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Facebook has clearly been hard at work reducing the level of aggression and hard-selling tactics on its platform. From those “one weird trick to remove belly fat” ads to seeing way less of those flashing yellow and red video ads that keep telling us that there’s a sale on this weekend, something has been happening to reduce the reach of highly aggressive sales tactics.

Hard selling isn’t limited to network marketers

I noticed this first when a page that I follow quite a lot from a local business in the Northern Territory, simply stopped coming up in my feed like it used to. This particular tourism-related business has even won an award for their social media activity, but it’s completely disappeared from my feed lately. And that coincides with a very noticeable change in the style of their posts. Just a couple of weeks before they disappeared from my feed, there was a clear change in who was making the posts. Prior to this change, the posts were a little tacky-looking and not particularly well polished. There were spelling problems, grammatical problems and the photos weren’t great. Jump forward about 2 months, and I have noticed that the pattern of posts has changed  , as well as the creative that it is using. The posts used to be almost on a daily basis. Now they seem to come in clumps. On one day there’ll be 3 posts. Then there’s nothing for 3 days before another one drops in. And while there has been an increase in the number of videos posted, the engagement from followers has plummeted. Where a video might have had 100 views before, they’re lucky to get 20 now. Where a post had over 50 reactions before, they’re getting around 10 now. Looking through their more recent posts I can see a few patterns that can explain this. And these tips can also apply to just about anyone’s posts for any business.

Calm down with the emojis

First up, ease up on the emojis. One here and there is cute. But 12 emojis in an 18-word block of text is getting out of control. It’s no longer cute, it’s hard to read, causes the eye to look away to something less complex, and looks like a hard-selling ad – even if the content is actually not written as a hard-sell piece. With the particular business I am referring to, there was a dramatic change from one person handling the posting to the next. The emojis increased noticeably. The length of what was being written was longer, and even if it was written in some pretty broken English sometimes, it had, on average, almost 70% higher engagement per post. A simple look, by the owner of that page, at their Facebook page insights would show them a clear trend down in terms of people seeing their posts, reacting to them, and sharing them.

But in my opinion, the big problem here is those emoji. Starting a post with an emoji to capture attention, even putting one at the start and end of the first word, is enough. But when you’re getting to the point where over 10% of your text is emoji, then you’re hitting a zone where the eye drifts away because there is too much going on. And when the Facebook algorithm notices this happening en-masse, then you’ll see your reach and your engagement with your follower base plummets across the board, as this particular business I’m referencing has.

Using words differently

Another important point when it comes to Facebook throttling posts and ads that are coming across as a hard sell, is that your words are very important. All those old-fashioned calls-to-action from the glory days of radio and television, like;

  • Come on in
  • Come on down
  • Don’t miss out
  • Limited time only
  • Hurry

… they don’t work anymore. When it comes to digital platforms, they are both annoying to the user, and are throttled harshly by the algorithms behind what gets seen in Facebook and Instagram feeds. Yet businesses, particularly we regional ones, love to use them. Some word combinations to try out, instead of the hard-sell tactics are:

  • Ask for Rose when you drop in this week
  • Park out front and chill in the air con
  • There’s 3 days left to get your own honey puffs
  • After December 24, they won’t be back till next year
  • Put on your running shoes if you want these

You can hear how these same combinations of words convey a similar message as the previous list, but paints a brighter picture and addresses people in the world they live in. A hot place, where they are running out of time before Christmas, and are looking for a break from the crowds and some convenience.

While there is ample evidence that Facebook is absolutely throttling back posts and ads that go straight to the hard sell, there is so much you can do to offset that. By pulling back on overuse of emojis, steering away from hard-selling tactics and harsh sales-orienting wording, and most importantly of all, watching your Facebook page insights for the patterns that will warn you that something is off, you’ll get back in the feeds of your biggest fans within weeks.

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