The beginning of 2018 saw CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg make a major announcement about a significant change to our Facebook Newsfeeds.
Zuckerberg wrote that his ‘2018 resolution’ is to get our Facebook Newsfeeds back to basics, that is, Zuckerberg wants to give friends, family and groups you are a member of more prominence on our feeds, while businesses, brands and media must take a step back.
Previously, the aim of the game was to get people spending more and more time on Facebook, and as a result of this, our Facebook feeds were becoming increasingly overcrowded with memes, videos and public content from businesses. This ultimately meant more ad revenue for Facebook. That may be good for Facebook, but, according to an increasingly loud chorus of critics, it’s not so good for humanity.
Following scrutiny over the last year, and with past employees publicly criticising the social media site for its detrimental effects on mental health, Zuckerberg has made it his mission and responsibility to ensure that the site’s users will see more content from friends and family, and that their feeds will be less ‘crowded’ with public content. Zuckerberg emphasized that the company’s decision to advance posts by friends and family at the expense of unpaid or “organic” post by businesses and media, is driven by the company’s mission to help people “connect with each other” and have “meaningful social interactions.”
What Exactly is the Update?
Facebook cleverly determines which status updates you see, and in what order they appear in your news feed, by calculating a post ranking score for each status update. These are called ‘signals’ – e.g how many people react to, comment on or share posts to determine how high they appear in News Feed
With the new update, the weightings of certain signals in the news feed algorithm will change dramatically. Posts from family and friends will be much more prominent, and posts from business pages will be suppressed.
With this update, Facebook will also prioritize public posts from friends, family and businesses that spark discussion. These are the types of posts that result in a lot of comments. That means, if your Business page generates lots of discussion on posts, then luckily for you your page won’t be affected as much. However, if your Business Page posts generally receive just ‘likes’ then this unfortunately means fewer people will be seeing your content.
The days of content randomly appearing in your feed because people are clicking ‘share’ or ‘like’ are over. Now it’s about more “meaningful social interactions.”
What will this mean for digital marketing agencies and the businesses that rely on the social media site for getting in front of their customers? What are the next steps?
The Resurgence of Groups & Private Sharing
Matt Navarra of The Next Web, said that “2018 is going to be all about private sharing, building niche communities and growing audiences on a wider spread of platforms.” With Facebook’s latest Newsfeed update, we should look towards Facebook Groups, as these are Facebook’s ‘most recent attempt to build a stronger sense of community.’
And as a result of this, over the last year, “Facebook has spent a lot of 2017 developing Groups for this purpose and to address the shift towards private sharing.”
To promote the groups, Facebook launched analytics tools last year, which helps admins of the groups track usage. ‘Admins can now see the number of active members they have and how often they post and comment, which can show them if a particular topic resonates or not. Before, admins had to manually count this data. ‘
Facebook Groups are proving to be a more targeted and valuable way to reach a specific audience on Facebook. With Facebook’s newsfeed update, Facebook Groups may be the way brands and businesses reach their audience if they are willing to take the time to build an engaging and interactive community.
Want to know more about or create a Group? See here!
Possible Increase in Ad Cost
One thing marketers will have noticed in Zuckerberg’s announcement was that there was no mention on the impact on paid Facebook posts. Paid ads on Facebook won’t be affected, but as a result of Facebook’s newsfeed change, agencies and businesses will have to spend more on paid ads on Facebook in order to get the same number of views that previously could have organically. This means, that if any businesses or brands haven’t already changed their Facebook strategy entirely to paid, they may have to with the update.
On top of this, Mark Zuckerberg predicts that the time users spend on the platform will go down. With fewer scrolls through the Facebook feed, and more brands competing and bidding for a place on the shrinking newsfeed, this means that the cost of paid ads may increase.
3. Don’t Try Engagement Baiting.
You may think that more comments on your posts will mean you’re good to go. Sadly, this is not the case.
Business Pages who try posts such as ‘Comment yes if…’ or ‘LIKE this if…’, and even ‘TAG a friend who…’ will be targeted by Facebook and de-ranked in the newsfeed.
Pages that systematically and repeatedly use engagement bait posts to try and gain reach will be at the wrath of the brand new ‘Page-level demotion’ function that Facebook are slowly rolling out over the coming weeks.
This means that pages who repeatedly post “engagement bait” will see more “significant drops” in reach across all of their posts.
Instead, marketers and businesses should try making their posts more engaging. For example, Netflix’s Facebook page encourages fans to talk with each other about their favourite shows and raises valuable discussion.
Take a hard and realistic look at your posts – see which get the most comments and conversation. The type of posts that never attract any comments should be dropped from your scheduled content.
Overall, Facebook will be heavily demoting posts that go against one of their key News Feed values — authenticity.
Ultimately, 2018 will be all about ‘value’ for Facebook. The value of the community, value of your content and the value of time ‘well spent.’ This means less funny viral videos, and more content from the people you chose to connect with. What are your thoughts on this Facebook Newsfeed update? Will it be affecting your business or agency? Will 2018 really be about private sharing and niche communities? Comment your thoughts below!