Last January 11, Facebook announced a new update in its News Feed algorithm, which drastically changes the content that users see when they open the site. Instead of helping people find relevant content, it will now help them have more meaningful interactions. In other words, it will prioritize posts from family and friends while Facebook Pages and Brand accounts lose out.
As Mark Zuckerberg declared in a public post, “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.”
While many users, who prefer to use Facebook purely for social interaction, welcome the updates, digital media outlets that depend on the social network for distribution are in a panic. Already, Buzzfeed News is encouraging followers to download its app while Bloomberg created community-driven Facebook groups to drive traffic.
Likewise, brands and marketers are facing unexpected challenges. As the official statement candidly announces, content from Facebook Pages “will see their reach, video watch time, and referral traffic decrease”. More concretely, publishing a post or social card at an optimal time won’t see the same engagement as before. Social media experts are bracing for bad engagement numbers until they can adapt to the new algorithm updates.
Only posts that garner engagement and interaction will appear organically in people’s feeds. Unfortunately, there is no easy solution that can be easily tacked on to currently planned posts. Encouraging people to like or share with ‘engagement bait’ will be demoted in the News Feed.
To overcome these challenges, marketers need to invest more time and effort into creating engaging content and spurring discussion. Don’t just spam memes; post regularly but meaningfully. Create content good enough to penetrate people people’s social circles without being prompted.
Additionally, promotions need to be tweaked. It needs to emphasize engagement and sharing while avoiding baiting tactics.
More than anything, brands need to get to know their followers even more and write posts or blogs about topics that are useful to them – and their family and friends. Practical content and news are highly shareable and will provoke discussion and dialogue.
Lastly, there is a way for followers to keep your posts on their feed. The problem is explaining this will be a pain or create posts that may be mistaken for engagement bait or are really boring. There’s an option to modify settings to see content from Pages that individuals like
Facebook’s updated algorithm promotes family and friends. Despite the initial howl from media, brands, and marketers, this ultimately is a good thing. Because if a brand is good enough to penetrate people’s News Feed, can’t it be considered part of the family too?