Facebook started the New Year by making the biggest change it’s done as a company: an algorithm shift.
In releasing its algorithm update, the social media giant aimed to change the content of its users’ feed, refocusing it on organic content. This means fewer viral (read: frequently shared or trending) posts, and more from their connections (friends, groups, interests, etc.).
The change is good for the user, but possibly less so for those who are trying to get a spot in people’s news feeds: businesses and content creators.
It’s already so hard for mid-level content creators, who are banking on making viral posts because they don’t get much traffic from their regular content. The shift is likely going to make their job more challenging this time. Facebook itself has said that people would see less content from publishers and businesses. It doesn’t get any clearer than that.
And to see that the algorithm shift took down Little Things, one of the most popular content creators on Facebook, doesn’t inspire confidence in people who want a share of Facebook traffic.
Times are tough for content creators, but if this change is indicative of anything, it’s how social media might run in the future. Facebook is just adapting the future earlier than others.
A Glimpse of the Future
There’s so much noise about the update, but has anyone thought about why Facebook is made the change?
The move makes sense for the social media brand because it prioritizes its users. They’ll have a stricter process when verifying information, which will benefit the accuracy of facts spreading in the website. But more specifically, instead of seeing items to buy, people will see what their other contacts are up to—people who are actually in their circle.
Nevertheless, whether anybody follows Facebook or not, the company is big enough to stand by the new algorithm it’s implementing. The brand is the only two-billion-user social media platform, with 45 percent of its users relying on the website for news.
Furthermore, with the massive reach of Facebook, its shift will likely have a ripple effect beyond its users. There’s already talk that Facebook users who want content will get funneled into Flipboard, Apple News, and other content aggregators. Indie news apps may also benefit from meeting the needs of these individuals.
How This Affects Marketing in Social Media
The big fear among marketers is they’ll have to start from scratch following the Facebook update. After all, the social media brand just became a lot less friendly to business posts.
But what are the real effects of the algorithm shift to less organic posts and business pages?
- Dropping Organic Reach – Content creators won’t be able to reach new users anymore with old techniques. It means that the posts people interact with will shrink in influence, and becoming viral just got a lot harder. Now it’s all about what each user’s friends talk about and share. There are more ranking factors to consider, such as average time spent on each post and overall engagement, but it’ll be challenging for more content to reach the users’ feeds.
- Same Ad Cost – Paying for the same amount for ads post-algorithm may seem like a good deal, but since organic reach is a lot more limited now, it may mean the results stay the same while you pay the same price. What’s actually happening is that content publishers are giving more money to Facebook, according to Kerry Perse of OMD.
- Substantial Interactions – Posts that inspire meaningful conversations will get top billing in feeds, but Facebook is wise to those who use engagement-bait tactics. The company already rolled out actions against spammy posts last December. Now you can expect to see more content from groups—content pieces that get the long comments and generate a lot of comments.
The News Feed algorithm shift is still in its infancy, but it’s hard to see Facebook rolling back the new rules for content on feeds. But if the world of marketing has learned anything from dealing with Google, it’s that opportunities can still come from seeming setbacks.
Boosting Facebook Content in a Post-Algorithm World
If you’re one of many affected by the Facebook algorithm shift, it’s probably hard to swallow that your reach and engagement took a big hit from one swing. If you do find yourself further down the News Feed, there are still strategies that ensure people are consuming your content in a meaningful way.
Visibility Through Influencers
High up on most social marketing strategies is bringing influencers on board. These social media celebrities hold the key to unlocking the post-algorithm shift in the News Feed. If you can partner up with influencers who can share your content, it will help you send your message efficiently. In addition, try to establish a network of influencers from different platforms to push your brand’s narrative across several channels.
Improved Content Strategy
Content has always been central, pre-algorithm shift; nothing but the best and most meaningful posts will find their way to news feeds, post-algorithm. As always, publish content that is relevant to your audience. Encourage interaction in the content you make, and make it share-worthy. Featuring individual users is a new way of boosting Facebook content, giving users the spotlight and increasing the chances of more shares for that content. Also, something as simple as adding a clear call to action in your content can boost engagement for your content.
Viral content publishers did see a major drop in their engagement rate, but video may restore the likes, shares, and interactions. Consider the data: Facebook users clocked in 100 million hours of watch time, and Facebook Watch is becoming more prominent. So while organic reach is more challenging now, video is burgeoning with opportunities.
Facebook has changed its focus, from getting users relevant content to creating more meaningful interactions. But the company didn’t leave content creators alone to deal with the shift. There are other avenues to explore: Facebook Live, Groups for Pages, Messenger bots, stories, Facebook Watch, and many more. The most resourceful can adapt to the shift and not resort to bowing out of the social media site.
Content distribution on Facebook is changing. AndZuckerberg may have more changes in mind. So it’s imperative that businesses think ahead and strategize for the long haul. Your brand can remain relevant and maintain connections with your followers despite the News Feed algorithm shift.