Since the 11th of January, the digital marketing community has been abuzz trying to figure out what the updates to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm will mean in the long run for social media marketing.
In a recent post Mark Zuckerberg said, “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”. 1
But what does that mean? Those familiar with Facebook’s optimization practices will recognize that this indicates a massive shift in what content will be shown to users. Facebook will no longer focus on showing users the content they would be most interested in and instead will show them only content that has created meaningful conversation between other users they’re connected to.
Those of us who are social media marketers realized that in just one sentence, Zuckerberg potentially threatened all organic social media strategies created for 2018.
But we’re not stressed – yet. If you’re like us, you may have a few questions about how these changes could affect your business, your clients, or both. At Response Mine, we live at the intersection of emerging trends and marketing strategies that convert. Read below for what you need to know about these changes.
The News Feed Is Changing
The goal of Facebook’s News Feed algorithm up until January 2018 was to show the most relevant content to users. The intention here likely being that the more interesting the content the longer users would spend on the platform endlessly scrolling through their feed. The new goal is to display content to the user that encourages or displays meaningful interactions between users with a preference for content from friends, family, and groups.
What Organic Advertisers Should Know
The posts that are going to show up in a user’s News Feeds are ones that have “meaningful interactions,” with a preference for posts created by friends and family. Content from businesses and pages won’t be completely eliminated from the average News Feed, but if your content doesn’t already cultivate long conversations between users it’ll be difficult to break into that space now.2 For reference, Facebook has also stated that “meaningful interactions” are only between users while interactions between pages and users will not qualify.
As Facebook begins to negatively value brands who resort to “engagement-bait” tactics, companies that rely on organic interactions with their audience need to take a step back and rework their posting strategies. Posts that ask users to “tag 5 friends who would enjoy this” or “LIKE this post if your favorite color is green and LOVE it if your favorite color is blue” will no longer receive the value from the engagements they’re asking for.
Even Facebook’s romance with video will be taking hits from this update. Long and live videos have been found to encourage meaningful interactions and therefore will remain good options for organic strategies while short videos and gifs will likely be among the first casualties of the new algorithm.3
See First and Messenger May Help
Facebook itself has admitted there is still one way that users can ensure they see your brand’s content in their News Feed — by selecting the See First option when they follow your page.1 If organic interaction is absolutely critical for your marketing strategy, making the effort to galvanize your followers now (before your posts’ reach begins to decline). Inform them that they need to actively change their default follow settings to remain connected with your page. It will be worth it!
Facebook’s Messenger tool is another option for staying in contact with your followers. On the platform, you can send new content directly to your list of highly involved and dedicated followers, or create one. This will take more effort on your part, but the benefits may be worth it as messages can feel more personalized. You may even come across individuals who would make good influencers on the platform.
Time Spent on Facebook Will Go Down
“I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down”.1 Considering that those words came straight from Zuckerberg’s post, businesses and advertisers need to treat them as facts. And this shouldn’t surprise anyone – the old goal of curating the most relevant content for users was undoubtedly an effort to keep people on the platform as long as possible so they can be shown as many ads as possible. It will not only be harder to get in front of your audience on Facebook from a technical standpoint, it will be harder to get in front of your audience – because they won’t be there to get in front of.
What Paid Advertisers Should Know
Ad Prices Are Going Up
Organic social media strategies are going to take the biggest hit from these changes. But are paid posts and campaigns on the platform really going to remain unscathed?
The official word is that there will be no changes to the ad algorithm at this time. And until any changes are officially made, marketers should focus on what will be different (i.e. ad prices). Due to drastically reducing the effectiveness of organic advertising, Facebook is forcing businesses to pay-to-play, which isn’t surprising considering that their business model centers around revenues from ad spend. Not only will the demand for ad space go up, but the decrease in time spent on the platform will go down, cutting supply and almost certainly raising average ad prices.
Your Strategy Probably Needs to Change
Just because ad prices have the potential to increase doesn’t mean that businesses need to run for the hills. Your consumers are still going to use Facebook and the platform’s sophisticated ads and incredible targeting capabilities are still going to be valuable to digital advertisers. As the social media platform with the most robust advertising capabilities it would be unwise to completely write Facebook out of your strategy; a dollar spent efficiently will still be worth spending.
Don’t Move Too Fast
If you advertise on Facebook, be it organic or paid, you will need to make changes to your social media strategy. However, making changes without a detailed and complete plan won’t do your business any good.
There are many options you can consider moving forward when rethinking your posting strategy: reevaluating your Facebook budget, testing new ad copy and formats, changing your goals for social media advertising, or even switching up your social media mix.
It will be important to make sure you have a plan before you make any changes. Facebook hasn’t confirmed when their new algorithm will completely go into effect, so until then it’s business as usual. Getting ahead of the curve doesn’t mean you need to rush around it.
And that is something Response Mine can help you with.