We’re guessing you’ve already heard about the changes to Facebook’s algorithm and depending on what you’ve read, you’re either freaking out or making tea and not giving a monkey’s.
We suggest you should probably be aiming for somewhere in the middle, particularly if you’re a business or brand using Facebook as your main lead generator, traffic referrer, or content platform. You need to pay attention.
SO WHAT IS GOING ON?
The writing has been on the wall for some time now in terms of Facebook making moves to prioritise personal posts over business pages, with a heavy focus on interactions between people. “As we roll this out,” Zuckerberg says, “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.”
“The onus is on creating sparkling, interesting quality content that inspires a response”
The ‘meaningful interaction’ he’s referring to is all about comments and engaging with conversation within comments, not just liking posts. “Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution,” he says. So the onus is on creating sparkling, interesting quality content that inspires a response. If you’re a business posting five times a day but getting little response, you’ve had your chips. And rightly too really – stop spamming people.
DON’T PANIC – WE’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE
In the latter part of last year there was widespread panic for small business owners when a separate ‘explorer feed’ was trialled, and a more recent announcement heralded war on ‘engagement bait’. As an example, you can no longer invite followers to like a post for a competition entry, or describe their current mood using a gif and watch the organic reach rise.
This latest change, however, confirms what we have long suspected, we need to change the way business pages are managed on Facebook and we need to do it now.
Mark Zuckerberg confirmed that the changes mean his 2 billion Facebook users can expect to see far less from business pages, and more content shared by family and friends. He claims that it was to ensure that Facebook had no negative effect on its users by reducing passive content, although if we were cynical we’d hazard a guess that he had other slightly less altruistic motives.
In future, you’re going to get more of the stuff you actually interact with. It’s not necessarily a bad change for the user
To understand what ‘passive content’ means – it’s the public content that ends up in your feed even if you didn’t follow or ask for it. If you’re finding yourself spending hours and hours mindlessly taking in videos, pictures of nails, quizzes, ‘inspirational content’ etc, this is your passive content. In future, you’re going to get more of the stuff you actually interact with. It’s not necessarily a bad change for the user, but for the business page owner, it’s an issue.
SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR SMALL BUSINESS PAGES?
With less public content in personal news feeds, business pages are likely to see a decline in organic reach, referral traffic, and even video views. Facebook has identified that posts which inspire back and forth discussion (that’s discussion between your followers, NOT you responding to comments on your own page) will be prioritised and pages which share this kind of engaging content are less likely to be affected.
IS IT ALL DOOM AND GLOOM? SHOULD I GIVE UP ON FACEBOOK ALTOGETHER?
Actually no, you just need to view it as a low cost advertising platform rather than expecting a return for no investment. Careful targeting and the right sort of content will still yield results. We’re always astounded here that people expect to be able to advertise to millions of people for free! The gravy train is slowing down people.
OUR TOP TIPS
- Don’t panic. The changes are inevitable and imminent but we have advance warning and making changes now will reduce the impact on your page.
- Your followers can click to ‘see first’ in newsfeed so start thinking about how you can encourage them to do this if they want to keep seeing your posts.
- Avoid engagement bait posts, you’ll damage your long term organic reach if Facebook spots it, and it will.
- Pay to play. Have an ad budget and use it wisely, split test your sponsored posts and carefully monitor the results to find out what works for you.
- Know your audience and tailor the content you share to inspire conversation between them. What are their needs/issues and how can you entertain or educate them?
- If all of this sounds like hard work, ask us!
If you want to see the Facebook statement in full, you can find the Facebook Newsroom statement here
If you want our advice you can email me here.