What the New Facebook Algorithm Changes Mean for Your Business
Facebook is the world’s most successful social network, one that’s continued to go from strength to strength as others have fallen by the wayside. Perhaps one contributing factor to their enduring success is that, despite constantly evolving and developing the platform, they’ve stayed true to their initial goal of ‘connecting people with their friends and family’.
The main way Facebook do this is through their News Feed, showing people the stories that are most relevant to them. When they launched the News Feed in 2006, two years after the company was founded, I doubt many envisaged the challenge they face now: far too much information for any one person to consume.
However, with more than 1.65 billion people to keep happy and over 1,500 stories a day coming at each of those users, one of their most important jobs is getting the News Feed ranking right.
At the end of June 2016, Facebook announced that the News Feed algorithm was going to shift so that it more favourably promotes content posted by friends and family.
Lars Backstrom, engineering director at Facebook, said in a statement:
“Our top priority is keeping you connected to the people, places and things you want to be connected to — starting with the people you are friends with on Facebook. That’s why today, we’re announcing an upcoming change to News Feed ranking to help make sure you don’t miss stories from your friends.”
Facebook Algorithm Change
This is the second time in recent years that Facebook has publicly committed to giving higher priority in your feed to the posts from people you actually know, rather than pages and companies you ‘like’.
(*We’re slightly nerdy when it comes to social media, but we found this timeline of Facebook’s algorithm pretty darn interesting, appreciate it’s not everyone’s cup of chai green tea though!)
In April 2015, Facebook announced a similar algorithm update that rebalanced the feed to ensure the stories posted by your friends would be higher up in your News Feed. This change also meant the reach of publishers, marketers and businesses was likely to be reduced.
However, based on feedback, Facebook were aware that people still had concerns about missing important updates from friends, resulting in this most recent change.
Why Is This Announcement Important?
The algorithm updates are likely to have a significant impact on company and publisher-owned pages, as they affect one of their most important values on Facebook: “reach.” This value shows how many users will see a specific post on their News Feed.
In the updated algorithm, content posted by brands and publishers will show up less prominently in News Feeds. This is because Facebook’s priority is keeping users connected to the people, places and things they want to be connected to, and they aim to do this by showing posts from the people you are friends with first.
What Does the Facebook News Feed Change Mean For My Business?
According to Facebook engineering director Lars Backstrom…
“…we anticipate that this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some Pages. The specific impact on your Page’s distribution and other metrics may vary depending on the composition of your audience.
For example, if a lot of your referral traffic is the result of people sharing your content and their friends liking and commenting on it, there will be less of an impact than if the majority of your traffic comes directly through Page posts.”
So, if a lot of your traffic comes directly from your page posts, the update may mean the number of people seeing your posts will fall. However, if your traffic is the result of people sharing your content (and their friends liking and commenting on it) then it’ll still appear high in the feed.
Simply put, a post from a personal Facebook account is more likely to appear above a post from a business page in the News Feed.
What Should We Do? Is it Time to Leave Facebook?
It’s always hard to hear you’re not someone’s top priority, but businesses need to understand that if Facebook put them first, soon there’d be no users left to share with.
(Facebook narrowly averted this disaster back in 2010, when spam from games like FarmVille was overrunning the feed, annoying non-gamers, and pushing them away from Facebook. While FarmVille benefitted from you asking friends to help milk your virtual cows, it hurt users, and Facebook made sweeping changes to the feed to shut out game spam on behalf of the platform’s long-term health.)
By putting friends and family first in its latest update, Facebook is continuing to protect its users (and the platform), while being much more upfront and transparent about it.
So how is your Facebook marketing strategy going to need to change? As with all Facebook algorithm updates, it may take some time to see exactly how significant this one is and how quickly we’ll see its effects. It does, however, feel like Facebook is moving towards a more pay-to-play market for businesses.
It seems there are two main ways to ensure your posts continue to be seen:
- Pay Facebook to boost posts.
- Create content designed to be shared.
Pay Facebook to boost your posts
You have the ability to boost the posts you create in Facebook. You get to choose; the content (keep in mind that boosted posts must follow Facebook’s Advertising Policies), the audience you promote to, the duration the boost lasts and the amount you want to spend. You can also keep track of how successful the boost is.
Jayson DeMers at Forbes expects that more publishers are going to flock to paid advertising on Facebook, to make up the difference in the decline of organic growth. He predicts…
‘with more brands swarming to paid advertising to make up the losses on the organic side, it’s likely that Facebook will be forced to raise prices, or even adopt a more aggressive kind of bidding platform, similar to what we see in Google AdWords’.
Inform and Entertain Your Audience
Facebook research has also shown that, after friends and family, people have two other strong expectations when they come to News Feed:
- The News Feed should inform(according to research from a recent Pew Research poll, 62 percent of American adults get their news from social media)
People expect the stories in their feed to be meaningful to them — and Facebook have learned over time that people value stories that they consider informative. Something that one person finds informative or interesting may be different from what another person finds informative or interesting — this could be a post about a current event, a story about your favourite celebrity, a piece of local news, or a recipe. Facebook’s algorithm is always trying to better understand what is interesting and informative to you personally, so those stories appear higher up in your feed.
- The News Feedshould entertain (4 in 10 use social media to fill up spare time, according to social report from GWI)
Facebook found that people enjoy their feeds as a source of entertainment. For some people, that’s following a celebrity or athlete; for others it’s watching Live videos and sharing funny photos with their friends. Again, the company’s News Feed algorithm tries to understand and predict what posts on Facebook you find entertaining to make sure you don’t miss out on those.
So create content that focuses on what people are looking for from the News Feed, to be informed and entertained.
4 Tactics to Keep Facebook Working for Your Business
- Promote your content on Facebook (if you haven’t already, discuss a budget).
- Create content designed to be shared (or enlist the help of a digital marketing company to do this for you).
- Inform your followers that if they want to keep seeing your content near the top of their feeds, theyshould follow the steps highlighted in this Next Web article.
- As content shared by users (rather than Pages) is favoured in the update, find ways to encourage your audience to share your content directly to Facebook.
It may also be a good time to start looking elsewhere for content distribution opportunities, if you don’t have them already. Ensuring your content is discoverable away for the Facebook News Feed could be an important step.
Don’t bail on of Facebook entirely though! Remember it’s still the world’s largest social network, and while the News Feed may be changing, your marketing needs to change with it!
Whether you’re interested in finding the most effective way to boost your posts, or want to create engaging content that will be shared organically, C4B Media’s experienced team and complete digital marketing services are here to help.
Simply give C4B Media a call on 01763 877110 or drop us a message today.