Uh oh, it’s happening again! You may have heard about the changes to the Facebook algorithm that are rumoured to have HUGE ramifications for brands and advertisers. But what exactly are these changes and just how significant will their effect be? What impact will they have on the Facebook user experience and for your brand?
What are the changes?
The Newsfeed will be overhauled, prioritising content from user’s friends and family, as well as what is algorithmically deemed ‘quality’ news sources in an effort to eliminate ‘fake’ news.
This really isn’t any different to the way Facebook has been optimising content in the past (organic reach on Facebook has been steadily declining over the last few years anyway). But now, rather than seeing posts from brands, users will see more of their friend’s dinner pics and kitten photos. It will be more difficult for brands and publishers to get away with distributing poor content, and they will need to work harder (and smarter) to stay relevant.
As Mark Zuckerberg stated: “Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease.” Subsequently, a decrease in reach will also mean decrease in engagement rates.
Why is Facebook changing?
Facebook reports that users have been interacting with posts frequently and spending time mindlessly scrolling through the feed. Concerned that the time spent on Facebook was not “well spent” and therefore could be isolating to users, Facebook introduced the algorithm change to help increase social and community interaction again. Users also felt that they were not seeing enough content from friends and family. This is, in part, due to the explosion of brand and publisher content on Facebook in recent years (and how well some of it was performing!).
The algorithm update also represents Facebook’s attempt to curb alleged ‘fake news’ on the platform, for which it was criticised during the 2016 US election campaign. The sheer volume of popular posts from brands and the way users are consuming content on the platform (i.e. liking, reacting to or commenting on posts but not actually sharing content themselves) meant that actual user created content was decreasing. To ensure the survival of the platform, Facebook needed to make a change.
But… what can I do to combat this?!
The bottom line is: there’s no need to panic IF you are producing great content. The change won’t be drastic for brands who produce content that is relevant and engaging and aim to provoke meaningful reactions from users.
The bottom line is that brands will need to ensure that their content is above all else, engaging and that they’re not just ‘selling’ to consumers. Brands need to offer something deeper to the user experience.
Facebook has indicated that content that will be prioritised will be:
- Live video
- Local business events
- Celebrities and star social media content creators
Unique content formats like 360-degree video could also play a larger role.
It’s possible that brand partnerships, collaborations and influencer marketing will also experience increased growth. At end of the day, brands who are creating interesting, unique and dynamic content will have better reach than those that don’t and these brand’s pages will continue to thrive as the changes come into play.
The new change has occurred in the US this week, and will be rolling out across the rest of the world in the next few months.