Facebook is a cocktail party, not a sales presentation.

In December, Facebook announced a change that can greatly affect the efforts of businesses trying to communicate with their fans through Facebook. Starting this month, Facebook is pushing “promotional” posts out of fans’ timelines. “Promotional” is defined as:

  1. Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app.
  2. Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context.
  3. Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads.

Your initial reaction to this is probably negative and you think all that time and effort you have put into cultivating your fan base is for naught. However, if you are following best practices for social media in general and Facebook specifically, then these changes won’t hurt you. It is actually good news that quality, engaging content still comes out on top. This “fine tuning” of posts will hopefully eliminate spam, link bait and posts from marketers unfamiliar with social media best practices.

This change does mean, however, that you won’t be able to link your content directly to lead generations and sales as the content will have to be more non-promotional. But you will still be able to measure engagements that build relationships that in turn help move customers through your sales funnel.

Facebook business pages are still an important tool in your marketing coffers for relationship-building. Being on Facebook makes it easy for customers and potential customers to find you in a place where they are already spending time. The pages work across desktop, mobile and tablets without requiring any extra configuration, and contain complete information about a business while allowing you to share videos, photos and events that bring your business’s story to life.

To keep your posts most relevant to your fans, Facebook offers a list of tips and suggestions. Among these tips is a recommendation to use Facebook advertising, not surprisingly. Try the other suggestions first and save the advertising for those promotional messages that won’t show up organically anymore.

Perhaps to make up for the decrease in post visibility, Facebook has implemented a new tool for business pages called “call-to-action buttons” that can be added in the header of Facebook pages. The seven calls to action available are:

  • Book Now
  • Contact Us
  • Use App
  • Play Game
  • Shop Now
  • Sign Up
  • Watch Video

With these call-to-action buttons, businesses can expect to drive more traffic from Facebook to the business website (which is a good thing). Facebook used the Dollar Shave Club for the beta program and is reporting impressive results: After a three-week test in beta, Dollar Shave Club’s director of acquisition Brian Kim reported a boost in customer acquisition efforts as a result of the button stating that “the Sign Up call-to-action button delivered a 2.5x higher conversion rate versus other comparable social placements aimed to drive new user acquisition.”

The one thing we can always count on is change when it comes to Facebook. These changes should not send you running away from Facebook but instead have you recommitting to sharing content that encourages engagements rather than sales. Keep thinking of communicating on Facebook the same way you would network at a cocktail party and you will come through this round of changes relatively pain free.