On January 11th Mark Zuckerberg made an announcement that Facebook’s algorithm is once again getting a major over haul. And it’s safe to say that business’s and advertisers are in for a a major shock.
Zuckerberg and his team outlined the changes to News Feed that will go into effect over the next few months. Remember the long gone days of when our feeds were filled with just cute photos of our nieces and nephews? Friends backpacking around Europe, your sweet mother posting embarrassing photos of you as a baby, etc. This is what Facebook wants to get back to: meaningful social interaction with loved ones. The company wants to move away from our feeds being over run with nothing but ads and political articles.
Why The Algorithm Is Changing
Lets face it, so many of us get our daily news from Facebook these days. The conversation on Facebook has become ultra political and unfortunately, often extremely divisive. It’s difficult to read this press release and not sense that Zuckerberg and his company feel some responsibility to change the conversation. He cited the reason for the changes being that the
y want their original intent for Facebook to remain intact. That is, to bring people closer together.
Zuckerberg stated, “we feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being.” He goes on to say the company has poured over the research on the effects of social media use. They believe it’s clear that social media can be good for our mental health if it’s being used to connect with people we love. But if we passively digest tons of public content like ads and videos it can have the opposite effect. He stated users, “will see less public content like posts from businesses, brands and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard.”
What This Means For Users
Users should expect to see some pretty drastic changes to their News Feeds as a result of these algorithm changes. Most notably, there will be a “see first” button on public pages. This option will allow users to tailor their feeds to their preferences. The downside for these publishers is that users will have to manually go in and make that change.
Facebook ranks content according to what they think you’re likely to interact with, which is something they’ve always done. But what they’re changing is how they score content. If you write a long thoughtful comment on a friend’s post or “like” someone’s photos, that content will receive a higher ranking. This is the type of content Facebook wants to push to the top of your feed. Anything posted by a public figure or business page will receive a lower ranking and will be pushed to the bottom of your news feed.
What Does This Mean For Pages?
Facebook openly stated that publishers and pages should expect to see a decrease in traffic. Many businesses rely on the pages feature to connect with the local community and potential customers. The algorithm changes will have major implications to the way a public page shows up in user’s news feeds.
All that being said, if your business relies on your Facebook page to promote your website or blog, you definitely want to start thinking about how to tweak strategy. Especially if you are a frequent user of paid ads, you should expect to see the price of those ads go up significantly.
According to Katherine Hays, CEO of a startup called Vivoom, “Facebook’s newsfeed overhaul spells trouble not only for publishers and traffic, but also for brands, which stand to lose the audiences they worked (and paid) to build up themselves….The importance of user-generated content, which has already been proven to be the No. 1 driver of social influence on purchase decisions, is greater than ever if posts from friends and family are going to be prioritized above all else.”
No More Engagement Baiting Tactics
Facebook says the majority of feedback they’ve gotten is from users complaining about “spammy” posts appearing at the top of their feeds. The new algorithm will effectively demote posts that utilize these “engagement baiting” technique. Engagement baiting is when a publisher uses tactics such as, “like this post if you support this political candidate,” tag a friend to win our contest”, or “share with 20 friends to win free stuff”…etc.
One of the biggest implications these changes have for advertisers is that Facebook is essentially banning this click baiting phenomenon. Publishers that utilize these tactics frequently should expect to see see a drastic decline in their reach.
How Should Advertisers Respond?
While these changes are sending many marketers into a tizzy, public content isn’t as doomed as you might think. Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s Vice President of News Feed, says theres definitely ways your page can still continue to grow. Mosseri stated in an interview, “So if you and I had a back and forth conversation on a post from a Page, that would actually count as a meaningful social interaction. So it’s more about the interactions between people and less about just the consumption of content from friends.” Essentially, advertisers will have to rely more on their audiences to help share their content by having meaningful interactions with it. Sound like influencer marketing? It’s a similar concept . There are a few practical things you can do in response to these changes.
Start Using Facebook Live
Because Facebook is trying to move away from the mindless consumption of content, Facebook Live is going to be prioritized over pre-recorded content. Think about how much more engagement live videos typically see. This is what the social media platform wants to encourage. So if live videos aren’t currently part of your marketing strategy, they should be ASAP. Start with something as simple as a daily “tips and tricks” video or a “question of the day” session. Anything that encourages people to engage and comment will help keep your content at the top of user’s feeds.
Facebook groups don’t get much attention, but they can be a great resource for connecting with users’ that would be interested in your content. Figure out how to meaningful contribute to the conversation on these pages to increase your traffic.
This is a bit more tedious, but don’t be afraid to send users direct messages. If someone has expressed interest in your content, they are definitely someone you should reach out to. Send users coupons, links to your blog or website, or invite them to subscribe to yours newsletter. Also, marketers have known for decades that consumers love personal interaction.
Facebook, like any major brand, is constantly changing how they do things. It’s good business. They’ve rolled out algorithm changes like clock work over the last few years. They constantly adapt to meet the changing needs and desires of their customers. But these changes don’t mean your business is doomed. They do mean brands must come up with creative ways to meaningfully and authentically engage their audiences. And frankly, authenticity is something the world could always use a little more of.