Facebook Changes: How Small Businesses Can Still Win Big

Facebook Changes: How Small Businesses Can Still Win Big

Facebook changes are coming. These changes have a significant impact on business pages on Facebook. For small businesses, it could be frustrating. But it could also be a call to step up on valuable, relevant content.

Facebook Changes: Goals

Mark Zuckerberg says the Facebook changes will promote more local and relevant news. On his recent post on the subject, he summarised his motives for the changes as follows:

  • Facebook wants to give users a more personalised experience
  • Based on feedback from Facebook users.  people see too many pieces of content from businesses
  • Facebook wants to increase the quality of content on the platform
  • There is a stronger focus on real engagement and interaction

This could mean less exposure for business pages as these pages move to a secondary news feed, first piloted in October last year. Facebook users will see news from family and friends in a primary newsfeed. The changes also mean that businesses might need to spend more on ads to be seen by their target audience. Small businesses without deep pockets will feel the pinch the most.

Facebook Changes: Don’t Give Up

But small businesses mustn’t give up. 62% of consumers on Facebook say that it is the most important platform for them. A bigger metric is the 80% of users who say that they are more inclined to buy from you if you have a credible, authentic Facebook page associated with your business. Business decision-makers are also keen Facebook users according to a recent article by HootSuite on Facebook Statistics. Therefore, the objective of small businesses should be safeguarding the top one or two spots on the secondary news feed in order to be seen by their target audience.

Facebook Changes: Live video

In this video, I discuss the changes to Facebook and how small businesses can still win the heart of their target audience by creating and publishing valuable content to the right people.

Facebook Changes: What Is A Promo Post?

Promotional posts are Facebook’s pet peeve. Avoid it as much as you can. Not sure if your posts are promotional? These three points just about cover it:

  • The sole purpose of the post is to push people to buy a product
  • You ask people to enter promos, giveaways or contests
  • Your posts reuse the same content for Ads over and over

Facebook Changes: What’s the Solution?

Focus on knowing who to target, how to offer value to them and what you can do to stand out in the newsfeed.

To achieve these best practices when you create content for your Facebook business page:

  • Create videos of min 30 secs, max 90s (longer videos rank higher)
  • High completion rates (50%)
  • Schedule posts on Facebook (instead of on 3rd party platforms like Buffer and HootSuite)
  • No outbound links (e.g. YouTube, blog posts)
  • Upload videos directly to Facebook
  • Don’t boost posts (weak targeting and low conversion rates)
  • Use Ads to target individuals on your business page (check out lookalike audiences)
  • Create Facebook groups and engage there
  • Use great images in posts (emotion, motion, colour)
  • Spend time identifying your audience, grab their attention and build relationships
  • Create motivational and inspirational posts
  • Value offers (how-to videos, PDF cheat sheets, advice, demos)
  • Promote local businesses

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What GE Oil & Gas did to supercharge employees on social media

What GE Oil & Gas did to supercharge employees on social media

GE Oil & Gas supercharges its social media presence

A few years ago, GE Oil & Gas, one of the world’s leading equipment and services’ providers in the oil and gas space, embarked on a series of online experiments. The oil equipment giant trained a cohort of 20-40 high potential leaders to engage online. Becky Edwards was Chief Communications Officer at GE Oil & Gas during this time. I spoke to Becky about GE’s approach to digital interactions. She explains:

The GE team asked this question early on: what would it be like to take this cohort and supercharge them digitally?”

Becky started at GE in 2010 as Global Employee Communications Leader. She describes the internal environment she joined as ‘socially-enabling-digitally’ and employee-driven. Existing internal GE systems allowed employees to comment and even retract offensive comments. She remembers that in 2010, the ability to request a retraction was a progressive capability at that time.

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GE Oil & Gas empowers high potential staff

By 2012, GE had put together a robust set of guidelines for external social media activities.  This set the scene for Becky and her team to develop a specific training programme for the high potential cohort. The programme focused on how they might use their influence in a digital world. As part of the training, Becky and her team prepared the cohort to showcase their digital know-how at the GE Oil & Gas Annual Meeting normally held in January/February of every year.


The team covered topics such as the importance of content marketinghow to create content for social media and where to publish the content once it is created. They also co-created content with the cohorts. The cohort, now digital ambassadors, applied their knowledge from the training on social channels such as Twitter. They could provide a glimpse of the annual meeting for those not present.

GE Oil & Gas enables more online conversations

Becky explains that having set guidelines isn’t enough. As a result of the experiment, Becky says the team realised they needed to visibly and deliberately give people permission. Contrary to the idea that only the most senior person in the team can have a voice, Becky says,

“We needed to tell employees that it’s OK to have a voice, own what you know and share it”

What would be a good outcome for GE Oil & Gas? Becky explains that social media is an enabler that allows the organisation to:

  • Do more commercial transactions that stem from digital interactions
  • Generate goodwill and positive mind share such that people looking for information can find positive information
  • Position GE Oil & Gas employees as thought leaders in their field
  • Draw potential and existing customers into a deeper conversation

Traditionally, technical experts share their knowledge through conferences for instance. At conferences, the conversation would be one to many people sitting inside a room somewhere. Becky says,

“Thanks to social media platforms, more people can now fit inside that room”


Check out other employee social media examples: Rackspace

Check out tips for starting a social media pilot: 20 tips

Photo credit: momoneymoproblemz, CC 3.0 license, 2014, General Electric Sign, Fort Wayne, Indiana
I interviewed Becky Edwards on September 2015. This is a modified version of a blog originally published on LinkedIn on December 15, 2015
How to Select the Right Employees for Social Media Advocacy

How to Select the Right Employees for Social Media Advocacy

Identify the right employee advocates to get the most out of your social media advocacy programmes.

Social media advocacy has become a key mechanism in B2B marketing. Allowing employees to promote your brand, products and services could significantly shorten your sales cycle and improve employee engagement. It is also a relatively low-cost way to increase your brand reach.

However, engaging on social media isn’t for every employee. Participation must be optional, empowering employees who have a combination of skill, interest and credibility.

Social media advocacy, who will do it?

A good first step to selecting employee advocates is to develop a sound understanding of the appetite for social media participation within your organisation. One useful approach is to create a survey that asks employees key questions about their social media activity. The survey should find out some of the following things:

  • Social media platforms used
  • Frequency of use
  • Mode of engagement i.e. whether they create, engage or just skim content
  • Willingness to share content on behalf of your organisation

Keep the survey anonymous, identifying respondents by department/level, e.g. sales, customer service or team leader, manager etc. and by office location for instance. You can create your own questions or use existing ones.

Here are five ways to select employee advocates:

1. Credibility and influence

Employees who already have a strong presence on social media could be highly valuable to your social media advocacy programme. Such employees are probably well respected by their peers, and regularly engage online in a professional way. Moreover, they are likely to be not just content sharers but also content creators. This is a highly valuable characteristic as research has shown only 1% of social media users will fall into this category.

2. Involve senior leaders 

You might find that the best advocates are your senior leaders. Whether you are bringing a new product to market or reinforcing your brand values, senior leaders as employee advocates could provide real impact online. Their participation also motivates employees, giving them role models that walk-the-talk. However, be mindful that getting senior leaders to actively engage online requires active support in areas such as time management.

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3. Some functions have more appetite

When it comes to social media advocacy, you can assume that employees in marketing, sales and customer support services will have more of an interest in getting involved. Therefore, engage these departments as advocates, at least to get the programme started. Depending on your industry, employee advocates in technical functions might be extremely valuable to engage. But don’t worry if technical employees e.g. engineers aren’t keen. There are several ways employees can get involved in social media e.g. “listening” in on online customer conversations and finding solutions to their challenges.

4. Engage where your customers are

Sometimes, it will come down to location. If your business strategy is to increase market penetration in a specific region, it might make sense to get mass social media participation in that region. The web is global, but there is value in a customer knowing that they can contact an employee who has shared some useful information about a product – knowing that the employee is local, and more likely to be able to meet them in person to discuss their needs. This might be just what a customer needs to make a final decision on a purchase.

5. Train existing social media users

Employee advocates should be social media users. Trying to convince employees to get on social media, solely for the purpose of becoming advocates doesn’t work. But not any social media user will do. Ensure that the employees have appropriate guidelines and training for how you want them to conduct themselves on social media. Also, consider focusing on one platform at a time e.g. LinkedIn or Twitter, providing not just education around social media policies but education on the idiosyncrasies of each platform.

Final words

You don’t need an army of a 100 employees to begin your social media advocacy programme. Ultimately, you should start with a few early adopters – then grow!


This blog was written by Yekemi Otaru and originally published on the Smarp blog con 28th March 2017

Does it matter if your organisation has a social CEO?

Does it matter if your organisation has a social CEO?

If you work for SalesForce, General Electric, or Hewlett-Packard, you are one of few employees who has a social CEO. You might take it for granted. But research shows that as at 2016, 61% of Fortune 500 CEOs had no social media presence at all. However, CEOs like Apple’s Tim Cook and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella are active on Twitter. And General Electric’s Jeff Immelt and Hewlett Packard’s Meg Whitman have more than 100,000 followers on LinkedIn. It is not always possible for your company’s CEO to be a social media guru, but it does make the marketing team’s job a lot easier.

Social CEO Logic: Successful Employee Advocacy Is About Culture And Leadership

YO! Marketing employee engagement social media As I prepared to write my book, I interviewed social media and marketing professionals in ten companies. These companies included GE, SAS, and IBM. It became clear that some companies had a head start with employee advocacy. This was partly due to their inherent company culture and exemplary leadership. Leaders like Salesforce.com’s CEO Marc Benioff have done an outstanding job of being present on social platforms  in a way that encourages his employees to follow suit. It’s a sign that says, “Hey, I buy into this!” Other companies have struggled to generate the level of employee participation required to make social media employee advocacy sustainable. Part of the challenge is getting their business leaders to walk the talk. Over recent years, more reasons have been uncovered as to why CEOs should be social that dispute some of the risks involved in putting one’s self out there.

Social CEO Problem: Research Shows It’s A Good Idea But It’s A Hard Sell

YO! Marketing social media CEO employee advocacy The 2016 Brandfog Survey on the Social CEO reveals the perception that executive participation in social media leads to better leadership grew by 15% between 2013 and 2016. Respondents to the survey also believe that it builds brand trust. This is probably why 85% state that having a socially active C- Suite leadership team can mitigate risk before a brand reputation crisis occurs. How might you encourage your CEO to be more social? A recent article on IF suggests that training your CEO is out of the question and recommends fitting social around the CEO rather than trying to fit the CEO into social. A fair bit of researching and convincing needs to be done to move a non-social CEO into social media. This is the reality.

Social CEO Reality: Your CEO Is Probably Too Far Away Anyway

YO! Marketing social ceo team work employee engagement Top executive support inspires employees. However, one global social media manager at a top social brand told me that it is more important to have a layer of middle managers that support social media employee advocacy programs. A social CEO might be just too far away to be an effective role model to those lower down in the organisation. In addition, the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer: 52% of consumers trust an “average” employee more than a CEO, a statistic that rose 30% between 2009 and 2014. And this % has probably grown since then. Perhaps middle management is more influential—not just internally, but externally too.

Social CEO Trend Line: The Future Of Employee Advocacy

YO! Marketing employee engagement During the interviews, I found that managers reinforced values by talking about them and behaving in ways that supported them. Employees are empowered by this. With the appropriate guidelines and support, employees start to participate. A recent article in Fast Company shows that employee advocacy programs have grown by 191% since 2013. Perhaps we can expect similar growth in CEO participation on social media.  Are you a social CEO or do you work for a company that has one? Leave a comment to tell us if it makes a difference.

All these images are free from pixabay.com
This is a modified version of a blog originally published on the openfor.business blog on 22 February 2016
7 Things You Need to Do If You Hate the New LinkedIn

7 Things You Need to Do If You Hate the New LinkedIn

LinkedIn made a bunch of changes to its platform, and many people hate it. My feelings are not as strong as some but I see how losing the advanced search function and having your most-used buttons vanish could be annoying. If your articles suddenly don’t do as well as previously, it could feel like a bad joke. If you hate the new LinkedIn, here are a few things you need to do now to keep going:

Make your website the centre

Here’s the thing: LinkedIn is not your website. Many treat it like it is, publishing all their best content here and depending on it for the majority of their sales leads. The space we use here is rented space. LinkedIn is free to do what they want with their product.


Create a website and use it. Have a blog and contact page. List your products, services and testimonials. Implement features for generating leads. These features could be newsletter sign ups or free e-books that require your website visitors to provide their details. Make it easy for people to get in touch on your website.

Don’t stop engaging on LinkedIn

Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed several people leave LinkedIn out-rightly. LinkedIn is still a crucial part of your online presence. Whether you are looking to grow your business, or find a new job, not being on LinkedIn puts you outside the professional sphere and makes it even more difficult to achieve your business goals.


Keep your profile updated in the new LinkedIn, and for goodness sake, don’t delete it. Use LinkedIn as a place to connect with potential business people and engage in relevant discussions. Continue to publish content but publish your best articles on your website first. After two weeks, you can republish the content on LinkedIn. The two-week timeline gives time to Google to index the content. If you publish the same content on several blogs in a short time, Google will penalise that content in its search rankings.

Download your LinkedIn articles

I started doing this few years ago. Most of my LinkedIn articles exist in PDF format somewhere else on my computer/cloud. It seems unthinkable, but what if all your articles disappeared…like the advanced search function did? LinkedIn is not your hard drive, and it certainly isn’t the cloud.


Go to your LinkedIn articles, right click and choose the Print option. Within the Print screen, choose Save as PDF instead of the name of the printer. Then save it. Remember you can do this for other articles you like on LinkedIn. Save it! Don’t rely on the new ‘Save Item’ option on LinkedIn.There might be an easier way. Open to better ways in the comments.

Download your contact list

This feature is probably already well-known and hopefully, well-used. Your contacts are available to download in CSV format. You can filter the list as you wish and build a database of your contacts outside the LinkedIn platform.


Download your contact list today, and do it regularly. Go to your settings and click on ‘Getting an archive of your data’. You will get more than just contacts. Your recommendations, experience, projects and so on.

how to export your contacts on the new LinkedIn

Exporting your LinkedIn connections

Build your presence on other networks

When one platform is working really well for you, it’s easy to ignore other platforms. I was guilty of that. For a long time, I did very little on Twitter and Facebook for my business. But I started to see the advantage of having a presence across other networks. Each platform engages users differently, so get to understand how you can make it work. With other channels to engage LinkedIn connections and new connections, you build stronger relationships. And if the new LinkedIn goes cuckoo (again), you have other places to play.


Try Twitter or Facebook as a secondary platform. Facebook in particular, is getting better at helping business brands engage with customers. Create a business page and invite your LinkedIn connections to join. Facebook also allows you get away with less regular posts. However, if you’ve got the time and you can be succinct, Twitter is full of potential partnerships that could grow your business.

Meet your contacts offline

This should be the nirvana for social networking. You meet a connection in person. Yay! But many people don’t and more surprisingly, they don’t want to. Meet as many connections as possible for coffee. Obviously, try not to meet them all in one day.


Meet any connections that live in your city for coffee and a chat. Get to know their business and develop an offline relationship. This enables you make the best of LinkedIn and the hard work you’ve put into developing a network. When you visit a new city, put it out there and ask connections in that city to meet up. Over time, your online connections move into your phone contact list. Bliss.

Other strategies

There are other things you could do to grow and maintain a strong network. Attending events, taking speaking opportunities and joining a networking group are just some ways of engaging outside the new LinkedIn.


Look out for opportunities to speak about what you do. If public speaking is not your thing, consider a podcast series or video blogs so that your target audience get to really know you and can hear from you regularly, and you from them. Try Facebook Live, Periscope and Audacity/Sound Cloud for live videos and chit-chat.

10 cost-effective marketing tips for small businesses

10 cost-effective marketing tips for small businesses

Marketing is often on the bottom of the list for  small businesses, and I understand that. The priority is usually to get business as quickly as possible, yet things like building a website tend to be nice-to-haves in some cases. I run a marketing consultancy but I haven’t been immune to the reluctance to spend on “marketing stuff”. In this article, I will highlight 10 essential yet cost-effective marketing tips for even the smallest budgets. These tips will help you build a foundation for your business. Many will cost you nothing, but they will make a significant impact in growing your business long term.

cost-effective marketing tips for small business by yo marketing

Cost-effective marketing tips for small businesses

1. Email Marketing

If you have a contact list of potential customers, email marketing could be a good way of letting them know about your business. You could start with a small list of people that know you and would not mind getting your email. For this, you don’t need an email marketing service. You could just use your email provider. Remember to keep your contacts’ emails in Bcc so that you don’t share their email addresses with your entire list. As your list grows, consider email providers like MailChimp, Mad Mimi and MailerLite. These all have free plans. The paid plans cost as little as £7 a month if you grow to a list of over 1,000 subscribers. If you get to that point, well done!

2. Business cards

Giving out your business card is a simple way of telling people what you do and how they can reach you. Thanks to companies like Vistaprint, you can get 500 business cards for £15. Other options are Fiverr, an online marketplace for your digital needs. Someone can design your card for as little as £3, and then you could print it elsewhere. I don’t recommend going too ‘cheap and cheerful’ with your business cards but don’t spend too much on it either. I changed my mind about my tag line a couple of times and that meant new business cards. Luckily, they didn’t cost much so I was able to make new cards to reflect my business’ value. Remember that as you evolve, your business will too. Make provisions for the changes that you might make.

3. Networking events

Networking events could cost anything from nothing to hundreds of pounds. The trick is to find those events that are relevant to your industry. When attending a networking event, don’t be shy to give away your business card. But also don’t worry too much about how much business you will get at the event. It could hinder you from just having a good time. You could be pitching all night! I’ve started to see networking events as an opportunity to just be known, help people put face to name. If new clients come as a result, fantastic!

4. CRM systems

When you think about CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems, you might imagine a complex database that does things that as a small business, you are not ready for. However, CRM systems are essential to build your business. One of the first things I did was get Highrise, a simple CRM tool that allows me enter details of new contacts, potential and existing clients. Within Highrise, I can maintain details of all potential and existing client interactions, from first contact to conversion. Needless to say, Highrise is free for businesses with less than 250 contacts. It increases to roughly £15 a month for up to 5,000 contacts. Another CRM system for small business is HubSpot CRM. It’s free, but I haven’t tried. If you have, let me know what you think!

5. Website

Gone are the high costs of building a website. Tools like WordPress.org and Wix make it easy for novices to build a website. I built my first website a year ago, and it was my steepest learning curve yet! I plan to improve it with expert intervention soon, but as a small business owner, spending on a luxury website might not be an option. But you need a website. You also need to make it SEO-friendly so that potential clients find you for relevant services. These days, a decent website costs from £500 if you contracted a website designer. Try your hands on building one yourself but get feedback. One advantage I’ve found from building my own website is that I have access to the back admin and can always change elements of the site myself. This is invaluable for a business that is growing and evolving daily.

6. Blogging

Blogging is even easier than building a website. Without a full blown website, you could use platforms like Blogger and WordPress.com to start writing blogs about your industry, and your solution. You could invite guest bloggers, people who have complementary expertise or a unique view about a subject that your target audience might be interested in. Blogging is free, and a good way to be online and findable. Not blogging about your business is like being on mute in a customer meeting. Why are you there??

7. Social media

We all know it doesn’t cost anything to be on social media. But it might cost a little to be heard above the noise. Still, you could do a lot with £3 on Facebook. The key is to truly understand your target audience and where they hang out. If your clients are not on Twitter, you don’t need to be there. If your small business works with other businesses, a LinkedIn business page could be powerful. Spend time testing different social media channels and see what brings the most engagement. Also consider how much time you have to spend on these channels. For instance, LinkedIn and Facebook tend to require less time while Instagram and Twitter are about constant engagement i.e. 5-8 posts a day for real impact.

8. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is another free tool that every business website should have. It allows you see the sources of traffic to your website, and provides analytics on your website visitors. Google Analytics will show you how many visitors come from social media channels, and from organic searches via keywords. This was valuable for me as I contemplated which social media channel to invest in. For instance, LinkedIn brings over 40% of my social media traffic with Twitter as a close second. However, organic searches is by far the greatest source of traffic to my website. Therefore, I might decide to invest in Google Ads for specific keywords.

9. PR

PR used to be left to Public Relations experts. But with social media and fantastic new tools like PingGo, PR has been democratised. For £30 a month, you can write your own press release anytime you want! So if you win a new client, expand your business or launch a new product, use PR to tell your story. Identify relevant news outlets and start telling the world the good news.

10. Brochures

Not all businesses will benefit from brochures because so much of marketing has gone online. Yet, I believe this shift has made brochures a novelty, and it could be intriguing to receive a brochure from a small business. The less we expect something, the more positive impact it could have on your customers. You get their attention. A well-designed 8-page brochure that simply lays out your value proposition, key products and services, pricing and contact details is a good idea. You could leave it in cafes, doctor surgeries, office receptions etc. It will cost from £150 to get one designed. Assuming you provide all the copy and images, all you have to do is print it. Online printers like instantprint could print 100 copies of a 8-pp from as little as £45 depending on size and paper quality.


Next time you think about marketing for your business, know that it doesn’t need to cost the earth with these cost-effective marketing tips.

yo marketing thank you

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