What Facebook’s News Feed Update Means for You
January 25, 2018
Earlier this month Facebook announced plans to update its News Feed algorithms. These changes would favor user-generated content and reduce the distribution of public posts from publishers and brands.
Some see this as a welcome change to an over-polluted system, while others believe it may spell the end of organic posts on Facebook altogether. In the middle of these two extremes, lies a group who think the reality may just be a healthy mix of the two. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg himself has described the changes with a bittersweet sentiment:
“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.”
With so many conflicting ideas about the long-term impact of these News Feed updates, we’re taking a closer look at the good, the bad, and the challenging of maintaining a poignant Facebook presence in 2018.
The News Feed update is great news for Facebook, which has recently faced backlash over issues like the circulation of fake news and click-bait deception. These changes will offer the social network a shot at redemption by limiting the opportunity for shady players to take their stories viral and stunting underhanded engagement tactics at the source.
A fresh News Feed may also come as a breath of fresh air for regular Facebook users who are often inundated with less relevant posts (“content for the sake of content” as we call it) as the system stands now.
As a matter of fact, a recent Facebook study found that people who scroll through their feeds without engaging in any inter-personal interactions tend to walk away with negative feelings. Facebook actually cites this research as the main motivation behind their News Feed overhaul, ideally aiming to create a more positive user experience by encouraging active participation and engagement.
This would certainly be good news for Facebook, but also for brands and publishers. With happier users that are increasingly motivated to return to Facebook and engage with relevant new content, we theoretically sacrifice our short-term gains for longer-term and higher-quality impact.
Still, it goes without saying that this may be a tough pill to swallow for publishers who rely mainly on Facebook for their traffic and businesses who depend on Facebook as a primary component of their organic marketing strategy.
What’s interesting is that the Facebook team has yet to address the role of ads in the new News Feed system. Will placements be prioritized by relevance score, or devalued with the majority of public content?
Odds are that advertising will not be impacted in the same way as unpaid content. So, if you’re already running ads on the social network then you should keep up the momentum. If you’re not yet active, then now is the time to start.
In some way or another, every player is likely to see a little bit of good and a little bit of bad in the big news. So, how can we overcome the challenges to make space for the good? As of now, only time will tell. But, we can certainly prepare some new and informed strategies on where to focus in the meantime.
Here are three of our top tips to help you come out on top:
1. Less Video, Unless…
As Facebook focuses in on actively engaging content, they’re taking a hardline approach to videos that create a passive News Feed experience, writing, “Video is an important part of the ecosystem… But it’s more passive in nature. There’s less conversation on videos, particularly public videos.”
The caveat? Live video.
Live video exists for the purpose of real-time engagement, reactions, and conversations, and creates the ideal field for users to come together in the way that Facebook aspires.
2. Create Epic Content
Too many brands and publishers continue to churn out content for the sake of content. With organic reach fated to decrease as these changes take effect, the pressure is on to produce content that truly resonates.
As the algorithms’ focus shifts from content consumed on Pages directly toward content that is shared and discussed by friends, your strategy should also shift accordingly. Aim to create content that inspires users to share, discuss, and get active. But, beware click-baiting, comment-baiting, and anything else like it… the new News Feed is explicitly stacked against scammy tactics like these.
3. Get Personal
Finally, it’s time to think about new ways that you can leverage more personal direct-engagement tools. Two great options on Facebook today are Groups and Messenger.
Groups, or Groups for Pages, allow brands to communicate directly with the people who support them, without getting stonewalled by changes to the News Feed.
That being said, you should still maintain hyper-focused content and engagement strategies. With the freedom of choice on Facebook growing each day, the last thing you want to do is turn away the users who support you most.
With Messenger, you can also employ bots or live support staff to communicate with your audience in a personal and direct way. And, in addition to making yourself as accessible as you can, many third-party Messenger tools also offer organic broadcast capabilities and direct advertising within Messenger, giving you another way to spread your message outside of the News Feed.
Facebook has been growing and evolving their News Feed from day one, and with each twist and turn inevitably comes a new learning curve. At this stage in the game, the latest update is inevitable and we are left with just two choices: rely on outdated strategies that are easy, or overcome new challenges with bigger, better, and overall more engaging content for our audiences.
Changes like these only push us to innovate further and get better, and that’s something we should always be excited about.