F8 2016:: Sneak Peak for Alaska’s Small Businesses
F8, a 2-day conference powered by Facebook, is a yearly event where Facebook announces recent changes to their platform and what their future direction is. Although the audience is app developers, small business owners should be paying attention to what came out of this year’s summit. Virtual reality, 360 video, live feeds, instant articles and messenger bots were all hot topics this year- and this means a lot of changes coming to the way users experience Facebook. What does this mean for Alaska’s small business owners? Here’s what I think you should be focusing on:
If you’re like me, you have your posting “formula” down pat. You know what type of content your fans like and you could probably schedule out a months’ worth of posts ahead of time if you really had to. Facebook’s live video format was just recently rolled out to everyone and has put a wrench in your pre-posting plans. Unlike that curated video you spent hours putting together, Facebook Live is a way for you to reach out to your fans instantly and share a moment with them in video format. These videos are garnering a lot of engagement and really allowing businesses to interact with their fans in an active way. In addition to people who already like your page, your live video will pop up on Facebook’s live video map and open up your potential views substantially. This is particularly exciting for businesses whose target market is outside of Alaska and interested in seeing more of our state (think tourism companies going live on a glacier tour or during a moose spotting).
Have you been noticing a lot of your friends becoming “interested” in events on Facebook recently? The events tool has been ramped up recently and I, for one, had no idea how much was going on around me until this happened. Now, any business page can create an event in advance and schedule it to go live on Facebook the same way you do with scheduled posts. Next time you’re having a sale, hosting happy hour or featuring a First Friday experience think about making it an event and sharing it on your business page. Events are a great way to increase organic reach and maintain brand awareness for your business with a local audience.
Recently, Facebook discovered a shift in what people are sharing most on social media- and it’s not pictures of their cats. News has taken over as the number one engaging content on Facebook. Not a news outlet? You can still benefit from this by tapping in to local influencers and news platforms who are already looking to featuring stories about Alaska’s small business and entrepreneurship scene. Share stories directly from their Facebook pages, especially if they’re about you! You can also share stories that are relevant to your fan base. If you already have a robust blog set up on your website, make sure you’re sharing those as well. You can go through the vetting process to produce instant articles or share them as links.
As users start to interact with Facebook differently, small businesses need to learn what techniques are still relevant and what they need to change to keep up. If you’re interested in learning more about 360 video, Facebook’s vision for virtual reality and what messenger bots will look like when they roll out, you can watch both days of the F8 conference here.