Facebook has announced it will prioritize "meaningful, social interactions" within the news feed in algorithm updates, in order to better connect users to meaningful posts between friends and family.
What does this means for marketers who run business Facebook pages? Facebook will show less of that content, or what it calls "public content," including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.
If this has you frightened, it's not quite time to jump ship yet. Yes, it’s a pretty big change for your Facebook organic marketing and engagement efforts, for now.
The good news is we’ve got some ways for you to prepare and shift your Facebook engagement efforts.
Here are things you should know — and do — about Facebook’s News Feed changes.
Create Meaningful Social Interactions
The bottom line for marketers is meaningful, social interactions are now the most important thing in terms what Facebook likes to serve up prominently in a news feed. Facebook announced the news feed changes in a blog post by Adam Mosseri, head of Facebook's news feed. The ranking changes are the first step in, “making updates to ranking so people have more opportunities to interact with the people they care about,” states Mosseri in the aforementioned blog. According to him, Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease.
User feedback suggests public content posts from businesses, brands and media is, “crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post. So Zuckerberg and team Facebook made a major change in that product teams at the social network will shift focus from helping users find relevant content to helping users find more “meaningful social interactions.”
“For example,” Zuckerberg says, “there are many tight-knit communities around TV shows and sports teams. We've seen people interact way more around live videos than regular ones. Some news helps start conversations on important issues. But too often today, watching video, reading news or getting a page update is just a passive experience.”
Recognize What Facebook Likes
You should know what Facebook will be watching out for in terms of meaningful posts from Pages. And you should brace for which kind of posts will get less exposure in the News Feed. “Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution,” Mosseri said. “Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect... 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.”
Keep this material in mind when crafting business page posts:
- Facebook uses signals like how many people react to, comment on or share posts to determine how high they appear in news feed.
- Facebook will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in the news feed. These are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to.
- Facebook will prioritize posts from friends and family over public content, consistent with its news feed values.
- Your loyal Page followers can still see more posts from your Page if they choose “See First in News Feed Preferences.”
No Impact on Paid Advertising
Marketers and advertisers need not worry about paid-advertising efforts on Facebook. No changes to ads ranking for Facebook will occur through this change. Facebook’s Ads auction already optimizes for user value. Facebook’s systems will continue to take into account relevancy and feedback to deliver ads to the right people based on a company’s business objectives. Engagement is a very small part of ads ranking. Facebook relies on many other data points to determine what ads people see to ensure relevancy and value.
Use Your Page as ‘Hub for Thoughtful Content’
Kristin Johnson, director of communications for Sprout Social, told CMSWire that marketers should reframe Facebook within their strategy and reach beyond their own content and resources. “Instead of using your Facebook Page as another house for owned resources and links use it as a hub for thoughtful content and conversation around the topics your company and community care about," she says.
Johnson cited Sprout Social research that confirms that 68 percent of people want to see brands joining in on conversations, giving marketers the opportunity to be more creative with their engagement strategies. “That is the type of interactive content people — and, in turn, platforms — actually respond to. This engagement-first approach will not only help your brand stand out, it will also carve out a defined purpose and opportunity for Facebook moving forward," says Johnson.
Be a Video Hero
Stacy Maynard, social media strategist, says businesses need to focus on both live video and uploading native recorded video. Facebook is giving more visibility to video based posts. "We are seeing a shift to Digital TV and made for Social TV. Everyone has a TV camera in their pocket so ensure you find the right platform for your video goals. Focus on video for your Facebook feed. Video is the fastest growing ad format and by 2020 video will make up 80 percent of consumer Internet traffic,” says Maynard.
To break through the algorithmic challenge, try using live streaming and stories in order to get your business more news feed love. Facebook Live video is watched three times longer than regular videos and shows up higher in search results, according to Maynard.
You should also consider live videos simply because Facebook likes live videos. Stats make it clear, on average they get six times as many interactions as regular videos, according to Mosseri. “Though some have predicted that branded video will be hit by these news feed changes I don't think it will be. Live and short-form video are the best-performing categories of content on Facebook for brands in my experience,” says Cappy Popp, principal and co-founder of Thought Labs.
Greg Ng, vice president of digital engagement at PointSource, a Globant company, called Facebook’s change to the algorithm a huge wake-up call for brands. Brands that have traditionally existed with questionable ROI based on Likes and Shares in their Facebook marketing now need to "scramble to become relevant."
Increase investment in influencer marketing, Ng suggested. For example, a makeup brand may struggle to be prioritized in a customer’s Facebook feed. “But, if a friend receives a sample and posts about it for their network, the brand may receive a higher positioning in the feed, thus more influence, in theory. This will create a need for Facebook to clearly define the rules around disclosure and paid endorsements, so brands can’t abuse marketing opportunities with influencers," says Ng.
Change up your content strategy. “Without the luxury of showing up on a feed in a timely manner, content will have to be more engaging, more shareable and more urgent than ever before,” Ng says.
Consider Marketing Channel Alternatives
Nate Elliott, former Forrester analyst and principal of Nineteen Insights, suggests marketers should treat Facebook like any other paid media channel. “Give your Facebook budget to your media buying team so they can decide when to invest on Facebook and when those dollars will work better in search or display. And rather than optimizing for engagement, optimize for traditional success metrics like awareness and conversions," says Elliott.
Elliott also suggests investing in relationship marketing channels that you control, like email. “It was always risky putting customer relationships in the hands of a third party. Encourage fans to sign up for emails, not to follow you on Facebook. If you have their email address you know that 90 percent of your messages will get through.”
User Interaction the Key
Focus on content that encourages, maybe requires, user interaction, according to Popp. “Making sure your content encourages (interaction) will go a long way to mitigating the difficulties these changes bring. Same goes for shareable content. Always a Holy Grail, true, but there's nothing that will limit users from sharing branded content with their networks. User-shared content is ‘in-network’. It's all hypothetical at the moment. … For marketers, experimentation, A/B testing, and rising costs are are going to come into play. We're all in the dark at this point," says Popp.