For a lot of users Facebook has become a place of mindless scrolling, bouncing from one auto playing video to the next just to fill time. Essentially, leaving users isolated in their own ‘play pen’ rather than bringing them together.
So in a bid to ensure users feel time on the platform is ‘well spent’, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, recently announced plans to make big changes to the news feed algorithm.
Facebook claims the changes will be better for people’s well-being – encouraging more valuable and relevant conversations.
This alteration is big news – and while some people are thrilled to see more personalised content, a lot of companies are understandably a little nervous.
There’s no arguing the change will definitely bring about new challenges, but there are still ways to win on Facebook.
Essentially, Zuckerberg said the News Feed will start to prioritise posts that encourage ‘meaningful social interaction’ between people over ‘passive’ content from company Pages.
This means posts that encourage conversations between people (comments and shares) will win over posts that just result in the consumption of content.
For brands and publishers, Facebook has warned that Pages will likely start to see their reach, referral traffic, and video watch time decrease. Yeah, it sounds pretty scary but stay with us…
A Facebook exec in charge of the News Feed also said users will see more from Pages they interact with so it could actually mean more traffic to groups and official pages *if* your posts are encouraging engagement between people.
Also, it’s important to note that this change does not affect paid ads and sponsored posts – just organic content. So while organic reach for brands might decrease, the change has not been rolled out specifically to paid content.
So why Zuckerberg – why?
Interestingly, Zuckerberg said his decision came in response to academic research that said social media is only good for wellbeing if it is used to ‘connect with people we care about.’
So, to help build a more active and communal site, Zuckerberg wants to promote the posts that encourage this behaviour, whilst quietening those that only yield superficial results such as likes.
But this move will also help Facebook in other ways.
Combating ‘fake news’ has been on the top of their priority list ever since the 2016 US election. And while they’ve said the announced changes are not to fight “fake news”, by reducing the prevalence of media content in our news feeds, it’s likely this will help reduce the spreading of false news.
The change should also see an increase in users sharing organically. What this means is more profiles taking the time to post content about their everyday lives, as opposed to just sharing professional content.
This change hits publishers and brands the hardest.
Facebook didn’t beat around the bush with this one – in a post on the company’s blog, the head of its News Feed team said, ‘we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or business.’
Whilst scary for some to hear, there is a way to ensure people who want to your content still can. Under the new change there will be an option to prioritise pages you genuinely want to interact with. So basically, focus on quality conversation sparking content and you should come up on top.
What does this all mean for Facebook marketing?
For Pages struggling to generate comments and shares, the change could make it even more difficult to infiltrate feeds organically.
If you’re working with a tight budget and small existing following, you’re going to have a real challenge on your hands. Either you find more ways to engage your audience and get them talking or you’re going to have to get smart about how you spend your money on Facebook.
Use paid campaigns to grow your following and turn your attention to 100% nailing every piece of content you’re putting out on Facebook – focussing on developing content that encourages interaction will make the struggle a little easier.
The weirdest part of this announcement – Facebook’s change means we’ll spend less time using it.
Zuckerberg sat down with The New York Times to discuss the changes, where he put a large emphasis on that – although he believes that people will migrate to other platforms to fulfill their viral video fix – if users feel happy while on Facebook, everyone wins.
When the newsfeed serves its original purpose “we can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health,” he said in a personal Facebook post. “I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable.”
So there you have it – for once, maybe the little guys have won! Unfortunately, though, this doesn’t extend to the little business.