If you’re a marketer, by now you’ve heard about the new and “improved” Facebook algorithm that Zuck so casually dropped on the world a few weeks ago. For us that work in digital and social media, it was pretty similar to the fake ballistic missile alert that went out to the entire state of Hawaii, but instead wasn’t followed with a “jk lol.” But I digress…
Seriously though, it’s not the end of the world. It’s just the end of Facebook as we know it. So here are the SparkNotes for what you need to know about the new Facebook News Feed algorithm:
- Yet another decrease in organic reach for brands and business accounts in your News Feed. Though if you’re like me, this was merely eye-roll-worthy news since Facebook has been gradually decreasing this for years now.
- Facebook is planning to remove your organic brand posts from your News Feed and curate them into a new feed called the Explore Feed. Okay, so this is where everybody in the marketing world starts to get nervous. Ultimately, this will result in less visibility to the consumers, less traffic driven to sites, less engagement for your page. The list goes on.
- The only way to get your branded posts seen by your audience in their News Feed is to boost or sponsor the post. Open your wallets people, Facebook is about to consume more of that social media budget since you will now have little to no chance to get in front of your audience without paying for it. This will become a huge challenge for small businesses without social marketing dollars.
- The News Feed algorithm will be altered to favor “meaningful interactions between people”. Qué? Come again? Facebook defines “meaningful interactions” as comments, back-and-forth exchanges, and long-form posts. These types of posts from your friends and family will now be prioritized in your News Feed over public content. I’ll let Mark Hull, Director of Product Management at Facebook, further explain in this video.
- Facebook just wants you to be happy. Yep, that’s the reason for all of this. There has been extensive research on how the digital-first world we live in now is affecting our well-being. Facebook, a large contributor to this issue, is now trying to shift the focus of how its platform has evolved over time to bring it back to its roots – a place to connect with family and friends. Remember what it used to be like before it became cluttered with all the advertisements, the click-bait headlines, and the disturbing viral videos that you don’t want to watch but you can’t look away from? An innocent time when people called it The Facebook? (OK, maybe that’s going too far back, but you catch my drift.)
“We can feel more connected and less lonely,” Zuckerberg said, “and that correlates with long-term measures of happiness and health.”
Implications for your 2018 Strategy
So there you have it. Facebook is changing and, as marketers, we need to be able to adapt. Here are some things we should be thinking about as part of our brand’s 2018 social media strategy:
- Influencer marketing will become even more important to your marketing strategy. 70% of millennial consumers are influenced by the recommendations of their peers. And get this, the most influential channel for influencers in 2017? Facebook. [SOURCE] So now that most branded posts will be removed the News Feed, we should be using other influential people – influencers, duh! – to continue to spread those messages. And their third-party credibility is key, considering 92% of consumers trust peer recommendations over branded advertising. It’s a win win.
- Decrease the frequency, but up the creativity. I bet the first thought that went through every social media managers head was: “Sweet, now I don’t have to post as often because no one will see it anyway!” Well yes, that is kind of true, but really we should be thinking of it in terms of the whole strategy. Frequency will go down, but quality will need to go up. For example, Facebook Live is a great tactic to continue to get in front of consumers. Even though this type of live broadcast may take a little more time, effort, and resources to plan, it’s worth it to maintain that visibility to your audience. (Don’t abuse it though, even your most loyal customers don’t want to see you go live 3X a day.)
- Be strategic about boosted content. Despite all these updates, we are at least grateful Zuckerberg threw us bone by not altering the ad algorithm (for now), but unless you’re among the Pepsi’s and Nike’s of the world, you likely don’t have unlimited funds to spend on social advertising. Therefore, I think brands need to now be more strategic than ever as to what type of content they are boosting to appear the News Feed. Here’s my theory: I expect the overall vibe of your News Feed to completely change. You’ll start to see more personal posts and more meaningful interactions happening. It will start to feel more like a backyard BBQ where people who haven’t seen each other in awhile will be catching up and sharing stories. So as a brand, if you don’t enter the arena with a “content first approach” and simply try to sell, sell, sell to these people, they ‘re going to turn you away like a door-to-door cutlery salesman. The CBC recommendation? Continue to work towards blurring the lines between content and advertising. Hook them with a solution to their problem, a how-to, a new idea, a value add. Then hopefully it will intrigue that savvy Facebook user enough to click-through to your site to read more or to shop.
- More “meaningful interactions” vs. likes. This brings me back to the first time Facebook first shifted its algorithm’s focus. I felt like a broken record with all our clients constantly harping on the fact it didn’t matter how many followers your page had, it mattered how engaged your community was. Likes, comments, shares – those are the metrics that mattered. Now, we’re going one step deeper. That engagement needs to be more “meaningful” than just clicking the like button. You can’t just dangle some engagement bait in front of your customers anymore (LIKE this if you agree! COMMENT below! SHARE this now!) to maintain your metrics. Facebook actually called out the fact that engagement bait posts will continue to be demoted in your feed. Your posts will need to ignite meaningful engagement: a back-and-forth conversation, a long-form comment, shares with friends who also add meaningful comments. The content that generates conversation among your community is the type of content that will continue to thrive. So going into this year, brand social media managers need to a) be invested in maintaining that strong community by actively engaging with their fans, and b) continue to post meaningful content to garner meaningful engagement from your community.
That’s all I got for ya. Thanks for letting me nerd out!
Strategist, Digital Marketing & Content
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