When Facebook announces changes to the News Feed, communicators straighten up and listen. The most recent changes were sudden and significant, affecting the lives of social media strategists and content marketers overnight—even forcing once-flourishing publishers to shut their doors. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained the most recent News Feed tweaks, but many brands are still struggling to understand.
So what exactly does this mean for communicators? Here’s the run-down:
Friends & Family First:
Facebook kicked off 2018 by announcing they would make changes to their algorithm in an interest to better promote users’ mental health. Their studies have shown that genuine interactions between friends—not viral video content or national news—is what promotes a strong well-being. This, according to Zuckerberg himself, means, “...you'll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard—it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.” If your business, brand or media page wants to remain visible, your posts will need to garner meaningful engagement.
Local News > National News:
Facebook announced it would prioritize local news over national news so that users can see content that has a direct impact on them and their community. According to Alex Hardiman, Head of News Product, and Campbell Brown, Head of News Partnerships, local publishers are defined as “those whose links are clicked on by readers in a tight geographic area. If a story is from a publisher in your area, and you either follow the publisher’s Page or your friends share a story from that outlet, it might show up higher in your News Feed.”
Trusted News Sources Only:
Facebook surveyed a wide range of Facebook users across the U.S. to determine their level of trust in various news sources. The results of these surveys, which remain private, affect the overall ranking of posts on the News Feed. Pages considered trustworthy by users may see a boost in their visibility, while Pages deemed untrustworthy will likely see a drop in audience reach.
How the changes apply to your brand:
As a Page manager, you’ll likely see your post reach, referral traffic and average video watch time decrease in the short run. But the overall impact to your page’s performance will be determined by important factors such as the type of content you produce and the level of engagement it garners. Those who produce thoughtful, compelling content void of clickbait and tailored for a specific audience will survive these changes—and may even benefit to a degree.
Here are a few suggestions to make sure your content doesn’t get lost in the shuffle:
- Know Your Audience & Understand Their Interests: Do you have a good idea of where your likes and engagements are coming from? Decode this information easily using Facebook Analytics, or whichever social tracking service you use. Once you know this, fine-tune your content for your specific audience. Once again, Facebook is focused on a user’s well-being and interests.
- Incorporate Multimedia Content & Try Live Video: Multimedia remains a powerful driver of engagement on the platform, so avoid executing Facebook posts without multimedia content. Add a photo, video or link to content that will spark conversation among your followers. Consider testing live video to interact with viewers and inspire that much-coveted engagement on your content. Live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos, according to Facebook. Don’t just add generic multimedia for the sake of adding it, though. Be strategic and thoughtful—the goal is to catch viewers’ eyes and spark meaningful engagement.
- Boost Posts & Consider Geographical Audiences : Facebook’s boosted promotions allow you to get very specific with targeting. Given the platform’s preference for local news and content, it’s a great idea to run post promotions targeted towards population subsets. Target specific cities for whom your content is relevant. This will inspire engagement from specific, localized geographic areas, register on Facebook’s algorithm and ultimately boost the visibility of those posts. Boosted posts will also increase your page’s relevance to the viewer. Make sure the next piece of content that follows the boosted post is relevant to the targeted audience from the boost; you need to maintain these engaged users’ interest.
- Keep It Fresh : If you need to recycle content, do it as infrequently as possible and avoid using the same messaging, or else risk having your posts demoted. Look at your page as an outside user and think about what would be the most engaging content and when that content should be posted. Too much of the same content will get boring to users - Mix it up!
Keep It Real : With the news that Facebook will prioritize content that drives high levels of engagement, avoid trying to goad readers into liking or clicking your content with disingenuous tactics, ie. “Like if you agree,” or “Share if this applies to you.” Facebook’s algorithm will automatically demote clickbait posts on the News Feed.
This is not the first time Facebook has tweaked its algorithm, and it likely won’t be the last. Content creators, communicators and social media teams who stay informed of the changes, understand what they mean, and adjust their strategy accordingly will still be able to thrive in this newest News Feed era.