How to make Facebook Work for Your Birth Business
Facebook is constantly changing their algorithms, and believe me, it can be exhausting to keep up. One day you might feel like your engagement is increasing....but then the next week your images receive crickets. It's no surprise that many of us have decided to opt out of facebook altogether.
But I still believe that Facebook provides small businesses (especially those with stellar images) a huge opportunity to gain clients. I know that I book at least 1-2 clients each month from facebook alone. And not only do I book clients, but I'm also able to stay connected with past and current clients. Building an online community has never been easier and currently facebook does provide the easiest platform to do that.
So how do we make facebook work for us? How do we navigate through these ever-changing algorithms? Today, I'm going to share what I've learned about the most recent changes, as well as some techniques I use to build and maintain my audience. The key to everything here is AUTHENTICITY.
Let's talk first about the recent changes. The first big change came when FB started to penalize engagement posts. Facebook received complaints about the number of "spam-related" posts that promote or incentivize engagement. So if you're using engagement baits such as asking users to tag, share, or comment on an image, you'll likely be penalized. Facebook does say that this won't affect posts that are authentically asking for advice or sharing news about a missing child. But the key is AUTHENTIC. If you're trying to word your posts in a way that draws comments or reactions, think again.
Secondly, FB has decided to prioritize posts that foster meaningful interaction. Through studies they've discovered that what makes people happy when they're on facebook is when they have real and authentic conversations with friends. We should be looking to create posts that will generate back-and-forth discussion among facebook users. We should also be sharing local events that excite your community.
So with those two new pieces of information...how do we utlize facebook to work for us and not against us?
1. Share powerful images with authentic thoughts that promote connection.
The images we share our undoubtably beautiful and powerful, but what we're finding is that words are just (if not more) important. When you share a birth image, take a few moments to sit quietly and reflect on what that moment meant to you as an artist, as a mother, as a human being. You might have a different reaction as you consider each of those perspectives. This is good. Jot down ALL your thoughts. Then read back what you just wrote and narrow down to what feels most authentic. What stirs YOUR soul?
"What an incredible moment!" isn't a bad phrase...and it won't necessarily penalize you...but it doesn't work in your favor either. Instead, I might write something like this, "And I can just imagine that she'll look back on this image when she's in her 20s, her 30s, and recognize how deeply loved she was from her very first breath, and how instantly connected she was with her father. The man who brought her into this world." The second phrase moved me when I wrote it. I thought about my relationship with my dad, and how much I would treasure having an image like this one. It made me look at this in a much larger context. It helped me find a place of connection (even though I was definitely not born in the water).
2. Celebrate your local birth community.
Again, FB has really started to prioritize local and meaningful connection. Unlike in the past, posts about your local community will receive more views and hits. So now is the time to start interspersing your images with local events and news related to your birth community. This is an amazing opportunity to not only increase engagement but to also truly connect and partner with doulas, midwives, and hospitals in your home city.
3. Remember that outbound links are still penalized.
It's hard and frustrating, but we all know that when we post a link to an external website (like our own, or vimeo, or youtube, etc...) engagement goes way down. Facebook wants to keep it's users on it's platform. While it may be a bummer, it makes total sense. And so when you do post a link to a blog....you need to work extra hard on writing authentic and meaningful copy. Sit with an image for a while and ask yourself to really think about what moves you in this story. Don't just post a link and ask people to read more here.
4. Write concisely.
We have grown so lazy with our writing and our words. The overuse of superlatives in our everyday language is bad enough...but we often find that when those superlatives actually are appropriate (ie to describe the wonder of birth) they fall flat because we use them WAY TOO OFTEN in our everyday discussions. So to be effective I believe that you need to examine each word you write and ask yourself, "does this word add anything of substance to what I'm saying?" If the answer is no, remove it. You don't need fluff in your writing. You need each word to be heavy with impact and power. This takes practice. The best thing I can suggest is to read poetry. You'll begin to get a sense of how a single word can (and should) change EVERYTHING.
5. Post consistently.
If posting drains you emotionally, then schedule time at the beginning of the week or the beginning of the month and get it all done in one fell swoop. It's important that your page remains active and you'll find that the more you post, the easier it gets.