Facebook’s News Feed Overhaul
In case you missed it, Facebook is shaking things up again. As announced earlier this month, the social network is altering its algorithm, and the result is worrisome for marketers. Over the coming months, Facebook will be making updates to ranking criteria, with the end goal of “bringing people closer together.” Facebook users will now see more content from their friends and family and less from publishers and brands.
Most marketers know already that organic reach is dead on Facebook. Yet January 11’s unexpected announcement from Facebook sent agencies and businesses into a tailspin. (You can read the official statement here.) In short, Facebook’s news feed update will favor posts from people, rather than from brands. Posts that encourage interaction will be prioritized. Posts with more engagement – comments and shares – are more likely to appear in news feeds than those with just reactions. It seems as though Facebook is attempting to refocus on its original purpose: social media, with users participating in meaningful interactions with others.
But what impact will this change in the way the social network will display content in user’s news feeds ultimately have on businesses?
The Importance of Community
If you aren’t already, turn your energy to focus on using social media as a place to build community. It is imperative that, if you use Facebook as a communication tool to make announcements and stay in touch with your audience, your social media strategy needs to focus on quality content and community. Facebook shouldn’t just be a place to push your brand’s agenda. Create a community centered on valuable and meaningful interactions.
As I’ve said above, Facebook intends for its News Feed to prioritize posts based on the level of discussion and engagement they spark. Well, this type of post tends to do well in Facebook Groups. If you’re up for the task of actively involving yourself in community engagement (and moderation) then now is the time to start a group.
Additionally, make sure you are keeping on top of responding to comments and mentions and messages from followers. Facebook will be looking at your community management interactions when determining what content to show in News Feeds.
How To Stay Relevant
Page admins, you’ll certainly see a dip in traffic, reach, video watch time, et cetera, as this News Feed change takes place. If you publish posts that people don’t really react to or comment on, your distribution will decrease. But if you produce quality content that drives a lot of interactions, Facebook says you may not be as severely impacted. So really focus on prompting discussion with your posts as these are the ones that will show higher in the News Feed.
As an example, Facebook says that live videos get, on average, six times as many interactions as regular videos. Why not try your hand at Live to lead to discussion with viewers? Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to adapt your Facebook marketing strategy to include lot of video content! It doesn’t all need to be high production value, either. Audiences appreciate the authenticity of an unedited video. Other types of content that works well is user-generated campaigns. People share this kind of content which means your reach and brand awareness will only benefit.
More than ever, it is crucial to create meaningful, relatable, visual, original content. Facebook users will determine what is shareable and of note so make sure your content aligns with audience preferences. Take heed of what’s working and what’s not. Don’t only keep brand interests in mind. Good social media content that earns shares and comments will earn favor of the Facebook algorithm. Don’t be afraid to show the human side of your brand! It’ll lead to a meaningful client-business relationship and help grow that community I harp on in the paragraphs above.
Facebook ads are not directly affected by this update. You can continue to advertise your business on Facebook. If you don’t currently run paid ads, well, you’re going to want to incorporate paid Facebook ads into your new marketing strategy. Facebook ads are pretty much the only way to guarantee connecting with segments of your target audience.
A carefully balanced mix of paid and organic posts that include video and links can help you get out in front of the changes, and stay out in front of them. Welll, the balance will likely need to tip in favor of paid posts.
Messenger is a great opportunity to talk directly to your customers without appearing on anyone’s News Feed. Just like with email marketing, people can opt in to receive updates from your business page via Facebook Messenger. You then use a chat bot or support staff to send updates to these subscribers. Open rates and engagement on this platform are proving to be even higher than email!
Life Outside Facebook
To be fair, Facebook has done this type of change before. Go check out our blog post from July 2016, where we discussed how Facebook was putting a higher priority on the friends and family in your Feed. And the spring before that, Facebook made a similar update, in order to improve the balance between friends’ posts and Pages posts. Even then, users weren’t satisfied (hence the 2016 changes) but it seems now Facebook is really starting to take their issues and concerns to heart. Users are consistently worried about missing updates from the people they care about and this time around Facebook seems to be turning it up a notch and making effective changes that will ensure posts from friends and families get pushed higher on the News Feed.
While the new algorithm will make it way more difficult for your business Page to be seen, let’s try to remain optimistic. Don’t forget that there are plenty of other channels out there. I highly suggest investing time in Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram. For now, Facebook-owned Instagram hasn’t been bloated with business pages the way Facebook has. Not to say it won’t experience a similar fate as Facebook Pages but for now, it is a good idea for businesses to spend time on Instagram connecting with users and enjoying organic engagement.
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Since organic post reach is dead, how do you plan on optimizing your Facebook reach? Raise your hand if you’re already working on your new Facebook marketing strategy!
While Facebook’s algorithm change has many publishers panicking it may actually be good news for a certain sector – influencers and their followers. Tune back in for more on influencer marketing next week.