By Noelle Graf
As you’ve undoubtedly heard by now, the Facebook algorithm has undergone a major change. On January 11, 2018, Mark Zuckerberg made an impassioned announcement vowing to “fix” Facebook. Accordingly, the News Feed would be changing to favor person-to-person engagement. Specifically, Zuckerberg said, “I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”
In other words, Facebook is rolling out changes that will remove brand and business content from the news feed: “We’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers and other businesses.”
What exactly is changing in the News Feed?
In an effort to shift the Facebook experience from a passive one to a more actively engaged one, here are the changes we have been seeing and will continue to see:
• Less public content
• More updates from friends and family
• A decrease in overall traffic to business pages
• Live video and groups will be given priority over other types of posts
What does this mean for Pages and public content?
Adam Mosseri, Head of Facebook News Feed, followed Zuckerberg’s announcement with this post:
Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.
As we make these updates, Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease. The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it. Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.”
As to be expected, these changes initially caused panic in the minds (and content teams) of brands and marketing agencies alike. Is this the end of organic reach? Is Facebook even worth it anymore? The real question we should be asking, however, is whether our content is good enough. When was the last time you posted something YOU would want to engage with?
The bottom line
(because it’s always about the bottom line)
While there’s truth to the fact that public content, such as posts from businesses, brands and media, has been crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other, the fact remains that there are currently 2.07 billion monthly users on Facebook. And to make money, Facebook needs those users to be active and engaged.
The social media giant generated close to $27 billion in advertising revenue last year. More than 5 million business are advertising on Facebook—but that’s just 8% of the 65 million businesses that are actually active on the network. While big brands spend the most significant dollars, there’s plenty of opportunity for small and medium-sized businesses to pay to advertise, too. Paid distribution is more important than ever. In other words, you’ll need to pay to play.
Here’s what you can do to stay in the Facebook game:
• Live video has been the number one buzz since the change was announced. Facebook reports that live video generates six times as much engagement as regular video. If you don’t feel comfortable in front of the camera, find someone one your team who does.
• Post meaningful content. This means content that sparks conversation and gets people commenting on your posts. Expect to see more long-form posts that are educational, interesting and conversation starters. Encourage commenting with good social media practices: by posting meaningful content in the first place.
• Skip the engagement bait. Whatever you do, don’t ask people to engage with your posts. The algorithm will pick up on engagement bait and demote your page even further in the news feed.
• Create groups around your business to build an engaged community.
• Budget for paid advertising, and refine your target audience. The days of free are over.
As Facebook strategist Jon Loomer reminds us, “Look, the news feed changes aren’t perfect. That’s why they have to make so many of them. And you can debate whether Facebook truly knows what people do and don’t like. But what we do know is that what Facebook does is working. By “working” I mean that after all of these years, it’s still growing and people use it more and more.”
Don’t give up on Facebook just yet.