Have you noticed a downturn in the likes and shares your business earns on Facebook? A new algorithm may be to blame.

Facebook recently made changes to the formula used to populate users’ news feeds. The changes were designed to emphasize engaging, meaningful and relevant content. Users will now see more stories from friends, family and brands they love, with fewer ads and viral memes. This could make it more challenging for small businesses to reach their audiences. But don’t panic! This is a great time to revisit your social media strategy and make sure you’re setting up your small business for success.

Here are three tips to consider to maximize your engagement:

1. Focus on quality over quantity

The new algorithm is tuned to reward posts that get more engagement (likes, comments and shares). Now is the time to double down on best practices and ensure that each post for your small business puts its best foot forward. Before publishing a post, consider these:

  • Is there an engaging, high-quality image with your post?
  • Is the copy (the words used in the post) clear and concise?
  • Is there something for your followers to respond to? Consider including a call to action or a poll in your posts. Passive content like a general update about an offer or promotion is less likely to be shared than content that encourages your fans to communicate with you directly.

Another option is to experiment with Facebook Live video; consider a tutorial, lesson or discussion on your area of expertise.

Once you’ve optimized your content to drive as much engagement as possible, monitor and measure the performance of your posts using the Insights feature for your page. If something rises to the top as more interesting to your followers, it might be worthwhile to increase posts like those.

2. Tell your fans how you want them to engage

Your fans are not going to shout on the rooftops about you without some prompting. Fans and customers may need a gentle nudge to change their behavior. If they’re not in the habit of checking in at your business, writing reviews or sharing posts from your brand, then remind them! Consider discounts and offers for customers who check in, share a review or tag your business in a post. Use your email, print and in-store signage as opportunities to encourage fans to take those actions. Have a little fun with it: Think about holidays and seasonal opportunities for contests where your customers can share photos and updates of their engagement with your brand.

3. Consider Facebook advertising

Organic reach for brand pages — that is, exposure that your posts receive on Facebook, free of charge — has been on the decline for several years. While you may not be able to reach your entire fan base or target audience through organic content alone, Facebook is still one of the most powerful tools available to small businesses. The laser-like precision with which you can target your audience is unrivaled by any other advertising platform, and Facebook advertising is much less expensive than traditional advertising.

Consider boosting your most important posts, and experimenting with ad campaigns to drive traffic to your business and increase your engagement. Don’t miss our free step-by-step Guide to Advertising on Facebook.

Create your own community

As Facebook grows and changes, many businesses are investing in alternative ways to stay in touch with their fans. If you’re seeking a direct line to your customers, email marketing is an affordable, effective and easy-to-use tool to use in conjunction with social media. Similar to social media, not every email message you generate will get noticed by your entire audience. But email marketing provides a 122 percent return on investment, on average: a clear indication that emails can boost sales.

Reach more people with social media management

A dedicated social media marketing specialist will create customized content and ad campaigns to engage your followers.

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