“The algorithms are changing! The algorithms are changing!” It sounds like a modern-day Chicken Little, but rest assured: the sky is, in fact, not falling.

The latest Facebook algorithm update means a shift away from business and news posts in favor of more posts from family and friends—and perhaps fewer opportunities to cash in on the free audience Facebook provides. But despite the panic from some Facebook users, the latest algorithm change may be exactly what businesses need to connect with their patrons.

Many businesses and brands have spent years creating an audience and little time cultivating communities. Cultivating a community requires a different kind of investment—you need relevant and interesting content, local outreach, and opportunities to engage.Companies like Lego understand the need for meaningful community. With online forums to discuss new Lego products, share ideas, and submit future products, the groups are communities, not for marketing, but for the purpose of engaging and encouraging fans and followers.

The Facebook algorithm changes and the focus on meaningful connections can be most beneficial for small, local businesses. Small businesses are in a prime position because they are uniquely qualified to reach their local community and to engage in a way that national and global brands simply cannot.

When you know who your clients are, what they like, and what they do in town, you can provide opportunities for them to connect with you and with each other. The local coffee shop can partner with the local bookstore and host book clubs. Or the local bike shop can offer bike classes and group rides. Most importantly, social platforms like Facebook don’t have to be your primary outlet. Getting customers to opt-in to receive push notifications will remind them of their next book club meeting, for instance—and remind them they need to try the new coffee flavor of the month. Also, with location marketing, businesses can reach their target audience simply by being available and searchable. Local businesses can then supplement their reach on Facebook instead of relying solely on the social media platform for an audience.

Finding community, engaging new customers, and creating real relationships is the future for Facebook and others. The sky is definitely not falling. In fact, if you’re making meaningful connections with customers on social media and elsewhere, things are only looking up.

Pin It on Pinterest