Life after Facebook: strategic marketing questions SMEs should consider

Many people were shocked when Facebook implemented its news ban earlier this year. But most surprised were likely the small businesses that had their digital marketing disrupted and their pages blocked because of Facebook’s algorithmic categorisation of news.

While short-lived, the news ban was unsettling to many SME owners who are now left wondering how they would pivot if something like this happened again. Not just to Facebook, but to any other marketing channel or platform that they’ve come to rely on for the execution of their business strategies.

Although we can’t predict the future of our big tech platforms, what we can do is advise that SMEs integrate an omnichannel digital marketing strategy, to help create a more sturdy foundation for withstanding life’s uncertainties.

Could less Facebook content competition be a good thing?

According to Chartbeat, a content intelligence platform for publishers, total traffic to 250 Australian news websites fell 13 per cent 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.

Does your email list need some TLC?

Email is dead, right? No way. 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 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.

How can you lean 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 SME 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.

When should you automate?

If Facebook is your only social media channel, it’s a good time to diversify where you’re sharing your content to future-proof your marketing strategy. It sounds easy to do in theory, but if you’re a small team or are a sole trader wearing many operational hats, finding the time to invest in several channels can be overwhelming.

That’s where good technology comes into play, helping to alleviate some of the pressure. Trial a social media tool that can help you streamline your omnichannel approach and content calendar. I always suggest seeking a social media tool you can try for free and make sure there are no lock-in contracts so you’re always in control.

David Fairfull, Co-Founder and CEO, Metigy