On Jan. 11, Facebook announced there would be changes to how posts appear in its news feed. This algorithm update, as explained by Founder Mark Zuckerberg, is meant to help users have more meaningful social interactions on the network.
To summarize the change, there are two main points you need to know:
- People matter more than organizations. Users will get higher priority on the news feed than Pages. The goal is for users to see messages from the people who are important in their lives over brands that they follow.
- Communication is king. Facebook envisions its platform as a means for users to communicate with one another. Content that garners more comments will weigh higher in its algorithm.
Do I dare say Facebook is trying to make social media more social?
Depending on your business, this could be troubling or exciting news. But it’s not totally unexpected.
The ability of organic posts to reach users in news feeds has declined for years. Going back to the introduction of Pages and expansion of social ads, news feeds have become increasingly crowded with content. This has gotten to such a tipping point that Facebook has decided a change is needed.
This video is ancient but was already documenting this phenomenon…back in 2014.
If you want to use Facebook as a marketing channel, there is hope.
What you need to do to find success on Facebook in 2018 and beyond
If you look at Facebook’s official announcement, there are clues as to how marketers can use the platform going forward.
“Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos. Many creators who post videos on Facebook prompt discussion among their followers, as do posts from celebrities. In Groups, people often interact around public content. Local businesses connect with their communities by posting relevant updates and creating events. And news can help start conversations on important issues.”
Conversation, conversation, conversation.
Facebook Live & Stories
If conversation is the goal for Facebook, live videos give brands the opportunity to communicate directly to and with their fans in the most engaging format around.
Incorporating live sessions is a must if you intend on having a Facebook-driven marketing strategy. This can be an extension of a podcast strategy or even quick moments where you take time to tell the story of how your organization chanced upon a success.
Live videos create notifications for users, making them attention-grabbing vehicles for your brand.
In addition, Facebook really wants Stories to be utilized like Instagram and SnapChat Stories. This objective is more difficult if you don’t have a central person responsible for representing your brand on social or employing filters. The ability to create exclusive content makes Stories a unique way to engage fans and hold their attention, so solidifying a concrete strategy will be important for Facebook success in 2018.
Messenger & Chat Bots
Facebook Messenger is the instant messaging feature that reminds us that AIM is dead (RIP 2017). Type and instantly communicate with someone in real-time. The issue is you can only communicate 1:1 or in small groups. For brands with large audiences, that can be time-consuming to keep up with.
However, you can change the dynamic when paired with chat bots. Here’s how:
The ability to scale a 1:1 interaction has important consequences for brands looking to improve their customer experience. Chat bots already offer medical diagnoses to wary users, provide research on business competition and make memes in a pinch.
E-commerce and B2C brands may find it worthwhile to invest in the development of chat bots to allow social channels to be an extension of your customer-service wing.
As a Facebook Page, you are able to create a dedicated group to build a community around your product or service. People contribute stories and thoughts to the group, creating an opportunity for community-building. This feature is incredibly popular with consultants trying to engage and highlight their expertise to a crowd. Brands that can interest people to engage with groups are primed to create brand advocates on their behalf.
Facebook ads are in part why this algorithm change is happening, and it has the potential to be a boon for businesses that do a great job creating relevant content for their audiences. By ads having fewer opportunities to appear in the news feed, this opens up the opportunity for greater attention for your brand when you do appear in the feed.
The idea here is quality over quantity.
If users are paying closer attention to the news feed, ads become more impactful. Like any market, however, cost-per-result will most likely rise as more organizations engage in social advertising. This is why relevance score matters more than ever. If you have strong content and a keen understanding of your audience, your brand has plenty of opportunities to generate positive results.
Facebook Local is the social network’s answer to Yelp. This standalone app takes event information from friends and locals to provide a map of everything happening in your area. For businesses that are event-heavy, this gives even more reason to utilize events for additional opportunities to garner visibility.
Facebook Watch is the VOD feature of the social network giant that is looking to compete with television and YouTube. Because of this, video will continue to play an important role for marketers, as videos can appear in this dedicated video feed. Tagging videos properly based on subject area will ensure that your video has a chance to appear alongside similar content that users are scrolling through.
Engaging off-site content, load time and time-on-site
Many people use Facebook to drive traffic to their websites. Facebook doesn’t want to send users away from its site but will do so if that content is valuable to its users. For example, news is a big part of how conversations happen on Facebook, and the network features articles prominently (i.e. Trending). There is no substitute for having engaging content.
For SEO-minded organizations, if users are utilizing the mobile app, Facebook is able to monitor how long they are spending on your site and engaging with your content. Luckily, because time-on-page and load time are positive SEO indicators, many websites don’t have to change what they are already doing. The bad news is, if you aren’t following good SEO best practices you are going to get hit twice in both your organic rankings and how Facebook sees you.
The Biggest Winners of This Change…
Brand awareness and engagement
If your goal is to create content that engages fans and opens you up to new people, this aligns perfectly with news feed changes. If your brand creates content that starts conversations, you have the potential to achieve even greater reach.
Influencer is a big marketing buzzword right now, and that isn’t going to change in 2018. Let’s run down the checklist of why influencers are going to make out incredibly well from this change.
✓ Influencers are people.
✓ They often have their own dedicated groups.
✓ They create ephemeral content and have personalized short videos directed to fans.
✓ They host and lead events to meet fans.
It is as if Facebook was intentionally thinking of influencers when making these changes. For brands that want to capitalize, consider researching and tapping influencers of your target audience. Create content together to help get your message out there.
Utilizing one of these tactics does not a strategy make. Identify your goals before jumping in and using these different tools and tactics. This will enable your marketing initiatives to actually be successful and make a positive change for your organization.