Facebook's upcoming changes will be great for businesses in the long run

Facebook recently announced that they will be making changes to their News Feed algorithm so that “people have more opportunities to interact with the people they care about”, according to Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed. Specifically, they will be prioritizing posts that create meaningful interactions between people and prioritizing posts from family and friends over public content from Facebook Pages.

With the Facebook Page organic reach already plummeting for a few years, many marketers are worrying that the latest changes would reduce their organic reach even further, forcing them to use Facebook ads to reach their audience.

Facebook falling organic reach

Does this mean that the changes are necessarily bad for businesses and marketers? I don’t think so. I believe that these changes will be beneficial to businesses and marketers in the long run.

Bringing people back to Facebook

The title of Facebook’s recent announcement is Bringing People Closer Together. I think it’s also about bringing people back to Facebook.

Facebook has been experiencing several worrying trends in the past few years. One, users are sharing less about themselves on Facebook. Two, user engagement has been falling, according to research by MAVRCK and Buzzsumo. Three, teenagers are using Facebook less; some are even skipping Facebook entirely and going to Instagram and Snapchat instead. This could mean that many years (or just a few years) down the road, there might be much fewer people using Facebook regularly than there are today. If that happens, Facebook would become a less effective channel for businesses to reach and engage their audience.

But thankfully, Facebook seems to know how to prevent that from happening. Below is a timeline created by MAVRCK to show how the changes to the Facebook News Feed algorithm affected average engagement per Facebook post.

Facebook algorithm changes vs average engagement per Facebook post

The last two times Facebook changed its algorithm to prioritize posts from family and friends over Facebook Pages, engagement went up. To me, that’s a good sign that people enjoy seeing posts from their family and friends on Facebook. Hopefully, that would keep them using Facebook (in a meaningful way).

And to this end, I like to think that the upcoming changes should be welcomed.

Giving businesses a presence online

When we marketers think about Facebook, we often only think about the reach we have — us reaching our audience. But I think Facebook is a great invention also because it gave small businesses an online presence, which they might not have without Facebook. This gave people the ability to reach those businesses.

My parents have been running a small retail shop for almost 30 years. They never had a website and don’t really know how to use email. But when I created a Facebook Page for them several years back, I realized that they didn’t need a website or to learn how to use email anymore. The Facebook Page, which is free and easy to set up, gave them an online presence. Messenger, which is much easier to learn than email, gave them a channel for customer enquiry. Whenever they meet potential customers, my parents would point them to the Facebook Page, which they can easily find. When I searched the shop name on Google (in incognito mode), the Facebook Page appears as the first result. If they had a website, it might not even rank that well.

All these might not mean much to big companies with an IT team or the budget to outsource their web development. But to small and medium businesses, which accounts for more than 90 percent of businesses, these can mean a lot.

Leveling the playing field

Finally, I think the upcoming changes could help level the social media playing field for small businesses.

Big companies with many followers tend to naturally get more engagement on their posts and thereby more reach. With the algorithm changes, small businesses, which are often supported by family members, friends, and many customers-turned-friends, might get a better chance at reaching and engaging their fans on Facebook than before.

I’m excited about this possibility.

An interdependent ecosystem

Businesses depend on Facebook to reach their audience. Facebook depends on users to keep businesses around. Users depend on Facebook to connect with one another and follow their favorite brands. It’s an interdependent ecosystem. A right balance between user content and business content is required to keep the system sustainable — for Facebook, for users, and for businesses. While Facebook seems to be still finding the right balance, I’m optimistic about the upcoming changes.

What about you?

If you are interested in reading more on this topic, you might like this piece by Buffer’s digital marketing strategist, Brian Peters: Why Facebook’s News Feed Change To Show Less “Public Content” Is Actually a Good Thing.

The awesome featured image above is by Brooke Cagle, taken from Unsplash.


How I schedule my day to maximize my productivity and happiness

I’m lucky to be working remotely with Buffer, which gives me the freedom and flexibility to plan however I want my day to be like. Over the past year, I have been trying a daily routine that I feel maximizes my productivity and happiness.

In this post, I would love to share my daily routine and the principles behind it with you. It may or may not work for you but I hope you’ll find something insightful that you can apply to your daily life.

My daily routine

My weekday schedule is generally the same throughout the week. This is how it looks like:

Morning

  • 5:30 am: Wake up (no snooze)
  • 5:30 – 6:30 am: Breakfast and read
  • 6:30 – 8:00 am: Exercise
  • 8:00 – 9:00 am: Second breakfast and read

Workday

  • 9:00 – 12:00 pm: Focused work (usually replying to important messages and then writing)
  • 12:00 – 1:00 pm: Lunch and read
  • 1:00 – 2:30 pm: Low cognitive load work (such as update blog stats spreadsheet, republishing blog posts onto Medium, etc.)
  • 2:30 – 3:00 pm: Power nap
  • 3:00 – 6:00 pm: Focused work

Evening

  • 6:00 – 9:00 pm: Dinner and stuff (spend time with family, meet friends, learn something new, etc.)
  • 9:00 – 9:30 pm: Read
  • 9:30 pm: Bedtime

On weekends, I do not have a fixed schedule apart from going for an early morning bike ride with a few friends. I’ll then spend the rest of the day with my fiancée and family.

Exceptions

My weekdays don’t look exactly like this all the time but they are pretty close. Here are a few major exceptions:

On some days, I have early morning video calls with my teammates in the U.S. This doesn’t happen often, maybe around once or twice a month. I like to schedule such calls before my daily exercise and start my morning work session later. This way, I’ll still have a good two-hour block for my workout and breakfast.

Sometimes, I have video calls in the afternoon or evening with my teammates in Australia, the U.K., or Europe. I try to schedule them such that I’ll have time blocks of one to two hours to do focused work.

Another exception is when I co-work with my awesome teammate, Stephanie Lee, or with friends, such as Ali Mese. On such days, I’ll keep the first half of my day until 11 am the same. I’ll then commute out to have lunch and co-work with them.

Principles

My daily routine is built on top of several principles to help me create days when I would feel the most productive and happy (though it doesn’t happen all the time).

First, I prefer to stick to a routine to reduce the mental effort for figuring what to do. Here’s a small but, I think, meaningful example: I always go to bed around 9:30 pm and wake up at 5:30 am (except for very rare occasions). With fixed bedtime and waking up time, I don’t have to decide what time to go to bed, how many hours I want to sleep, and what time to wake up the next day. 9:30 pm, 8 hours, and 5:30 am. That’s it. Some people might find having such routine boring. To me, having a routine that I like takes away much anxiety and keeps me calm.

Second, like I mentioned above, I like to sleep early, wake up early, and have about eight hours of sleep every night. Having about eight hours of sleep is crucial for my productivity the next day. I learned that I cannot function well if I sleep a few hours less. I also prefer to start my day early because I love the quietness and serenity in the morning.

Third, I aim to do some form of exercise every morning. I feel refreshed and energized for the day after being outdoors for a while and getting some fresh air. On most days, I’ll swim or run unless it rains; then I’ll go to the gym. If I sleep late the night before, on those rare occasions, I’ll still aim to have eight hours of sleep. But instead of a full workout, I’ll try to go for a morning walk.

Finally, I try to keep work to just the weekdays 9-6. I found that working in the evening over a long period of time can easily lead to a burnout. I also avoid working on the weekends so that I can spend time with my fiancée and family, who would always meet on the weekends to spend time together. I’m thankful that Singapore is small enough for all of us to meet so regularly.

The result of many experiments

This routine is the results of trying many different things. For example, I’ve tried writing for two hours once I wake up, meditating before I start my workday, and exercising in the evening. Eventually, I found that this routine makes me feel the most productive and happiest, for at least a year now.

Do you have a daily routine? How does it look like?

Image credit: Unsplash (That isn’t me in the photo but it’ll be amazing to start my day like this every day!)


2017: A Year of Personal Growth

2017 was a great year for my personal growth. And I’m grateful to the people who have helped and supported me throughout the year.

Here are a few areas that I felt I’ve grown in:

Content marketing

I switched my role as a community champion to a content crafter in 2016. For the last few months of 2016, I was learning the basics of content marketing and writing more. In 2017, I lean in to content marketing. Being the main writer for the Buffer blog, I was able to focus on writing for most of the year. I published 54 blog posts on the Buffer blog in the past year.

Now as I look to grow in other areas of marketing, such as email and copywriting, having a good foundation in writing has been immensely helpful.

Speaking engagements

I set a goal to give a talk on my experience at Buffer or remote working in 2017. One talk led to another, and I gave two talks on content marketing and was on three discussion panels (two on content marketing and one on remote working).

The experiences were all terrifying at first but eventually, I found them enjoyable. I was also glad that I was able to help others with what I know and would love to give more talks in 2018.

Speaking engagement in 2017

Reading books

When I was setting my annual goals for 2017, I decided that my main goal for the year would be to read more books. In 2016, I read 11 books, the most I’ve ever read in a year. In 2017, I aimed to read 26 books, one every two weeks.

I read 28 books. Most importantly, I fell in love with reading.

Here’s the list of books I read in the past year:

  1. 80,000 Hours: Find a fulfilling career that does good
  2. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
  3. Elements of Style
  4. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
  5. The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #1)
  6. How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times
  7. Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping Our Future
  8. Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success
  9. The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals
  10. Headway
  11. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
  12. Winning with Data: Transform Your Culture, Empower Your People, and Shape the Future
  13. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Enhanced Edition: A Leadership Fable
  14. Ego Is the Enemy
  15. Gone Ahead
  16. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy
  17. The Decision Maker: Unlock the Potential of Everyone in Your Organization, One Decision at a Time
  18. On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
  19. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
  20. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth
  21. Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success
  22. Personal History
  23. Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising
  24. The Long Earth (The Long Earth, #1)
  25. Thinking, Fast and Slow
  26. Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger
  27. The Dark Forest (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #2)
  28. Death’s End (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #3)

My top three favorite non-fiction books are Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. MungerThinking, Fast and Slow, and Personal History.

My favorite books of 2017: Poor Charlie's Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger, Thinking, Fast and Slow, and Personal History

Trying new things

2017 was also a year of trying new things.

After taking a Treehouse WordPress development course, I created my own WordPress blog theme, which you’re looking at now. I started a newsletter of curated articles on content marketing and slowly grew it into my personal marketing newsletter. My team lead gave me the opportunity to lead our marketing squad at Buffer for six-weeks to drive mobile app downloads.

Also, I had the chance to visit places I’ve never been to — Madrid, Scotland, the Faroe Islands, and Denver. I count myself lucky to be able to travel to these places in just a year.

Buffer Madrid retreat

Hello, 2018

In 2018, I aim to continue growing in these few areas, with an additional focus on writing on this blog. If there’s anything you would love for me to write about, let me know in the comments section below.

Happy 2018, and wishing you the very best for the year ahead!