In January 11th, 2018 Mark Zuckerberg dropped a bombshell to marketers. Through a Facebook post (of course) he announced that the news feed algorithm would be changing. Largely he says that the feedback they received from users shows that there are too many posts from businesses and media sites and that they are refocusing the feed into posts about friends and family.
If you’re a business, it’s big news. Here is what we’re doing to stay on top of the changes and in the feed.
The New King – Engagement
No longer will be ruled by likes and shares, now it’s all about conversation. If you’re a business this means creating and posting content that actively invites the users to participate beyond a like and a share. This means we’ll be leaning into posts that engage with comments. Facebook wants to see users interacting with each other on a post.
So we’re looking for ways to start conversations. We’re asking more questions of the audience. Our call to action is now to get people talking. This will bump up the visibility of your posts. Remember, Facebook wants people to stay on their platform and nothing hooks a person like engagement.
Bring on LIVE Video
We’re looking for opportunities for our clients to go live in interesting ways. Not only does this invite conversation as the content is long but it also brings in viewers who are genuinely curious about what’s important enough to go live for.
- Go live twice a month if you can.
- Answer some frequently asked questions from your customers
- Ask for comments or feedback
- Be candid. It’s LIVE, people don’t expect a polished video so have fun.
This Sounds Biased but….Ads
This is the part everyone expected but no one wants to hear. We’re going to have to lean harder into ads. A big part of this change to the news feed is about control. Facebook can’t control how or what their users post but they can control the ads. By limiting the reach of posts that link to outside sources, they force those companies into their advertisement model.
This is likely going to do three things:
- Create a flood of new advertisers
- Constrict inventory
- Raise prices
This is another reason for leveraging engagement. If we can increase the reach of your posts through users interacting, it means you can spend less on the advertising.
Boost Everything a Little
To reach your audience, you’re going to have to boost your posts. Organic reach is down to anywhere between 3%-6% so you’re not going to reach enough people by posting alone. We recommend giving each post a tiny budget just to see how the audience picks it up. If it takes off, then give it more of the budget.
This means you’ll only spend a little bit on the posts that don’t work and most of your budget on the posts that spread.
The Silver Lining
Facebook is making these moves to keep people on their platform. This is good news because if Facebook’s user base erodes then we lose a powerful platform to advertise on. If they can keep their user base healthy and strong, then we gain opportunity.
If You Need Facebook Help
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Here is Mark Zuckerbergs note in it’s entirety:
One of our big focus areas for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent.
We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. That’s why we’ve always put friends and family at the core of the experience. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness.
But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.
It’s easy to understand how we got here. Video and other public content have exploded on Facebook in the past couple of years. Since there’s more public content than posts from your friends and family, the balance of what’s in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do — help us connect with each other.
We feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being. So we’ve studied this trend carefully by looking at the academic research and doing our own research with leading experts at universities.
The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being. We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health. On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos — even if they’re entertaining or informative — may not be as good.
Based on this, we’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. 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.
We started making changes in this direction last year, but it will take months for this new focus to make its way through all our products. The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups.
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.
For example, 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.
Now, I want to be clear: by making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down. But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too.
At its best, Facebook has always been about personal connections. By focusing on bringing people closer together — whether it’s with family and friends, or around important moments in the world — we can help make sure that Facebook is time well spent.