Marketing and promoting your business.

It went from Easy to hard. Back to easy, then hard. Then expensive. Now it's become a reachpocalypse. Exceedingly difficult. What is a small business owner to do?

Back in the early 2000's it was gloriously easy to promote your business with email.

It lasted a few years, then this avenue was spoilt as your audience became swamped with the volume of emails in their inbox. Marketing and promotion via email got harder to cut through.

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Next Facebook and social media platforms became popular, promotion and marketing was easy again. Beautifully easier than ever before to reach new prospects.

But not for long. Like you worked hard to get email addresses, you worked hard to get social media fans that would see what you had to say in their Facebook News Feed, and hopefully share it.

This is called organic reach (you write it – Facebook places it in the News Feeds of all your fans (your Likes). This didn't last long. We can be nice and say it was due to the sheer volume of posts or we can be honest and say it was Facebook creating an enormous income stream.

For at least the past four to five years, all the hard work you put into gaining fans, writing posts; meant nothing because you were 'talking' to an empty room. 1 per cent or less of your fans would have your posts placed in their news feeds. You didn't pay (by boosting your posts or advertising), it wasn't shown.

Again, to reach your audience you paid. But you had opportunities to buy promotion of your posts to new audiences. Ones that matched the demographics of your database (lookalike audiences) or a target market of your picking.

Now you can look back pre-January 2018 and reminisce on the "good" times at Facebook.

You've probably read that videos on Facebook get prominence and good viewership. So Facebook has been weighting them well, and putting in News Feeds – especially Live video.

Uh oh.

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On the 14th of December 2017, Facebook announced they were making an update to the News Feed ranking that will help show videos in News Feeds that people are proactively seeking out and coming back to on Facebook.

They'll take two factors into account. First intent matters - where people are actively going to Pages looking for videos. Second Repeat viewership matters – higher ranking for your videos when people go back to watch content from your Facebook page week after week. Videos are important because they have the power to drive conversations.

Next, on 11 January 2018 Facebook made a sweeping change to the news feed ranking algorithm that prioritises content that "sparks conversations and meaningful interactions between people."

It will show less public content, including videos, from businesses, brands, and media that people just watch or read passively and it doesn't spark discussion.

Then on the 19th of January another major update to the news feed was announced: "…to make sure the news people see, while less overall, is high quality." Who determines the level of quality? Facebook users via surveys.

So what does this mean for small business? Very, very, very hard work. What do you need to do?

1. Create Community. Use Facebook groups. Link your pages. Get moderators to work with the conversation streams. Less content is "more".

2. Put your posts on the Facebook Local App – currently available on iOS only.

3. Keep that camera going. Create videos – especially live video feeds.

4. Create an ongoing "series" with episodes. This will bring people back (re- the 17 December change).

5. Don't forget about email. Not everyone is on Facebook and while hundreds of posts can slip by one's News Feeds on Facebook before they look at it- people always check their email.

- Debbie Mayo-Smith is one of Australasia's most sought after motivational speakers and trainers. Debbie gives speeches, seminars and trains on technology and personal productivity. Sign up for her monthly quick tip newsletter here. To have Debbie speak at your next event or train your team call 64 27 575 5359 or visit her www.debbiespeaks.com