Facebook is rolling out a new algorithm that’ll change how people see the content on their news feeds. The change comes in response to an increasing amount of what many call “fake news” articles being spread on the social media site. It’s also Facebook’s way of pushing people to interact more organically and meaningfully with one another — it’s not just your parents telling you to get off the computer and go get a life anymore.
Posts will be promoted if they incite conversation, spur action, and bring about meaningful dialogues amongst friends and family. This means your news feed will likely look very different in the coming weeks. But it won’t just be a big deal for the average Facebook user. Big brands and organizations will take a hit from the news feed algorithm changes, and social media marketing strategies will need revamping.
The goal of this drastic shift is to help give users the personal experience they used to have at the site’s’ conception. Instead of having a news feed full of marketing posts from brands and organizations, Facebook will prioritize the posts and uploads of friends and family. So say goodbye to cooking videos and company updates cluttering your news feed, and hello to Thanksgiving-style debates and cringe-worthy wedding pictures.
Facebook is going to become the platform that keeps you up-to-date on the lives of your friends and family — what life events they’re undergoing, what topics spike their interests and what discussions impassion them — even if you didn’t want to know. This is good news for most, with recent studies proving that the more time you spend on Facebook, the worse you inevitably feel. Don’t believe it? Facebook even acknowledged it in a December blog post!
Millions of people peruse social media networks daily. They use them to keep up with friends, to document their lives and to further their careers. They’re absorbing content in such large quantities that the quality of the content they consume starts to get fuzzy. With shifts in policy, policing and news feed algorithms, social media sites are rapidly trying to make the social network experience more intimate and personal. Both Facebook and Twitter are recent examples, with Twitter cracking down on the spreading of fake news and violent accounts, after revealing statistics that show that hundreds of thousands of users made contact with Russian propaganda accounts that have now been suspended. Facebook is taking a different approach.
But what’s the cost?
It’s difficult to say how much brands will have to alter their marketing styles in response to the changes at Facebook. But what is certain is that changes have to be made. With news feeds being altered to only take into account likes, comments and shares from real people, brands really are going to have to step up their game.
Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the latest changes to the news feed algorithm in a Facebook post on January 11:
Based on this [research], 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.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.
A lot will go into this change. Major publications will see a drop off in engagement and views unless they’ve been approved as “Trusted” Partners — another program Facebook is introducing to combat “fake news.” Not only will you see your friends posts first, but also posts they’ve commented on, posts they’ve liked and posts that have gotten a lot of activity — think Facebook fights and cute baby pictures. Seriously, all privacy is gone with this algorithm shift — so be careful what you like!
The future of social media marketing strategy will definitely see a shift in response. Brands will have to come up with new and innovative ways to reach their target audiences and get their content seen — but how? To understand the changes that need to be made to social media marketing strategy, you need to first understand the changes being put in place.
How the new Facebook algorithm works
The new Facebook algorithm works by filtering out content by brands and companies in favor of content by real people. Posts from friends and family will take top priority during this shift, while text posts and videos from publications you follow will slowly fade away. Facebook hopes to make social networks more social again, putting its users more closely in contact with the content that they are connected with on a personal level.
The news feed still won’t be going back to the days of chronological posting, however. Instead, Facebook will determine what posts you’ll see based on comments, posts shares and the number of people that react to a given post — this means good reactions AND bad ones.
But there are other factors Facebook will be taking into consideration. Facebook will also curate your personal news feed algorithm based on posts they think will initiate conversation and get users to have deep and meaningful connections with each other. Facebook is really trying to get people to interact more authentically with one another with this update and have, like, real conversations.
But as a result of this redirection on the part of Facebook, brands and big publications will feel the heat.
What the latest Facebook algorithm changes mean for brands and publications
“Facebook was built to bring people closer together and build relationships. One of the ways we do this is by connecting people to meaningful posts from their friends and family in News Feed,” the company said in a blog post on Jan. 11.
This isn’t a new belief or motto for the company. These thoughts and ideals were also published in a 2016 blog post, where they stressed the importance of friends and family throughout the social media experience, not fully realizing that for many, turning to social media is a way of isolating yourself from said familial experiences.
But this recent echoing of core beliefs and values comes as a direct hit on third-party businesses and organizations that use the site to promote their brand, products and services. Public content will be limited in favor of personal, private content. Facebook acknowledges that this change will affect brands, stating that they will likely see drops in reach, watch time and referral traffic. Fewer posts will be seen, meaning fewer people will be engaging with and sharing this branded content.
Facebook does throw a bone to brands and publications, though. But it requires users to go the extra mile — and the likelihood that Facebook users will follow through has yet to be determined. If a user wants to specifically see content from a page they’re following, they can click the “See First In News Feed” option in preferences. This will ensure that people will always see the content from pages they follow. But if we’re all being honest with ourselves, that probably won’t happen very often.
And, of course, this means users already have to follow the page itself. This doesn’t do much for a brand or organization that uses social media marketing strategies to grow their audience and engage new users.
It’s not all bad news for brands. If they have quality content, it will still make its way onto the news feed. But social media marketing strategy as a whole for these groups will have to change. The motives behind social media campaigns will have to shift to engage more with users, and brands will have to figure out for themselves what that means.
How Facebook algorithm changes will affect future of social media marketing strategy
With these new changes, organizations will undoubtedly have to take a step back and reassess their approach to social media marketing on Facebook. Fewer posting slots mean higher competition amongst brands. The creativity and ingenuity of marketers will certainly be tested. The normal day-to-day posting will have to shift towards more targeted posts and audiences. And the ways brands engage with their audience on Facebook will have to change too.
It’s likely that people will stop going to Facebook for news and updates on brands and publications. They will likely spend less time on the site as a whole, especially considering the number of exciting posts and announcements from friends usually run out after a few minutes of scrolling. And really, how many Facebook fights and engagement photo shoots can we really handle in one sitting?
As a result, brands need to come up with new and exciting ways to keep users coming back for more. The marketing trends of the past will need a facelift on the Facebook front.
How brands can beef up their social media marketing strategy in response to Facebook algorithm changes
Lucy Hall, the Director at Avviso Media — a B2B social media and content marketing agency — recently wrote a piece about the upcoming changes. In it, she emphasizes the notion of sticking to your guns and doing what you do best.
Instead of telling marketers to jump ship and start panicking over the latest update, she urges them to adapt:
Instead of thinking “how can I beat the algorithm” or how can I get more views and likes and any of that rubbish. Think, how can I reach more of my ideal customers? How can I build better relationships with them? How can I help them to achieve their goals or to solve their problems? How can I give them what they want?
Social media marketing is a constantly evolving business. Just because a platform changes its algorithm doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. It just means it’s time for you to tilt your head and start thinking a bit differently.
People will look to your content and be affected by it, all the algorithm does it tell you that you’ve got to connect with them in different ways. But didn’t we all think that when Facebook was first introduced? “Wow, social media! I wonder how we can use it to connect with customers?” This algorithm change doesn’t do anything but change our perspective on social media and how it engages our audiences.
So start brainstorming! To give you some inspiration, here are a few key ways brands and organizations can up their social media game.
More influencer marketing
To engage with a target audience, marketers will have to do a better job using influencers in their social media marketing campaigns. Influencers are real people. Influencers have a large, organic follower base. Brands can use this to their advantage because influencers will likely produce content that ranks high on a user’s news feed.
This news feed algorithm will give priority to real people and so brands will need to leverage the power of real people in the form of influencers. Influencer marketing is an easy and effective way to boost your social media strategy without doing too many complex and difficult campaigns. If you have an idea for the content or the message, leveraging an influencer will help you get the word out.
More live videos
Live videos are a fun and engaging way to produce content. Live videos give everyone who follows that specific account a notification when the live video has begun — this is a quick and easy way to get the attention of your audience. And it works to attract new followers as well.
The more people engage with a specific piece of content or post, the higher Facebook ranks it. This means that if a live video is doing particularly well, it will pop up on other news feeds. This will increase engagement and give brands the boost they need after losing the more organic engagement and reach they had before.
More conversation-sparking content
The need for more high-quality content and user-generated content is going to increase with this updated algorithm coming into place. Content from Pages won’t be eliminated completely. There is still room for brands to get their voices heard and their posts seen, but they will definitely have to up their game to do so.
Instead of daily updates that you normally see from big companies — content that has little to no value for average Facebook users and consumers like hourly updates or cheeky comments — brands will have to create posts that engage in conversations — either preexisting or new. They have to be conversation starters, conversation makers and conversation cultivators. This means that we’ll be seeing more specific, high-quality and engaging content from brands which could prove refreshing for users that really are tired of the social media marketing strategies of the past.
In much the same way brands will have to work with influencers, they’ll also have to begin engaging and posting more organic, user-generated content. It’s likely that we’ll see a lot of re-posting or sharing done by organizations so that they can reach their audience in a Facebook-approved way.
If you missed it, A LOT is happening with the new Facebook algorithm.
Facebook will start sorting posts on your news feed based on:
The ability to create conversation.
But most importantly, Facebook is going to start prioritizing content created by REAL PEOPLE.
So what does this mean for brands? A lot, even if you’re an experienced marketer. Things are going to change.
If you’re a brand, a marketer, or an organization that uses Facebook to promote itself, there are a few things you can do to beat back against the algorithm. You can:
Start utilizing influencers more.
Start playing around with content, trying out new ways of getting the word out like live video.
And start asking questions and starting conversations with your content.
It sounds easy, but it will take work. I can assure you, though — it WILL be worth it.
Facebook is changing tactics, and it’s not holding back. Soon, you’ll see Facebook news feeds full of reunion photo albums, rowdy family debates, and hot-button issues your friends are talking about. Gone will be those funny product videos and branded content. For some, this might be a relief, but if you’re a brand that utilizes Facebook to its highest capacity, you’re sure to be sitting there a little freaked out.
But this doesn’t mean brands are doomed! By shifting your goals and expectations just a bit, and by altering how you engage with users using influencers, live video and high-quality content, this apocalyptic social media revolution will be something you look back on and laugh about fondly. Yeah, sure, everyone else panicked and flopped — but not you!
How will you be changing your social media marketing strategy amid Facebook's changes? Share below!