Recently, Facebook announced some changes to its algorithm that will have an impact on news feeds, mostly related to brand pages and their ability to reach fans. We would like to take a moment to share with you what this announcement implies, what effects we are seeing, and ultimately what it means for your business.
In short, Mark Zuckerberg shared a post on January 11th that addressed some issues that have arisen with how people are interacting on Facebook. Due to some reports that people were having negative experiences, Zuckerberg has decided to make some changes to the news feed. The core of this change focuses on ensuring that people have more meaningful interactions with their Facebook friends and due to this, it is expected that publishers and brands will see some decreased reach.
Since this announcement, there have literally hundreds of articles published about what it means for brands. Many of them were released within hours of Facebook’s announcement while others have trickled out over the last two weeks. During this time, our team has been meticulously researching, tracking, and analyzing these articles, as well as the data we get directly from Facebook, to determine exactly what this change is going to look like for you and what you can expect from us moving forward. We have outlined these things below.
What We Know Is and Is Not Happening:
- This change does not mean that business posts will no longer show up in the news feed.
- This does not mean that no one is going to see your organic posts anymore or that your reach will be so low that Facebook is not worth your time.
- Content that is engaged with people you are connected to on Facebook is going to show up higher in the news feed. This can be content that people have created or it can be content from brands that people have engaged with. This means content that is reacted to, shared, commented on, or clicked on will take priority in the feed.
- Facebook is changing what they are counting as engagement.
You will notice in Zuckerberg’s statement, as well as the official statement from the Facebook News Feed Team, that they specifically mention video. For the last several months, large brands and news organizations have been gaming the news feed algorithm by producing short 2 – 5 second videos that are actually just static images of their headlines or promos that have been formatted as a short video. Traditionally, percentage of video viewership was counted as engagement, and one of the biggest changes of this news feed change removes video viewership percentage as an engagement measurement. This is also why in both statements they are pushing live video. Tuning into a live video will still be counted as engagement and as Facebook continues to push video to its users, live video will now take priority over regular posted video files that are not getting likes, shares, or comments.
What the New News Feed Will Look Like
- There is one very noteworthy line in Zuckerberg’s statement that most people are overlooking, but it is incredibly important for brands: *“As we roll this out, 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.” *Up until this change, news publishers and media outlets like the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox News, CNN, etc. were given preferential treatment over regular business posts because of the understanding that they would be posting content that would be important to Facebook users to stay current with what was happening in the world. With last year’s election, these media publishers began manipulating this ability by intentionally posting content targeted toward specific voters that supported their political affiliation rather than posting content that was informative and let people have healthy, unbiased discussion. This also led to the development of the fake media outlets that Facebook found to be tied to accounts in Russia which were used to incite riots and spread fake news stories. As you have seen over the last several months, Facebook has taken a lot of heat over how they plan to fix this. This update is a decisive reaction to this problem and is one that they have been working on for the last several months.
- Pages that are informative and entertaining are going to continue to do well. Here is a quote from Facebook’s News Feed Team regarding what the new feed will look like:
“Our research has also shown us that, after friends and family, people have two other strong expectations when they come to News Feed:
Your feed should inform. People expect the stories in their feed to be meaningful to them — and we have learned over time that people value stories that they consider informative. Something that one person finds informative or interesting may be different from what another person finds informative or interesting — this could be a post about a current event, astory about your favorite celebrity, a piece of local news, or a recipe. We’re always working to better understand what is interesting and informative to you personally, so those stories appear higher up in your feed.
Your feed should entertain. We’ve also found that people enjoy their feeds as a source of entertainment. For some people, that following a celebrity or athlete; for others it’s watching Live videos and sharing funny photos with their friends. We work hard to try to understand and predict what posts on Facebook you find entertaining to make sure you don’t miss out on those.”
Brands that post informative content and entertaining content should not see much of a decline. You can read the full article here, but the point is: most brands only post things that encourage people to purchase from them like new products, sales, ads, etc. These pages are going to take a major hit, but the brands that have a defined strategy that mixes informative and entertaining content are still going to be relevant and do well.
Will I See A Decline In Reach?
Initially, we would say it is highly likely, simply because Facebook is saying they expect people to spend less time on Facebook. It does not mean that Facebook no longer matters or that people are somehow not going to be there anymore for your business to reach. We can assure you that your consumers are not headed back to the yellow pages or the newspaper to look for your business. Facebook is just as relevant for your business with these algorithm changes as it was before they came out. This is not the first time Facebook has made amendments, and we can guarantee you it will not be the last.
What it does mean is that there will be strategy adjustments. It does mean that producing live video is going to be much more important than it ever was, and it does mean that now, more than ever before, it will be crucial to have someone who is watching the contentalgorithms be in charge of managing your page.
What Should You Do as a Business Owner or Marketing Manager?
- Start committing to producing at least one Facebook live video per week. Keep it simple and make sure you are engaging people on the video. Talk to your audience, ask them questions, and see what they are saying in the comments. Don’t be afraid to get other people involved, and don’t be afraid to have some fun with it.
- You need to be working with your staff to make sure they are liking and sharing your posts. Their engagement will cause Facebook to show your posts to more of your fans as well as the potential customers that they are friends with on Facebook. Don’t ask them to like and share every post but make sure they are liking, sharing, and more importantly commenting, on at least one post per week. You don’t want their personal feed to become a billboard of your content, but rather have them engage with something that is meaningful to them and share their opinion about it.
- Post photos or send them to us to post as a part of your strategy. People love seeing photos on Facebook, and if they know your team members, they will be much more likely to engage with your page if they see a picture of someone they know come across their news feed.
Do I Have to Spend More on Paid Ads?
Facebook has been a pay-to-play space for a long time now, and that is not going to change. If you are not spending money on Facebook ads, you absolutely should be and should have been for sometime now. As an iCommotion client, you are already getting a little bit of paid spend each month, but with this change it would not be a bad idea to think about adding some additional ad budget if you have not already.
This change will push a lot of brands to want to spend more money on paid ads, and if we are being honest, we know at some levels Facebook knew that. What this means for you is that small boosted posts that run for a day are not going to perform as well unless they are highly targeted and very specific. It also means that ads that feature text are going to cost a lot more. It is always best practice with ads to feature very little or no text on your images and let your post copy explain your ad.
What is iCommotion Digital Advisory Services Doing to Help?
First and foremost, we are continuing to watch this very closely and are working with our representatives at Facebook to continue to understand the exact changes that are still coming. While the biggest portion of this change has rolled out, it will continue to be tweaked over the next few months, so you may see some additional shifts in your strategy during this time.
Secondly, we can tell you that the content we produce for your business is designed with education and engagement in mind, which is exactly what Facebook is looking for from brands in this update. Providing helpful, educational content has always been at the core of our service, and the good news for your business is that Facebook values that now more than ever before.
We know that with this change Facebook will value interactions much more than before, so one big change that you will begin to see are more questions directed at your fans in the post copy. We are working with our writers and content strategists to develop better ways to get people to talk directly with your business, and their friends, about what your page is sharing. With comments being valued so much more now, these conversations are going to have more of an emphasis than previously held.
The best news we can give you is that so far, the current changes are having the most impact on larger brand pages (Coke, Best Buy, Target, etc.) and publishers (news stations, newspapers,etc.), but most local brand pages, at least for now, have not seen much of a negative change, if any at all.
We continue to see a lot of post engagement, specifically through link clicks, which means your content is still being served to your fans and that you are still reaching your current and potential customers.
We know that over the next 4-6 months these algorithms will continue to be adjusted, and we will continue to monitor them and update your strategy accordingly.We appreciate the trust you place in our team to provide you with the best information about these changes, and we look forward to continuing to help your business navigate and use these social media channels to help you achieve your goals.
Should you have any questions, please reach out to iCommotion at information@iCommotion.com or 303-587-8939