Since its beginnings, Facebook has always been in flux, constantly updating its algorithm to target content and connect its users.
In turn, brands have had to stay on top of updates and adapt their messaging and targeted content as needed to continue to reach key audiences. However, in the last few years years, Facebook’s vast impact as the world’s largest social media platform has come into question following accusations of election interference and the perpetuation of fake news. Facebook now has to address these concerns and face significant changes that will most certainly affect how brands utilize this platform.
The Back Story
In January 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared a post discussing some upcoming changes to the way the platform operates. “Recently we've gotten feedback from our community that public content—posts from businesses, brands and media—is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other,” he said. “Based on this, we're making a major change to how we build Facebook. I'm changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”
To correct its course, Facebook began tweaking its algorithm. This time, it’s focusing on ways to prioritize content that tied back to the platform’s core messaging and put people before Pages.
Zuckerberg was well aware that Facebook usage (and stock value) would likely decrease because of the new implementations, and we’re already seeing the result. In the last quarter alone, people spent 50 million fewer hours on Facebook. And while Facebook usage has increased for the past 10 years, usage of the platform dropped from 67 percent to 62 percent in 2018.
The Current Situation
As overall time spent on Facebook decreases, it gives brands fewer opportunities to get eyes on their content. Additionally, in order to make your time on Facebook more “meaningful,” the platform’s algorithm has started to rank brands’ posts a little differently. Instead of Page posts popping up at the top of a News Feed, posts from another user (aka your Friends) will be ranked ahead of it and appear in those top spots. Posts with high engagement rates will also rank higher, so brand Page posts that don’t receive as much interaction will likely have a lower reach.
What can you do?
Understandably, many brands are worried about these changes and the impact on the future of their presence on the world’s largest social network. It will be a challenge for brands to thrive in this new social arena, but if you follow these steps, you can crack the new Facebook code and position your brand at the top of the News Feed.
Trust top tactics.
Strategies like influencer marketing and video have been growing tremendously in the past few years, and Facebook’s 2018 changes won’t change that popularity. Influencer marketing, brand ambassadorships, and employee advocacy are ways to engage with your audience without making your efforts seem too brand-heavy or corporately controlled. Videos are also still at the core of Facebook’s algorithm, so producing branded videos gives you a loophole to the top.
Pay to play.
Boosting every post is definitely not the answer to this latest dilemma, but the algorithm shift does make a great case for allocating part of your budget to paid social media efforts for high value content. If your company set a goal to engage more with your Facebook audience, then boosting your organic content could help start those conversations. If the goal is more specific, like driving traffic to your site or increasing leads, investing in ads might be worth your while.
Get a Group.
Facebook Groups is a wildly underused tool that brings together community members in a more intimate setting. As part of FB’s goal to get more of those “meaningful social interactions,” the company is launching new Groups features that make it easier than ever to engage with your community on this personal level.
Keep creating engaging content.
Facebook’s new algorithm weighs user engagement extremely heavily. The more likes, clicks, or comments on your content, the higher Facebook will rank it in the News Feed. The bottom line is that quality content that prompts user interaction will continue to perform well despite the Facebook algorithm tweaks.
So take a step back and analyze your arsenal: Is your current content program generating engagement or is there another path you can take to encourage more conversation? If you’re looking for a new approach, try connecting the dots between your content and relevant trending topics or creating content that answers your audience’s most pressing questions.
Audit and assess.
With all of these changes, now is the perfect time to audit your Facebook presence and see if it’s really the best platform for your business. Take a look your data points like engagement, clicks to your site, etc. to determine if the ROI on your efforts is helping you reach your business goals. Not all brands need to be on Facebook, so take some time to decide if the platform continues to remain a good fit or if your message could make a greater impact elsewhere in the social sphere.
All in all, the Facebook tweaks aren’t the end of the social world as we know it. Social platforms are constantly shifting and keeping us marketers on our toes. Sure, the new algorithm might change your strategies, but it’s not such a drastic change to make us abandon Facebook. Just make sure you’re putting the social back in social media by creating content that keeps your audiences interacting, and you’ll be good to go!