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What Facebook’s New Prioritize Feature Means For Brands

When it comes to your news feed, Facebook’s attitude has long been on the patronizing side. We know what’s best, dear. Now run along and watch this video we chose for you.

To be fair, this approach wasn’t without merit. There’s a ton of content circulating in the average news feed, and some posts carry much more inherent value than others. Most folks would much rather see a friend’s birth announcement, for example, over some tired old meme that wasn’t even funny the first time around.

So Facebook developed an ultra-complex ranking system which, among literally hundreds of thousands of other weighted variables, took note what types of content users liked and commented on the most and floated those posts to the top of their feeds. Social content is a barrage of noise, and Facebook fancied itself a finely-tuned, highly-personalized filtering tool.

On the flip side, this ranking system meant it was possible that users could friend someone or “like” a page and then never hear from them again. Page owners floundered as they watched the organic reach of their posts slowly dry up over the past few years. In order to boost their reach brands were forced to pay to promote their posts, which was a huge blow for small businesses struggling to get off the ground in the first place.

Some social marketers all but gave up, feeling like they’d never get enough traction to summit Mt. Facebook.

But now, change is in the air.

New priorities = better user control

Facebook recently announced a brand new update that puts some of the content-curating power back in the hands of the individual user. Now, in their news feed preferences, users can select which friends and pages they wish to “prioritize,” and the prioritized posts will always appear at the top of their feeds.

Any posts from prioritized friends and pages will feature a star in the top right corner.

facebook-newsfeed-priorities

At the time of publication, the updates are only available on iOS and will be released on Android and desktop over the next few weeks.

“We know that ultimately you’re the only one who truly knows what is most meaningful to you, and that is why we want to give you more ways to control what you see.”
– Jacob Frantz, Facebook product manager

This update is great news for both users and page owners. The only challenge for brands, then, is how to be meaningful to users.

Give them a reason to make you a priority

Since the update first rolled out there’s been a flurry of blog posts and emails from brands begging users to prioritize their pages. It’s never a bad idea to ask, but this approach ignores the fact that you have to make them want to prioritize you.

Your best marketing strategy here is essentially the same as it’s ever been: create engaging content that’s relevant to your target audience.

The latest news feed update could help you expand your posts’ organic reach, but it’s a two-step process. First you have to earn the page like, and then you have to earn the priority star.

Facebook was right in that there’s a lot of content out there to filter. Now that some of the filtering power resides in users’ hands, you’ll need to continue delivering your best.

Who would you prioritize?

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