Facebook is changing its News Feed algorithm. Why has Facebook decided to make this change? And how can digital marketers change their approach to marketing on this social media channel?
What did Mark Zuckerberg say?
In January 2018, Zuckerberg released a post telling the world that he wants users to spend time well while on Facebook. This means staying connected with loved ones and seeing less posts from businesses, brands and media. The Zuck wrote, “You’ll 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 - it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”
So, what does this mean for branded content and how should digital marketers respond?
Robert Farrell explains the Facebook News Feed change
Continue to post engaging content
According to Zuckerberg’s post, “meaningful interaction” includes audience’s comments. Brands should therefore prioritise creating engaging content by asking questions and providing information that audiences will want to see and share.
While encouraging comments is fine, it should be done appropriately; this does not include engagement bait, i.e. where a publisher intentionally encourages Fans and Followers to engage with their posts for the sole purpose of boosting organic reach. Facebook says that “Using ‘engagement-bait’ to goad people into commenting on posts is not a meaningful interaction, and we will continue to demote these posts in News Feed.”
Use the Facebook tools
- Video: Facebook’s new algorithm will still favour videos. Zuckerberg wrote that “live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook - in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos.” Given that Zuckerberg specifically mentioned live video, this is certainly an area that brands should add to their social media and content marketing list.
- “See first”: Now that you are producing great content, why not ask your audience to update their News Feed preferences and get them to select your page as “see first”. This will mean you occupy prime space on their News Feed.
- Facebook groups: Don’t forget Facebook groups. They are a great place to communicate shared interests with your audience. Facebook groups already prioritise content based on engagement and should be part of your Facebook marketing efforts.
Pay to play on social media
Looking at social media in general, we can see that organic reach has been declining for many years. According to Marketing Land, Facebook organic reach is down 52% for publishers’ Pages in 2016. On Facebook, social media ads, sponsored content and boosted posts are used by brands to reach audiences because organic reach just won’t cut it.
According to a review by Socialbakers of the top Facebook accounts in the US and UK, audiences follow celebrities, sports teams, politicians, political causes and news sources. At the time of writing this article, brands don’t even feature in the top 10 of all pages. Audiences use social media to catch-up with friends/family, news and get updates on things they are genuinely interested in, such as their favourite celebrities and sports teams.
Most digital marketers know that to gain real traction, some level of advertising spend is required. Content is released in a consistent drip feed but hero content or priority messages are given advertising support to seed them early. With the News Feed change, organic reach and impressions for brands are likely to suffer and it will drive brands to pick up the pace with advertising on the platform.
What does it all mean?
We conducted some market research of our own where we asked digital marketing professionals, lecturers and social media managers for their views. The results were mixed:
- Some believe that there is always a place for engaging/valuable content to yield organic engagement.
- Others believe that this change is another step by Facebook to drive advertising on their platform, as brands will find it more difficult to gain audience engagement without some level of paid support.
The best approach
Our recommendation for any business or brand on social media is to take a dual approach.
- Post valuable, regular content for your audience. While engagement may be low, audiences still expect you to have a social media presence so it’s essential to keep posting.
- Be prepared to support your content with advertising budget. You may have a new promotional video, a blog that your team has worked hard on or some pictures of your staff having a great time with customers. This content is worth spreading and so paid support should be used to share it.
What do you think?
- How will you respond to the News Feed change?
- Will you produce more engaging content or increase your social ads budget?
- Will you use Facebook Live videos?
- Will you turn to influencer marketing to tap into their audience?
Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you.
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