Vicki McLeod.

Vicki McLeod.

Untrending: With Facebook changes, what’s a business to do?

Build community by crafting an online challenge that compels action.

Facebook recently announced an algorithmic change that will significantly reduce the organic reach of Facebook Pages for businesses.

Simply put, this means that reaching potential customers via the Business Page has essentially become pay to play. The good news is the move will reduce spammy content and force businesses to produce content that actually engages, or buy ads.

So, what’s a business to do?

Facebook ads are inexpensive and effective, but social media, and Facebook in particular, are excellent tools for genuine community building. Brands that have built strong communities have some immunity from Facebook’s latest move.

One tactic for building community is to craft an online challenge that compels fans and followers to take some kind of meaningful action. This creates shared goals and a sense of kinship amongst participants.

A challenge gives people a reason to connect with you and your brand.

Last fall, I embarked on a collaborative challenge with local decluttering expert, Conny Graf. Our challenge launches officially on Feb. 1, and we began building momentum and generating interest well in advance. Our timing is deliberate, avoiding the distraction of the holidays, and aligning with the interest in New Year goal setting.

It’s important that your challenge stands out from your day-to-day posting. If you are collaborating, consider some co-branding. Come up with a relevant title and time frame for the challenge (ours is four weeks) and give it a unique hashtag.

We call ours Chaos to Peace 2018 Decluttering Challenge #C2P2018. Use more common hashtags, as well. These help your challenge be seen in newsfeeds. We’ll use #decluttering and #goals.

Collaborating increases reach. Graf and I are drawing on both our audiences, and the nature of the challenge meets both our business needs, Graf demonstrating her expertise, my followers engaged in taking personal action that results in positive impact. All of us playing together online.

Use an integrated cross-platform approach to promote the challenge. Each week participants will receive an email outlining weekly challenges and tips for success.

The weekly email includes links to all our digital touchpoints – websites, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – where more information, videos and resources can be found.

Most importantly, participants are invited to join an online Facebook Group.

To build true community around an action challenge, a place to gather online to get resources, talk about progress and build relationships is needed.

Facebook Groups can be open, closed or secret. Ours is closed, to allow a free exchange among members. Decluttering can be a sensitive and personal process. We want a safe online space where members can get to know and trust each other.

While Facebook’s algorithm change is mostly bad news, Facebook also rolled out improvements to Facebook Live, allowing split screen broadcasting from the iOS app.

Graf and I will use Facebook Live each week in the Facebook Group to have real-time conversations and connect with participants.

If we do it well, we will build a lively community of shared interest that knows and trusts our brands.

• To find out more or to join the challenge visit or

Vicki McLeod is an author, TEDx speaker, and award-winning entrepreneur. She is a business and personal coach and consultant. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or find her at