunes or Google Play or whatever else there is that allows you to leave a review, we would love it if you left us a happy review. It helps other people find us; so thank you for that, and thank you for the people who have done that already. Michael, am I forgetting anything in the closing, because I’m totally winging it without the script.

MR [laughs] The one thing you might mention is there are still a few spots left in our course for the spring at massagebusinessblueprint.com/elevate. We are getting enrollments coming in here and there still; so it is filling up. Get on that if you want to check it out.

AH And you can go to massagebusinessblueprint.com/elevate to learn more about that. It is a great combination of videoed lectures and live classes, where you present your homework that you do after you watch a lecture, to keep you accountable and really help you build and rebuild your massage business to be sustainable and fruitful and happy so that you’re not a suffering business owner who’s unhappy.

MR And happy.

AH Yeah. We want you to be happy. We want you to make more money and live a happier life. We, legit — that is the thing that we do here at Massage Business Blueprint, and it informs all of our work. So thank you so much for joining every — thank you so much for joining us, everyone. This is why Michael is usually in the host role. Have a wonderful day.

MR Thanks, everyone.

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